Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine
Year: 2007
Pages: 784

The following review may contain minor spoilers. It will likely contain more severe spoilers for readers who have not yet finished Book 6. Read on at your own risk.

And so it ends. It seems like a lifetime ago that I stumbled upon Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on the “New Young Adult Fiction” shelf at the public library and picked it up on a whim. Millions of people would do the same, and that whim would inspire six sequels and a franchise that would net its creator more than a billion dollars.

I’m going to be brutal right off that bat and say that this is by no means the best Harry Potter book. If you want the truth, it lulls terribly in the middle; in fact, it’s not particularly interesting at all until the last 150 pages or so. Rowling seems to have invented another arbitrary piece of magical lore (Deathly Hallows) that, while it ends up becoming a focal point of the book (of the entire series, really) is unsuitably fleshed out and not particularly interesting in the first place.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is remarkably different, in many ways: it retains the very dark style that has become the norm since Book 5; there’s a lot of death and Cruciatus curses; finally, there’s very little mentioned of Hogwarts at all (until the very end). As Harry announces at the end of Book 6, he drops out of Hogwarts in order to pursue Dumbledore’s assignment. Speculation has flown wildly ever since the twists of Book 6, and Rowling manages to more or less do exactly as predicted. This includes including several mutually exclusive plot directions at once. And no, it’s not as impossible or difficult as it sounds.

Thus, on its technical and literary methods, Deathly Hallows ends the series with a whimper, but my guess is that no one will particularly care, since everyone is merely slavering for its conclusion—which, though a tad confusing, and probably reaching a bit, is rather conclusive enough. Add to that a brief and maddeningly unspecific epilogue, and I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that 6 large books worth of carefully chronicled canon was so casually and insufficiently wrapped up.

It does, however, finally strike me how was it was for Rowling to specifically limit the length of the series from the beginning: the breadth of her invented world could have carried on ad infinitum, but the opera’s would have petered long before. It’s unfortunate that Rowling’s previous works opened so many jars that she had to break a few this time around instead of closing them.

§1875 · July 24, 2007 · Tags: , , , , ·

6 Comments to “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”

  1. rob says:

    Has she ever stated her reasoning behind limiting the series from the start? It’s one thing I’ve absolutely never understood about the series, as a casual reader of it. Does she really not trust herself to refrain from writing and writing ad infinitum? Does she really think the series would suffer were it to comprise 10 or 12 or even 20 books?

    It’s not even as if other fantasy series that have sprawled into gigantic, decades-long behemoths have done badly… Discworld is the obvious (and stunningly successful) example, and while Discworld always had far more scope for expansion it’s not as if the Harry Potter series’s smaller scope limits it to seven books, of all the low numbers.

    Or maybe she just wants to retire on a not insignificant £600m, who knows?

  2. Ben says:

    If she’s stated such a thing explicitly, I’ve yet to hear of it. The limit might just be organic: her decision to have each book span a year at Hogwarts, coupled with the early canonical idea that a full run at Hogwarts is seven years.

    I think it likely that the series’ finite span was part of its allure: it wasn’t a episodic, but rather a single grand story told over X number of books (kind of like Lord of the Rings in that respect, I suppose). A truly self-contained nature would mean the story would likely lose interest for people once its stories became particularly turgid. Someone who is drawn into Book 1, however, is more likely to read to the series’ conclusion if s/he knows that the story arc will come to a definitive end there.

  3. Rusty says:

    You can’t really compare the Discworld with Harry Potter though, when the latter is a series that really needs to be read in order but the former you can start pretty much anywhere along the line.

  4. […] has its flaws, as all the books in the series do, but I don’t think it ended “with a whimper”. Rowling is ultimately a victim of her own imagination: her world was too expansive to fit into […]

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