Number 4 – THE MIDDLE IS THE END! Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

And suddenly there were … Hallows! Like, what? Seriously? And what do they have to do with the plot, again?

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The Plus

+ Exciting beginning!!

+ Many deaths (this is a plus if you’re from the GRRM school^^)

+ Dark, sinister atmosphere

+ More action for Bellatrix

+ Payoffs all over the place, some better, some seem slightly forced

+ Final Battle of Hogwarts!

+ Percy!

+ Home life with Kreacher

The Minus

– Were the Hallows necessary?

– Dumbledore’s background not very relevant and not that interesting. Serves primarily for tracking of the Elder Wand. Harry’s sudden turn from Dumbledore seems a little incoherent.

– Fred :(((

– Ron and Hermione romance not that great

– I don’t really buy the badass Neville. He’s a gentle soul, and there’s nothing wrong with that. He’s a botanics guy, for heaven’s sake!

– Locket Horcrux acts like the One Ring

– Showdown between Harry and Voldemort too talky

– Could have done without the wands-are-people-too thing. Kind of reduces the power of wizards.

– What is this about Apparating from distances?? Seems like a cop-out.

Explain Yourself!

The final Harry Potter book breaks with the established structure of the previous ones, which is: Dursley time – pre-school event that will overshadow Harry’s year at Hogwarts – school year – dramatic finale. By the time the long-time Harry Potter reader gets to book 7, this pattern has come to feel for them like a comfortable, familiar shoe that one just slips into. The break with this formula comes not unexpected (Harry announced his plan to leave Hogwarts at the end of book six), yet we still weren’t quite sure if he would pull it off. After all, what would a Harry Potter book without Hogwarts look like?

The answer is: sort of … adrift. Harry, Ron and Hermione set out on their quest to find and destroy the rest of the Horcruxes that grant Voldemort immortality. This seems like a thoroughly impossible task since they don’t even know exactly WHAT all of them are. At the same time, they are being hunted by practically the entire wizarding community now, which forces them to move very, very carefully and slow. As a result, large parts of the book read like a psychological piece about a small group of people bound together in hopelessness, boredom and perpetual fear. The atmosphere couldn’t be more different from the first books. Which is good in one way: HP 7 shows us Harry’s rite of passage between childhood and adulthood. On the other hand, there are long passages of tediousness in which nothing really happens and everyone just wallows in their depression. Ultimately, though, I’m more in the camp which appreciates a change of structure.

The main reason I don’t like the final book of the series as much as I would like to are the Deathly Hallows. To me, this plot element feels tucked-on, unreal and way too mythological for the HP universe. Mythology had never really been a thing until then in the HP world. Everything had been fantastic and surreal, yes, but all seemed to make sense, and for the wizards, it was even mundane. Now, beginning with HP 5, we have prophecies and mysterious, God-given (?) artifacts. That would still be fine if they played a major plot role. But two out of the three Hallows are completely inconsequential.

Let’s look at them, shall we? There’s
a) The Invisibility Cloak. Great. Harry already possesses it, and if serves him as it always did. No change there.
b)The Resurrection Stone. A complete gimmick. Yes, in the end, Harry gets to quickly talk to his dead loved ones again, who are actually only shadows, or something, and not really them. Doesn’t matter for his quest to defeat Voldemort at all. Only there for emotional impact? Seems kind of a let-down. (How cool would it have been if he had summoned the four Hogwarts Founders to battle V? Kind of like Edo Tensei in Naruto?
c) Finally, there is the Elder Wand, the MacGuffin of the story. Voldemort follows it like a bull fighter’s red towel throughout the plot, keeping him conveniently from finding and squashing Harry. The Elder Wand is the main reason why the Hallows exist. After the end of HP 6, Rowling had apparently decided that the way for Harry to beat Voldemort would be via wand mechanics. That’s why she introduced the rules about wands changing allegiance, which, I’m sorry, seems like a pretty unconvincing thing, even for this world of magic. Since Draco was master of Dumbledore’s wand, and Harry could conceivably Disarm Draco, Rowling needed to find a way to get Voldemort to want Dumbledore’s wand. Which is why she crafted the legend of the Deathly Hallows and linked it with the Dumbledore story(a background story that IMO takes upset too many pages). The Deathly Hallows are just a MacGuffin, and while Rowling has done a superb job to hide the MacGuffins in previous books and make the plots seem completely organic and natural, she fails at this spectacularly in HP 7, I think. Because of this, I would have ranked the book much lower, had if not been for the emotional impact of the story’s conclusion. Deathly Hallows, for the first time, lays bare the cogs of JKR’s usually excellent plotting skills.