Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Harry Potter Books

Published: 2007
Author: J.K. Rowling


A fitting finale


By the time Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released in 2007 fans of the series, including me, were at fever pitch.  It was inconceivable to wait until Saturday morning for the book so I joined several hundred others outside a Zurich bookshop desperate for the moment the staff were allowed to start selling.  I was also pretty nervous about the possibility of there not being an English language version available.  Thankfully other nations have a more sensible attitude towards linguistics than we do and I was able to buy the book in a format I could understand.  In the middle of the night, along with millions of others in their own bedrooms, I started to read.

Harry is, as always during the summer holidays, in Little Whinging with the Dursleys safe but unhappy.  This however is his last day in Surrey, the Dursleys are being taken to a new home by Aurors for their own protection and members of the Order of the Phoenix are secreting Harry away to a different hiding place before he turns seventeen and of age in the wizarding world.  Although this should be their seventh year at Hogwarts Harry, Ron and Hermione are not returning to school.  Instead they are setting out on a quest to find the remaining Horcruxes, the destruction of which will render Voldemort fallible and open to defeat.  Our trio is no longer in the structured world of school and this book is no longer bound by the conventions of boarding school narrative and the familiar characters who inhabit the previous novels.

The wizarding world is being taken over by Voldemort, the Ministry of Magic is being infiltrated and its policies changed.  Magic is now Might – witches and wizards from muggle families must register and turn themselves over for interrogation and education at Hogwarts is restricted to pure-blood students only under new headmaster Severus Snape.  It’s not a stretch to compare the magical world controlled by Voldemort to Nazi Europe.  This isn’t a crass comparison or something that JK Rowling has added for shock value alone, instead it is a compelling warning about the dangers of one section of society being castigated and belittled and the ultimate result of exclusionary policies.

The strain on all three main characters is palpable during their long quest and more damaging friction than ever before occurs.  There is great danger, adventure and darkness but the emotions of the characters are never forgotten.  The fact that they are still just teenagers facing their greatest fears is never left behind and it works well.  Rowling knows how to create characters that we care about and she plays with the emotions of the readers. From the first great battle of the book, where we lose two characters, to the epilogue which does bring a little tear to the eye, we are unsure of what will happen and if our favourite characters will survive.

Some moments in the book are absolutely brutal and if I had children I’d think very carefully before allowing them to read it.  Serious injuries and deaths are littered throughout the story, there’s a particularly brutal torture scene which causes me to wince each time I read it and the themes are very very dark.  This is not a book for sensitive souls.

This story however is about the great final battle – the one which will decide if good or evil will triumph.  Everything else is just leading us towards this epic set-piece.  I was delighted to see two characters get their moment in the spotlight and the Battle of Hogwarts highlights just how important other characters are in the fight against evil.  Although he sometimes feels as though he is, Harry is not alone.  There are always people there to support him, and others who are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.

We waited 10 years for the story to come to an end and for all the questions we have had over the series to be answered. We find if Snape is good or bad, who wins the final battle and if Ron and Hermione do get together.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows brings us to our conclusion in the most exciting, gut-wrenching, thrilling and satisfactory way possible.  A fitting finale to an exceptional series of books.

Previous and next posts in this series:<< Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
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