Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Reread Review (Mario)

I hated this book the first time I read it. This is the only volume in the entire series that I’ve read only once. That makes this my second time reading it and I have to admit I had a big change of heart. My appreciation for this book was so radically altered the second time around that it stuck out in the back of my mind while reading. “Oh, this bit is better than I remembered.” “I don’t even remember this part. This is really well done.” The differences in my response to this book from the first and second time reading it will forever colour my reaction and response to the entire series. My initial response to The Deathly Hallows is partly responsible for my waning interest in the franchise throughout the last few years. One thing is for sure, The Deathly Hallows is a very good book. It might not be surprising to hear this from fans of the final book in the Harry Potter series. It’s a new discovery for me and I’m glad I can finally appreciate what this book has to offer because all of the major elements of the series get wrapped up and explained at length.

Before starting the Harry Potter reread I was already very familiar with books 1 to 5 because I had reread them all so many times during my teens. I remembered pretty large chunks of the sixth book, some of it in detail, some of it only vaguely. The final book was more or less completely unremembered. If you were to ask me what it was about I would have told you the book is about Harry, Ron, and Hermione bumming around in the forests of Great Britain doing a shit ton of slacking off and whining about how Dumbledore failed as the protector of the Wizarding World since he didn’t provide Harry and the gang with any useful information. Sure, they do bum around in the middle of the forests and any other secluded area they can find, but the book is about more than that. The only part of the book I remembered were the parts I had really disliked. I remembered the bitching and moaning, the terrible epilogue, and everything else, everything that was and is really good about the book, has remained forgotten until just a few weeks ago.

The Deathly Hallows has its problems but the strengths of the story, the culmination of the plot from previous books, and the delightful character moments sprinkled throughout make it a worthwhile read.

Abandoning the Formula:
Rowling has been playing with the formula she established in the first book since The Goblet of Fire. Before then, previous books were focused primarily on Harry going to Hogwarts, getting involved with a dangerous mystery, and saving the school with the help of his friends. As the series progressed, the scope of the Wizarding World expanded well beyond the school’s grounds. This development was mirrored by the increasingly detailed world building and addition of characters. Rowling could easily have continued to tell stories similar to those she had done with the first three books but that would have been doing a disservice to her fans and to the series. Instead, she developed the story, the world, and the characters in a way that they all worked together to make a believable and enchanting saga. It’s not just set dressing as a lot of these added elements play a significant role in the continuation of Harry’s story. All of which comes crashing together in the final book.

The changes to the formula were one of the reasons I didn’t like The Deathly Hallows the first time I read it. Now I can appreciate that Rowling needed to break the formula in order to accomplish everything she needed to do with the final book. During the reread I’ve enjoyed seeing how Rowling bends and stretches the formula in books four, five, and six. She played around with it but she always kept the foundational elements in place (summer at the Dursleys, Hogwarts, return to the Dursleys). Rowling had several good reasons to head in a different direction. Most of all, there were a lot of plot elements that needed to be wrapped up and Harry, Ron, and Hermione all had some serious growing up to do (ok, a less for Hermione).

By abandoning the formula of the series, Rowling gives the book one of its principal strengths. By treating Dumbledore’s death as final (something which is often ignored in fantasy stories) the characters also have to accept it as final and are forced to make tough decisions. The trio’s decision not to return to Hogwarts is a primary example. That decision strongly echoes the loss of Dumbledore. Harry hasn’t just lost his mentor and protector, but he’s also realizes that he needs to escape from the haven that is Hogwarts. By not going back to school, the characters and the reader are forced to feel the effects of Dumbledore’s passing.

Hogwarts has always acted as an anchor, keeping everything squarely in place, in order. It also prevented the story from existing beyond its physical location. That’s no longer true. Outside, wandering throughout the Muggle World and the Wizarding World, the trio is in more danger than they’ve ever been. Had they remained at Hogwarts they would also have been in many dangerous situations but as awful as the conditions are at the school, it’s nothing compared to what Harry, Ron, and Hermione have to deal with during the seventh book. The students experienced the kind of cruelty and danger present at the school during the fifth year. The events happening at Hogwarts during The Deathly Hallows can be seen as a progression of the mistreatment suffered by the students at the hands of Umbridge during The Order of the Phoenix. What occurs outside of the school is much more life-threatening and dangerous than what the students are dealing with. Students, who I have to point out, are still under the protection of professors who support Harry and his quests. Their authority is limited but it’s still there.

Additionally, it’s important to the point out that the fight against Voldemort could not have been done from within the walls of Hogwarts. The final battle ultimately takes places there, but it’s not because Harry intentionally made his final stand at the school. It’s also not because it’s an important place for Harry in regards to the battle. Certainly, it was an important place for him during his formative years as a student. It continues to be an important place for witches and wizards. The final battle takes place there because the hunt for Horcruxes and for Hallows let Voldemort and Harry there. Hogwarts is a pivotal location because, like Harry, it was Voldemort’s home for a very important period of his life and it affected his development as a wizard and as an adult. His emotional and magical attachment to the school is what gives Hogwarts a symbolic and strategic importance.

Leaving Hogwarts behind and for most of the book must have been a difficult choice for Rowling. It is, by far, the most iconic location of the entire Wizarding World. When you think of Harry Potter you immediately think of Hogwarts and all the wonderful things that have taken place there. Yet this departure from the formula of the series has been the seventh book greatest asset and it has allowed it to free itself, narratively speaking. The result is a series that more closely resembles classic or traditional fantasy novels. In a previous post I characterized Harry Potter as wainscot fantasy. It’s not urban fantasy even though the Wizarding World is hidden in the real world and it’s certainly not your typical medieval or pseudo-medieval setting. The Deathly Hallows changes a lot of that by redefining Harry’s story while also providing a clearer direction in which to steer the series towards the finish line.

Danish cover of The Deathly Hallows.
Traditional fantasy novels often deal with a prophesized saviour of the world and the quest they must undertake. The Order of the Phoenix cemented Harry’s status as the chosen one for all the readers who weren’t yet convinced. It’s only with the end of the sixth book do we get a glimpse at the totality of Harry’s quest, beyond the obvious need to put an end to Voldemort. During The Half-Blood Prince Dumbledore explains to Harry about the Horcruxes. In order to defeat Voldemort you must first ensure that he cannot return by destroying highly magical and very dangerous objects known as Horcruxes. Each one of those objects contains a fragment of Voldemort’s soul. By the beginning of the final book the gang still has five Horcruxes to find and to destroy. That in itself is a huge undertaking. Once again Rowling changes up the formula. Most of the books prior to this one focused on one element in particular whether it’s the Chamber of Secrets or the Triwizard Tournament. By the middle of the seventh book Rowling introduces a secondary quest for Harry and his friends.

After their visit with Xenophilius Lovegood, Harry, Ron, and Hermione, learn about the Deathly Hallows. Most witches and wizards born of magical parents are already familiar with the Deathly Hallows having heard of them in one of the many version of the Tale of the Three Brothers, a fairy tale of sorts. In the story, three brothers cheat Death after each creating a tool in which to fool him. The three objects are the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone, and the Invisibility Cloak. The trio is told that a person who can collect all three objects and uses them successfully will become the Master of Death. After learning of this they start to understand what Voldemort is up to. Thanks to Harry’s connection with him they’ve been able to keep a track record of what he’s been doing in the months since the end of Harry’s sixth year at Hogwarts. They find out he’s been looking for the Elder Wand. The second quest isn’t just another journey to collect magical items, though it is that. It’s also a race against Voldemort with the goal of preventing him from amassing all of the Deathly Hallows but also to be able to use them against him in order to defeat the Horcruxes and put an end to his tyranny.

One of the structural elements of the series that Rowling holds onto is the info dump chapter at the end of the book. It’s been part of the formula since the very beginning, since the first book. Because Rowling is a big fan of mysteries she continues to structure her stories in ways that the characters are almost always looking for explanations of strange situations. In this book, finding out the truth about the Deathly Hallows and finding the location of all of the Horcruxes are the pivotal elements that drive the plot. There are other interesting mysteries at play but the biggest one is extremely unexpected. The revelation of the influence that Snape has had on Harry’s life is a spectacular chapter. It’s shortly followed by another great chapter where Harry meets the defeated Voldemort in Limbo and has a chat with the still deceased Dumbledore.

These chapters are essentially exposition and ex post facto explanations of what truly took place.  If nothing else, these chapters show that Rowling didn’t completely abandon the structure she’s used in the previous novels. Some elements are still there and are recognizable to those looking for them. There’s actually more exposition at the end of this book than any other but Rowling continues to make it thrilling to read so it’s easy to forgive her indulgence. Besides, I bet those chapters were very difficult to write and ultimately they did what they were intended to do which was to surprised and inform the reader. It’s very interesting to see just how closely the narrative requirements and the novel’s structure support each other, resulting in a very satisfying read.

Lost in the Forest – Story Elements that Simply Don’t Work:
There are two things I particularly dislike about the seventh book and one entire segment that I think was a missed opportunity. The first thing I’ve mentioned several times already. The time that Harry, Ron, and Hermione spend in hiding is one of the worst moments of the entire series. It really brings the quality down for the whole book.

Their time spent in the forest was almost unreadable. The whole thing is distinctly uneventful compared to the rest of the book but also compared to the rest of the series. The gang has demonstrated time and again that they are proactive, clever, and resourceful. Bumming around in their tents in the middle of nowhere, all they do is complain that they have no leads or clues, bitch and moan, and get into fights with each other resulting in Ron’s departure from the team. They’re far too passive to be the heroes of the story. You could argue that it’s refreshing to see them so vulnerable and uncertain, but I think it simply undermines their characters and their strength as a team. We’ve seen them vulnerable before and they get plenty of other opportunities in this very book to fail and screw up before they’re able to succeed in their mission. The whole sequence is unnecessarily long and drawn out.

Not only is the group passive but they’re extraordinarily lucky to overhear nearby campers one faithful night. Their information gathering turned out to be nothing more than dumb luck. They’re so incredibly reactive that the events of the book make them look like incompetent buffoons. It’s like their problems with food. They complain about it and instead of doing something about they simply continue to starve and grumble. Hey, Harry or Hermione maybe put that polyjuice potion to good use. Change your appearance and walk in to a Muggle grocery store. Or, go to a farm and Accio some crops your way. They’re so engrossed in their own self-pity (“Dumbledore didn’t write me a How To manual on defeating Voldemort, waaaah”) that they’re not even capable of meeting basic survival needs. 

Another example of their self-pity is there lack of effort in trying to destroy the locket after they stole it at the Ministry. It makes sense that they don’t know how to destroy it. It’s powerful magic, after all, but you could try! Instead, they sit around and mope.

Before the reread I remembered very little about the final book. To me it seems as though the entire thing happened in the tent in the forest. I also remember Ron leaving because he and Harry were being assholes with each other. It's so dumb. Harry is being an asshole to him even though he knows Ron is being influenced by the locket. I really don't like that part of the book because it feels like a cheap way of getting the trio to separate. Rowling is using a magical item within her fictional universe to create conflict for her characters. It would have been more interesting for this to happen without magical influence, especially since the locket builds on the emotions that are already present in a person. She could have built conflict on that instead of using magic as a catalyst.

Another misstep of The Deathly Hallows has to do with what comes after the battle with Voldemort is won. I’m talking, of course, about the epilogue. The epilogue is nothing but poor fan service. The whole thing is ham-fisted and feels forced. I’m pleased to learn that many of our favourite characters were able to find happiness in their lives after the war ended. The epilogue should have worked better though. Chronologically it’s set far enough after the events of the rest of the book for enough time to pass and heal any wounds of the war. That wasn’t enough though because Rowling seems set in given us the polar opposite in tone than what she gave us for the last few books. Everything in the epilogue is sickly sweet. Everyone is too similar to how we know them twelve odd years earlier. It’s as if the characters grew in age, advanced forward in time, but have completely stopped developing as unique individuals. Adult Harry is the same as teenaged Harry. It doesn’t feel right. It's almost as if the characters are unable to develop without the threat of a cataclysmic conflict. 

Speaking of cataclysmic conflicts, the Battle of Hogwarts feels like a missed opportunity for me. It should have been large, filled with more characters and more viewpoints. There are so many excellent secondary characters and Rowling puts them all on the sidelines and opts instead to focus on Harry. I get it, Harry’s the hero, but we’ve also spent far too much time with him being depressed and in hiding. We want some action and he’s got way too much on his mind to provide us with the insight into the battle readers (myself included) have been expecting for years. This is the final showdown and it pales in comparison to previous big climactic scenes in other books.

The Order of the Phoenix is a difficult book to read because of Harry’s teenaged crisis, but the invasion of the Ministry by Dumbledore’s Army is a clear highpoint for the entire series. Even the final stage of the Triwizard Tournament and Voldemort’s resurrection are far more interesting than what we get with the Battle of Hogwarts. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but the action was far too focused on Harry to provide me with the adequate grandiosity the battle deserved. I can only surmise that Rowling doesn’t excel at this sort of thing. Her strengths are clearly pacing, plotting, and characterization. She’s not bad at action, but she’s not really good at large battles either. As a fantasy fan I’ve read my share of these sorts of chapters and Rowling skills in this area simply don’t compare with what other authors can do. The Battle of Hogwarts was far from being a bad part of the book. It’s just a little disappointing because it had so much potential.

Writing a Memorable Finale – The Good Stuff:
While I have quite few reservations for some parts of the final book, I happen to really like the rest of it. It’s impressive just how much quality storytelling Rowling manages to fit within its pages. While I love to complain about Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s self-pitying and in-fighting during their time in hiding, once they get it into their heads that they’re taking action, the book simply doesn’t stop. It quickly builds momentum and sustains it until the last page of the book. The book’s momentum is my explanation as to why so many people actually make it to the end of the prologue instead of abandoning after the first page. In my opinion, the best thing about The Deathly Hallows is Rowling’s devotion to her characters, regardless of their overall importance to the series. Being a series of fantasy novels targeted at young adult readers, it was pretty safe to think that the forces of good would defeat the forces of evil by the end of the book. Sure, any protection Harry used to have no longer applied (his mother’s protection wore off after he left the Dursleys’ home and turned seventeen and Dumbledore’s passing naturally put an end to any direct assistance Dumbledore could provide). By maintaining the reader’s interest in secondary and tertiary characters, readers are more emotionally invested in the outcome of the story beyond the expected triumph over Voldemort.

Rowling starts wrapping up loose character threads early on in the book, beginning with the Dursleys. The goodbye with the Dursleys was well written. Dudley’s last words with Harry were particularly enjoyable to read. It felt earnest but still very awkward as befits their relationship throughout the years. He's grown up and matured and he's found a reason to respect Harry. You don't get the sense that he’s come to like Harry, at least not much, but he certainly respects him. I think Dudley may also have come to realize just how poorly his cousin has been mistreated by his parents for his entire life. He might be feeling apologetic for that. It might be a combination of those things in addition to his brainwashed dislike and suspicion of the Wizarding World. He shows potential for further maturity and I can almost make out a future for him where he marries a witch to the surprise and disappointment of his parents. At the very least, he realizes that Muggles aren't alone in the world and they share their existence on the planet with witches and wizards. You might as well get used to the idea and that both communities influence the goings-on of the other group.

I also like how quickly Harry embraces this growth of character. You could easily forgive him if he had reacted more negatively to Dudley's statement. It's an indication of Harry's character, something he's always had in him but perhaps has further developed under the influence and guidance of Dumbledore, that he so easily embraces the good in people; even in people who show their negative qualities more often than their positive ones. There is good in everyone and though it took time for it to surface, Dudley is showing that spark for good, at last. I could hardly think of a better way to present Harry's departure from the Dursleys’ life. 

One of the strengths of long series is that writers who know how to tell a good story will have their characters change and grow over the course of time. Harry Potter follows a format where one school year is covered in each book. This allows for plenty of character growth opportunities since the time that passes from the beginning of the series to its end can be traced in years. This had led to a few really great character moments in The Deathly Hallows. One of my favourites is Remus Lupin’s transformation (no, not into a werewolf). After learning that his wife, Tonks, is pregnant, Lupin experiences an emotional breakdown. The Second Wizarding War has taken its toll on him and his has doubts about his marriage and relationship with Tonks. It’s not that he doesn’t love her anymore, much to the contrary. He’s simply fearful about how his lycanthropy will get in the way and prevent them from leading a normal family life. He’s also very concerned that he may have passed on his condition to his as-of-yet unborn child. Seeing such a strong character reduced to an unstable person is shocking to readers. It’s also an effective way to demonstrate how the changes in the world are affecting people. Rowling does a fabulous job showing us a consequence of war that isn’t a character dying.

Another character who can’t seem to deal with the Second Wizarding War is Xenophilius Lovegood. Since Voldemort made his return public, Lovegood has chosen to support Harry with The Quibbler but he decides to write defamatory articles about Harry after the Voldemort’s forces have kidnapped Luna, his daughter. Still, Lovegood is not a bad person but his change in behaviour reflects the personal consequences of the Second Wizarding War. He wants to protect his daughter and in order to do this he accepts that he has to betray the Wizarding community and its potential saviour. Yet he mostly does this publicly. He still helps the trio when he informs them of the Deathly Hallows even though his intentions weren’t really to help them. After all, he could very well be telling them information he believes to be unimportant (it’s often regarded as just another bedtime story) in order to keep them in his house while waiting for Death Eaters to arrive. He’s initially brisk and distant when answering the door and it quickly changes to an invitation for tea (gurdyroot, actually) and supper when he understands that he has an opportunity to help his daughter. He doesn't do this for the greater good. He does it for himself and for his daughter. Lovegood's wife died several years ago and Luna is all he has left. He's in a situation where he doesn't believe he can help both the trio and Luna. He’s forced to make a difficult decision and he chooses to protect his daughter. Deep down he must know that he'll be betrayed by Voldemort and the Death Eaters but I don't think he cares at that point. He's willing to try anything he can for Luna’s sake.

How could I forget about Dobby? I didn't even mention him! I'll miss him so much.

There are plenty of other characters who have their moment to shine. Kreacher’s change of heart is impressive and unexpected. He’s been nothing but a miserable shit in the previous books but he turns over a new leaf in The Deathly Hallows and now he’s willing to help Harry when he’s asked to do so. Plenty of other characters have changed because of the war and Rowling provides us with many examples of this throughout the book. Bill and Fleur’s decision to get married speaks volumes about the reassurance love can bring even in the darkest of days. Fred and George Weasley’s shop in Diagon Alley being one of the few places that hasn’t been abandoned or boarded up shows us that laughter is always welcome, even in dire times. Neville and Ginny’s leadership of what’s left of Dumbledore’s Army at Hogwarts is also great character work by Rowling. Harry is the hero of the entire series but there are plenty of heroics going on aside from what he, Ron, and Hermione are doing. The younger generation of witches and wizards have, in part, inherited a war from their parents. Neville and many other teens have witnesses the negative effects of the First Wizarding War and even though they’re scarred and regularly find themselves in dangerous situations, they’re not going to roll over. They’re making a stand wherever they can and they’re fighting for what they believe is right. It’s unimportant whether they’re doing it out of self-preservation, out of self-sacrifice, in the hopes of righting past wrongs, or to protect others unable to protect themselves. What’s important is that they’re taking charge and fighting for their beliefs and for a peaceful way of life.

We also get a lot of development of existing characters who have been important to the series since the first book. Some of my favourites include further development of Harry, Dumbledore, Voldemort, and Snape.

As much as I dislike bitchy teenaged Harry, this book helped me sympathize with him more than the overly emotional all-caps Harry from The Order of the Phoenix. At one point in the series, between the fourth and fifth books, my sympathy for Harry transformed into annoyance. This book has a pretty equal serving of both but that balance was refreshing. Mostly, I agree with a lot of what Harry had to say about Dumbledore. Why was he so mysterious in all the years that Harry had known him? Why didn’t he openly tell Harry what his plans were? This is especially confounding after the emotional breakdown he had with Harry at the end of the fifth book. Sure, readers can try and offer explanations such as “Dumbledore didn’t know he was going to die!” or other. You have to remember, he was hunting Horcruxes and he even took the time to make Harry agree to do whatever he was going to ask of him. He knew he was walking into a potentially fatal situation. He knew ever since he found the ring of Salazar Slytherin. I love Dumbledore but his behaviour has been questionable on more than one occasion and it’s easy to be frustrated with that when the fate of the world literally rests on your shoulders, as it’s the case for Harry.

Though it’s not entirely surprising, Rowling develops Dumbledore’s character significantly in this volume. I say it’s not surprising because even after his death in the previous book, Rowling had to find a way of keeping his presence felt in the final volume. Lucky for us, she basically does for Dumbledore what she did for Voldemort in The Half-Blood Prince. Essentially, she delves into his past and fleshes him out. Learning about a youthful Dumbledore we’re forced to consider him under a different light than we did previously. I like that Rowling shows us Dumbledore’s past without reverting to the pensieve because it’s something that’s already been used enough in the series and it will be used later on for delving into Snape’s memories. Instead, she uses newspaper articles, excerpts from Rita Skeeter’s biography of Dumbledore, and stories told to Harry by friends of Dumbledore. This intentionally creates a more ambiguous history of the former Hogwarts headmaster and it’s fitting. After all, he’s always been a very mysterious and nuanced character. We learn a lot more about Dumbledore but there are still quite a few secrets hidden away.

It would have been a shame not to provide us with more Voldemort in the final book considering he’s the main antagonist and Rowling doesn’t disappoint. After the fantastic development of Voldemort in The Half-Blood Prince, Rowling continues to expand on the previous books. What I really like is the idea that Voldemort has been unaware of the Deathly Hallows for most of his life. He’s always had an interest in dark magic but not in legends that are derivative of bedtime stories. He likely did a ton of research in various dark magic subjects during his life but the Tale of the Three Brothers wasn’t worthy of his attention being nothing but a story for children. Or so he thought.

Consider the people who believe in the Hallows. It's never been mentioned as something serious by characters other than the trio and Lovegood, at least not until near the end of the book where the truth becomes too obvious to ignore. Characters like Ron who grew up in a wizard household dismisses the story of the Hallows as a fairy tale for teaching children lessons. He, and likely many other witches and wizards, doesn't take the story seriously. He never thought of it as a something that could be real. If it wasn't for Harry's invisibility cloak it's quite likely that Lovegood would not have convinced them that the Hallows really existed. Even then Harry had to consider and puzzle together some of the knowledge Dumbledore gave him before acknowledging the existence of the Hallows. What make all of this interesting in regards to Voldemort is that he’s tried everything he could try short of investigating legends and fairy tales. He’s desperate. He knows his Horcruxes are being hunted and destroyed. He’s willing to try anything else to help him grow in power and extend his dominance over others, including a search for potentially non-existent items such as the Hallows. If he can’t cheat death with the Horcruxes he’s going to try and master it with the Hallows.

The final character whose complexity jumped in leaps and bound with the final book is Snape. You could argue he’s as mysterious as Dumbledore. Either that or he’s incredibly misleading. It’s always difficult to trust a double-agent and Snape is no exception. Most of his development is done in a single chapter, though his action in the final book and the explanation of his actions in the rest of the series are so revealing that it left me reeling. It’s such a well-crafted chapter in how it builds one revelation on the next one that I find it difficult to describe without simply summarizing it. If it wasn’t clear before, this chapter announces to the world that Snape is one of the most complex characters in the entire series, probably more so than Voldemort, Dumbledore, or Harry. He’s also one of the most sympathetic once you get to know his side of the story. As Dumbledore once said to Snape, “You are braver man by far than Igor Karkaroff. You know, I sometime think we Sort too soon…”. Snape was never hungry for power like many of his Slytherin brothers and sisters. In truth, he’s been bravely fighting for what he believes in longer than most and with his final years as one of Harry’s protectors, he played an immense role in Harry’s education and in dethroning Voldemort.

Final Thoughts on The Deathly Hallows:
With the seventh book, Rowling skilfully changes the narrative of the Harry Potter series while also respecting the previous books’ continuity. She takes the story and presents a progression that feels both natural and one that is also full of surprises. The Deathly Hallows resembles a traditional fantasy novel more than any other before it but everything maintains the style and tone of Harry Potter. The final book in the saga is a double quest narrative combined with the overarching story of the chosen one, or in this case, the Boy Who Lived.

Rowling really knows how to tie up a series. She provides readers with plenty of strong character moments with some of our favourite residents of the Wizarding World while also managing to keep the focus of the story on the main characters. Somehow, almost every character that played an important role in any of the previous books either gets a great send-off or their moment to shine and remind us while we love them so much. Even more surprisingly, Rowling manages to do this while presenting us with the realistic consequences of the Second Wizarding War and continuing to develop characters that aren’t part of the main trio.  

It’s wonderful to consider just how tightly plotted this book is. Rowling must have had a hell of a time keeping track of which character knew what about Harry’s quests, the Horcruxes, and the Deathly Hallows. I’m shocked to discover that I so quickly dismissed this book for being slow and boring when I first read it. Certainly, the gang’s time in the forest is still boring as hell but there are plenty of well written and very tense moments throughout the book to keep me entertained. From the moment Harry, Ron, and Hermione decide to break into Gringotts all the way to the last page The Deathly Hallows is a thrilling page-turner of a novel.

Random Thoughts:
As always, let’s end with some random thoughts. There are few compared to previous posts and I’m a little bit sorry for that but I had such a good time reading the seventh book that I barely took the time to write down any notes and thoughts while reading. The short random thoughts section is also a blessing in disguise. Consider it an invitation to sound off with your own random thoughts about the entire series in the comments section. Go!

RT: The Battle of the Seven Harrys is tense, exciting, and emotionally devastating. It's live or die in the Wizarding World.

RT: Noberta, the Norwegian Ridgeback from the first book. That’s a hilarious call back to a previous event.

RT: Hermione's exclamation of "Merlin's pants!" is my favourite expletive in the whole series. Merlin's beard is alright but it feels a little on the nose while the use of pants is just odd enough to make it work. Don't all wizards in the novels wear robes? Why did Merlin wear pants? I love it.

RT: Voldemort's name is Taboo. By making his name Taboo he’s able to send Death Eaters to the exact location of whoever used his name. Now you really know why people were so afraid to speak his name in the earlier books.  

RT: The series needs more Aberforth Dumbledore. I love him. Can we get a spin-off series, please?  

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