11/27/2019 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book Review)
According to Goodreads, I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's stone to my daughter in June of 2016. That would make me 34 and it would make her 6 at the time of us reading it. Since then, we have gone through the entire series, taking breaks every so often, reading between a book to three books in between. Now, in 2019, I am 37 and she is 9 and we have finally finished the series.
I had first read Deathly Hallows when it originally came out. I was late to the series. I also started off with Order of the Phoenix, since I had never read any of the books when they were originally released, and I was inspired after watching Goblet of Fire. I went through the final three books quickly and I picked each one up close to when they were released. Just like those of us that read the Song of Ice and Fire books before watching Game of Thrones, I felt like I had a deeper appreciation of the Wizarding World Characters and I understood many of the plot points that made sense in the books, yet could seem random in the films.
I will admit that in my first go around, having not read Sorcerer's Stone up until Goblet, there were many characters I didn’t recognize, and incidents that were referenced that I couldn’t put a finger on. Starting from book one, with my daughter finally exposed me to the (ahem) Magic of the Potter Reading experience. The deaths were far more painful. The victories were so much sweeter. Voldemort’s influence can be felt on every page, and I can put a name to a face for his entire cult of Supremacist Wizard Followers.
The great wealth came in the form of the many minor characters that have occurring appearances throughout the series, but are only in the background of the films. The high point, from reading the books the first time was learning Voldemort’s origin story. This time around, it was seeing how he truly destroyed the lives of innocent magic users and those of his own followers. Voldemort is a blight on the Wizarding World, and his defeat at the end of this book finally gives Harry a chance to Hope. After going through the series a second time, I see how it is a gasp of hope for the entire Wizarding Community.
In the films, and in my first reading of Deathly Hollows Voldemort’s public return to power is overwhelming and inescapable. The Death Eaters are everywhere, and it seems like he Order of the Phoenix is too small a group to hold them back. I think the modern Star Wars Sequels were inspired by Potter. The First Order equals the Death Eaters, and Leia and her resistance are Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix. When the time comes, and the greatest fighter in the Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore, dies the Death Eaters spread like a virus throughout the wizarding world, taking over all of the major Power structures. Luke Skywalker dies right when the First Order essentially becomes the Empire, once again.
I don’t think the Star Wars Sequels will have as satisfying a conclusion as this book, however. As my favorite book in the series, Half Blood Prince, Focuses on Voldemort’s life story, Hollows focuses on Dumbledore’s tragic history. Two different Deus Ex Machinas are introduced within the final two books. In Half Blood Prince we are introduced to Horcruxes and the idea that if Harry were to destroy every one of them, he could defeat Voldemort. It might not be fair to label the Horcruxes as a Deus Ex Machina. Yes, they do provide Harry with a straight line to defeating Voldemort, but they are masterfully presented to the reader. They are the logical explanation for how Voldemort could have orchestrated his own undoing, while trying to achieve his greatest victory.
In Hallows Harry is presented with the second Deus Ex Machina. If he is able to collect at least the Elder Wand, he can possibly defeat his arch nemesis. Here we are, in book seven, learning of a set of magical tools, one of which being a supremely powerful wand, that could make Harry or Voldemort the Sorceror Surpeme of the Wizarding World. Harry, Hermoine and Ron are set off looking for the Horcruxes, while Voldemort is searching for the One Deathly Hallow he is aware of, and considers to be the most valuable - the elder Wand. Harry eventually wants to find the Elder Wand more than he wants to find horcruxes, which makes sense since Harry is so emotionally, and phsycologically intertwined with Voldemort. Ultimately, Both sets of ultimate powers are put into play. Harry and his friends are able to destroy all of the Horcruxes, while also causing Voldemort’s Elder Wand plan to backfire in his face (sort of literally). In the end, the story is about using the flaws connected to magic items, that are supposed to increase our power, or make us immortal, to achieve victory. Voldemort fails because he relies on the power of magic and magical items to achieve his personal victories. Harry is fortunate enough to be surrounded by friends and allies that are willing to help him destroy these items that empower voldemort. Harry is also fortunate enough to be the main character of the book, as well as luck enough to have the extremely intelligent and wicked main villains also influence his thoughts because of a mental bond. I don’t know if Harry would be as clever as he is, throughout all of the books, without his little bit of Voldemort within his mind. He is able to make the connections between voldemort’s history and the Horcruxes. He is able to connect the dots regarding the Elder wand and the other two Deathly Hallows. Ultimately, it is his cleverness, born out of Childhood trauma, abuse and a sense of always being an outsider mixed with the devotion and intelligent support that his friends provide that wins Harry his victory, in this book.
Do I agree with the epilogue of this book? JK Rowling herself has said that she believes Hermoine should have ultimately ended up with Harry. Harry’s love for Ginny makes much more sense in the context of the books versus the context of the movies. I do love what Harry decided to name his second son. I also love the little interaction that Harry has with Draco Malfoy at the train station.
I am forever thankful that I had the common sense to start reading these books, after watching Goblet of Fire. If I had just watched the movies, but overlooked the books, there is a special part of my life that wouldn’t be here. I am beyond Thankful for the fact that my daughter enjoyed Sorceror’s stone so much that she was willing to go through each of the following books. One of our greatest bonds has been built through reading this book series. I am not sure if I would still be reading, every night, to my nine year old daughter, if I hadn’t read through this series with her. Fantastic Beasts and Cursed Child are going to have to stay on the shelf. For now, we can continue to reference Dumblebore’s plan, Hermoine’s impeccable wit, and Snape’s sacrifice. We have this magic, to share, together.