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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Deathly Hallowing

Time for some first impressions on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which I finished reading about an hour ago. I'll color-obscure the text here, so you'll have to highlight to read it.

Oh, and for the purposes of the comments thread for this post, I grant full spoiler power, seeing as how I'm writing spoilers in the post itself. So if you don't want spoilers, don't highlight the text below, and don't read the comments, either!

These are all just random thoughts, which I'm plopping out there as they come to me.

:: I love that Rowling had it come down to Harry versus Voldemort, for all the marbles, in front of everybody. That was a masterstroke.

:: There's a little too much deus ex machina in the front half of the book. Too many times Harry and company seem to get the key bit of information by sheer luck, with one particular instance -- when they just happen to be huddling somewhere in the countryside under the Invisible Cloak when a group of people who happen to know an awful lot about what's going on just happen to pick that exact spot to sit down and have a long conversation -- standing out.

:: Hey, David Weber! This is how you stop your final battle in order to have an infodump. JK Rowling has her stylistic faults, but she is the simple best writer on the planet at conveying plot information without grinding everything to a halt while she does so.

:: The single best thing in the book, and maybe the best moment in the entire series, is the moment of Severus Snape's death. He expires as he gazes one last time in Lily Potter's eyes (since we've been told many times that Harry has Lily's eyes).

:: Snape was a good guy after all. I always thought so. Except for when I didn't. However, it didn't play out the way I thought it might: turns out that Dumbledore didn't need to swear Snape to an unbreakable vow in order to commit Snape to killing him. (Of course, the interesting question there is, what if Dumbledore had not been already doomed to die?)

:: At times, the Death Eaters seem like Imperial Storm Troopers, don't they?

:: Well, a Weasley had to die sooner or later, right? I'm surprised Rowling didn't mine that for one last bit about everyone's inability to tell them apart.

:: I knew Neville would have some big role to play! Yay!

:: I was completely wrong about the Dursleys! Boo! I thought for sure there'd be some small way in which they turned out to be important in the end, but not so much. Just a bit of character growth for Dudley. (But I do think Rowling missed an opportunity here. In the Epilogue, it would have been cool if another of the new students heading to Hogwarts had been Dudley's, yes? Another Muggle-born?)

:: I liked that the events of Dumbledore's life as depicted in the tell-all book are true, and that it's all left up to interpretation.

:: What's next for JK Rowling? Hogwarts: The Next Generation? Something else entirely? Or will she just put down her pen and bask in the fact that she's made Harold Bloom's life miserable? No idea, here -- but for my part, thanks, Ms. Rowling. You told a hell of a tale here.


And there it is. So long, Harry. It's been fun.

5 comments:

Paul said...

Just finished it. I have to say I liked it. Just a few comments on your comments:

:: I love that Rowling had it come down to Harry versus Voldemort, for all the marbles, in front of everybody. That was a masterstroke.

A master stroke? You mean there was someone, somewhere, who didn't completely expect it to end that way? I always have, right from the beginning of the first book, known it would end with the two of them face to face. That part I found entirely predictible.

:: There's a little too much deus ex machina in the front half of the book.

Just in the first half of this book? The entire series has been one big deus ex machina after another. Harry never actually acted until this book. The entire rest of the series he just rode the wave, and stuff happened around him he had no control over. The end of every book required a scene where Dumbledore explained to Harry WTF just happened, cause Harry didn't have a clue.

:: The single best thing in the book, and maybe the best moment in the entire series, is the moment of Severus Snape's death.

Actually, I was hoping for a somewhat more redemptive moment for Snape. Again, I wanted him to ::act:: not just have the story roll over him, and Harry realise after he was dead that he'd been a good guy all along.

But I do think Rowling missed an opportunity here. In the Epilogue, it would have been cool if another of the new students heading to Hogwarts had been Dudley's, yes?

Yes. Agree 100% here.

In addition, maybe because of my own blogging focus, I got a huge kick out of the early descriptions of the Deathly Hallows, and the back and forth between Hermione's stout skepticism, and Ron's flat out belief.

Jaquandor said...

1. The "master stroke" is not Harry vs. Voldy, but Harry vs. Voldy in front of everybody else. So often the final confrontation takes place in isolation -- Luke vs. Vader, Frodo and Gollum, Holmes and Moriarty, Darien and Rakoth. Here, everybody's watching. I loved that.

2. I disagree. I think the series has done pretty well at depicting Harry having more and more direct control over his abilities, while still showing that he didn't know everything yet. Harry's been less passive each time out, in my view.

3. I didn't really have any desire for Snape, but I think most expected him to have a much bigger moment than he did, which is why I liked it so much. And it fit, in that Snape's been Voldy's biggest mistake the whole way, and even at the end when Voldy still treats him as an afterthought it turns out that Snape was anything but. Anyway, what I was referring to here wasn't the manner of his death but the actual moment at which he shuffles off the mortal coil -- i.e., his desire to look into Lily's eyes one last time.

Reading your blog lately, I've been wondering if you even read any fantasy anymore!!

Paul said...

If I even read any fantasy anymore? I'm not sure I understand the comment.

Jaquandor said...

It's just a jape about the fact that lately you're blogging all atheism, all the time. That's all. (Not that I have a problem with the atheism stuff, mind you.)

Paul said...

Hi. I remembered to drop back in here. My problem is that I don't have a lot of time for blogging right now, so that topic struck me, and I ran with it while the steam lasted, but I couldn't drop in the little posts on other topics I might normally have done in the past.

Of course, I knew what you meant by the comment. My question is, what does my blogging about atheism have to do with whether or not I read fantasy? I wrote a post about that last year. I don't know if you recall.

By the way, thanks for reading.