Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Chapter 24 - Epilogue

by Dan H

Dan concludes his review, having abandoned any semblance of impartiality, bless his bitter little heart.
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Previously: Harry does nothing of any interest for 23 chapters. We finally destroy one single solitary Horcrux.

Chapter Twenty Four: The Wandmaker

In which we learn a bunch of shit about wands that will be contradicted by the end of the book.

This chapter opens with a genuinely touching scene in which Harry buries Dobby by hand (as opposed to using magic). It's really sweet, although perhaps I would have found it more affecting if Dobby hadn't died out of sheer authorial malice.

So Harry dithers over whether to go for the Hallows or the Horcruxes, and thinks about all the shit that's happened and what it could all mean. He spends a really, really long time thinking about Dumbledore, and what his plans for the whole thing were.

So then Harry goes and talks to the Goblin they rescued from the Malfoys (did I mention the goblin? There was a goblin). The Goblin is all "you totally rock Harry Potter, because you sometimes treat other races with the barest minimum possible level of decency when you remember to." You see, it's because Harry understands love.

So Harry goes and talks to Ollivander about his broken wand. I mean seriously, it's not even worth doing jokes about, is it.

Having got his penis-metaphor out of the way, Harry then talks some more about Wand-Lore with Ollivander. Here we learn that it is the wand that chooses the wizard, not the other way around, and that if you take somebody's wand by force, that wand will work better for you than one you just picked up somewhere.

In particular, the discussion goes like this:
"I took this wand from Draco Malfoy by force," said Harry. "Can I use it safely?"
"I think so, subtle laws govern wand ownership, but the conquered wand will usually bend its will to its new master."

This all leads into a big discussion of the Elder Wand and how to take control of it you have to kill its previous owner or some such shit like that.

All of which turns out to be nonsense. In fact the rules for wand ownership seem to be roughly these:

Every wand has a True Owner.
When a wizard takes a wand from another wizard, he becomes the True Owner of every wand of which that wizard was previously True Owner.

"The Wand Chooses The Wizard" is crap, the thing about the Elder Wand changing hands through murder is crap. Like all the rest of the magic in Harry Potter, wands aren't mysterious or mystical, they follow simple rules which can be written down and followed very, very easily.

This will all become apparent later on, when it is revealed that Harry's act of yanking some wands out of Draco's hands made him the True And Destined Owner Of the Most Powerful And Destructive Wand In History.

Lame.

This chapter ends with another flash of Voldy-vision, as we see the Dark Lord claiming the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's tomb. But it's okay, because he's not the True Owner of it, because of rules one and two above.

Chapter Twenty Five: Shell Cottage

In which Harry spends so much time sitting on his arse doing nothing that it's not even funny.

This chapter is short, at a mere thirteen pages, but that is precisely thirteen pages longer than it needs to be.

Harry gets all weird about how Dumbledore is totally alive, and totally talking to him by weird magical means. It's like that Buffy episode where Giles thinks that a poltergeist is Jenny, but it isn't. Only with more sucking.

Bill and Fleur carry on being shit. Fleur carries on 'aving zee most stupeed accent ever written, and doing that really fucking annoying thing that French characters in books always do, where they put one French word into every sentence so that they wind up sounding like they're failing their GCSE oral.

During the big slew of inactivity, Lupin shows up to tell everybody that Tonks has had their baby. His opening line of dialogue is truly, truly, truly stupid:
"It is I, Remus John Lupin ... I am a werewolf married to Nymphadora Tokns, and you, the Secret Keeper of Shell Cottage, told me the address and bade me come in case of emergency!"

Okay, I get that he's trying to convince them that he isn't a Death Eater using Polyjuice (it's nice that somebody in the Potterverse has worked out how trivial it is to use), but none of the information he gives is secret, except for the stuff about Bill being the Secret Keeper, and since the Fidelius charm already prevents people from getting into the cottage, it's a bit of a waste of breath.

Remus asks Harry to be godfather to his child, then leaves.

Harry decides to break into Gringotts with the help of a Goblin. He bargains the Sword of Gryffindor for this, because apparently it belongs to the Goblins anyway. In one of the few moments of (a) this book being remotely interesting and (b) my finding a piece of Fantasy Worldbuilding worth listening to, we learn that Goblins believe that anything they make remains the property of its original creator, and that if they make something for somebody else, that something should go back to the goblins once said somebody dies.

So they're off to Gringotts. Four hundred and fifteen pages in and we're onto Horcrux number two!

Chapter Twenty Six: Gringotts

In which they finally run out of fucking Polyjuice.

They Polyjuice Hermione into Bellatrix, give her Bella's original wand (which Ollivander conveniently identified for them), and head for Gringotts.

And they use the Invisibility Cloak, of course they use the invisibility cloak.

Anyway, Hermione has trouble working with Bellatrix's wand (because she "had not won its allegiance by taking it personally from Bellatrix" - although as we will learn by the end of the book, casting Expelliarmus on whoever did take it personally from Bellatrix, or on anybody who had ever cast Expelliarmus on Bellatrix at any point in the past, should also have worked). Blah blah some crap, blah blah diagon alley.

They head to Gringotts, where they are interrupted by another Death Eater, who asks Hermione-as-Bellatrix how she managed to get hold of a new wand, since the only Wandmaker in England is currently AWOL and hers was known to have been stolen by Harry Potter. Tragically, Hermione does not respond by saying "I don't know, the same place the new intake of Hogwarts students got theirs I suppose."

By the time they get to the main desk of Gringotts, the jig is totally up. All the crap with the Polyjuice and the Goblin and all the rest has been for nothing. From the security of his invisibility cloak, Harry uses the Imperius curse to get past the goblin on the desk. I'd like to think that this marked a genuine change in Harry's character, but it totally doesn't. He was in a difficult situation, he took the easy way out. I'd also point out that, compared to turning your target irreversibly into a drooling lunatic (like Hermione did to Xenophilius Lovegood) the Imperius Curse doesn't seem half bad. It gets your target to do what you want and go where you want, but so does a Confundus charm.

Just so we get the message that we're now in the company of dark, edgy Harry Potter, he uses the Imperius curse a couple more times, and each time it seems not so much like an unforgivable violation of somebody's free will, but a comparatively harmless way to get somebody to look the other way for five minutes. It's rather like the Jedi Mind Trick, in fact.

So they get deeper into Gringotts, and it's revealed that yet, they do have a couple of defences, in the shape of some water that washes away magical concealment (wouldn't it be better to have that before you get into the building - and shouldn't the Ministry invest in some of it as well?) and a blind dragon which is scared of loud noises.

Impregnable, huh?

So they head to the Lestrange vault, and realise that they find that every time they touch something, it multiplies itself and becomes burning hot. How the hell do the Lestranges expect to get anything out of there, I ask you? Or does it only work if you aren't the rightful owner of the vault? In that case, why not just rig the door to only open for the right person? They could use that "flesh memory" shit which snitches are apparently built with.

Seriously, though, this is what I hate (okay, one of the many things I hate) about Rowling's universe. It's all so arbitrary. Everything works according to these stupid rules which operate on the basis of pure plot-convenience. Like the poison in Book Six which "has to be drunk" in order to get at the Horcrux. All throughout this book, the "magic" is arranged so that the "only thing to do" is whatever the hell JK Rowling wants to have happen next. It's fucking lazy.

So they grab the Cup of Helga Hufflepuff, but they lose the Sword of Gryffindor. Don't worry, though, they can still pull it out the Sorting Hat.

Actually, thinking about it, wouldn't that have been a better, faster way to get the Horcruxes together: just get a True Ravenclaw, a True Hufflepuff and a True Slytherin to yank the damned things out of the Sorting Hat. Except, of course, that wouldn't be the way it Had To Be Done.

Chapter Twenty Seven: The Final Hiding Place

It's Hogwarts.

Chapter Twenty Eight: The Missing Mirror

In which we get yet another dose of Dumbledore backplot.

So Harry is off to Hogwarts, because he saw in Voldemort's mind that the last Horcrux was there. He also saw that Voldemort had only just realised that his Horcruxes were in danger at all.

I mean, seriously, I get that he's arrogant, but you'd think that however overconfident you were, spending eleven years as less than a ghost would teach you some level of caution. I mean, I don't like leaving my keys where I can't see them, let alone fragments of my actual goddamned soul. But Voldemort, intent as he was on finding the Elder Wand, has just decided to take it on trust that his immortal soul is nice and safe and not hacked into bits with the Sword of Gryffindor.

Seriously, this guy totally deserves to get killed by his own rebounding curse.

Harry and co Apparate into Hogsmeade, where they immediately set off the alarm system and get set upon by death eaters, but the bartender at the inn takes the rap for them, and pulls them out of the shit.

I mean seriously, how many times can somebody get rescued from their own fuckups by smarter more capable people and still be considered a hero?

The bartender turns out to be none other than Aberforth Dumbledore. Woohoo, we're in for some more exciting Dumbledore backstory.

Aberforth tells us the exact same story we have heard six times already: Dumbledore hung out with Grindelwald for three months in the eighteen fifties, there was a fight and their sister got killed in the fallout. Aberforth thought it was Dumbledore's fault, Dumbledore thought it was Dumbledore's fault, Grindelwald ran off to be a Nazi somewhere.

Harry gets into Hogwarts through a secret passage which Neville created using the Room of Requirement. Because Neville rocks.

Chapter Twenty Nine: The Lost Diadem

In which Harry is systematically upstaged by every single character in the book.

Neville takes Harry into his secret military base in the Room of Requirement. Neville, incidentally, also has honest to god scars from standing up to the Death Eaters in charge of Hogwarts. Notice that's "standing up to" not "throwing a tantrum at" which was the best that our hero ever really managed.

Neville fucking rocks. No wonder Voldemort didn't mark Neville as an equal, he knew when he was outclassed.

It turns out that Dumbledore's Army, freed from having to put up with Harry's complete inability to get over himself for eight seconds, has gone on to actually be useful and effective. They offer to help Harry, and Harry has an attack of stupid.
"You don't understand." Harry seemed to have said that a lot in the last few hours. "We - we can't tell you. We've got to do it - alone."
"Why?" asked Neville.

Harry Potter everybody: whiny shit with a messiah complex, completely incapable of independent thought. Eventually they do in fact manage to convince him that he's being totally totally stupid. But wouldn't it have been nice if he'd just not been stupid in the first place?

So the DA go off to fight Death Eaters while Harry looks for the Diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw, which somebody else told him might be the best place to start. Seriously, Harry does nothing for himself in this book. Or in any of the previous books come to think of it. But it's okay because he's "brave".

Harry and Luna try to sneak into the Ravenclaw common room to catch a look at the statue of their founder. In a rare moment of actually being kinda cool, we find that the Ravenclaw common room is not protected by a password but by a riddle (more of a koan, really: the question asked of Harry and Luna is "what came first, the phoenix or the flame?"). Needless to say, Luna answers the riddle, not Harry.

Worst. Hero. Ever.

They get to the common room, and are immediately ambushed by an interchangeable Death Eater.

Chapter Thirty: The Sacking of Severus Snape

In which Snape appears for ten seconds and utterly steals the show.

Oh look, they've summoned Lord Voldemort again. Pity they couldn't summon somebody actually scary instead.

So the Dark Lord is on his way, and all the people that are actually cool rush to the defence of Hogwarts. Harry, on the other hand, runs around looking for somebody to tell him what to do next. He eventually decides to start taking orders from the ghosts.

Everybody mills around in the corridors, and all the parents seem to have shown up. Molly Weasley continues to be completely fucking shit, insisting that Ginny can't fight because she's only sixteen.

Everybody gets ready for battle.

Oh, and Snape leaves so that he can get killed.

Chapter Thirty One: The Battle of Hogwarts

In which a battle presents no impediment to the interminable exposition.

While the rest of the student body are actually getting stuff done, and preparing to lay down their lives in battle against the Dark Lord, Harry goes off looking for a plot dump.

He finds it in the shape of the Grey Lady, ghost of Ravenclaw tower, who reveals that she is actually Helena Ravenclaw, daughter of Rowena Ravenclaw. Wow. Words cannot explain how little I care about that. She also reveals that she stole her mother's diadem, and that she hid it in a tree in Albania (the very Albania where Voldemort once went! Amazing isn't it). Harry suddenly remembers that he saw a diadem in the Room of Lost Things in the previous book (funny how he can remember that, but not - say - things that happened two chapters ago). He goes to get it.

While Harry is doing this, Ron and Hermione dash of to have sex in the Chamber of Secrets, which Ron manages to open by imitating Harry's use of Parseltongue. That's right folks, the magical language Harry carries in his soul as a result of his connection with the Dark Lord can be picked up by any schlub who pays attention for five minutes.

Hermione destroys the cup offstage, so we miss the big plot point, and get the ghost story. Oh JK, you master storyteller you.

Then the Troika go to the Room of Requirement and start ransacking it for Horcruxes. It's a good thing Harry happened to see it in the previous book really, or they'd be totally fucked.

In the Room of Requirement they meet Draco, Crabbe and Goyle. Crabbe and Goyle have been presented previously as a bit thick, but basically just your average bully types. In this scene, though, they're positively retarded. In, like, an actual way, rather than the way in which the whole book is retarded.
"We was hiding in the corridor outside," grunted Goyle. "We can do Diss-lusion charms now! And then," his face split into a gormless grin, "you turned up right in front of us and said you was looking for a die-dum! What's a die-dum?"

I've typed a lot of quotes into this article (I intended to do one a chapter, but I couldn't quite bring myself to), and fuck me JKR uses a lot of exclamation marks. Also: for fuck's sake, if you can cast a Dissillusionment charm, you should damned well be able to say "Dissillusionment charm".

Anyway, it turns out that Draco, Crabbe and Goyle have shown up to kill Harry, or bring him to the Dark Lord or something. I would like to believe that Draco is only doing this because he fears for the safety of his family, but since every single Slytherin turned against Hogwarts in the crunch, I think he's probably just being Evil.

So Crabbe or possibly Goyle summons Fiendfire, which is wild and uncontrollable and, conveniently, one of the few things that can destroy a Horcrux. This kills Crabbe, and allows Harry do demonstrate his heroism by rescuing Draco.

They get outside to see the penultimate (they think) Horcrux bleeding itself to death, and meet up with Fred, Percy and some nameless others. Percy gets quite a nice moment of redemption, where he apologises for trying to have a career when he should have just settled into virtuous poverty like the rest of his family. Then Fred gets killed in a horrible explosion.

Poor Fred. Ah well, it's not like he and George had distinct personalities anyway.

Chapter Thirty Two: The Elder Wand

In which Snape gets it for spurious reasons.

This chapter begins with Harry being Really Really Upset that Fred is dead.
The world had ended, so why had the battle not ceased, the castle fallen silent in horror, and every combatant lain down their arms?

Oh just shut up! Just shut the fuck up JK Rowling. If you want us to mourn the death of a minor character, spend some fucking time developing them instead of telling us how we should all be really sad and shocked that they died.

So the battle rages on. Harry decides he's got to go find Voldemort, because he has to kill Nagini and end the plot once and for all. Also: he has to overhear Snape's final confrontation with Voldemort.

So Harry sneaks into the Shrieking Shack with his posse in tow, and we see Voldemort killing Snape in order to become True Master of the Elder Wand. Snape coughs his memories into a jar, and Voldemort calls an intermission in the battle, instead of just killing Harry where he stands.

I fucking hate this book.

Chapter Thirty Three: The Prince's Tale

In which all the fanfic turns out to have been right.

Snape was in love with Lily.

Harry is a Horcrux.

Dumbledore is an asshole.

Chapter Thirty Four: The Forest Again

In which the forest still fails to be remotely threatening.

This chapter makes me genuinely uncomfortable. Not in a "it's so dark and edgy and outside my comfort zone way". In a "I seriously am beginning to find JK Rowling morally despicable" kind of way.

Harry discovered, through Snape's memories, that he (Harry) is a Horcrux, and that the only way Voldemort can be defeated is if he (Voldemort) first kills Harry, thereby destroying the fragment of his (Voldemort's) soul which is inside him (Harry).

Harry, being the braindead personality-free fucktard he is, accepts this at face value, and marches off to die, pausing briefly to tell Neville to kill Nagini if he gets the chance. I'll say this for Harry, he knows how to leave things in the hands of better men.

He realises that "I open at the close" (the cryptic message inscribed on the snitch that Dumbledore gave him) means "I open when you're marching off to sacrifice yourself pointlessly". So the snitch opens, and he gets the (new, not-cursed) Resurrection Stone out of it. He puts on the ring and turns it, and all the dead people in the book (well, James, Lily, Lupin and Sirius at least) show up in spectral form to tell him how proud they are that he's off to commit suicide by means of Dark Wizard.

I mean, seriously, this is all kinds of fucked up.
Lily's smile was widest of all. She pushed her long hair back as she drew close to him, and her green eyes, so like his, searched his face hungrily as though she would never be able to look at him enough.
"You've been so brave."
He could not speak. His eyes feasted on her, and he thought that he would like to stand and look at her forever, and that would be enough.
"You are nearly there," said James. "Very close. We are ... so proud of you."
"Does it hurt?"
The childish question had fallen from Harry's lips before he could stop it.
"Dying? Not at all," said Sirius. "Quicker and easier than falling asleep."

I'm sorry, but that's just wrong on so many levels.

Now I admit, all through this book, I've been annoyed by the overprotective coddling of Molly Weasley, who won't let anybody under the age of thirty do anything that might be considered dangerous, but I'd even take that interfering old biddy over this creepy band of suicide groupies.

I mean seriously: the Potters both sacrificed their lives to save Harry, but now they're all in favour of him rushing headlong into his inevitable destruction? And what's with Sirius' "being dead is totally cool" speech? I mean seriously, this is exactly the kind of shit that Christian Fundamentalists have fits over, and with good reason.

Harry confronts Voldemort. Voldemort kills him.

I really, really wish this article could end here.

Chapter Thirty Five: King's Cross

In which JK Rowling, through Dumbledore, tells us how to feel about Harry.

I almost cannot bring myself to write about this chapter, in which Harry has a vision of Dumbledore in King's Cross station, and Dumbledore explains the plot to him again for old times' sake.

So it turns out that Harry isn't dead after all, because of the Very Special Bond between Harry and Voldemort, but Voldemort did ironically manage to destroy the fragment of his soul which was inside Harry all this time.

Wow. Convenient.

Then Dumbledore gives us a big speech about how fucking wonderful Harry is. You see Dumbledore sought the Deathly Hallows himself, but he sought them for bad reasons. Which in this case means "any reason at all." Harry, on the other hand, is Good and Pure, because he went through his entire life without having a fucking clue what he was doing. Because Harry was a passive little pussy who never did anything, never achieved anything, never had any ambition or even motivation.
"You are the true master of death, because the true master does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying."

So Harry, by blindly and unquestioningly allowing Voldemort to kill him, has shown himself to be a better man than any other.

I'm sorry, but I find that genuinely offensive.

I'm going to go into more detail about this in my post-book wrap up, because I think it bears some close analysis, but for now I'll make a couple of simple points.

Every single man, woman, and child in Hogwarts is risking their life to defeat Voldemort. Every single one of them is confronting death (or, if you prefer, "Death") and every single one of them has accepted that there are far worse things than dying. But their sacrifice doesn't count, because they're actually fighting, which is to say, they are trying to survive. In the new morality Rowling wants us to accept, the only true way to show courage is to lie down and just accept death.

Furthermore, Harry's stoic acceptance of his mortality is grossly undermined by the fact that he actually doesn't die. His great sacrifice is actually just another instance of him doing nothing by himself, and relying on other people to make things turn out alright.

Consider: if Harry actually had died, his mastery of the Elder Wand would have died with him, and Voldemort would have been able to carry on slaughtering to his heart's content. He would have still had one Horcrux left, and Hogwarts would have been destroyed.

This is the emotional and moral crux of the book, and it sucks beyond the telling of it.

Chapter Thirty Six: The Flaw in the Plan

In which all that seemed wrong was now right and those who deserve to are certain to live a long and happy life, ever after.

Voldemort seems to have collapsed, as well you might after nuking your own soul. He sends Narcissa to check whether Harry is alive, but when she realises that he is, she asks him (in a whisper) whether Draco is still alive.

Seriously, I love the Malfoys. I mean compare Narcissa - whose first and only concern is for her child, so much so that she risks defying the Dark Lord who, let's face it, isn't exactly known for his forgiving nature, just to know if he's alive or dead - compare her with Lily Potter, who just moments ago was cheerfully watching her son go to his certain death.

So Voldemort carries Harry's "dead" body to the front lines and does his big "ha ha, I've won you bunch losers" speech.

Everybody acts really sad that Harry is dead. Then Neville rushes the Dark Lord. Because Neville fucking rocks.

The Dark Lord disarms him, binds him, and then puts the Sorting Hat on his head and sets it on fire. Dude, you know she's reaching when she kills the goddamned Sorting Hat.

Neville breaks free of Voldemort's curse (which I like to think is Neville being a badass, but it is later revealed to be the Power of Harry's Big Love Death Sacrifice), pulls the Sword of Gryffindor out of the sorting hat, and totally decapitates Nagini. Because he has had it with this motherfucking snake, oh yes.

So then the shit hits the fan, and Harry jumps under his invisibility cloak again. There's a bunch of really badly written action. Molly Weasley takes out Bellatrix Lestrange in what our esteemed editor would identify as the Battle Between The Virtuous Woman And the Sinful Woman. Harry finally reveals himself, and reveals too that he has learned from Dumbledore the capacity to make long stupid speeches.

I'm going to reproduce this in full, and I'll say beforehand that Voldemort is totally right about everything:
"I don't want anyone else to try to help," Harry said loudly, and in the total silence his voice carried like a trumpet call. "It's got to be like this. It's got to be me."
Voldemort hissed.
"Potter doesn't mean that," he said, his red eyes wide. "That isn't how he works, is it? Who are you going to use as a shield today Potter?"
"Nobody," Harry said simply. "There are no more Horcruxes. It's just you and me. Neither can live while the other survives, and one of us is about to leave for good ..."
"One of us?" jeered Voldemort, and his whole body was taut and his red eyes stared, a snake that was about to strike. "You think it will be you, do you, the boy who has survived by accident, and because Dumbledore was pulling the strings?"
"Accident, was it, when my mother died to save me?" asked Harry. They were still moving sideways, both of them, in that perfect circle, maintaining the same distance from each other, and for Harry no face existed but Voldemort's. "Accident when I decided to fight in that graveyard? Accident that I didn't defend myself tonight, and still survived, and returned to fight again?"


Umm ... yes. Yes to every single one of them. At no point was it suggested that Lily Potter deliberately invoked ancient magic when she put herself in front of her son. Harry certainly didn't go to the graveyard by choice, and he had no idea that his wand would magically prevent Voldemort from hurting him. So yes, it was in fact all accidental. Harry Potter: the boy who was too dumb to die.

There's one more bit I want to draw attention to in this speech, because I find it so abominably offensive.
"I was ready to die to stop you hurting these people ... I've done what my mother did. They're protected from you. Haven't you noticed how none of the spells you put on them are binding?"


This comes back to my point from further up (and I'll come back to it again, because it genuinely sickens me). Why the fuck is Harry's sacrifice more significant than anybody else's? Why did Harry's "willingness to die" create a special magic forcefield around Hogwarts, but not the willingness to die of every single other person in the damned school?

Essentially, Harry is setting himself up here as a literal Christ figure. The perfect innocent, going meekly and willingly to his death in order to take the place of the whole world. The thing is, though, Jesus was supposed to actually be God. His sacrifice (according to Christian tradition) was greater than the sacrifices of normal men because he was not a normal man. He was God, suffering as a man for the sins of man. Harry Potter is just a miserable self-involved kid with a martyr complex.

Harry carries on talking for another three pages. Then Voldemort tries to curse him, but his curse rebounds because of that bullshit with the Elder Wand really belonging to Harry because he "conquered" Draco.

Of course with the Dark Lord fallen, his entire army disperses without a word.

They collect their dead, and we find that Mr and Mrs Remus Lupin are among the fallen. Harry is momentarily sad.

The final page of the book shows Harry with the Elder Wand, which is now most definitely His. In a scene which I think sums up the vacuous nature of the entire series, he uses the Elder Wand, the Wand of Destiny, the Deathstick, to magically repair his old wand.

Because lord knows, we wouldn't want the events of the last six hundred pages to have any consequences now, would we.

Epilogue: Nineteen Years Later

In which we learn that nothing that happened in the entire series meant shit.

Harry is married to Ginny. Ron is married to Hermione.

Back when I read The Order of the Phoenix, one of the few things I liked about it was the fact that Ginny seemed to have got over her crush on Harry. I thought that it was a refreshingly subtle, and subtly mature message to put into a children's book: sometimes you just get over people.

It saddens me greatly that JK Rowling, divorcee and single parent that she is, would feel the need to present such a naive view of romance. It seems like she spent so long talking about Death, she couldn't find anything to say about Life beyond "you grow up, get married, and have children."

Harry and Ginny's children are called James, Lily, and (as I am sure you already know) Albus Severus.

I think this, more than anything else, shows how deeply immature the series is. Harry goes through seven years of constant danger, he suffers torment, loss and even death. He touched the soul of the greatest Dark Wizard who ever lived, and practised the blackest of magic when he was forced to. But has he grown as a person? Has he changed? Not at all. His life still revolves around James and Lily, Dumbledore and Snape.

I also find it more than a bit offensive that Ginny (who we learn in this interview goes on to be an international sports superstar) doesn't seem to get any say in naming her own kids. I know it's an epilogue, I know it's sweet and everything, but her brother died at Hogwarts as well. The epilogue essentially says "And Harry Finally Got The Happy Family He'd Always Longed For". Never once does it consider the fact that after seven years he might want something else.

Coming Soon: My thoughts on the book as a whole, and the series in general.
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Comments (go to latest)
Wardog at 15:46 on 2007-08-10
I'm sorry I keep quoting David and Hannah at you but they're one of the few people to whose arguments I would naturally grant credence and they both very much enjoyed DH. David pointed out that there's something very different in fighting in a war in which there's a chance you might get killed and knowing walking to your death - thus Harry's sacrifice has more nobility and courage attached to it than you're giving him credit for. I guess it's the difference between rushing the Bastille and going to the guillotine..
Dan H at 16:00 on 2007-08-10
There is indeed a difference between fighting in a war in which there's a chance you might get killed and knowingly walking to your death.

Knowingly walking to your death is easier.

Harry doesn't really have a choice. He's "the chosen one". Colin Creevey, however, could have just walked away from Hogwarts and nobody would have thought the less of him for it.

I'd also point out that Harry didn't sacrifice himself to *save* anybody. He sacrificed himself to *kill* somebody.
Arthur B at 17:10 on 2007-08-10
I have to say that I'm also deeply uncomfortable with any situation where deliberate suicide is actually a good idea. Walking bravely to the guillotine, I don't count as suicide, because you don't normally have much choice as to whether or not you get your head hacked off: the only choice is whether you cry and whine and piss your pants, or whether you walk with your head held high and, possibly, impress the crowd with your stoic acceptance of your fate.

Walking to a duel which you are going to deliberately lose, because you think a loophole in the metaphysics in the universe will allow you to become Master of Death and give you the power to be the Messiah, isn't the act of a brave or noble individual. It's the act of a paranoid schizophrenic.
Dan H at 17:15 on 2007-08-10
He's not even doing it because he knows about the loophole, though. He's doing it for the same reason he does everything (see next article): Because He Thinks Dumbledore Wanted Him To.
Arthur B at 17:31 on 2007-08-10
So it is, in fact, literally true that if Dumbledore asked Harry to jump off a cliff, Harry would do it. (Which is kind of odd, in a series of books where mistrusting authority is supposedly a recurring theme.)
Wardog at 21:51 on 2007-08-11
I can't believe I'm trying to defend JK. I really have no investment in this, which is why I'm doing such an appalling job of it. But surely Harry has just as much right to walk way than Colin Creevy? He could go and live with Hermione's parents in Australia. I mean, through Snape's memories Harry sees what Dumbledore always intended for him (that he should nobly sacrifice his life) and *chooses* to do it anyway. An alternative reading might be that Harry realises that, rather than run around desperately trying to find alternative solutions to the Voldemort Problem, the adults around him have essentially groomed him into a passive matyr figure who will Do The Right Thing, even though it means his own death. And by the time he realises how thoroughly screwed he is, it's in the middle of the final battle and there's nothing much he can do short of pegging it. To *choose* what other people want you to do is still a choice, and after all that's happened to him, that Harry still has enough love in his heart to lay down his life is, y'know, pretty damn noble.

For the record, I don't actually buy this.

I don't actually buy that it's harder to walk knowingly into death than take a chance on it in a battle. Given a choice, I'd go for the battle and hope to find somewhere to hide.
Wendy B at 23:29 on 2007-08-13
Daniel --- I just wanted to say that you are not alone in your suffering. I've been working on a review of DH from my Livejournal site, but the 7th book seems to have killed my will to write. I am reading the book one more time to possibly find redeeming value, besides inducing millions of otherwise illiterate youngsters to get interested in reading. Beyond the insufferable plot details/holes you chronicle above, the series up through B6 appeared to be a gigantic and elegant mystery puzzle to be unveiled. And then on 7/21 we discover that it was an UNSOLVABLE mystery --- in B7 she introduced new characters and clunky plot devices. at the 11th hour (it burns! it burns!), to contort and bring the damn story to a close. All her prior book "clues" that fandom crawled over with a tweezer --- they weren't clever clues at all. Bah...but I loved this essay and laughed through the entire series. I might not write a thing but just refer folks here. Wendy
Dan H at 15:13 on 2007-08-16
the series up through B6 appeared to be a gigantic and elegant mystery puzzle to be unveiled. And then on 7/21 we discover that it was an UNSOLVABLE mystery

I think that's part of why I found the last book so unsatisfying. While I wasn't ever massively into the "puzzle box" aspect of the books, I can understand other people being into it. But the last books lost sight of even that giving us, as you say, a bunch of new characters and clunky plot devices which came out of nowhere (or at the very least, out of previously untouched areas of her notes).

If you do manage to get your review finished, I'll be very interested in seeing it.
Wendy B at 16:18 on 2007-09-16
Daniel...you might get some traffic to these articles as I posted the links within an essay I just posted to LiveJournal's hp_essays: http://community.livejournal.com/hp_essays/239017.html

Wendy B
Dan H at 12:24 on 2008-03-25
On the Dumbledore side of things, I just don't understand how she can have a character that she spends half the book going off on a tangent about their unnecessary backstory (although it is a tangent away from that fucking tent so maybe I shouldn't complain) - the point of which is supposed to reveal that he turned away from power and ideas of sacrificing people for the 'greater good' - only to have him control and use every single character to the point where the entire book is just enacting his great Masterplan! Surely that contradicts a bit?!!

JK is chronic for this: her Good characters behave exactly the same way as her Evil characters, except that everything that is a sign of an evil character's Evilness is a sign of a Good character's Goodness.

Cases in point: Draco is evil because he "bullies" Harry. James is good because he "sticks up" for people against Snape (Harry similarly does a lot of "sticking up" for people that involves dogpiling defenseless Syltherins). Umbridge is a "racist" because she thinks Hagrid being a half-giant makes him a bad teacher. Harry, Ron and Hermione treat the full giants with patronizing contempt, and this is a sign that they're great humanitarians. Voldemort hates Muggles because he's evil. All the other Wizard treat Muggles like vermin but it's okay because they're endearingly careless about it. Then of course there's the fact that Harry's furious desire for vengeance is apparently a sign of his great capacity for "love".

p.s ooh look, my first post. How exciting :)

Welcome aboard.
Dan doesn't realise just how absolutely spot on he is. I remember the Magnet series in 1930 where the Remove overthrow a demonic temporary headmaster from Greyfriars. Did anyone else read the Magnet when it was still being published? DH should have followed the Hogwarts front with Neville and Luna leading the rebellion against the Carrows. Or better yet, Voldemort should have made himself headmaster and Neville should have barred him out, that would have made for an infinitely better story. Voldemort really was no more capable than the wicked headmasters who sometimes got foisted on Greyfriars were. But instead... JKR wrote so much about nothing happening that she seemed as nihilistic as Samuel Beckett.
Gamer_2k4 at 21:20 on 2011-06-02
I know I've been guilty of some serious comment thread necromancy as of late, but I've got a question.

"I think so, subtle laws govern wand ownership, but the conquered wand will usually bend its will to its new master."

Is this an inaccurate transcription, or does the book really have run-on sentences like that? I've seen a few other quotes from the book with similar use of commas, and it's almost painful to think that writing that bad can make it past an editor and into the final version of a book.
Dan H at 21:36 on 2011-06-02
I'm honestly not sure if I transcribed that right or not, although to be honest I'm not overly fussed by slightly long sentences and I think Orwell would have supported the choice of a comma over the semicolon (although I think the line would sound better split into two sentences: "I think so. Subtle laws govern...").
I don't remember about that particular quote, but I do remember noticing several instances of comma splices while reading the book and wondering why the editor didn't, as Dan suggests, split the sentence in two or something, because there didn't seem to be any good reason to have them. (I accept that sometimes there is a good reason. JKR didn't have it.)
http://vonnemattheus.livejournal.com/ at 00:21 on 2012-05-04
The Horcrux hunt should have been a dangerous and exciting adventure, instead of the Camping Trip from Hell plot you get in sitcoms like Bottom. It was like watching someone else play Zelda really, really badly. Also, I thought there was an expiry date on the Mother's Love charm that keeps Harry's arse above ground?

The best part of the book is when Harry is at his parents grave were, for some reason, he starts thinking of them rotting underground. JK even uses the word "Mouldering".
Inspired by that scene, I buried my old HP books in the backyard after Deathly Hallows, but when I dug them up recently, they weren't nearly as decomposed as I had hoped. I don't think the maggots or the bacteria liked them very much either.
Furare at 13:28 on 2012-05-04
Since this article was bumped onto the front page again, I noticed the comment about JKR's abuse of commas. I was reminded of reading the climax of Half Blood Prince; it's supposed to be really exciting and everything, and all I remember thinking is "Wow, are there four separate clauses separated by commas in that sentence?" I thought that several times. It's really quite shockingly badly-written in places.
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