Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows CoverWell, it’s over. The Seventh Book is out and I’ve finished reading it. This post contains my initial reactions and a rundown of how many of my predictions from almost two years ago came to pass. To protect people who haven’t read the book yet from spoilers I won’t be putting anything else here in the preview, you’ll have to read the article itself to see more.

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The Dealthly Hallows

I was so sure I knew what the Deathly Hallows were, but I was wrong. They are not the Horcruxes, they are an entirely new plot arc, although we have seen all three Hallows before without realising they were more than they appeared to be. We’ve seen Dumbledore’s wand, we’ve seen Gaunt’s ring and we’ve seen the invisibility cloak countless times, all without ever realising that these three items, should they ever be combined, are immensely special. They are in effect the Holy Grail of the Wizarding world. As ever, a wonderfully misleading title from JKR!

Initial Reaction

I really liked the book. It was appropriately dark, and yet, it was still as good an ending as we could have hopped for. Unfortunately Molly Weasly did loose a son, she had known it was almost impossible that she wouldn’t. It was also very sad to see another orphan come into the world with the death of Remus & Toncs. We don’t learn who brought up the child but I guess he, like Neville, was probably brought up by his Grand Mother. However, like Sirius, it seems he always found a welcome in the Potter household. Speaking of Neville, it was great to see him get a mention in the epilogue, I was really happy to see Professor Longbottom teaching Herbology.

Something this book is profoundly rich in is character development. We finally get to understand Dumbledore and Snape, we get to see a non-two-dimensional Ron, and we get to see Neville develop into a leader. In particular Dumbledore’s character is interesting, who could possibly have predicted that the dead guy would be so central to the last book! It was great to see Snape develop into the anti-hero of the piece. By the end of it even Harry truely respects the man he so despised. None of this was a shock to me though. It’s pretty much exactly as I had predicted. Mind you, I did think Snape had given Dumbledore a higher proof of his loyalty than simply his profession of his love for Lilly. However, unlike some in the fan-dom, I never thought Snape had been forced onto the good side by something as crude as an unbreakable vow. Overall I’m happy that I had the measure of Snape by the end of the sixth book.

The Many Things Left Unanswered

In many ways the prologue is perfect. The whole series was about the importance of love in our lives, so, naturally the truly important thing to find out about is how the main characters get on emotionally. We learn that the trio and Ginny are happily married, have kids and most importantly, that “all is well”. What we don’t learn are the practicalities of their lives or the post-Voldemort wizarding world. We don’t learn who is headmaster of Hogwards. McGonagall survives the final battle, does she get the job at last? Who becomes Minister of Magic, does Kingsly get to keep the job, how well does he do? Do we finally have a worthy minister for magic? What becomes of Dumbledore in the popular mind? Does the truth about him and Snape come out, is it believed, are both honoured as heroes or will Snape for ever go down in history as a traitor? We also don’t find out what anyone but Neville does for a living. Does Harry become an auror? Does he opt for a quiet life living on his parent’s gold? Does he become a world-renowned seaker? What about Hermione, ron & Ginny, what do they chose to do with their lives? What are their great achievements?

More surprising perhaps is that some of the big unanswered questions before the last book are still unanswered. We never do find out what happened during ‘the missing day’ between Harry’s death and Harry’s arrival at the Dursleys. The fact that we know no more about the missing day is the most surprising thing about the whole book to me. Most of the fan-dom, myself included, though that this would be the key to the whole thing. It wasn’t, it’s quite irrelevant. It seems to me the only reason it took a day for Harry to arrive at the Dursleys was so that JKR could set the scene for poor Vernon before the boy’s arrival. It made for a nice opening chapter to the series, but it had no more relevance than that.

We also never find out who decided to sacrifice Emaline Vance, a member of the Order of the Phoenix, ‘for the greater good’. However, perhaps that doesn’t actually matter because we now know that both Snape and Dumbledore have made similar hard decisions before. I had thought that betrayal would shed light on Snape’s true allegiance or on Dumbledore’s character. Perhaps it did give a hint of Dumbledore and Snape’s ability to sacrifice people for the greater good, but that really seems to be all there was to that betrayal.

My Predictions Analysed

So, finally I just want to have a look at how I did almost two years ago when I’d just finished the sixth book:

Firstly, DUMBLEDORE IS DEAD! I actually think I should dedicate an entire ‘rant’ post to this fact because those silly people who insist on deluding themselves that he is still alive annoy me immensely!

I’m so glad I was right about this. I think I’d have thrown away the book in disgust had JKR brought him, or indeed Sirius, back to life.

Secondly, Dumbledore had a ‘big plan’ and Snape killing Dumbledore was a part of that plan.

Two out of two … I wonder can I keep this up :)

Thirdly, Snape still has a big part to play in this story and he will be instrumental in the final victory of good over evil.

I think it’s fair to say that’s true. Snape’s dying act of giving Harry those memories which explained everything was crucial. It’s because of these memories that Harry survived and Voldemort didn’t. It was the culmination of Dombledore’s grand plan. I’m giving myself three out of three so far.

Fourthly, Draco Malfoy still has a part to play in the story and he will also help good triumph over evil.

At a push I could give myself this one because Narcissa’s love for Draco enables her to lie about Harry’s death to Voldemort and because Draco’s wand is so important. But I’m not going to claim this one. Draco never has the courage to really join the bad side. He hated having to do evil things and being a tool of Voldemort’s. However, he never developed the courage to do the right thing. He is shown to be a coward. He never lives up to the promise I saw in him when he couldn’t kill Dumbledore. We know he gets married and has at least one kid but we don’t know to who or what happens to him. Does he have to pay penance for not fighting on the good side or does he get off simply for not choosing to fight for the bad side? I’m putting this prediction down as being wrong, so three out of four so far.

Fifthly, Harry will defeat Voldemort and he will live to tell the tale. JK Rowling is not Shakespeare!

And finally, Hermione and Ron will stay together and Harry will get back together with Ginny.

I’m so glad I was right about these last two.

I’m actually very happy with my predictions, I think it’s fair to say that five out of six ain’t half bad :)

Conclusions

I really enjoyed this book. It was going to make or break the series and I really think it made it. The Voldemort saga is over. It has ended, there are no loose ends left to tie up. However, Harry’s world is left surprisingly open. There is no real closure on the world or even the main characters. We know that 19 years later ‘all is well’ but we don’t know much more than that. The series comes to an end with a fresh batch of kids boarding the Hogwarts express setting out on their own adventure.