September 23 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsWell, I finally read it. And what did I think of the fabled Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?

It sucked.

(There may be spoilers from here on out, but as the book is two months old, you can lump it.)

The only thing I can think to say is that Ms. Rowling has succumbed more and more to her own hype. Everything, in her mind at least, is of dire importance to the reader. But, then again, things that were important, and she had even promised us, were of no importance it seems.

A perfect case is fans asked her repeatedly what James and Lily, Harry’s parents, did for a living. She always said she couldn’t tell because it would give away some of the future plot points. Well, the final book is done, you still never told us, care to share that now?

Rowling suffers from a severe lack of a strong-willed editor. If she worked with one who actually had a backbone, a lot of these problems would never come up. Take for instance the deaths of Lupin and Tonks. Lupin has been a fairly major character since book 3, but he is sent to the afterlife… off-screen? You’re kidding me, right? A lot of the deaths felt very tacked on and like she didn’t know how to handle them, or even why she was doing them.

Then there is the whole matter of the namesake of the title of the book: “The Deathly Hallows”. Was there any logical reason to even introduce this concept? Wasn’t there enough going on with hunting down the Horcruxes? No, no let’s throw in a second quest/mystery in to an already busy book. How about you cut the Hallows, which could have easily been done, and instead of the trio sitting in a tent for weeks on end, let’s have them go on more elaborate challenges to get the Horcruxes? You could have still done the Elder Wand and cut who knows how many chapters of fluff.

The tent brings up the point of Rowling’s pacing. What the hell woman! You stuck an entire chapter of character exploration… IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FINAL BATTLE! Now… right now… you feel is the time to finally explore Snape’s motivations? In the middle of a fight we’ve built to since book 1. Okay, yeah, that makes total sense.

And how about the final battle, huh folks? Voldemort, the biggest, baddest wizard in the history of the wizarding world dies from… a backfire. He died, from a backfiring spell. Wow. That was a great method there.

After all that, we get to the epilogue. I… there are no words for how bad that was. Truly, none. Albus Severus? Scorpius? *bangs head repeatedly on his keyboard* And, really… you end a seven book series with “All was well.”? Well, newsflash Ms. Rowling, all is not well. You failed, and failed miserably.

The sad thing is, I kind of knew it was coming. Starting with book 5, she fell apart plot wise. She knew she had waited too long to get to the meat of things and she started doing silly, contrived, things to move the story forward. This was also when the editor problem kicked in, they LET her just do whatever she wanted without exerting any control over her. So while I blame her, I also blame her editors.

There was a time that I actually felt I would be sad to see this series end, and now I couldn’t be happier. It’s over, and I can stop asking “Why am I reading this?!?”, every other page.

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  • Sorry, I forget–did you read my brother’s books? Just curious.

  • Jack

    Add this to our “we’re just gonna disagree” list, Sean.

    Which is not to say that this book, or Harry Potter in general, is brilliant stuff. Just off the top of my head, Pullman and Le Guin and L’Engle did about a zillion times better in their respective chidren’s series.

    That said, I thought Rowling did a pretty good job of pulling stuff together. Yes, the tent-sitting thing is a real and valid complaint about pacing, but I disagree about the pacing of the Snape reveal. It seemed exactly, dead-on right. The Potter books aren’t action movies; they ultimately ARE about character, and that’s the bit that finally makes Snape make sense, and, really, makes Snape into the real tragic hero of the whole bit. Which was the point.

    The final battle thing is also a bugaboo, IMO. The final battle between Harry and Voldemort wasn’t a battle; it was a playing out of inevitability, based on what led up to it and the characters of those involved. The proximate cause of Voldemort’s death is a backfire, but the real cause was arrogance and fear and an utter incomprehension of love.

    How *should* Voldemort die, anyway? Stabbed through the chest with the sword of Griffindor? Voldemort’s death works thematically; it’s not cathartic, in precisely the same way that Sauron’s off-screen death in LotR isn’t cathartic. There’s a good reason for that: both of these books want us to distrust catharsis.

    I could go on, but I’m not trying to start a fight. I’m not trying to convince you to change your mind. Thought I’d point out another perspective, though.


  • Luis – I downloaded them, but haven’t had a chance to read them yet.

  • Jack – Yeah, we’ll just agree to disagree. I have a laundry list of reasons why I don’t agree with the Pensive chapter, and when it took place. He needed the info, but… oh well.

    And you know I’ll always listen to your opinion without considering it a fight *laugh*

  • Sean, the versions Luis has of the first two books are out-dated. You should wait for the edited versions, especially of book 1 (which has been revised greatly). The second edit of the first book is actually currently underway and it should be tightened up further.

    As for your opinion of the Deathly Hallows book, I agree with some of it but I do believe Voldemort’s death was orchestrated to allow Harry to avoid killing him outright, both so he wouldn’t have to feel like a killer and because Harry really did not have the wizarding skills to do it. She painted herself into a corner when she killed off Dumbledore to have Harry fight Voldemort alone. There was no way he could win aside from some sort of gimmick – the same sort that allowed him to survive as an infant.

  • Anonymous

    deathly hallow was o.k- but some part of it really irritated me for tnstance you take-death of abrave man like snape in such acowardly way was shocking!
    and the’good side’ people are far too good to use death spells on even death eaters even when their own children are dying .lupins and tonks death was not necessary thendeath of fred the best ‘harry potte’ character is the most horrible part .its the first time JKR was not able to fit in everything properly.

  • bill

    i loved harry potter series till the deathly hallows was published,really i was shocked the way it ended up -JKR said only partialtongue can make the chamber of secret open but ron got inside by mere copying harry, if it really was so easy then i think any one can learn it,there was no need of having slethring blood in you.
    what shook me most was fred’s death.
    she has not given any kind of message in this but merely stated if luck is on your side you could do anything.
    she kept voldemort such a terror that even the whole wizarding community could not do any thing but at last he died by his own spell,it is sucking honestly.