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July 23rd, 2007


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11:47 am - Finis coronat opus
The end crowns the work.

The book isn't perfect; neither is the series. But J.K. Rowling has accomplished something spectacular with them--true modern myth, a gripping adventure tale, a wise coming-of-age story, and a spell-binding personal journey. She has managed something I can only dream of doing (and have, for years): She has told a tale full of imagination, every inch her own, every struggle born from her experience and life and light, and given that to us in images and actions that we can understand and take into ourselves.

I will dare one more prediction, now that the story has ended. The Harry Potter series is going to last a long time. Fifty years from now, children and teens (and adults) will be discovering it for the first time. Families will be reading it aloud together. It will stand next to the Chronicles of Narnia in the ranks of fantasy literature.

And it deserves to be there.


I really wish I'd kept a journal of notes or something. There's so much in this book that I loved, or laughed at, or that make me tear up or nearly scream or just made me go "WOW." There's no way I'll remember it all.

A couple of general things:

Rowling has always been a clean, vivid writer, which suits the story she's telling. But in this book, as in HBP, there are some intensely beautiful and horrible scenes: descriptions (Shell Cottage), action (the fire in the Room of Requirement, the flight with seven Harrys), and gripping emotional moments (Ron's confrontation with the locket Horcrux, Harry reliving the night his parents died, Harry's reaction to the aftermath of the battle and two bodies in particular). I found myself saying, "This really needs to be read aloud."

Also, I was hoping for no "afterlife" weirdness with Harry, but "King's Cross" blew me away with its simplicity and wisdom. Nothing portentous, nothing out-of-place. Clean and clear and beautiful and perfect.

So many minor characters returned, either for a Great Moment (Percy!) or a strong piece of the plot (Kreacher! Dobby! Neville!!) or at least a mention (Oliver Wood, of all people). I found this both heart-warming and heart-wrenching, and it makes the book's single major flaw stand out in high relief: a lot of loose ends after the battle.

The most awful of which, of course, is that we never discover how Remus and Tonks died, and they are not mentioned later. Teddy is, of course, but I'd have liked a bit more. Harry seeing their bodies, after all, was a tipping point for him. It shook me enough that I put the book down for a good hour, went off and shed a few tears, called a friend, distracted myself, and only came back when I felt I could deal.

I'm sure that was what JKR was going for, because that's essentially Harry's reaction, but talk about heart-breaking. I read their names, and suddenly all the weight of Harry's grief for his parents, his thoughts about being Teddy's godfather, his lecture to Remus about being their for his son, came crashing down on me. Ouch. JKR wasn't wrong to kill them, imo, but not giving us any wrap-up was not fair.

I love the focus on the Trio in this book. It means we don't get to see much of anyone else, really, but the friendship that was shown (even in Ron's departure and return), the support, the teamwork.... Just, wow. And we got to see Harry really grow up--learn to lead, learn to trust and have faith despite appearances, learn to forgive, and learn to truly sacrifice. From the moment he and Dudley exchange friendly words and a handshake (*smooshes Dudley*) to "I am about to die", this is Harry putting away childish things and taking on his task in purity of spirit.

No, I don't think I'm overstating. And I love how Rowling can give us both mythological beauty in Harry's surrender and his walk to death, and still keep us inside his head, inside his skin, and let us experience it. Some have complained about too much talking and not enough showing in this book, and there is some of that--but not at the most important moments, imho.

There were some splendidly unexpected moments, of humor (after George's ear is cut off, the fact that the first thing he says is a terrible pun, and that Fred chastises him for not being more creative! TWINS FTW!) and of bravery (Molly Weasley! *cheers*) and of real love from characters you wouldn't think knew about it (Narcissa lying to Voldemort about Harry's death--I never thought I'd be so much on her side).

And even though this book is dark, full of death and pain and sorrow and war, the wizarding world is still a world of wonder, of magic, of Hermione's beaded purse (I want one!) and Apparition and Horcruxes and protective spells and Metamorphmagus babies and Expelliarmus (it is beyond awesome that's the curse Harry uses to defeat Voldie--"having disarmed the rulers and authorities, he made a public display of them, triumphing over them through the cross [sacrifice]").

I'm rambling. I'll close with a brief (ha, I hope) list of things I didn't like so much, and things I adored/things I totally got right. :-)

Things I didn't like so much:

--Remus AND Tonks?! WTF? *weeps*

--I'm a little weirded out by the way in which Peter Pettigrew died. The life debt did come up, but he was prevented from actively helping Harry (assuming that's where his impulse of mercy would have led) by the "gift" that Voldemort gave him. I could wax verbose about crossing a point of no return, here, but I shall refrain.

--The epilogue was fine, but disappointing, really. I wanted to see a bit of what changed in the wizarding world; I wanted to hear more about the Malfoys; I wanted to know that Harry took care of Teddy, darn it. That said, I didn't even tear up when Snape died, but I totally did when Harry called his second son by his full name: Albus Severus.

--There really wasn't enough Ginny in this book, though I liked what was there. And back when HBP came out, I predicted (easy) that either she would follow Harry on his hunt, or would return to Hogwarts and restart the D.A. Which she (and Neville and Luna) totally did. *beams*

--I was strongly hoping for a reversal on the part of some of the Slytherins. While I'm quite pleased with the Malfoy subplot, it would have been much more interesting if (and frankly I was expecting) JKR had allowed that last House a more proper place in the battle. Regulus and Snape make a small dent, but that's really all.

Things I thought were excellent, surprisingly so, or that I loved:

--Dudley acknowledging that Harry saved his life, and Harry's bemused delight at same. "I'm going with these Order people."

--Snape was, indeed, Dumbledore's man through and through! *cheers* And he was good, and there was reason for Dumbledore to trust him absolutely, and yet he was still a broken and unpleasant man--all gray tones and sheer courage and passion. I loved the moment in the Pensieve when Dumbledore (in reference to Snape's courage) says "Sometimes I think we sort too young." Such a strong acknowledgment from a Gryffindor headmaster. Likewise, Snape's dry wisecrack response to Dumbledore's request that he kill him.

--I was prepared to be weirded out by the Snape/Lily potential, but I thought it worked very well, actually. I did not guess the doe was Snape's, so the whole scene with the sword had me pulling my hair out trying to guess who sent the Patronus guide and who put the sword there! LOVE that it was Snape. Of course it was.

--rj_anderson called several awesome things in her now AU fic "If We Survive," including someone voluntarily dying and thus invoking protection over Hogwarts' inhabitants.

--Ron's return to Harry and Hermione, and his struggle with the locket Horcrux. Moving, wonderful, suspenseful.

--Hedwig's death, because it was so unexpected and set the tone of the entire book; and Dobby's, which didn't make me cry, but which was nonetheless unbearably sad, as Harry digs the grave and the others give him clothes to be buried in.

--All the wandlore, and the fairy tales, and the stuff about the Deathly Hallows. I was very much hoping that not all the stuff in this book would be a wrap-up of things we already knew, and JKR delivered, with this and with the painful, rich Dumbledore backstory.

--I almost put the fact that Harry was an inadvertent Horcrux under the "dislike" category. I had strong feelings about that NOT happening, and it startled me. And yet...it works. It truly does, and I'm not sure anything else would have worked as well, and even if I want to smack Dumbledore a little for keeping secrets, I understand why he did, and I'm so, so proud of Harry for accepting the necessary burden in trust.

--Scripture verses on tombstones. I didn't expect that, especially not one as awesome as "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." *shivers*

--Harry's walk to his death, hyper-aware of life and surrounded by the beloved dead. I think the moment when he whispers to the Snitch "I am about to die" will stick with me for a long time.

--Neville confronting Voldemort and beheading Nagini with the Sword of Gryffindor! Neville is my hero!

--Molly Weasley vs. Bellatrix!

--Percy's return to the fold, and the fact that he was the one who couldn't leave Fred's body.

--McGonagall! No wonder she's head of Gryffindor House--she orchestrates a battle, runs around directing herds of desks and armor, and then goes up against Voldie himself and survives.

--The final duel between Harry and Voldemort. Love, love, love!

--The trip to Godric's Hollow and the graveyard. Unexpectedly sad, Harry standing at his parents' graves. Unexpectedly beautiful, he and Hermione supporting each other as they leave. Again, I love the Trio's relationship in this book.

--Oh! I mustn't forget Kreacher. :-)

I'm going to stop while I can, and before I simply start rehearsing the entire plot. I loved this book, despite its flaws, and shall likely re-read it soon. Meanwhile, I leave you with my favorite quote:

"Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"


:-)
Current Location: work, furtively reading everyone else's reviews
Current Mood: impressedimpressed

(17 lit candles | Light a candle)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:fpb
Date:July 24th, 2007 05:28 am (UTC)
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Just as I missed Wood (where is he mentioned>), so you missed the real meaning of Slytherin's collective abandonment of Hogwarts. Whether or not Pansy (who is a notoriously silly as well as a malevolent person) meant what she said, when a crowd of Hogwarts citizens and Hogwarts parents appear on the scene in the second part of the battle, to help overwhelm the Death Eaters, they are led by Horace Slughorn, who is then seen together with McGonagall and Flitwick, duelling Voldemort himself. I think it is quite certain that most Slytherins made use of their sudden escape to call reinforcements. Phineas Nigellus is quite right to brag that Slytherin did its part.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 24th, 2007 04:07 pm (UTC)
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Ah! I wasn't sure if that was Aberforth, calling in the reinforcements, or what (we did have Snape, Regulus, and Slughorn as representatives of Slytherin House doing extremely awesome things on the side of good). But thank you for pointing that out.

And Oliver Wood--I don't recall if we see him come into the Room of Requirement, but Harry runs into him on the way out of the Great Hall. Wood is helping carry Colin Creevey's body.
[User Picture]
From:persephone_kore
Date:July 25th, 2007 05:52 am (UTC)
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I don't think it helped that Voldemort mentioned something to Lucius and Narcissa about Draco not coming to him "like the rest of the Slytherins." On the other hand, (1) Voldemort lies a lot and is mistaken perhaps more and (2) I was thinking that going away and calling in reinforcements -- particularly, calling in family as reinforcements -- would be a particularly House-appropriate way for Slytherins to help... and that was when I had forgotten Slughorn was mentioned as leading the charge!

It also occurs to me that traditionally Slytherin families are the ones Voldemort is most likely to have assumed were on his side without checking as closely as he might otherwise. He does refer in GoF to Lucius being "slippery," so he doesn't necessarily take support for granted, but he probably wasn't expecting open opposition either. Which would mean that whichever Slytherins' families didn't support him would probably be easier to find and in possession of most of their usual resources. Not to mention almost entirely magical, which -- to be blunt -- is a practical advantage in that particular situation.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 25th, 2007 10:34 pm (UTC)
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These are excellent thoughts! I love the idea of the Slytherins doing what they do best by going away and bringing back family reinforcements. :-) Thank you very much for pointing this out!
[User Picture]
From:maevebran
Date:July 24th, 2007 07:30 am (UTC)
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I loved the book too. I was glad that it wasn't "Rocks fall, everbody dies" like I feared.
--Molly Weasley vs. Bellatrix! INDEED!
I was touched that Reamus and Tonks named Harry their son's godfather. It was very fitting.
I loved the Potterwatch radio show.
Aberforth watching over Harry was cool.
Kreacher leading the Hogworts House elfs in stabbing the Death Eaters in the legs was awesome. I loved how Kreacher became a friend in this book.
Ron's concern for the House Elfs was cool because it was genuine and Harmionie's reaction priceless.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 25th, 2007 05:11 pm (UTC)
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I was touched that Reamus and Tonks named Harry their son's godfather. It was very fitting.

Yes, oh, yes. :-)

And Potterwatch was inspired is what it was. *beams*

And after that moment? Ron/Hermione FOREVAH. Yes. *hugs them, but not while they're snogging*
[User Picture]
From:jhall1
Date:July 24th, 2007 07:31 pm (UTC)
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She has managed something I can only dream of doing (and have, for years): She has told a tale full of imagination, every inch her own, every struggle born from her experience and life and light, and given that to us in images and actions that we can understand and take into ourselves.

And, almost as remarkable, she has somehow managed to arrange movie contracts that seem to ensure great fidelity to her vision.

I thought that killing both Remus and Tonks was arguably kinder than killing one of them, given how much they were in love. But I'd like to know who adopted Teddy.

I agree that Mrs Weasley was made of win. :)
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 24th, 2007 08:20 pm (UTC)
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And, almost as remarkable, she has somehow managed to arrange movie contracts that seem to ensure great fidelity to her vision.

LOL! Yes, that's far more astonishing, actually, considering the nature of the movie business and the fact that they made 5 of them before the release of book 7 and the wrap-up of the story. *shakes head at filmmakers*

Re: Remus and Tonks--I was so deep in Harry's own grief and orphan status that it seemed far worse to me that he and Teddy should lose both of them then that they were together in death. *shrug* Again, I don't think JKR was wrong to kill them both, speaking to the narrative and theme...but it was really hard for me to deal with.

I imagine that Andromeda Tonks (nee Black), who has lost the entire rest of her family, pretty much, raised Teddy. With lots of help from Harry and his friends and their families.
[User Picture]
From:jn_oscargrouch
Date:July 27th, 2007 06:58 am (UTC)
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that was one of the things I snerked about with the Shell House sequence... Bill is going to HAVE to be in the movie... notice how Charlie and Bill are not in the movies?
[User Picture]
From:kalquessa
Date:July 26th, 2007 06:21 pm (UTC)
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"having disarmed the rulers and authorities, he made a public display of them, triumphing over them through the cross [sacrifice]"

Oo, nice catch, I would never have made this connection, but...dude!

I was strongly hoping for a reversal on the part of some of the Slytherins.

Word. She did end up going to the "Even Slytherins can be good guys" place, but...I didn't feel like she took it far enough. Some Slytherin seventh years staying behind to fight would have gone a long way. A longer way, in fact, than Harry's little "so what if you do end up in Slytherin?" speech to Albus Severus. Telling is good. Showing is better. The only showing we really get is the Malfoys, and none of them were heros. They loved each other more than Voldie and power he represented in the end, but they didn't actually come out on the side of the good guys, either. I could have really used a self-sacrificing Malfoy, preferrably Draco because I don't really care about Narcissa (or didn't until she lied to Voldemort) and Lucius is sexier when he's full-on eeeeevil.

Ron's return to Harry and Hermione, and his struggle with the locket Horcrux. Moving, wonderful, suspenseful.

Everyone else seemed to love this, but I thought the Emotional Torture of Ron Weasley was a bit overdone and kind of inelegant. Maybe Ron really is that thick, but I just had a hard time with idea that he was actually hurt that much (indeed, hurt at all) by a spectre of Harry/Hermione. I guess I've never been a teenage boy, so maybe I don't know how illogically insecure it's possible to be about these things. *shrug* But I'm glad it worked for most people, even if it didn't work for me.

Scripture verses on tombstones. I didn't expect that, especially not one as awesome as "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." *shivers*

This startled me in a good way. She hasn't (if I recall correctly, which is never a certainty) really had much religion of any kind in the books up till now and the two verses she chose were perfect and awesome.

Molly Weasley vs. Bellatrix!

TOTAL PWNAGE!!!!1 Molly Weasley FTW!

Percy's return to the fold

Oddly, this is the only bit that made me get misty. I was kind of detached from the rest of the emotional events because most of them were either expected or so unexpected that I was kind of numb. But Percy coming back and the whole scene where he's reunited with the clan just choked me up.

"Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"

Dude, I totally forgot about that until now! This is what I get for sitting up so late to read. But when I read this last night I did a little dance of glee in bed that made the husband give me the eyebrow. Because this is just the best Dumbledore quote ever!
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 26th, 2007 08:38 pm (UTC)
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Word. She did end up going to the "Even Slytherins can be good guys" place, but...I didn't feel like she took it far enough. Some Slytherin seventh years staying behind to fight would have gone a long way.

I agree, though as you can see in comments to this post, fpb and persephone_kore have succeeded in convincing me that it's actually more satisfying than I originally thought.

JKR still should have made it plainer, imho.

Ron's return to Harry and Hermione, and his struggle with the locket Horcrux. Moving, wonderful, suspenseful.

Everyone else seemed to love this, but I thought the Emotional Torture of Ron Weasley was a bit overdone and kind of inelegant. Maybe Ron really is that thick, but I just had a hard time with idea that he was actually hurt that much (indeed, hurt at all) by a spectre of Harry/Hermione.


Huh. I didn't see that scene as being about Ron's romantic insecurities, except very, very indirectly. I saw it as the Horcrux taking advantage of things Ron has struggled with all his life: youngest boy of six, inept, unnecessary, not special or important or even needed. Doesn't one of the Horcrux-figures actually bring up the fact that Ron isn't the daughter Molly kept hoping for? That really struck me--that some of Ron's fears come from not even being sure his *mother* loves him for who he is.

I thought it was an important scene for Ron, in a coming-of-age way, and was quite pleased with JKR's handling of it.

This startled me in a good way. She hasn't (if I recall correctly, which is never a certainty) really had much religion of any kind in the books up till now and the two verses she chose were perfect and awesome.

Yes, yes, yes! There were other religious references in this book, too; people saying "thank God" and the twins' joke about being "saintlike," etc.

Oddly, this is the only bit that made me get misty. I was kind of detached from the rest of the emotional events because most of them were either expected or so unexpected that I was kind of numb. But Percy coming back and the whole scene where he's reunited with the clan just choked me up.

It choked me up, too, although the scene that got me even more was when Percy and Fred were fighting side-by-side, and Percy makes a joke! (and then, of course, after Fred is killed, Percy is the one who can't leave his body, and probably would have stayed there until he got taken out by some random Death Eater.... <3 Percy.)
[User Picture]
From:kalquessa
Date:July 26th, 2007 08:56 pm (UTC)
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JKR still should have made it plainer, imho.

Yeah, same here. Fannish explanations and fixes are all well and good, but what I wanted was to see some green ties on the defender's line at Hogwarts. That would have been worth twelve of Slughorn dueling Voldemort to me.

I saw it as the Horcrux taking advantage of things Ron has struggled with all his life: youngest boy of six, inept, unnecessary, not special or important or even needed.

I guess I can see that. I just always have a hard time with scenes like this where some magical device tortures people with the voices of loved ones hurling abuse at them (there's an instance of this in the Dark Tower series, too, and I'm sure I've seen the device elsewhere as well, I just can't remember where at the moment). Maybe it really would be a horrible experience to go through something like this, I don't know, but it always seems kind of hollow to me because I imagine the same thing happening to me and my response (I think, obviously, this theory is 100% non-tested) would be "Whatever, the real people whose voices you're faking all think I'm awesome." And since everyone is secretly ME with different haircuts I don't see why anyone should have a problem with this sort of thing. (egocentric? what?) *laughs*
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 26th, 2007 09:00 pm (UTC)
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Maybe it really would be a horrible experience to go through something like this, I don't know, but it always seems kind of hollow to me because I imagine the same thing happening to me and my response (I think, obviously, this theory is 100% non-tested) would be "Whatever, the real people whose voices you're faking all think I'm awesome."

*g*

Whereas my reaction would be far, far closer to Ron's. When insecurities or fears have been a part of one's life for a long time--unexposed and not canceled out (Harry doesn't see that he needs to *tell* Ron how important Ron is to him until after this scene happens. He thinks Ron knows, but Ron's not sure)--I totally understand how easy it is to listen to those sorts of voices. *hugs Ron*
[User Picture]
From:kalquessa
Date:July 26th, 2007 10:12 pm (UTC)
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Poor Ron. I do feel bad for him, I just...can't relate. That's what he gets for failing to be me. *nods*
[User Picture]
From:jn_oscargrouch
Date:July 27th, 2007 07:08 am (UTC)
(Link)
Love your thoughts. We're so on the same page.

One thing I liked, that you didn't mention, was seeing the Ravenclaw's house. I love the entrance key "solving the witty riddle" followed by it's fantastic answers. And the description of it. I don't know... it always interested me, because I think Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff sure get ignored, save for Luna, Cho and Cedric, so that made me happy. also, because I think I'd probably end up in one of those two houses if i were at Hogwarts. LOL!
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 30th, 2007 08:08 pm (UTC)
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Oh dear--I was planning to mention Ravenclaw! That moment made me go "omg I would so be in Ravenclaw if I were at Hogwarts--I would *ask* the Hat to put me there!" :-)
[User Picture]
From:scorptilicus
Date:August 2nd, 2007 10:24 pm (UTC)
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Re Remus and Tonks: I was a bit worried for them when Harry compared his potential godfatherhood to Sirius'.

--Snape was, indeed, Dumbledore's man through and through! *cheers* And he was good, and there was reason for Dumbledore to trust him absolutely, and yet he was still a broken and unpleasant man--all gray tones and sheer courage and passion. I loved the moment in the Pensieve when Dumbledore (in reference to Snape's courage) says "Sometimes I think we sort too young." Such a strong acknowledgment from a Gryffindor headmaster. Likewise, Snape's dry wisecrack response to Dumbledore's request that he kill him.

--I was prepared to be weirded out by the Snape/Lily potential, but I thought it worked very well, actually. I did not guess the doe was Snape's, so the whole scene with the sword had me pulling my hair out trying to guess who sent the Patronus guide and who put the sword there! LOVE that it was Snape. Of course it was.


That was my favorite chapter in the book. So much going on in it, learning whose doe it was and why. That line as well as "After all these years?" "Always." I really hope most of that makes it onscreen.

--Neville confronting Voldemort and beheading Nagini with the Sword of Gryffindor! Neville is my hero!

You got that right. "Only a true Gryffindor could have pulled that sword out of the hat."

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