Potter is dead by my hand, and no man
alive can threaten me now!"
And so it concludes. The seventh
and last book in JK Rowling's extraordinary
series brings together the boy
wizard, Harry Potter and evil Lord Voldemort
in a final climactic encounter.
It begins with Harry's hasty departure
from his home with the Dursleys. He is
given shelter for a while by the
Weasley family, but with Voldemort's Death
Eaters always close on his heels,
it is not long before he is once more
driven on. Thereafter, The Boy Who
Lived is cast adrift in to the wider world
outside of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft
and Wizardry, with his best friends
Ron and Hermione in tow. Harry has
been given a particular mission by his
late tutor and mentor, Albus Dumbledore, but
deciphering quite what he
should do, and how he might accomplish
it almost proves too much for him.
Even so, he must get to grips
with things quickly, and remain undercover
all the while, because Voldemort's
supporters are never far away, and a
final battle back at Hogwarts is
drawing inexorably nearer...
book was released on July 21, 2007, to be precise...
it became the fastest-selling title ever, selling more than
copies within twenty-four hours of publication. The
of nine million sales had been held by its predecessor,
and the Half-Blood Prince"...
I don't know about you, but
this avid reader has reveled in the arrival of
each and every addition to the
Harry Potter story. He's been there, date
and date with the launch to pick
up his copy and share in the pleasure of
reading these new tales collectively
with millions of similarly eager souls
around the world. Let's face
it, it's such a rare and wonderful occurrence,
one can only admire the author and
her publishers alike for having conducted
such a flawless and magnificent
exercise in mass readership. What's more,
given the media maelstrom that seems
to be constantly swirling around the
Harry Potter phenomenon one has to
wonder how on earth we got to this
point at all. A seven volume story
arc, ever-increasing in depth and range
that's somehow, impossibly, made
it to a deft conclusion? It's a mighty feat,
And that's probably the perfect
cue for us to split the rest of this review
in two. You see, on the one
hand, this reader approached "Deathly Hallows"
just as any other freewheeling
fan, so keen to find out Just What Happens that
further judgment on the storytelling
became irrelevant in the face of all
those longed-for revelations
and spellbinding conclusions. But at the same
time, this reader also realised
he had to take a good step back. He needed to
distance himself from the hullabaloo,
catch his breathe and take a more
critical look at what was on
offer in this climactic tale.
There's no doubt your regular
Potter fan will lap this volume up, just as they
have with the previous six. All the
loose ends, relationships and prophecies
are wrapped up and concluded. Some
wind up exactly as you'd expected,
whilst others continue to wriggle
and surprise us. The more casual reader
may want to reacquaint themselves
with those earlier books before proceeding
because JK reintroduces a number
of secondary characters from the series
and gives them new status and
importance in the Harry Potter universe.
Similarly there are previously
encountered objects and artifacts which are
granted their own greater significance
as the story unfolds.
And then, well, then there are
the deaths. Death is everywhere in this book.
Hardly a chapter goes by without
the loss or maiming of a popular character.
As the body count rises, you're left
wondering if anyone will actually survive.
You turn each page, dreading more
tears, still hoping for triumph. There's no
denying, JK knows how to keep
her fans on their toes...
And yet... She's also equally
adept at frustrating them, because the stop-start
narrative, and restricted flow
of information which has haunted the series from
the get-go, alas, returns here with
even greater vigour. After the opening rush
of events, Harry, Ron and Hermione
are left in a kind of no-man's land. As JK
arranges the pieces on her magical
chess board, so these three bumble - nay,
grumble - their way towards the next
big plot point. "Deathly Hallows"
is the first Potter novel to move
away from the Dursleys-to-Hogwarts formula
of its predecessors. And with no
school for them to go to, our trio are lost in the
countryside. There's information
out there which could drive the plot on,
but Rowling once more chooses to
hold it back. And it's during that
protracted time in the tent we are
reminded how, for far too long, Harry Potter
himself has been something of an inanimate
hero himself. Everything seems
to happen around him. He's not particularly
clever, and often overlooks
somewhat obvious clues that
could help him along far sooner than the
plotting will allow. And when
at last he takes center stage, it's so often
circumstance that saves the
day and not the lad's skill or ability.
Fortunately, Harry is far more
proactive during our endgame. In fact,
the whole latter half of the
story, preceded by a return to Gringott's bank,
is a nonstop ride, with set
piece after set piece coming our way, and Harry
is at the fore, guiding events
at last. As the battling climax draws near,
Snape has a stunning moment in the
spotlight, as does - of all people - Mrs
Weasley. Hers is encounter that will
get folks cheering, although it raises
a further thought for our consideration. The
last few books in this spectacular
series often feel as if they've been written
for the big screen, rather than for
the readership. JK introduces moments
which will no doubt look terrific
within the movie adaptations, but
they're given somewhat shorter shrift on
the page, with at times, a most pedestrian and
obvious prose. Similarly,
we have those darned convoluting
prophecies to contend with. The
precise explanation behind Harry's
connection to Lord Voldemort, and
the way in which their wands
unite just seems to get ever more tangled
overshadowing everything else in this book are those deaths. Death really
is everywhere, right from the
start of the story. And many of the fallen are
given comparatively short thrift
by the author as she hurtles us on through
the adventure. When Sirius Black perished
in Book Five, it a was a big deal.
And Dumbledore's denouement still
reverberates from the last outing.
Yet here, in "Deathly Hallows",
far too many are dispatched in the blink
of an eye, or their death announced
with just a single line of dialogue.
You'd think the author didn't
care. Indeed, it feels as if several folks are
dispatched purely to prevent
any future plans the publishers may have had
to develop the franchise with a new
author. And in a similar vein, we are
eventually presented with an epilogue
which adds little to what's gone on
before. Has it too been tagged on
merely to scupper that eighth adventure?
But, you know, to go on nitpicking
at the detail is really rather pointless.
At the end of the day, this reader
- and millions like him - have thoroughly
enjoyed their trips to JK's extraordinary
wizarding world, and "Deathly Hallows"
is as dark and deadly a denouement
as we could have hoped for. Which means
you can ignore any flaws and keep
turning the pages through to its spectacular
climax. So it's time to take off
the Critical Hat now, and to simply applaud.
Yes, let's celebrate the fact
that Harry Potter has made it through seven
ridiculously popular adventures,
and he's made it by hook and by crook
right to the bitter end, irrespective
of anyone else's critique or commentary.
And that deserves all the praise
in the world. So here's to you, Harry,
JK and Bloomsbury. You made
it, Hogwarts and all!...
Collectors are quite obviously
limited. There are standard first editions,
of course, but given the huge
print run these books available en masse,
and are therefore of little initial
value. If one has to choose, the
is the more collectable, given its
As for signed copies, well, we can
all dream. The author wisely restricted any
book signings to her customary midnight
reading event, on the eve of the launch
of the book. However, during
a September tour of America, she began signing
copies a tad more freely, so
there are more signed editions available
than we might have first thought.
Even so, they're still like gold dust to
most of us, and as and when
they turn for sale they're still well out of
many folks' price range - *sigh*
Potter and The Deathly Hallows
UK Hardback edition...
Potter and The Deathly Hallows
UK special edition...
official site, from Warner Bros....
The author's site....
The publisher's site...
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