My Review of Deathly Hallows
- My Review of Deathly Hallows
Deathly Hallows is a magnificent book, a fitting conclusion to the
Harry Potter series. Dramatic and absorbing, it is also a profoundly
spiritual book about death and how we deal with it -- both the deaths
of loved ones and our own death.
The action starts as soon as Harry leaves Privet Drive, in an
exciting extended chase scene. This sets the tone for the rest of the
book, with repeated episodes involving the Trio getting into scrapes
and barely escaping. Along the way, we learn a great deal of
backstory on Albus Dumbledore (this is in some ways a book about his
life, told in retrospect) and at the end, about Severus Snape.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of the plotline, we see little of
Ginny, although it is clear that Harry deeply loves her (for example,
he regularly spends hours yearningly staring at her dot on the Map).
Since the story is in Harry's PoV, the only times we see her are at
the Burrow and at the end, when Harry finally arrives at Hogwarts.
But the real story inside the book is spiritual. JKR has stated that
the series is really about death, and how we deal with it. The story
of Harry Potter is in the end much more profound than the
typical 'Harry defeats Voldemort through superior magical strength
and skill' fanfiction. Harry is victorious though accepting his
mortality, and through his own self-sacrifice, allowing Voldemort to
defeat himself. In the end, he does not need to have any great
magical abilities; Voldemort is defeated by Harry's willingness to
put the lives of others over his own, and accept -- indeed embrace --
his own death to do so. Voldemort, being the ultimate narcissist,
could never do this, and so in the end his defeat was inevitable.
Harry's journey is one that everyone must take. The story of Harry
Potter is not the story of Superman; it is the story of Everyman.
One thing that gave me satisfaction while reading this was
recognising many references to earlier books. It turns out that many
of the lines in earlier volumes had more than one meaning, with the
more profound meaning hidden until this book. For example, Olivander
tells Harry when he buys his wand that "the wand chooses the wizard".
We think for six books that this only means that the wand-user must
pick a wand that is compatible with his or her magic, and that other
wands work less well for them. This is certainly true, but those
words also mean something else entirely, something that is critical
to Harry's victory over Voldemort -- and which in fact explains
Dumbledore's actions at the end of HBP. Another example is the line
from the Gringotts poem warning thieves about 'finding more than you
seek'. This is proven true in a suprisingly literal but very clever
way, that I was not expecting at all. Deathly Hallows is full of such
revisits to lines from previous books, with their true meanings
This is not a book about shipping. Romance does play a part, but the
book is not about the attainment of pleasures, it's about giving up
such pleasures in order to help others. Harry must give up being with
Ginny, whom he desperately wants to be with, for the duration of his
journey, and must be willing to give up his potential lifetime with
her (and it is her he would miss most -- when he faces his own death
at the climax of the book, he thinks only of Ginny), in order to do
what he alone can do, defeat Voldemort. Self-sacrifice is not only
about directly offering up your own life, but also about giving up
the things you crave the most -- in Harry's case, that would be a
life with Ginny. In the nature of this story, Harry cannot be with
Ginny throughout, or his struggle would not be as significant as it
This book concludes the Harry Potter series with a bang. In my
opinion, it is easily the best and most satisfying of the seven
books, bringing the Harry Potter epic to an uplifting conclusion.