SciFi Friday: Harry Potter Ends (Spoilers Included)

The final Harry Potter book was released a couple of weeks ago, but before commenting I’ve given people who care time to either read the book or learn how to avoid spoilers. This post does contain major spoilers. You have been warned.

The Harry Potter series began as a fantasy which was irresistible to every teenager who ever felt alienated. Harry started as an outcast but quickly found out that he was special. Not only was Harry a wizard, but he was one of the most famous wizards of all.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone concentrated on the magic surrounding Hogwarts and established Harry, Hermione, and Ron as the major characters throughout the series. As the book, and the school year, progressed we were given our first exposure to the threat from Voldemort. Subsequent books dealt with a new school year and were increasingly dominated by the dangers of Voldemort returning. Normally I avoid reading series as the books tend to become repetitive, featuring the same characters in similar situations. Harry Potter was different as, while there was somewhat of a formula, it was clear that there was a definite story line being developed which would end in the seventh book.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows concludes the series as predicted with Harry defeating Voldemort. Being a children’s series, I never believed the speculation that Harry would die, which would also be contrary to a prophesy made earlier in the series that one (not both) must die. Deathly Hollows follows a trend established where the novels became progressively darker, and often longer. In the earlier novels the length was often of benefit even when portions were not necessary. For Harry Potter fans part of the fun is just spending the year at Hogwarts and the longer the book, the longer they coud do so.

The limited time spent at Hogwarts, other than for the final battle, was one reason why the length of this book was a problem. Very little of consequence happens in the first four hundred pages. Instead of enjoying them at Hogwarts, I felt, just as Ron Weasley did, that we were wandering aimlessly.

The book becomes much more exciting as it approached the end, but still far too much is revealed either from seeing Snape’s thoughts after his death or in discussion with Dumbledore following his death. This is more acceptable in a book about wizards where such extraordinary ways of transmitting information are possible, but the story would have been stronger if Harry’s own investigations had revealed the truth about Snape and Dumbledore, as well as his own fate. There had been clues from the beginning that Snape was actually on Dumbledore’s side, such as when Snape saved Harry from falling from his Quidditch broom in the first book. I also suspected this when Snape punished Ginny and others in a way which was hardly real punishment.

The epilogue which takes place nineteen year later might be the most controversial part of the book. Many think it did not fit in well with the darker tone of the book. While it differed from the tone of Deathly Hollows, it was a fair epilogue for the series as a whole. Other than for Deathly Hollows, going off to Hogwarts was an important event taking place relatively early in each book. We were denied this in Deathly Hollows, but seeing the children Harry and others go off to school brought closure to the series.

While other parts of the book were too long, I actually wish the epilogue did provide more information. We see that the world has returned to normal without Voldemort, that Hogwarts has continued, and who some of the characters married. We do not learn the immediate aftermath of the battle, such as whether Harry needed to return for his seventh year or graduated with his class due to his real world experiences.

While it would be preferable if the information had been included in the book, J.K. Rowling has filled in some details in interviews and web chats following the publication of the final book. She says that Harry and Ron did become Aurors who fight the dark arts, with Harry the department head. Hermione, not surprisingly, is high up in the  Department of Magical Law Enforcement. This might also not be the end for Rowling’s involvement in Harry Potter as she is considering writing a Harry Potter encyclopedia among other projects. He  other projects include novels for both children and adults.  It will be interesting to see if J.K. Rowlings can recreate the same type of magic for readers in new novels, regardless of whether the deal with magic of fantasy literature.

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    Brett says:

    MORE SPOILERS!!!

    I’ve finally finished the seventh book, and I must say, I cannot imagine a ten-year-old getting through this book without having a nervous breakdown. It was so dark that it could only be considered a young adult story, not a “children’s story.” So, it had a happy ending? Many R-rated, violent films do, and we don’t call those “children’s stories.”

    With that in mind, when Harry was revealed to be an Horcrux, I was convinced that Harry was going to die, and that your prediction was wrong. Remember, as Dumbledore said–bless him–just because a prophecy was uttered, doesn’t mean it would be necessarily be fulfilled, and exactly as it was said. Just because it was prophesized that only one would survive, it never meant that Harry would live. Remember, if Voldemort had ignored the prophecy, none of this would have ever happened.

    I disagree, the first 400 pages were just as exciting as the last 300 pages. They managed to recover one Horcrux in the 200s, very dramatically, and there was an emotional visit to Godric’s Hollow in the 300s. All important to the plot. Also, these pages showed the wizarding world at siege, with the coup at the Ministry and the trio’s life on the run, and all of this clearly demonstrated just what they were fighting for. And, yeah, they were wandering aimlessly, as Ron complains, but that was part of the plot, and just because it wasn’t exciting, it didn’t make it any less important and entertaining.

    As for the characters’ absence from Hogwarts, I thought you were happy about breaches of formulas. It was defintely charting new territory, but I think J.K. Rowling handled it well and it certainly lent a monomythic quest flavor to the book. I enoyed it, and I don’t think one should judge a story based on its level of excitement.

    I also don’t mind how the “Prince’s tale” was related to Harry. I find it very poignant that Snape decided to let him know everything on his deathbed. It was a plot dump, as simple as that, and it’s been done before. Remember, Barty Crouch’s tale of how he brought about the resurrection of Lord Voldemort was dumped all in one chapter via truth serum. What really matters is the substances of these revelations, not the manner in which they are delivered, and I personally doubt Harry would find out the truth about Snape–a very private man–unless Snape was on his death bed.

    I agree, the epilouge was way too short. I wish more information was revealed, but I feel that dumping too much information on the readers for such a simple scene would be inappropriate. I also personally wish that there was more discussion of the aftermath of Voldemort’s reign of terror–since the development of the wizarding world proved so critical to these books and especially this one–but then again, Return of Jedi didn’t really elaborate on what happened after Palpatine fell, so it might not really be necessary here.

    I would also appreciate your thoughts on your opinion of the fate of Peter Pettigrew. He was such a pivotal character (he betrayed James and Lily’s location, and was the catalyst for Voldemort’s return to power) that I felt his fate deserved to have more importance to the conclusion of the series that it actually turned out. Given Rowling’s beautiful ability to tie everything together, and the fact that Harry’s reprieve of Pettigrew which led to the resurrection of the Dark Lord also gave Pettigrew a “life debt” to Harry, I had thought that Wormtail would play a critical role in the downfall of Lord Voldemort.

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