Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Reviewed: August 3, 2007
By: J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Raincoast Books
607 pages, $45.00
going to have to go back and reread all the Harry Potter novels. In fact, I
almost feel as if I should have done that before reading this one. That's all
right, though. Sometime next spring, when I've worked my way through the first
six books again, this one will be a treat.
somewhat the same experience with Stephen King's Dark Tower saga, in that it
was so long, and it had been so many years since I'd read book one, that I
needed to retrace Roland's steps in order to have the final three volumes make
saga is not as complicated as that, but Rowling clearly intended that nothing
she had ever created for the earlier novels would go to waste, even if some of
them hadn't actually been mentioned in the last book. So we have a story which
includes the invisibility cloak, various of the trick potions brewed up by the
Weasley twins, extendable ears (for eavesdropping), the Marauders' Map and even
the very first snitch that Harry ever caught in a game of Quiddich.
There is no
Quiddich game in this particular novel, which may come as a disappointment to
many, but then Harry plays the role of a Seeker through the entire book, and
does put his skills to use a time or two.
is, most of this book does not take place at Hogwarts School, though he, Ron
and Hermione finally do get there for the last quarter of the story. By that
time, of course, it's not exactly the Hogwarts we have all come to know and
love (let's face it, you wouldn't be reading this column if you didn't) and
things are in pretty much of a mess.
This is all
thanks to You Know Who, or He Who Must Not Be Named, who has taken advantage of
the death of Albus Dumbledore to pretty much seize control of the wizarding
world, including the school. This was fairly easy for him since his Death Eater
gang was the only organized group in existence. The Order of the Phoenix was
pretty much in a shambles following the deaths of Sirius Black (see this
summer's Potter movie, coming soon to a DVD machine near you) and Professor
Dumbledore (see The Half Blood Prince). As for the legitimate authorities
of the wizarding world, they have mostly spent the last several years denying
that Lord Voldemort has returned, and that constant denial left them easy prey
when he and his cohort made their move.
So this book
begins with Harry about to become 17, about to lose the protection of the spell
that was cast upon him as an infant, and also about to be able to practice
magic openly without being punished for it and tracked by the Ministry of Magic
every time he waves his wand. Harry finds himself in the position of having to
leave Number 4, Privet Drive before all that happens and Voldemort's minions
can arrive to overwhelm him with sheer numbers.
finds himself in the paradoxical position of having to save his aunt and uncle,
Vern and Petunia Dursley, and their oafish son, Dudley, who have treated him
like a dangerous freak ever since he was left on their doorstep as a baby. He
knows Voldemort will have them killed, just for sport, or perhaps for being
related to him, or perhaps because their house has been Harry's impregnable
safe haven for all these years.
We enter the
story with Harry seeing to the safety of his nasty relatives and the members of
the Order planning how Harry may be safely spirited away to a secret and
protected location until after his birthday.
Only some of
this goes well, and the first deaths in the book occur before the end of
chapter four, with many more to come after that. There have been many rumours
about just exactly who dies in this final volume, and the book has been out now
long enough that I'm not spoiling anything to say that most of the predictions,
including some floated by Rowling herself, were wrong.
I was partly
fooled by the climactic events of book 6, and final fates of both Snape and
Dumbledore were not quite what I had thought they would be, but I found the
actual explanations quite satisfactory, and very much in line with previous
revelations in The Order of the Phoenix.
as a surprise is the real history of Albus Dumbledore, whose story is told in
several variations throughout the book, leaving Harry feeling depressed,
astounded, disbelieving and betrayed at a time when he needs all the confidence
he can muster.
that, perhaps the most surprising event in the book occurs pages 39 and 40 when
Dudley, of all people, tells Harry that it doesn't matter what his parents
think, he doesn't believe Harry is a "waste of space" and then, as
they part for the last time, reaches out to shake Harry's hand.
bit of delightful astonishment you can bet that almost anything can happen and
even the final chapter will not really take you by surprise.