Monday, July 23, 2007

My Deathly Hallows Review

OK. I know a lot of you haven't finished the final Harry Potter yet. I'm so sorry.

However, I have and I want to post some thoughts. I'll leave plenty of spoiler space for my lovely Google Reader readers...

I loved it. Loved it. I though JKR did an almost completely brilliant job with most of it. I loved that we got to see the Harry/Hermione/Ron trio for most of the book. I loved the action. I loved that people died. I didn't love that people died. I loved that actions had consequences and there was real evil out there.

What didn't I love? I didn't love the never-ending camping trip. That got pretty tiresome. I didn't love chasing clues all over the country seemingly only to get to the end of the year, as JKR likes to structure her books. I didn't like that breaking into the Ministry and into Gringotts felt very similar. I didn't like that we really never got an explanation about how the Sword of Gryffindor came out of the Sorting Hat. Again. I wonder what Griphook thought of that.

Ok, so specifics.

I loved how JKR basically deconstructed Dumbledore for the whole series. He started off as this almost perfect character, but by the end, we know that he was someone who had dabbled in the Dark Arts, and had desparately wanted to be famous. He also was arrogant to the point of putting others in life threatening danger. And yet, he was right and Harry loved him.

Snape. I loved how Snape was doing good things, but all for the wrong reasons. He was doing it out of guilt and if it hadn't been for Lilly, he would have unapologetically been a Death Eater. I loved that every time he looked at Harry, he saw the eyes of the woman he loved in the face of the man he hated. That part was simply, simply brilliant JKR's part. I did love how showing his memories cleared everything up and how that was written, particularly understanding that HE was the nasty boy Petunia had talked about in Order of the Phoenix.

I simply adored the Battle of Hogwarts and I really think it could be its own movie. All the people joining back up: Dumbledore's Army, the Order, the old Quidditch players. The whole final third of the book was just so tightly written and done so very well. I can't wait to read that part again.

Loved that Neville became just the ultimate Hogwarts Bad Ass. Killing Nagini and organizing the resistance. And his Gran taking out some Death Eaters. AND MOLLY WEASLEY! Kickin' it and taking names!

I loved how Kreacher really did come around because of being treated kindly, and even respecting Hermione.

Speaking of House Elves, I was really surprised that the death that actually brought tears to my eyes was Dobby's. Dobby! The Jar-Jar of Harry Potter! He had been so brave and so resourceful that I simply loved how he was brought into the story, and so shocked that he died in the way that he did.

I even loved the epilogue, 1) for its blatant cheesiness, and 2) that it threw back into the face of all the fans that were just begging for a Harry and Hermione hookup: the Harmonians (yes, that's what they call themselves).

I really really loved it and I think it's my favorite book right now. I need to read it again and a smidge closer this time. And then, next year probably, do a full seven book reread. That's going to be fun.


Karen said...

Yes, Yes, Yes! Finding out Dumbledore's past was so very cool (the only thing better would have been finding a way to bring him back... but then that wouldn't have been too realistic, eh?). And Snape... I knew the answer to the dilemma of whether he was good/evil would not be simple, and JKR constructed that whole thing brilliantly. I think Molly's little quote during the battle is one of my favorites. As a mom, I can totally relate! And yes, Dobby's death made me cry as well.

I will also be doing a slower/closer re-read. I'm anxious for my kids to get to hear the story as well. They haven't read book 6 yet (except for my 15yo), so I'm thinking I may get both on tape or CD to save my voice. Besides, Jim Dale would be a lot better to listen to than me! I bet he could retire on the residuals from those books alone.

Justin said...

Have you read any of the scholarly analysis of the HP series, and how it might bring on a generation of libertarian thought amongst those slightly younger than I am?

Apparently, whether intentionally or not, JKR's book promotes the idea that governments are corrupt, bureaucracies are bad, and that it is good to have sound currency (gold standard etc)

I haven't read anything since the second one, so I'm just taking their word for it.

Phil said...

And Harry Potter = Ron Paul, I'm sure...

Justin, you so crazy!

gavin richardson said...

i can't believe you are only just now getting around to finishing the book. &:~)

did your children even know you this weekend? &:~)

thanks for the spoilers.. though if i was a reader of the series what you said would have some meaning to me. right now it's just about a third beause i have seen one or two of the movies.

Brent said...

Who dies?

Phil said...


Everyone. Eventually.

Kat Coble said...

I agree wholeheartedly.

Tiffany said...

Well-analyzed. I want to read it again before I do too much analysis of my own. I was reading fairly quickly to see what all happened that I know I missed some of the more subtle aspects of the story.

And yeah, the full 7-book re-read is definitely in order. I do have those two 8-hour plane rides in October....

G. Brandon Hoyt said...

Ok, so things actually turned out to be similar to what I thought would be the case. I knew Snapes had it bad for Lily, it was the only way to explain why he hated Harry so. Love is redemptive I think, and I think Snapes learnt that.

As far as Dumbledore is concerned: I knew he had the wand, and I knew that as soon as Voldemort killed Snapes, that Draco was the real owner, cause I thought, "But Albus didn't have the wand when Snapes 86'd em, Draco disarmed him!" I knew there had to be a planned death. I did expect the man who had been a friend to a phoenix to some how be raised, but apparently only Harry is immune to death in this saga... ;-)

Why is it that all the great British Epic authors of the last 100 years make a big deal out of self sacrifice for the aid of others? I refer of course, to two other initialed authors: JRR Tolkien, and CS Lewis.

Beaner said...

Loved it! My favorite of the series. I guessed some of it, but was surprised by some of the deaths - although a LOT of deaths in this book makes sense. I loved that all the other magical creature fought alongside Harry et al because of the way they were treated by them - house elves, Hippogriff, etc.

I'm guessing they'll be lots of whoops & hollers when Molly screams THAT out in the 7th movie!!! Someone actually was questioning why that would be in a "children's book" and I couldn't believe how heartily I defended the use of that word - funny, huh???

I can't wait to read it again!!! But I think I should be a Mom again for a few days - I'm sure my kids have missed me! ;)

Kristen said...

Ok, I'll look you in the face now, and even talk to you. I finished tonight. It was nearly perfect.

Marina S. said...

I love that LOVE from every corner conquered Voldemort....let's not forget that the love that Narcissa felt for Malfoy caused her to lie to Voldemort about Harry being alive, even though she knew that it meant the cause she and Lucias had been fighting for most of thier lives would be in jeopardy. Love, love, love.

Patrick M. Hausen said...


That's the second review that I read, that mentioned the "never ending camping trip". I read the book during Saturday evening and most of Sunday to finish it the same night and that thought never crossed my mind.

When reading the reviews, I thought "but that was only a short walkaway compared to, say, Frodo, Sam and Gollum crossing the mountains" ;-)
When I read the LOTR for the first time, I almost gave up during the second volume.

Besides that I agree wholeheartedly.

After the 6th book I had the firm suspicion that there was something essential to the story about Snape and that he would eventually turn out to be one of the "good guys", still. My theory at the time went along the lines of a set up killing to get Dumpledore out of the line of fire to go searching horcruxes or whatever the greatest wizard of all times needed to do. A fake killing, Dumbledore creating his one horcrux for the "greater good" - whatever.

The solution Rowling presented was even better than that, but even my plot would not have been as unbelievable as Bobby Ewing stepping out of the shower ;-)

And Dobby, yes, what a brilliant side storyline *sniff*

I loved _everything_ of it. By all means my favorite book in the series.

What made me think of a "never ending camping trip" was all the time spent with the Dursleys. IMHO these parts could have been shorter. But, hey, these are great books and I'm not in the position to come up with anything better ;-)

Kind regards,

Joy said...

I had a question about something I didn't understand. When Harry and Dumbledore are at "king's crossing," the spiritual limbo, or whatever, and Harry asks how it's possible that he's still alive, Dumbledore says it's because Voldemort took Harry's blood. I understand that Voldemort and Harry share the same blood, making them connected, but I don't understand how Lily's protection saved Harry's life...again. And if it's the same blood, providing the same protection why did Voldemort's first curse to kill Harry not backfire? Maybe I'm just missing something, and stupid, but I really don't get it. If anyone could explain I'd love it. Thanks :)

chichoo said...

hi. Mr. Phil Wilson..your review was superb. i liked the book soooooooo much. I got on to the firebolt and circled entire earth and landed safely on the rooftop. That’s how I felt the moment I started the book and completed it some 19 hours later (minus some minutes spent on daily cores!) what a book! You need not be a genius to have guessed some plot details earlier because it is a continuing story right from first book. I felt really sad (even had wet eyes!) for Snape. What a man. JKR should have at least permitted harry to hug snape once (even though he loath him and the feeling is mutual!) I feel that jkr's children should have made her change her mind from eliminating one of the three main characters. But I don’t complain. The epilogue should have been more hilarious and informative had there was a dinner meeting at The Burrow amongst all Order members and other survivors (including Grawp!). The following may also be added (this is only inclusive. Lot and lot can be mentioned):
1. Hagrid marries Madam Maxime
2. Hagrid gifts tawny Owl to harry named Hedwig
3. Umbridge put behind Askhaban
4. Luna Lovegood marries Neville
5. Ron joins Charlie in WWW joke shop
6. Kreacher joins Hogwords kitchen
7. Hermione becomes Healer
8. Harry becomes Auror
9. Kingsly Shacklebolt becomes minister of magic etc etc

Mr. Wilson..i have a doubt. please clarify. malfoy disarmed DD of his elder wand. but the elder wand remained with DD and it was buried with DD. tom riddle opens the grave of DD and takes elder wand. harry disarmed malfoy of his wand and not elder wand. now tell me..voldy has the elder wand and makes the killing curse against harry. why it did not kill. because harry was not having the elder wand with him at that point of time. this is very confusing.

with reference to the doubt someone raised about the GG sword comes out of the hat:- the reason why GG's sword came out of sorting hat is that as DD rightly put in chamber of secret that only a true grifindor can retrieve the sword from the hat. Neveille is a true G hence he got it from the hat. the only tricky issue in hand is whey voldy takes all the pain by summoning the hat from inside Hogwards and put it on the head of Nevelle!

Iro said...

Harry took Malfoy's wand when he (Malfoy) was the master of the Elder Wand. When Harry overpowered Draco, he became the true master of both Draco’s wands even the one Draco had never touched.
Then (because the wand chooses the wizard), the Elder wand denied to attack his master. That’s why the spell backfired and Voldemort was killed by his own spell.
I hope I helped!

Meehaw said...

Joy i think it might be because the first time voldemort used the killing curse (in the forest) harry still had part of voldemort's soul latched on to him from all those years ago. Maybe the elder want detected this part and attacked this part to banish it but Harry's mother's love protected him from actually dying...the second time the elder want backfired because harry's soul was his own...just a theory...maybe im wrong :S

Benny said...

I LOVED THIS BOOK! I could not put it down for two days. I do however, harbor some disappointment with a few of its parts.

- I too was a bit bored with the camping trip, and I felt that the near capture/escape of harry/voldemort got a bit old after a few tries. I would like to have had them meet more towards the end rather than throughout the book. It seemed to somehow cheapen the finale, ever so slightly.

- I also feel that JK dropped the ball a bit with the Harry/Ginny situation. Love between two people in this fashion is a very complicated thing. It absorbs you wholly and doesn’t let go. When you are in love with someone, if your feelings are true for that person, you can’t just walk by them to your death without any explaination. And after the final battle, picture going to his friends to explain what just happened rather than to embrace the woman that you love, and let her know that everything is ok. Maybe Im just a hopeless romantic, but that didn’t seem very real to me. I just felt that she would get to that MAJOR storyline to tie up the loose ends, but she never did. I suppose the epilogue (which I wish I didn’t read at all) did that, but not really in the way I had hoped.

- I did have trouble with the epilogue. I know JK is a consummate pro, but any time you see “17 years later” or anything of that sort in literature, it wreaks of laziness on the authors part. I felt that it was too sweet to have everyone meet up with their happy little families all named after our favorite characters from the series (talk about living in the past!) I hope this part gets left out of the movie

All that aside, I will say that this book had many more strong points than weak, and was a fitting end to a truly wonderful and magical series. I have NEVER been so excited about a book being released.

Anonymous said...

I thought the ending was lame and the explanation for how Harry was able to sacrifice himself and live convoluted. And there were too many things that made no sense--Petunia was close to her sister and even after her death, held a grudge against her son because she was sore she didn't get to go to Hogwarts? Lame, lame, lame. And I love how Petunia's family disappeared forever after one chapter--there was no real resolution, nor did Draco and Harry exchange so much as a head nod in recognition of what they went through at the end...
Also, too much similarity with LOTR series. I groaned out loud when the kids took turns wearing the locket and how it was affecting their personalities. There were a lot of small yet I thought significant details that should have been brought out more as well. For instance, haven't we been hearing since book 1 how much Harry looks like James but has Lily's eyes? How much cooler would it have been if that was what turned Snape? Snape could have saved Harry at a crucial moment by looking in his eyes and seeing Lily rather than James as he had been.
It felt like JK kind of gave up.

Glen said...

Anonymous, at what point in LOTR did the fellowship pass the ring around to make sure it didn't affect them too much?
Regarding Snape and Harry, it is implied in Snape's memories that the fact that he sees the eyes of the woman he loved in the face of the man he hated is a source of great pain for him. A friend of mine also mentioned that the last thing that Snape asks of Harry is to "Look at me"... Snape's eyes meet 'Lily's' and he dies.
I think JK tied up so many loose ends throughout the book that there is no way that she gave up. If you wanted to read D'n'Ms between Harry and Draco or Harry and Dursleys I think JK would still be writing now and readers would eventually say that the book was far to long and boring.

chicho said...

thanks helped. pl clarify one more thing. when harry and hagrid was chased by voldy (seven potters)harry closes his eyes and expecting a killing curse. but his wand all by itself drags his hand and all by itself makes some incantation with sparks which broke voldy's borrowed wand. (harry later admits that he has not heard of such spell) how this happened?

iro said...


I think Dumbledore explains that on page 570 (UK edition – King’s Cross).
He tells Harry that his wand imbibed some of the power and qualities of Voldemort’s wand the night that Voldemort returned (in GOF), and it contained a little of Voldemort himself.
That’s why Harry’s wand recognized Voldemort “a man who was both kin and mortal enemy, and regurgitated some of his own magic against him, magic much more powerful than anything Lucius’s wand had ever performed. Your wand now contained the power of your enormous courage and of Voldemort’s deadly skill”
English is not my mother tongue, so sorry for any mistakes!

Anonymous said...

thanks iro..i am going through the book once again. while reading for the first time in a rush with curiosity, i missed the picture is getting clear and clear. overall a good book. from the chapter molfoy manner, it is as speed as light. with reference to english, we are sailing in the same boat!

chicho said...

it was me iros!

Anonymous said...

Just a note on Joy's question/comment.... to me, it wasn't that it was Lily's love that saved Harry in the forest when Voldemort tried to kill him again, it was his own sacrifice, and the fact that he held a little bit of Voldemort's soul with him as well. Although love was his saviour again, it wasn't his mother's love that did it this time, but the love and sacrifice that he was making for everyone that he loved. Hence the reason that none of Voldemort's spells really stuck when he used them on anyone else after that.... Harry's love and sacrifice protected them all...

A couple more comments... loved the book, but am sad that it's over. Again, I understand the reason for most of the deaths in the book, but am still not convinced that a couple weren't gratuitous... just my opinion! Liked the epilogue... nice to see a little glimpse into the future, and it contains one of my favorite lines.... "Albus Severus, you were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew." (Can't help it, I'm totally in love with Alan Rickman, so I could never really hate Snape....) I'm glad that Harry finally got to see the real Snape, and I have said all along, if Snape could have gotten past the whole "looks like James" thing, he might have realized how alike he and Harry really were... and, i knew he wasn't evil... Dumbledore never would have begged for his life, but he did plead with Severus at the end of HBP... I knew it was a plan they had worked out...

An amazing piece of work... made me laugh and cry and I can't wait to do an entire 7 book re-read myself!

Stanley said...

It's great that all the mystery surrounding Snape was brought to a very satisfying conclusion. However, I can't help but think that this GREAT wizard was basically an idiot. He had a multitude of opportunities and ample time to plot and exact his own revenge. Instead, he follows an elaborate plan orchestrated by a dead guy despite having no explanation of how it works or assurances that it will work. He even gets killed by one of the errors in the plan. Serves him right. If he had taken care of business earlier, he could have saved a few hundred people.

ms_peligrosa said...

Joy, et al- I thought Harry didn't die because he had all three hallows, and he wasn't afraid to die which made him a master of death.
All in all a great book, but I agree with several other posters- it did drag in the middle, and could have been 100 pages shorter.

Anonymous said...

A different response to Joy's question about blood and King's cross station. I don't think it has to do with Lily's blood; my theory (understanding) is this - when Voldemort used Harry's blood to regain his body (end of book 4) he unknowingly made something like a Horcrux for Harry in that he took a bit of Harry into himself. This bit of Harry existing in Voldemort is why Harry wasn't killed outright by the fatal curse from Voldemort in the forest(as part of Harry was existing outside his own body). It also explains why Voldemort felt enormous pain when he attacked Harry in the forest. This is just my interpretation - what do you think?

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your review and the book.

I thought it was appropriate and very traditional in a 'quest' for the hero to spend time in the (spiritual) wilderness.

Harry does not know what to believe anymore, doubt and confusion start to take control. He must decide between the pursuit of power to defeat power (the hallows) or have faith that there was another way. His choice showed him to be a better man than even AD (though nothing like as clever or powerful)

Edward said...

Help please? 2 questions;
First, Is there any clues in the book that Harry, Ron and Hermione go back to Hogwarts for their final (7th) year of study in order to graduate? They could have dropped out or received an honorary degree I suppose.
Second, I know that it's fiction, but why do only some people who die, come back as ghosts and why do portraits talk, but pictures do not?
Please send a reply back to

Phil said...


Rowling never indicated one way or another in the book if the trio went back and I haven't seen any interviews where she answers the question.

As far as who becomes a ghost, in Order of the Phoenix, she said that people that became a ghost were afraid of death, or didn't want to go on to death. As far as who becomes a portrait, I've never seen any indication about that at all. I wonder if any one can become one, like a magical snapshot.

Mouthful of Cyn said...

Excellent review, Phil. I enjoyed it immensely.

Cynthia Blue said...

ooo I was terribly disappointed with book 7. Unfortunately. Too many things that were just flat. I will be listening to it on CD next, see if maybe I like it better.

Kelli said...

OK, I waited for the local library to get to my name on a waiting list and I have finally read it. I agree that the camping trip dragged (has anyone read the Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - stories can drag for a reason); I also found the explanation of Harry's survival somewhat convoluted. Additionally I felt that the writing was not her this I am referring to the technical aspects of writing, not to the story line.

With that said, I liked the book. She did interweave older hints from the previous books to complete the puzzle very nicely. All novel in the series has been a hero epic, and as such, Harry needed to 1) defeat Voldemort and 2) be rewarded, either by living or by becoming venerated in death. In response to the comment on self-sacrifice for others, this is not a British 'thing' - go back to earlier mythology and you'll find a ton of it! I did wonder what happened to the Dursleys, that seemed like a loose end. Snape was consistently a complex character, and that was very enjoyable - his memories filled in some important gaps.

All in all, worth waiting for. Not the best of the series, and I an sad they have ended (RIP Dobby and others), but a bood I would not have wanted to miss.

jessica said...

Excellent book just excellent!

Jay said...

Ya i loved the book as well...
But a question to Mr.Wilson:
Harry's invisibility cloak is A Deathly Hallow right? An impenetrable, permanent concealment given to its owner? Well, Mad-eye Moody saw right through it in The Goblet OF fire!!! You mean to tell me, Death cant see through the cloak, but Mad-eye can?? Some concealment eh?

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