Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Chapters 13-23

by Dan H

In which Dan continues to self-harm with the final Harry Potter book.
Previously: I'm doing a chapter-by-chapter reaction to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

So far we've had a wedding, Harry has sat in Grimmauld place doing nothing and ... umm ... that's it.

Chapter Thirteen: The Muggle-Born Registration Commission

In which we have yet more of the Ministry pretending to be Nazis.

Let's face it: Harry Potter is an RPG with a crappy GM. This would explain why the Troika spend this chapter, and the next couple, acting like a stereotypical bunch of clueless player characters.

They've got into the Ministry, and they've realised that they have no fucking clue what to do once they get in, so they bugger about stumbling into subplots, and wind up having to fight their way out.

They also get the Horcrux, and rescue a bunch of people from the Muggle-Born Registration Commission.

It strikes me, incidentally, that much as I hate the chapters in which nothing happens at all, the chapters in which things actually do happen are in many ways worse. At least the event-free chapters have an excuse for being as boring as all hell. This chapter, which includes Dementors, show trials, and a running battle in the Ministry, is so tedious I can't even find a noteworthy quote.

I'll leave you with this, then, from Harry's brief glimpse at a copy of The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore (okay, we get it, there's Dumbledore backplot, please stop now).
The boy who roared in silent amusement beside Dumbledore had a gleeful, wild look about him. His golden hair fell in curls to his shoulders.

I quote this not because I have anything to say about it, but so that you can join me in my disbelief when next chapter Harry has a vision of a familiar looking blonde man with a gleeful wild look, and hasn't got a clue where he's seen him before.

Chapter Fourteen: The Thief

In which the Potterites hide in a tent.

Our intrepid heroes can't go back to Grimmauld Place, because somebody was holding on to Hermione when she Apparated, and we all know that when you hold on to somebody who's teleporting, you teleport with them. It's, like, the rules.

So they go and sit in a tent. A magic tent. In some woods. And the realise that they don't know how to destroy the Horcrux. So tell us something we don't know.

Very, very little happens in this chapter. Most of it is taken up with Harry having a vision of Lord Voldemort finally killing that wand-maker he's been hunting down. Harry expresses surprise that Voldemort didn't grill the guy for wand-lore first. Because once again Harry Potter readers are too dumb to decide for themselves how they should react to plot twists and revelations.

Voldemort is looking for something, and he thinks Gregorovitch has it, but he doesn't because it was stolen from him. In a shocking display of convenience, Harry manages not only to read Voldemort's mind, but also the mind of the wandmaker, which presumably Voldemort was reading when their connection was open. So he gets a good look at the "thief".
Harry could still see the blond-haired youth's face, it was merry, wild.

Harry thinks it sounds familiar, but can't think from where.

Clue: it begins with "P" and ends with "Revious Chapter".

Chapter Fifteen: The Goblin's Revenge

In which we get yet another plot dump from some highly convenient Goblins.

Another thing you have to love about JK Rowling is the fact that she's not afraid to overhype her chapter titles. We constantly wind up with titles like "The Massively Significant Thing That Happens In A Huge And Important Way" and wind up with some guy breaking his spectacles. A fine example of this phenomenon was, of course, the first chapter of this very book: "The Dark Lord Ascending".

Indeed, one might almost suggest that the best way to appreciate JK Rolwing is to take her chapter titles and imagine for yourself what actually happens in them. Hmm ... I wonder if any fanfic communities have tried that: re-imagine Potter based only on the chapter headings.

I'm digressing again, but since this chapter is yet another useless waste of space with the protagonists sitting in a tent, I don't feel too bad about that.

Anyway, this chapter is called "The Goblin's Revenge" but could more accurately be called "The Goblin Didn't Mention That The Sword of Gryffindor That Got Put Into Gringotts Was Actually A Fake When He Possibly Could Have." As revenge goes, that's pretty lame.

So the Potteristas, safely ensconced in the Tent of Magically Protected Arse Sitting overhear Ted Tonks and a couple of Gringotts Goblins having a long, laboured discussion in which they painstakingly explain whatever bits of the plot Harry needs to know about next.

Which leads to this awful expository conversation between the Potteroids:
"The sword can destroy Horcruxes! Goblin-made blades imbibe only that which strengthens them - Harry, that sword's impregnated with Basilisk venom!"
"Dumbledore didn't give it to me because he still needed it, he wanted to use it on the locket -"
"- and he must have realised they wouldn't let you have it if he put it in his will -"
"- so he made a copy -"
"- and put a fake in the glass case -"
"- and put the real one ... where?"

Okay, fine, so you've answered the "Why didn't Dumbeldore give them all this shit earlier" question, and guess what: it's a stupid answer. Why not say "Harry, in case anything happens to me, I want you to take the sword of Gryffindor. Keep it safe, because it can destroy Horcruxes on account of how it's impregnated with Basilisk venom. By the way, we'll need it to destroy that locket we're going after."

Furthermore, the whole reason for the sword being able to destroy Horcruxes rubs me up the wrong way. It's an artefact of one of the founders of Hogwarts: it's a puissant magical weapon of ancient goblin craftsmanship. Do we really need that tat about its being "impregnated with basilisk venom"? Hell, do we really need basilisk venom to be the thing that destroys Horcruxes.

I'm not saying it doesn't make sense, but it makes the wrong kind of sense. It makes the kind of juvenile sense you get amongst seventeen year old roleplayers who will argue your leg off about how a vampire's clothes should reflect in a mirror, even if the vampire doesn't. The Sword can't destroy the Horcruxes because it's a Symbolic Ultimate Good to defeat their Symbolic Ultimate Evil. It can destroy Horcruxes because it's soaked in Horcrux Destroying Juice. This presumably is manufactured by the same people who made the Dumbledore Killing Juice that featured in the final chapters of book six.

In the next part of the chapter, Ron scores major points with me, as he assumes the mantle of Voice of the Reader, and points out what a hopelessly, stupidly, unbearably pointless situation they are now in. They have one Horcrux, they have no idea where the others are. They found out purely by chance that the Sword of Gryffindor can destroy Horcruxes, but they don't know where it is or how to get it. In short, the only thing they can do is sit around like morons hoping to get a lucky break.

I always hate it when this sort of thing happens. You had exactly the same situation in the seventh season of Buffy. The Hero clearly hasn't got a fucking clue what they are doing, and one of their companions finally snaps (often as a result of having seen half their friends die, or having been forced to hide in a tent eating wild mushrooms as a result of the hero's blatant incompetence) and calls them on it. Then the hero is all "you've got to have faith, you've got to believe in what we're doing!" and the friend is all "but this is completely and totally stupid, the only hope we have is to be saved by authorial fiat." And then the hero says "well if you feel like that you'd better leave", then the friend leaves. Then authorial fiat comes along and presents the hero with all the answers which they were manifestly incapable of acquiring of their own accord, and the friend has to slink back and admit that the hero was right all along.

It's awful, and it's always awful. It's bad writers trying to excuse bad writing by pretending that their failure to give their characters adequate motivation to undertake a course of action is really their character having Faith in something Greater Than Themselves.

So Ron Disapparates out of the Tent Of Pointlessness, and I sincerely wish I could go with him.

Chapter Sixteen: Godric's Hollow

In which Potter very briefly gets off his arse.

Ron has left. Harry is all cut up about this. Hermione is even more cut up about it because she is worried that if he doesn't get back they won't be able to get married and give their children stupid names.

Early on in this chapter, I had to wonder whether JK was actually taking the piss, when I stumbled across the following:
He was staggered, now, to think of his own presumption in accepting his friends' offers to accompany him on this meandering, pointless journey.

I mean, seriously. That's a joke, right. That's JK Rowling tacitly admitting that the first two hundred and fifty seven pages of her book have been a complete waste of everybody's time and energy.

Finally, they seize on the nearest thing they have to a clue, which is to go to Godric's Hollow in the hope that they can meet somebody who can point them in the right direction.

They spend approximately a month planning this little jaunt, collecting the hair of random strangers so that they can Polyjuice themselves again, and learning to Apparate together under the invisibility cloak. Much as I appreciate these little details, I'd be completely happy to take them as read.

So they piffle around looking at graves, and we finally get to see where James and Lily are buried. There's also an honest-to-God Potter statue in the middle of the square, and we find that the former Potter residence has been preserved as a shrine for all eternity so that nobody forgets what happened there.

I really wanted to find those scenes touching. Honestly I did. But it's book seven for crying out loud, and Harry has only just gone back to Godric's Hollow? On top of this, the whole thing contributes to the massively mixed messages we get about the Wizarding World's attitude towards Harry. We've spent the past three books having pretty much the whole of wizarding society shun Harry on a variety of ropey pretexts (the latest being "the Daily Prophet says he killed Dumbledore"), so to have this vast memorial to his triumph and his parents' sacrifice is actually rather jarring.

Anyway, the ... well Duo, I suppose they are now ... dick around in Godric's hollow for a bit. In the next chapter they meet Bathilda Bagshot.

Chapter Seventeen: Bathilda's Secret

In which we find out no information of any importance.

The title of this chapter is "Bathilda's Secret". Now I had vainly hoped that "Bathilda's Secret" would be some of this goddamned Dumbledore backplot which JK has been waving in my face for the past two hundred and seventy pages. No such luck.

Bathilda's Secret, in case you were wondering is "she's dead, and there's a gigantic fucking snake living in her animated corpse."

There's actually precious little to say about this chapter. H&H meet Bathilda Bagshot, she acts really, really, really creepy. Like she's an animated corpse with a giant snake inside her, in fact. She lures them into her home, which smells of piss and dead women with snakes inside them. Then she lures Harry upstairs, where she turns into Nagini and tries to kill him.

Or rather, not to kill him, but to hold him until Voldemort shows up, so that the Dark Lord can kill him personally.

I'm going to go off on another tangent now, and rant for a bit about how utterly fucking annoying this is. Voldemort would have won his war in eight seconds flat, bent the Wizarding world to his will, triumphed over all resistance, danced on the grave of Albus Dumbledore, achieved immortality and subjugated mugglekind with ease if he had just been willing to let go of the whole "I have to be the one to kill Harry Potter" thing.

I wouldn't mind so much, but there is absolutely no reason given for Voldemort's stubborn insistence that he "has to be the one" to kill Potter or, for that matter, Potter's stubborn insistence that he "has to be the one" to defeat Voldemort. Everybody just seems to take it for granted that only Harry can beat Voldemort, only Voldemort can beat Harry. And I know that there's the "prophecy" but for fuck's sake. Prophecies are cool when people hear them, set out to defy them, and fail. They are not cool when people hear the prophecy and say: "Oh my god! A Prophecy! I must immediately and unthinkingly do exactly what it says! Which also just happens to be the thing which most directly furthers the hackneyed plot of the quest the author has decided I'm supposed to be on."

Voldemort gets closer, and Harry starts seeing into his mind again, but now Voldemort is reliving his murder of Harry's parents. This flashback takes three pages and tells us literally nothing that we do not already know. It does, however, give us some insights into Voldemort's mono-dimensional non-personality, with lines like:

...how stupid they were, and how trusting, thinking that their secret lay in friends, that weapons could be discarded even for moments...

Do you see. Because Voldemort can't understand love. Because he's completely incapable of any human feeling whatsoever. Another thing that hacks me off about Voldemort is the fact that JK seems on the one hand to want us to view him as something utterly inhuman, a creature devoid of compassion or emotion, a heartless monster that kills at random, but on the other hand wants us to view him as somehow similar to Harry, the hero with whom we are supposed to sympathise. She shows us that he and Harry have vaguely similar personal histories, that they are connected on a variety of levels, and keeps having Dumbledore say things like "It is our choices, Harry, which define us". But Voldemort never makes a "choice" to do evil, or at least not a meaningful choice. Voldemort does evil because if he did not, there would be no book. He walks on stage a psychopath, and he dies a psychopath. His actions gain him nothing, and cost him everything. He plays the villain because Rowling wants him to. He has no personality, no identity, no goals beyond those dictated by the plot. All the effort Rowling puts into "developing" his "character" in books six and seven only highlights this fact.

So Voldemort shows up and fails to kill Harry Potter. Again.

Shoot me. Shoot me now.

Chapter Eighteen: The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore

In which we are expected to give a shit about Dumbledore's lame-ass backstory.

While Godric's Hollow turned out to be a bust, Hermione did manage to swipe a copy of The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, Rita-Skeeter's tell-all biography of the lovable old plot device.

Blah blah dark past blah blah Grindelwald blah blah world conquest blah blah greater good.

Long story short: Dumbledore spent approximately three months on good terms with the Dark Wizard Grindelwald, during which time they concocted some typically teenage plans about how it would ... like ... be totally radical if ... like ... Wizards took over the world because ... like ... look at how fake and commercial everything was. Or something. It's cheap and unconvincing and really not that shocking at all. It's sort of like discovering that Churchill once met Hitler at a party in 1921.

What makes all of this even more risible is the timeline involved. According to the information provided by JK Rowling, Dumbledore is about 150 when the books take place. Given that he met Grindelwald when they were both eighteen, this puts their Summer O' Evil at around eighteen fifty-something. Dumbledore, of course, eventually defeated Grindelwald in nineteen forty-five. Nearly a hundred years later. Either Grindelwald was in power for a really long time, or else he didn't come to power for nearly a century after he met old Albus. Either way, it seems a bit pointless to hold Dumbledore responsible for the actions taken in 1940 by a man he met in 1860.

Harry, of course goes off the deep end, and Hermione, of course, tries to point out that things aren't as awful as they seem.
"He changed, Harry, he changed! It's as simple as that! Maybe he did believe those things when he was seventeen, but the whole of the rest of his life was devoted to fighting the Dark Arts!"

Harry doesn't seem to be able to get his head around this idea, and for once I can't entirely blame him for it. After all, there isn't one single character in the entire Harry Potter series who has shown any meaningful development between their arrival at Hogwarts and their death. Riddle was always a psycho, Sirius was always a wild card, Lily was always an angel and so on. So Harry can, in fact, be entirely forgiven for assuming that Dumbledore's personality was set in stone by the age of eighteen.

I wish I could say that we had now finally got the Dumbledore backstory out of the way. But no.

Chapter Nineteen: The Silver Doe

In which it turns out that Ron's attack of sanity was really black magic.

For some reason, we are supposed to associate the "Silver Doe" with Lily Potter. I'm not sure why. Okay, so James was a stag. Does Lily have no identity of her own?

Oh wait. Never mind then.

Anyway, Harry and Hermione are still sitting in the Procrastination Tent. Harry, keeping watch, thinks he hears something outside. Then he catches a glimpse of the Silver Doe of the title, and decides to dash off into the dark after it.

Now even JK Rowling, who usually doesn't bother to justify her characters' moronic decisions, seems to have realised that dashing out into the night, away from their magically protected tent and into an unknown darkness where absolutely anything could be waiting for them, so she gives us another one of her trademark "no this totally makes sense" lines:
Caution murmured: it could be a trick, a lure, a trap. But instinct, overwhelming instinct, told him that this was not Dark Magic.

So that's okay then. If you know something might be a trap, it's okay to walk blindly into it.

The Silver Doe (which we are supposed to associate with Lily Potter because she was nothing more than James Potter's woman) leads Harry to a lake, which has the Sword of Gryffindor at the bottom. I shit you not.

I've seen people on the internet actually praising Rowling for the "symbolism" of this scene. Newsflash kids: ripping scenes off from famous myths isn't symbolism, it's just lazy. It's a sword in a lake, which is only there because somebody sent it to Harry, because the little fucktard would otherwise be completely incapable of destroying any of the damned Horcruxes.

So Harry takes off all of his clothes and dives into the frozen lake, but the Horcrux around his neck tries to strangle him (which it should really have done earlier, thinking about it). He is rescued by the timely re-arrival of Ron, who saves Harry, retrieves the Sword of Gryffindor, and then explains that he was only making consistent, cogent points about how completely fucked they all were, and how Harry didn't know what the hell he was doing, because the Horcrux was doing a One Ring on him.

So they're all reconciled, and Harry tells Ron that he is supposed to be the one to destroy the locket. Seriously, everybody in this entire book should just get the hell over all the "supposed to be" shit. Voldemort won't let his minions kill Harry, because he's "supposed" to do it, Harry can't ask for help defeating Voldemort because he's "supposed" to do it himself, and now apparently Ron is "supposed" to destroy the locket. What. The. Fuck?

So Harry opens the locket by speaking Parseltongue, and in one of the book's three moments of almost possessing merit, we see that Tom Riddle's original eyes are staring out of the two halves of the locket (I like to think that the Cup of Helga Hufflepuff contains his original nose).

Then the locket starts pulling a bunch of annoying "Hermione doesn't love you" shit to freak Ron out, which would be somewhat more effective if JK Rowling had made Ron/Hermione (or indeed any romantic relationship, or indeed any relationship at all) remotely convincing. Ron stabs the locket in they eyes, and they all go home.

They get back to the Inactivity Tent, and Hermione's all like "Ron, you absolute bastard, I'm going to kick the shit out of you and then bang your brains out." Then Ron explains that he managed to find them because the Deluminator, as well as being able to switch lights out, also lets you find your way back to your friends after you ditch them in the middle of their epic quest.

Say it with me now: What the fuck?

You see, it's shit like this that led a small number of people to believe that Dumbledore had to be from the future. I mean foresight is one thing, but are you seriously telling me that when he created the Deluminator, however many decades ago that was, he thought to himself "hey, I'd better install a 'be able to find your way back to your friends for no readily explicable reason' function as well, because one day in the next century, three young wizards might be on a quest to destroy Voldemort's Horcruxes, and one of them might leave, and need to find his way back."

And it's shit like this that makes me really hate JKR's attempt to make Dumbledore into a "complex" character in this book. You simply can't have it both ways. Either he's a real human person who makes mistakes, or he's the infallible plot god who is so wise, so possessed of absolute foresight, that he manages to predict correctly that Ron will fall under the influence of the Locket Horcrux, leave the quest, want to return, and be unable to do so because Harry and Hermione are travelling the country in a magically protected tent.

Seriously, if the guy is smart enough to do that, why the hell wasn't he smart enough to - say - track down Voldemort's Horcruxes during the ten years in which he was incorporeal, or to twig much sooner that Grindelwald was probably evil, or to not get horribly cursed trying to use the Resurrection Stone (of which more later).

Dumbledore is infallible when he needs to do something amazing to advance the plot, but All Too Human when Rowling wants to impress us with how layered and complex her characters are.

I've used the phrase "fucking hack" before, haven't I.

Chapter Twenty: Xenophilius Lovegood

In which we miss Luna Lovegood like crazy.

Here Hermione basically turns into a D&D player again, and spins out a line of logic which boils down to "hey, when we were at the wedding, the GM told us that Xenophilius Lovegood was wearing this symbol on his chest. He wouldn't have told us that if it wasn't important, right, we should totally go investigate this Xeno guy."

So they do.

They arrive at Chez Lovegood, and Ron is all "oh no, I am near my home but am not going there" and Harry is all "oh no, I am near Ginny but have no chance of getting a decent blow job".

It takes them fucking ages to ask Xenophilus about the symbol on his chest, and then Rowling does that gimmicky "end the chapter on the sentence you should probably have started the damned thing on" trick with:
"Are you referring to the sign of the Deathly Hallows?"

We're on page 328. For comparative purposes, the original Philosopher's Stone (UK Edition) ended on page 223, Chamber of Secrets on 251, and Prisoner of Azkaban on page 317. So you could read the whole of the first book and half of the second in the time it's taken us to get to the goddamned title of this one.

Chapter Twenty-One: The Tale of the Three Brothers

In which JK apes fairy-tales and fails.

So there are these three brothers who meet Death, and he offers each of them a gift, but really he's trying to fuck them over. So the first one asks for an unbeatable wand, and gets himself killed. The second one asks for a stone that can raise the dead, and drives himself to suicide. The third one, realising that Death is probably a fuck, asks for a way to get the hell out of there without Death following him, so he gets an invisibility cloak.

That's the story of the three brothers, and the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone, and the Invisibility Cloak together comprise the Deathly Hallows. Which is a stupid, stupid, stupid name for them. I mean seriously: "Hallows"? It's almost as bad as the "younglings" in Revenge of the Sith.

So anyway, Harry is all "these things totally exist, we should totally ditch our current quest to go look for them" and Hermione is all "these things totally don't exist, we should totally not ditch our current quest to go look for them" and Ron is all "these things might or might not exist, and I don't know whether we should ditch our current quest to go look for them or not."

Bets on the Hallows being real, everybody?

Anyway, the story of the Three Brothers is quite nice stylistically, but the actual content bugs me. As ever, my new favourite character Ron says it best:
"Nah, that story's just one of those things you tell kids to teach them lessons, isn't it? 'Don't go looking for trouble, don't pick fights, don't go messing around with stuff that's best left alone! Just keep your head down and mind your own business and you'll be OK."

In the "Tale of the Three Brothers," the ones who wind up dead are the ones who try to actually achieve something with their "Hallows". The last brother, the one who makes it through, the one we are supposed to admire, is the one who spends his entire life sitting under an invisibility cloak doing nothing.

I've already pointed out how passive Harry is, how he just reacts to things, how he doesn't have a consistent plan. I've complained about the fact that he's basically spent this entire book sitting in a tent doing nothing, but it becomes increasingly apparent through the book that JK Rowling views inactivity as a virtue and ambition as a sin. The implied morality of all this makes me genuinely uncomfortable, but I think I'll come back to that after I've finished the main article.

Anyway, having had the plot dump, it transpires that the Death Eaters have captured Luna, and that her father has bargained Potter to them for her return. Everybody panics, but our happy band manage to escape because - as Xeno seems to have failed to realise - they can fucking teleport.

The final thing I want to mention in this chapter touches on JK Rowling's dubious morality once again.

During the getaway, they make a big thing about how Hermione puts Ron under the invisibility cloak, not Harry. The idea here is that she wants the Death Eaters to see that Harry really was there, so that they don't think Xeno Lovegood was betraying them.

That's actually really nice, but it's spoiled by this little sequence:
Xenophilius' paper-white face appeared over the top of the sideboard.
"Obliviate!" cried Hermione.

So she's gone to all that trouble to stop the Death Eaters hurting him, only to erase his brain anyway. Nice.

Chapter Twenty-Two: The Deathly Hallows

In which we are: Still. Sitting. In. A. Fucking. Tent.

Abso-fucking-lutely nothing-at-fucking-all happens in this chapter.


Harry gets obsessed with the Hallows, he realises that Voldemort is probably after the Elder wand, and they listen to a completely pointless radio broadcast.

They have no plan, no idea what to do or where to go.

Gee, wouldn't it be convenient if they got captured so that the Death Eaters could accidentally let slip the location of one of the Horcruxes.

What's that you say, JK? Harry said Voldemort's name, even though he knows that it will bring the wrath of the Dark Lord down upon him? And they've been captured? And they're going to Malfoy Manor?

No shit.

Chapter Twenty-Three: Malfoy Manor

In which Harry survives by dumb luck yet again.

So after Harry totally fucked up for about the millionth time in his career, and the Trio get captured by a band of "snatchers", one of which is Fenrir Greyback.

Hermione, in a flash of competence otherwise unheard of in this series, blasts Harry with a spell to make his face swell up so the Snatchers won't recognise him. Shame about that massively distinctive scar really, isn't it.

Incidentally, part of me wonders why the Voldemort-Taboo spell, supposedly implemented by Death Eater Central, is alerting random bands of snatchers instead of genuine Death Eaters. Fenrir might wear the robes, but he isn't allowed the Mark, because he's a filthy half-breed, so they have to haul Harry and Co back to Malfoy Manor in order to deliver him to the Dark Lord personally. Of course the Dark Lord isn't there, he's in - like - Albania or somewhere looking for the Elder Wang.

So our heroes, such as they are, get taken back to Malfoy Manor, and introduced to the Malfoy family, in the various persons of Narcissa, Bellatrix, and Draco (who shows a rather touching moment of being not-totally-evil when he is reluctant to formally identify Team Potter).

Bellatrix - again proving herself to be the only Death Eater with half a brain or any balls - recognises the Sword of Gryffindor, which she of course believes to be still in her family Vault. She totally freaks out at this, and thereby tips off Harry to the possibility of one of the other Horcruxes being in the vault. This is actually well done. Bellatrix reacts reasonably and sensibly, and Harry draws a logical conclusion, without having somebody else spell things out for him.

Anyway, Bellatrix decides to torture Hermione to find out what the Potterites know (again, the only Death Eater with any balls or half a brain), then she throws Harry into the World's Most Pathetic Dungeon.

In the World's Most Pathetic Dungeon we find Luna, Ollivander, and some other minor characters who I'm too bored to mention right now. Harry is tied up, but fortunately they have an old piece of nail, which makes short work of any pesky ropes you might happen to have lying around.

So while Hermione is being tortured (incidentally: bets on this hideous torment having any influence on her personality whatsoever? Bingo) Harry escapes his bonds through Luna's broken-nail-fu. He digs through the mokeskin bag which Hagrid gave him (it was a birthday present, nobody can take things out of it except the owner. Why nobody just took it off him I don't know). Fortunately, he remembered to pack the sliver of broken glass from that mirror thing that Sirius gave him. Good thing that. He has a flash of Dumbledore's eye, and calls for help.

He's a man of action, that Harry Potter.

So Dobby the house-elf shows up to rescue him. It really is a fucking curtain-call isn't it. Dobby Appartes out with Luna, Ollivander, and some other minor character, but the commotion caused by all this has attracted the attention of the Death Eaters, who send Peter Pettigrew (who for some reason everybody now calls by his boyhood nickname of "Wormtail") down to investigate).

Ron and Harry jump Pettigrew, who fights back like a good'un, using his Evil Silver Hand to throttle the life out of Harry. Harry reminds Peter that he (Harry) saved his (Pettigrew's) life back in book three, and wasn't it time for some payback. So, in a sequence that makes no sense, Wormtail's silver hand releases Harry, and then turns on its owner, choking him to death. Now I think the implication here is that the Silver Hand, being Totally Evil, was punishing Pettigrew for showing mercy, but that seems a little harsh, since the Death Eaters are all under explicit instructions not to kill Potter anyway.

So Ron and Harry burst upstairs to rescue Hermione. The battle goes exactly the same way as every other fight between hardened Dark Wizards and underage schoolchildren.

During this scuffle, Harry yanks a bunch of wands out of Draco's hand. This is an act of Profound Mystical Significance, for reasons which will be explained later.

Anyway, they fight, they bite, they fight they fight they bite, and then Dobby shows up for the final rescue. Now he should have been able to manage that in about eight seconds flat. He's a house elf, he can teleport even inside Hogwarts. He's got magic the like of which the Death Eaters cannot comprehend.

But this is the final book, and JK Rowling is a serious author who is sending a real message about death and the importance of being a passive whiny bitch, so of course Dobby can't do that. Instead he has to stand around making a speech for exactly long enough for Bellatrix to shove her dagger through his skinny little chest.

This would have been kind of touching, but seriously, all Dobby had to do was to get in, get out, and not bother with the big "you must not hurt Harry Potter" routine and he would have been fine.

So Dobby dies. His actual death is one of the most godawfully crappy bits of writing I've read since, well, since last chapter I suppose.
The elf's eyes found him, and his lips trembled with the effort to form words.
"Harry ... Potter ..."
And then with a little shudder the elf became quite still, and his eyes were nothing more than great, glassy orbs sprinkled with light from the stars they could not see.

Get your Great Glassy Orbs off me you damn dirty house elf!

On a side note, deaths so far: Charity Burbage, Hedwig, Mad-Eye, Dobby, Ted Tonks.

So of five fatalities, that's two completely unimportant characters, and three utter cheap shots. Way to go you cold, callous killer you.

Next: The exciting conclusion. The fucking awful epilogue.

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Comments (go to latest)
Arthur B at 15:03 on 2007-08-01
She's gone on record as saying that the fairy tale is based on the Pardoner's Tale, hasn't she?
http://carojen.livejournal.com/ at 16:42 on 2009-07-10
I agree with most of what you have written; pointing out the few instances of good writing really makes the rest look bad in comparision.

it becomes increasingly apparent through the book that JK Rowling views inactivity as a virtue and ambition as a sin.

Not to mention that it is Slytherin, the house of _ambition_, that is portrayed as evil throughout the series. At least she doesn't give us conflicting messages. :meh

By the way, Dumbledore was born in 1881, according to Word of God, but that revelation was probably after this was written.
Dan H at 22:51 on 2009-07-10
At time of writing, I'm pretty sure the WoG on Dumbledore's age was "about a hundred and fifty".

Assuming he was hanging out with Grindelwald in his school days, that still puts his Nazi era more than a hundred years before the present day of the Potterverse, and a clear forty-year gap between the Grindelwald Reich and the Summer of Evil.
Very good idea about fanfiction challenges, especially with regards to chapter one. Why does JKR through Ron draw meticulous attention to how badly written the book is? I suppose because her fortune had already been made. And she does send out some massively mixed messages doesn't she? So it's OK by her to zombify your parents and friend's parents without a second thought...
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