Sunday, July 22, 2007

Some Thoughts on "Deathly Hallows"

MAJOR


SPOILERS


FOLLOW;


THANK


MERLIN


WE


CAN


DISCUSS


THIS


AT


LAST!


I’ve spent a good deal of the last two days reading comments on various websites about Deathly Hallows and talking to friends about their opinions. And while I really, really, really don’t want to debate here or apologize (in the rhetorical sense) for every plot point readers dislike, I’d like to write a little about two things that keep coming up in the reactions, and that deserve further thought before everyone hates on them completely. For the record, I have no special insight into these subjects beyond that of a reader who’s had the privilege of thinking about them for seven months rather than twenty-four hours; and this is also of course only my interpretation: I am definitely not speaking for J. K. Rowling or Scholastic or anyone else.

The Deathly Hallows: “What is their point?” some readers gripe. “What role do they serve in this book?” "She had the Horcruxes, she had to add another magical device?" This series, like any fantasy novel in which the characters wield magic, and like much of children’s literature in general, is at its thematic heart very much about power: who has it, how far it goes, the wise use of it, if it should be used at all. Voldemort is obsessed with it, like most evil overlords are, and he sees it as unequivocally good: the more, the better. And this approach parallels his obsession with death, which he sees as unequivocally bad: a weakness (the opposite of power), a failure.

The Hallows combine these two obsessions in three objects and use them to test Harry’s character: Will he chase down the Hallows? Will he take the ultimate power over death? That is certainly what Voldemort would do, if he knew all three existed; it was what Dumbledore wanted to do, when he was the age Harry is in this book; and it would provide Harry with the conventional means of destroying Voldemort—accumulating greater firepower (emphasis on the “power” there) with the Elder Wand, rather than undermining him from within by chipping away at the Horcruxes.

And Harry rejects them. He keeps his Cloak, but drops the stone somewhere in the Forest (there’s a fanfic waiting to be written); and most significantly, he decides not to keep the Elder Wand: He rejects fame, power, and immortality in favor of normalcy and a sandwich. I am not well-versed enough in epic fantasy conventions to know how unusual this is in the genre, the decision that the best use of power is abstention from it; but it is the perfect ending for Harry’s story, when he’s constantly been the victim of power, from page one with his parents’ deaths. His decision proves him truly the opposite of Voldemort, because his understanding of love, power, and death is so much richer and deeper than Tom Riddle’s; and he would not have been able to make that choice (that key J. K. Rowling word," choice") if he were not confronted with it in the form of the Hallows.

And this leads me to the epilogue. It is not receiving much love, I see—some people hate it because it doesn’t answer all their questions, some people hate it because it gives answers they don’t want, and some people just find it cheesy. I think it paid off five essential themes of the series (not just the book):

  1. Family. At the beginning of this series, who was Harry? A boy without a family, orphaned, friendless, belonging to no community, unhappy in the family he did live with, who gave him no love. At the end, he not only has a wife and children who love him (and whom he loves), he has a godson, many brothers-in-law, all their wives and children, and the acceptance of the full wizarding community.
  2. Maturity. Harry’s son’s name signifies that Harry has come to recognize Snape’s sacrifice and supreme courage (“Sometimes I think we sort too soon”), and to value those virtues over the pettiness with which Snape treated him at Hogwarts. Such a judgment is the mark of a intelligent, thoughtful, and empathetic adult, so it shows us that Harry has grown up and become wise.
  3. Fame. We see that Harry is happy being simply a father like the other fathers, and when all the kids on the train are gawking at him, he (and Ron) accept it matter-of-factly, rather than displaying the awkwardness that’s stalked him since his first visit to the Hogwarts Express in Book 1.
  4. Choice. He tells Albus essentially what Dumbledore told him in Book 2 -- “It is our choices, far more than our abilities, that show who we truly are” -- carrying that wisdom into the next generation.
  5. Power, or Where Real Happiness Comes From. Repeating a bit things I’ve said above . . . The epilogue is resolutely domestic, with kids squabbling and dads talking about parking—it’s a scene straight out of typical middle-class family life, plus wands. As far as we know from it, Harry is not powerful, he is not super-important, he does not wield any significant power. He is just a dad who loves his family. This, I think, may be part of the reason why people dislike the epilogue so much—the Chosen, special one, the Boy Who Lived, the one we’ve identified with all this time, has become just a regular guy, which means (by fictional standards especially) that frankly his life is a little boring. But J. K. Rowling is showing us clearly that he’s finding his happiness in everyday love and domestic life rather than big fantasy heroism—he is a Jane Austen and not a World of Warcraft hero in the end. And that is a kind of happy ending we can all aspire to: “All was well.”

Finally, some things I love about the book (not all, but some):

  • I had to say this line out loud every time I read it: “Vot is the point of being an international Quidditch player if all the good-looking girls are taken?”
  • I found a liveblog somewhere where a reader remarked, “I knew Regulus Black was R.A.B. as soon as I saw the handwriting!” This made me throw my arms in the air and shout “YES!”, as we deliberately set the handwriting on the door in the same font as the note to give readers (and Harry) precisely that clue and payoff. Yay!
  • Also a good liveblog: The Onion AV Club read.
  • “The Silver Doe” is my favorite chapter in the book. I love the wonder of the doe; the miracle of Ron’s return; the awkwardness in the conversation that follows; the pure Ron-torture the locket puts him through (so much delicious pain!); the Harry and Ron hug afterward; and Hermione beating Ron up, because he does totally deserve it. It’s heartrending and hilarious.
  • You know what JKR is amazing at? Hairpin emotional turns. Consider all the emotions in that chapter, or in the “Tale of the Two Brothers” or the “Deathly Hallows” chapter, from Harry’s broodiness to the lightness of the radio program (other people, at last!) to the terror at the Snatchers . . . I am so right there with them the whole time. And that ability to pull you into the moment and direct your emotions with ease is one of the things that makes J. K. Rowling such an incredible and popular writer.
  • Ron's line about Death having an Invisibility Cloak -- I don't have my book with me, but it's something like "Sometimes he gets tired of running at them and shouting 'Woo! Woo!'" To me that just encapsulated Rowling's magic and humor and interest in death all in a single one-liner.
  • The beginning of the "Wandmaker" chapter, where Harry digs Dobby's grave.
  • The brilliant payoff for Sirius's mirrors, and Aberforth in general -- I really liked him.
  • Jane Austen would have LOVED the fact that Hermione and Ron only kiss after he has expressed his sincere concern over the house-elves—thus demonstrating the completion of his moral education, and therefore his worthiness of Hermione’s love. I love it too.
  • The professors defending Hogwarts in the "Battle" chapter: McGonagall waking the suits of armor and telling the desks to "CHARGE!", Trelawney hitting crystal balls, Grubbly-Plank dropping Venomous Tentacula -- in the midst of the grief and chaos, these touches were delightfully funny and in character with the magical world.
  • Snape's last request for Harry to look at him, and "the green eyes meeting the black" -- I gasped out loud when I hit that line and realized what it meant.
  • I do not cry at books much. I did not really cry when Dumbledore or Sirius died—I had my arms over my head, sure, but my eyes were dry, and I didn't really cry through most of the deaths here. But I wept as I’ve never wept at a book before throughout the chapter where Harry is going to meet Voldemort. Sacrifices for others always do this to me; it's what made me cry in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" (a comparison a lot of readers are drawing) and in "Titanic" (shut up).
  • Another favorite line: "Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and above all, pity those who live without love."
  • Did everyone notice the lack of adverbial dialogue tags in this book? If you did not, do. :-) $300 million bucks -- or however large her fortune is -- and she still listens to her critics and uses what's useful.

ETA: For more thoughts on the epilogue and a theory on Teddy Lupin, click here.

131 comments:

  1. Ron's return kicked me in the gut. I was on the subway, almost back to the safety of World Headquarters, when I started getting choked up. I kept going, because I don't care what people on the subway think, but, yikes.

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  2. I'm with you on the epilogue. I loved it.

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  3. Graceful, thoughtful, and true, everything.

    It's not that I didn't love the epilogue, I did. I just wanted more. I wanted to know what Luna was doing and who married Draco. I wanted to know what these moms and dads were doing besides being moms and dads.
    I did love that part, and little Albus Severus already needs a book about him, perhaps, but I just wanted to know, well, more.
    And she left us wanting more. What could be better?

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  4. I did seem to not be tripped up by the adverbs as I was when reading the previous books, but just thought I was reading too fast. There are really fewer? Good for her!

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  5. If I were to write a list of things I enjoyed about the book, my list would be VERY similar to yours. Loved, loved the humor--Krum's brilliant line, Ron's self-help book, Trelawney's orbs. I would also add that I really appreciated that Harry's closure with Dudley, Draco and Snape were true to character
    (of all parties involved) and not sappy and drawn out.

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  6. Not only a lack of adverbial tags, but a severe want of ellipses! I wasn't sure whether to credit the hardworking editors or JKR herself for that one. It's definitely a tight book for how quickly she wrote it (relatively, compared to other ones and the distraction of a new baby, etc.). I have a feeling some of the "promised" items that are "missing" might have fallen by the wayside as she tightened it up--well done, Jo!

    As a bit of an Arthurian fangirl, I was charmed by the Arthurian legend references--the Hallows themselves, the sword in the pond!!! (I giggled a bit and muttered something about "you can't expect to wield supreme executive power because a watery Patronus threw a sword at you!" Of course the Patronus didn't THROW the sword, but a little Python seems to fit.) The WWII references were well-done as well. Really, many of them could refer to any war ever fought, including the current one, but the Potterwatch broadcast really felt WWIIish to me.

    JKR has a real knack for putting in bits of humor to leaven a really dark situation. They're always appreciated, and necessary.

    Love your comment about Ron being a Jane Austen character--he IS Emma Woodhouse as I've been saying all along! So I guess that makes the house-elves Miss Bates? ;-)

    At first I was a little disappointed by the epilogue, but then I realized she didn't mean it as a "wrap-up" but as a way of showing--yes, life goes on even after tragedy. We've seen a lot of the past in the books, with the Pensieves and the book about Dumbledore etc., and now we're seeing the future--the kids of the series have kids, and with Teddy and Victoire snogging, that generation presumably will soon be procreating, etc. And little Al goes off to Hogwarts to learn from Neville, and Teddy and Victoire's kids will go off, and it all goes on. Lovely.

    I was also upset at some of the deaths but if there had not been some "major" characters killed, characters we've come to love, it wouldn't have been realistic. Like those bad westerns where each bullet takes down 50 Indians and the cowboys all survive. Bleargh.

    I do think one can get too caught up in fanon, become so con

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  7. Whoops, got cut off.

    I think one can get too caught up in fanon, become so convinced of one's pet theories that anything different seems wrong. The ending fit the series. And I was surprised how many of the predictions (Harry the Horcrux, the final battle at Hogwarts, Snape loves Lily) were actually in there.

    I'll shut up now. :-)

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  8. I love your commentary, Cheryl! Its so eloquent, thought out and logical. I really enjoy reading the opinions of someone with a brain...there are so many wacky, negative opinions out there that only bring me down. Thanks for making me be more excited to be a part of this great fandom!

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  9. I curious to hear what you didn't like about the book, if any?

    Like you said, I do absolutely love the book, but there are still some parts I'm not so sure about.

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  10. When I finished the book I was so happy that, if circumstances had required it, I'm quite sure I could have produced a full-blown patronus!

    I thought the epilogue also definitively said that the the series was over. No book 8. There's no more tension left. (I must say that I was rather pleased with Ron and Hermione's name choice for their daughter--I've always said that if I didn't have my family, I'd want to be in the Weasley family!)

    I loved all your thoughts on it. (No, I hadn't noticed the adverbial tags being missing, but now that you mention it...) Another place that really hit me was hearing about Petunia writing to Dumbledore, begging to come, too. Why am I shedding tears for Petunia?? But I was. Likewise, Dudley's farewell.

    A few of the many things Rowling does so well: she can show a portion of the truth and make you believe it, and then show you more later, and suddenly you realize you've got to restructure the entire story all over again in your head. She does that so well that she can use that technique over and over, yet it continues to surprise.

    Her humor and mix of the sublime and the mundane made it easy to always connect with Harry. Throw tomatoes at me, but at some point in LOTR I ceased identifying with Frodo--his quest was so exalted and he was on such a pedestal that I could never be there with him. But although Harry is willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice anyone can, he was always very human. And that, to me, made it all the more meaningful.

    I hope those who think Harry conflicts with religion are satisfied--um, King's Cross? I was amused at the number of people who brought Harry to church with them yesterday in my congregation (and aside from my son, they were all Germans who can't wait for the October German edition). I had to teach a class to teen girls, and couldn't help but throwing in some key Dumbledore quotes, since, after all, it was "Harry Weekend." And I loved how, unlike other stories where the Hero battles the Ultimate Evil, only to give up all magic at the end and live like a Muggle ever after, there are still magic and miracles after Voldemort is gone.

    Thanks again for all your work on it, and man, you are the world's most skilled Secret Keeper!!!

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  11. Your list is pretty much my list, though I'm still processing. (I finished at 5:30 this afternoon.) I would like your perspective as the US copyeditor on the excessive colon usage, though. I passed it off as a Britishism, but most British English lit I've read didn't use them quite in that fashion, at least so much.

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  12. If basalisk poison destroys horcruxes and Harry was bitten by the basalisk in the chamber of secrets how could he still be a horcrux after that?

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  13. My favorite part was when Mrs. Weasley finally got to put down her cooking pots and knitting needles to kick some major butt. What a deliciously perfect moment.

    I found the epilogue -- and the rest of the book, for that matter -- to be entirely satisfying and just right, as did my 11 y.o. son (despite having his heart broken over all the deaths).

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  14. I bet most child readers like the epilogue. And as a wayyyy past childhood adult, I loved it. We get to see Harry enjoying his hero's reward--the good thing he's been hungering for all his life and through all the books: a happy family.

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  15. Great comments, Cheryl. Thanks.

    I especially like the Ron and Hermione romance as something out of Jane Austen--YES! (Karin Westman has written about this nicely.)

    I also like how, in general, the female characters seemed a little less sidekick-y in this one. We really need Hermione, MacGonagall, Mrs. Weasley, etc. Finally!

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  16. Kimberly WallshieldJuly 23, 2007 10:35 AM

    I laughed. I cried. It was better than Cats.

    Congrats and THANK YOU for such good and fast work. Your efforts are appreciated. I loved it all. I started crying before I read it knowing it was the last one. I was bawling by the stone scene. It was fantastic and so cathartic!

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  17. I went to church that next morning, and printed on the front of the program was, "Please don't tell me if Harry lives or not. I'm only on page 413."

    Oh, Cheryl, it was just fantastic. My favorite by far. The Snape and Lily thing blew me away. I've been finished for 37 hours now and I still have a hard time wrapping my head around that. But how poignant! When Snape told Harry to look at him... Oh, I can feel myself getting mushy again.

    Mrs. Weasley was positively fantastic, by the way. Her line with Bella as they were dueling had me laughing so very hard, and it was perfect to break the wire-tight tension and bring back a more sane version of myself to continue reading.

    Oh! There are so many things! So many lovely, lovely things. The only part I don't/didn't like was Lupin and Tonks both going. They'd just had a baby! I know children being raised without their parents isn't odd in that world (Harry, Neville), but, but poor thing! It just breaks my heart.

    By the way, though, Neville was fantastic. I've never been so proud of him in my life. What a long way he's come!

    Thank you x14, and well, well, well done.

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  18. Applause! Applause!

    A brilliant ending to series I almost gave up on after disliking the fifth book.

    My own 100%-spoiler-free review can be found at blog.scottrhoades.com.

    As for the epilogue. I didn't like it. I knew it was coming because of JKR's own comments, so I prepared myself for it.

    But then, to be fair, it's not the fault of the epilogue or its writer. I just don't like those kinds of epilogues.

    The rest of the book was so good, though, that even an epilogue couldn't spoil it for me.

    As for your comments, I especially agree with the things you said about emotion. This was one heck of an emotional book, in the good way.

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  19. "...Snape's last request for Harry to look at him, and "the green eyes meeting the black" -- I gasped out loud when I hit that line and realized what it meant."

    What did it mean, what did it mean?! Oh, geez, I'm missing something deeper here, I just know it. Was Snape looking into Lily's eyes as he died?

    And excellent point about the basilisk venom destroying a horcrux. How did Harry survive that bite, then? Because it wasn't delivered with the intent of destroying the horcrux?

    Roxyanne

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  20. I'm 'resting' a bit with my reader joy before I dive into one of the many discussions about it, but:

    This book made me love Harry as none of the others have -- that 'long walk home' to meet Voldemort and the epilogue (especially Albus Severus' name) removed all of the frustrations I've had with him over the years, he was just beautiful. Dobby's death broke my heart...Neville's getting to kill the snake was one of the highest points for me -- I cried happy tears at that point.

    My getting to spend most of Sunday reading the book (with chocolate covered gummy bears) was an anniversary gift from my husband, and it was a marvelous one.

    And, thank you.

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  21. I was a little anxious going into this book, as I am sure many people were. But I have to say that it moved way beyond my expectations of JK Rowling. She is truly talented like no other.

    I just finished reading it a little over an hour ago and am still reeling from its effects. Everyone here has hit on many of the great points in the story.

    The emotion of the story was incredible, so much more incredible than the others, which is saying a lot in my opinion. I laughed, I cried (quite a bit), and I cheered (with an extra cheer for Molly Weasley!). I felt like I was part of the story! And so many surprising twists as she finally fit the pieces of the puzzle together - one of the many talents of Jo Rowling.

    I, for one, really did like the epilogue. It does a great job of showing how Harry has overcome his tragic childhood and is truly happy. Of course I wanted more! But it is not realistic to expect Jo to write a daily account of Harry's life after Voldemort. Besides, what fun would it be if the readers couldn't use a little imagination of their own to question how George survived Fred's death, or who Draco married, or the reunion between Harry and Ginny after the battle, or...

    Does it really matter what jobs Harry, Ron, Hermione, and the others chose? I don't think so. Harry's true happiness stems from his living his dream by having his own happy family (and a rather large one at that).

    Way to go Jo Rowling! (Standing ovation...)

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  22. I liked the epilogue too. I wanted to know more, of course, but leaving the reader wanting more is part of the allure of these books.

    Wonderful post. You make some excellent points.

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  23. I liked the epilogue. I agree with all that you have said.

    That name, Albus Severus Potter. WOW!

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  24. I loved the last Harry Potter book so much! Yes, I do believe Ron is very much like a Jane Austen character. Here are a few haiku highlights for me (though there were many, many more!):

    First time Harry sees
    Sirius' room, he finds
    his mother's letter.

    Last page missing. Torn
    photo. "She had made her "g"s
    the same way he did."

    Tricking Death Eaters
    with his goat patronus and
    cranky attitude,

    Hog's Head's bar man is
    Aberforth Dumbledore, eyes
    blue like Albus'.

    When Ron wants to help
    save the house-elves, he has earned
    Hermoine's kiss.

    More HP haiku highlights on my blog!

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  25. On the colons: J. K. Rowling seems to adopt a new favorite punctuation mark for her action scenes in some books book. In Book 5, it was the emdash, and in 7, it was definitely the colon.

    Roxyanne, the gasp-making significance of "green eyes" was that they were Lily's eyes, and if Snape wanted one last look at Lily's eyes, that meant that the Snape-loved-Lily theory was true. And so it was.

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  26. Did everyone notice the lack of adverbial dialogue tags in this book?

    I did not. Which means, I think, congratulations on a job well done. It's when you notice these things that something has gone wrong.

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  27. Aiee, a correction to my comment above: That should read, "a new favorite punctuation mark for her action scenes in each book."

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  28. I have to agree with Mrs. Pilkington about Harry himself - I found him absolutely breathtaking.
    He spoke with such authority, overruled the adults in his life, thanked people for the services they had rendered him. It was really thrilling to see him really live up to what had originally been thrust unwillingly onto him. He showed that he had greater willpower and strength than even Dumbledore. I could finally see how Harry is really great, in the awe-inspiring sense of the word.

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  29. Thanks so much for these insights. You've definitely helped me like the epilogue more.

    I guess my main problem with it was that it didn't seem to acknowledge the ongoing struggle between good and evil, except maybe in the evidently continued rivalry between the Malfoys and the Weasleys/Potters. 19 years (?) is a long time for all to be well... but I guess I'd also have been annoyed if JKR waxed didactic with Moody-style "constant vigilance." Hmm.

    But I guess it's nice to see that maybe next time someone else will follow in HP's footsteps -- that there doesn't need to be one "chosen one" to battle evil indefinitely. Spread the responsibility?

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  30. I liked this book very much. I found it satisfying and much preferable to books 5 and 6 (though I liked those better on re-reading than originally).

    Your points 1 and 5 are what I like about the epilogue -- that Harry has a large, loving nuclear and extended family, which is what he's missed most all these years, and that he's a good father, the kind he would've wanted to have; and that his happiness comes now from being ordinary, not from power of any kind. I hadn't thought of your other points and really appreciate their insight.

    I didn't love the epilogue -- I did want to know what George is doing now, and Luna, and who is headmaster (though I'm assuming McGonagall), and especially what Harry and Ginny and Hermione and Ron are all doing now. But I can also see leaving that to the reader's imaginations - we know they're not Hogwarts professors, but beyond that, they could be doing anything. But it's more like what ordinary life is like when there's no longer a desperate war on.

    My one major disappointment: that there was little chance to show Ginny using her strong powers. Offscreen, we know that she's helping lead the resistance at Hogwarts and that she leaves the ROR to fight in the battle. But with the set-up of her being a very powerful witch, and of refusing to be left behind in the 5th book and reminding us that she has her own experiences with Voldemort to avenge, I think we should've seen more. I thought that she'd end up fighting alongside Harry at some point. I liked seeing her using her smarts and power previously, and even if she didn't come along with Harry, it would've been good to see her doing something like Neville (who was fabulous) at the end. At least she did get to fight Bellatrix.

    Minor disappointments: that Beauxbatons and Durmstrang didn't join in the fight against V., which I thought was foreshadowed at the end of Goblet. That we don't hear about some kooky and cool thing Luna is doing 19 years later.

    It didn't bother me that the deaths were sudden and not "led up to," since this is a war on home turf and that's the way it can happen.

    Things I was very glad to see: McGonagall leading the Battle of Hogwarts. Neville as the resistance leader in Hogwarts, and his brilliant use of the Room of Requirement. Mrs. Weasley taking down Bellatrix. (She's not the character doing magic late in life, is she? we've seen her do magic. So who is it?) Pottercast. Luna and her matter-of-factness in the basement of Malfoy Manor, and Ollivander saying that she lifted his spirits immensely in captivity. That the eye in the mirror wasn't Dumbledore, but Aberforth (which surprised me). Hermione making practical use of all her power and intelligence to be the one to save the trio multiple times, figure things out, and keep them going in the wilderness. Ron (who I'm not particularly fond of) realizing he was acting like a git, and rescuing Harry and the sword. Percy telling the Minister "did I mention I'm resigning?" Neville's gran bursting with pride over him, resisting arrest at home, and going to fight along with him. Narcissa protecting Harry in order to get to Draco. Harry's sadness over Dobby and respect for him (I mostly don't cry at books, and the house-elf parts have never been favorites of mine, but I teared up over "a free elf".) Harry treating Kreacher more kindly and being rewarded for it.

    From the opening chapter, when Snape did nothing to help Charity Burbage, I thought he was going to be evil after all (or at least Machiavellian). I thought so about until he gave Harry the Pensieve memories. So JKR faked me out there. But I still can't quite reconcile myself to Harry naming his son after him. I know Snape underwent a lot to protect Harry and keep his vow to Dumbledore, but on re-reading, I was really struck with his meanness to the kids (I wrote cruelty at first, but that's perhaps too strong). It wasn't just as a cover, it was his general way of interacting with the students. So while I appreciate his sacrifices, I can't quite see naming one's child after him.

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  31. I loved the book. I loved the epilogue. I loved the series.

    I hated Hedwig's death. Was it really necessary? It colored my reading for a great many pages. I also didn't like the manner of Dobby's death. A bit stark for a children's book.

    For an author to keep all that foreshadowing and later revelations straight over 7 books is quite an amazing feat. I realize she had help with that, but still.

    My only thought on Harry the horcrux and why it survived is the phoenix tears. Took awhile to kill each horcrux.

    I had other issues with the book though. The long, long pages of 'tell'. So much backstory! It was done inventively, but I felt I was slogging through it to get to the good stuff.

    And there was one sentence near the beginning that I will have to find again. I read it several times, but never figured out what it was supposed to mean. A typo, I'm assuming.

    Previous to HP7, I thought Snape was in love with Lily. I also thought Snape was on no one's side but his own. I still think that. And, yes, he was cruel to Harry, but Harry also got to see the young Snape and how cruelly he was treated by James. Naming his son Severus was a way to put the past to rest - Snape's sacrifice and James' cruelty.

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  32. Just found your blog, and I love it! Can I just say how jealous I am that we are almost the same exact age, and you are editing Jo's copy, and I'm editing local reporters' copy? :)

    Overall, I loved the book. I had a few nitpicks (Ginny's being forced to stay out of the action, not more scenes from Neville vs. Snape at Hogwarts, too much camping), but overall, it was a great ending to a great series. However, I was really looking forward to the epilogue, and I was somewhat disappointed. Did it do everything you said? Yes. But where was Luna? What happened to George? Why did no one name their kid after Fred? Also, such a big deal is made throughout the books about the oppression of other creatures -- house elves, centaurs, giants, etc. -- that I was really disappointed that no mention was made of them at the end. Are werewolves allowed to have a job or get married? It seems like Jo was leading us to this societal overturn at the end, then just forgot to tell us it happened. I liked what was in the epilogue; I just wanted a few more things.

    Also, a few nitpicks (because I'm a copy editor, too) that I hope y'all can fix before the next printing: Barry Crouch and Hermione Jean, which someone has already mentioned. Hermione says that she charms her parents' memories and sends them to Australia, then in the diner scene says she has never done a memory charm.

    Like I said, though, overall everyone did a fabulous job on the book. I'm just sad to see it end!

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  33. I loved your thoughts, Cheryl. Book 7 was definitely the best one of the series. Truly remarkable! I had no idea the epilogue was coming, and it felt like a surprise gift from JKR to us, her readers. I definitely felt the writing was much stronger and tighter in this book (perhaps due to the lack of adverbial tags... Yay!) And I loved the humor throughout. One of my favorite lines was when Ron was talking about Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches, and he says, "You'd be surprised, it's not all about wandwork, either." Tee hee!
    I am curious, though, about David's question regarding Harry being bitten by the Basilisk. Why didn't that kill the horcrux?
    Wonderful, powerful, series! Congratulations to JKR, you, and all the people who helped bring it to the public!

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  34. Where is the "Barry Crouch"? People have been telling me it appears, but no one's given me a page reference yet.

    Also, "Jane" appeared in a JKR interview, not in a previous book, so it isn't strictly 100% canon . . . and the author could certainly have changed her mind between 2004 and now (perhaps after she realized Hermione then had the same middle name as Umbridge).

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  35. Jennifer J. StewartJuly 24, 2007 12:31 PM

    As the plane I was on made an emergency landing Saturday night, do you know what was going through my head? Yes, that if it crashed, I was not going to get to find out what happened to Harry Potter!

    Luckily, we didn't crash, and I have just finished the book. Harry got what he wanted all along, and love defeated evil. To my mind, that's a perfect ending to the series.

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  36. I'm so surprised that people are having problems with those things!! I loved the epilogue -- it's just the sort of life I would hope for for Harry! When I got there I shouted, "Nineteen years later!" to my husband. I agree I wouldn't have minded knowing a few more things -- I always love the wrap-up portion at the end of a book with lots of characters -- but she told us the important stuff. I'm thoroughly happy with the book!
    -Laini

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  37. beautiful review. i'm confused though, what was the significance of the green eyes meeting the black eyes? and what are adverbial tags?

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  38. "there’s a fanfic waiting to be written"

    Already done: http://bibliophile20.livejournal.com/73547.html

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  39. I found a liveblog somewhere where a reader remarked, “I knew Regulus Black was R.A.B. as soon as I saw the handwriting!” This made me throw my arms in the air and shout “YES!”, as we deliberately set the handwriting on the door in the same font as the note to give readers (and Harry) precisely that clue and payoff. Yay!

    I noticed the handwriting too, but my first reaction was, "Is it what JKR really intended?" Because I hope Scholastic didn't take the liberty of putting this clue in without JKR's consent. (It's only a minor point since most of the HP world knew who RAB was already).

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  40. It was wonderful to be able to read this. Thanks for posting it.

    I didn't understand the significance of Snape's wanting Harry to look at him until you mention it. Oh man. Now that line's like a dagger.

    Also, now that I see it mentioned, I realize that I wasn't once tripped up by the word "coolly" - which was literally the only thing I hated about Book 5.

    Bravo!

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  41. Thanks for this Cheryl. I love what you had to say and I hope your comments and viewpoints help more people to appreciate some of the more debated parts of the book.

    As for myself, I too have not cried much in these books, though I have loved and enjoyed them immensely, but I do have to say that the point at which tears started to fall for me, was during the battle, when Harry, Ron, and Hermione are almost overwhelmed by Dementors, only to be saved by Luna's, Dean's and Seamus's Patronuses. Luna's words of encouragement and reassurance to Harry just really hit home. She was such a wonderful character.

    Thanks again and Good Luck!
    Michael

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  42. so well said. I have never read fan-fic because I don't see the point. I also completely stopped listening to podcasts around January because I didn't want to have any expectations of "what better be in there". This is Jo's creation and I wanted to thoroughly enjoy it, and I SO did. I loved every bit of it. I was 100% convinced that Harry was going to die and it would end there. For her to give him back to us was such a gift, and it wasn't a sell-out ending. With his sacrifice he ensured he would survive. Is there any other conclusion for a real fan then to say the book was perfect simply because Jo wrote it?? I felt the same way when I finished Stephen King's "The Dark Tower". Many people hated how that ended but it fit so beautifully.. I highly recommend it and look for the many Potter references in the later books. SWEET.

    Jo really knocked it out of the park with this one. What a truly fulfilling series.

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  43. The Epilogue was a nice way to tie up the story. I loved the part where Harry told Albus about his name. One of the best parts of the Battle at Hogwarts were the house elves attacking with the kitchen ware. Also the fact that I hear music building up while the were preparing and then blasting in my head during the heart of the battle.

    Overall it was a fantastic book, I would have liked to see a little more in it (as usual) but I am very satisfied with the way it ended.

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  44. Bravo Cheryl!!!! Very eloquently put. I loved this book. I have been shocked at the response by those who were (to put it lightly) less than thrilled with it. Your insights have made me love it all that much more.

    I also have to say that one of my favorite parts was when Mrs. Weasley called Bellatrix out. I jumped up and shouted "YES! You Get Her!"

    I feel honored to have been able to be apart of it all.

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  45. that's a lovely summation of the book. i noticed that you didn't touch on the "King's Cross" chapter, though. i'd love to know what you thought about that--perhaps in a future PotterCast? =]

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  46. Great work and I can easily say this is my favorite in the series. The editing was tighter, the emotional roller coaster was better than anything Universal could produce and you left with the same feeling you have after a truly amazing dinner and evening. Full, satisfied, ruminating over the flavors and memories but still wanting more, although you are completely elated with an amazing experience that happens rarely.

    The introduction of the Hallows and their power successfully served to deepen the under lying themes of choices and the proper use of power. Had it been a hunt only for the Horcurxes the story would have been a flat, yet exciting and slightly predictable adventure, rather than the final story of coming of age (and to terms with) in and with the choices of an adult world. Although I generally avoid many of the fan message board for various reasons, since Monday I have been going through them to see some other reactions. A few things stuck me as interesting.

    References have been made to the almost German WW II feel on the stance of the Ministry and events. I can agree in a way, but while reading (and rereading it) I tend to look at is a slight commentary on the state of geopolitical affairs today. I felt that in HBP “The Other Minister” had these overtones, but felt a stronger allegory now. No, the books are not meant to be political commentaries, but very current parallels can be drawn to civil liberties, freedom of speech and truth in journalism. One only has to look to the corporate scandals of the past few years for lessons in the misuse of power.

    Another thing that I enjoyed, yet haven’t seen much talk on, is the power of friendship and those who are your chosen “family”. When Neville appeared and everyone else started showing up, I cried happy tears. Your friends are the family you choose who will always be behind you and ready to hop on a plane at a moments notice. Sure the Trio has always been there for Harry, but when everyone from Wood to Cho to Percy (!) came, it was more than fighting the Death Eaters and Voldy, they had his back no matter what happened in the past.

    I could go into the other aspects of the love, sacrifice, death, choices and literary / religious references, but would be only echoing many of the above. One thing that didn’t surprise me was the somewhat vehement fan reaction to many of the events. It only confirmed what I thought from the first few chapters, this is not a kids book at all. Harry is now an adult and the tone, messages and lessons had to reflect this. Sure they will enjoy the action and excitement but I really feel many of the themes are far out of the grasp of many of the readers. This only makes it better, though some could relate to it now, many will revisit the book in later years and may take on a whole different journey.

    My only criticism that annoyed me to no end was that they spent too much time traipsing around the damn woods. The same messages could have gotten across a bit quicker as I began to feel like I was on Outward Bound.

    All in all, it has been a great adventure. Thanks for all of the hard work!

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  47. Quick question- in the epilogue she writes, "He checked the battered old watch that had at once been Fabian Prewett's." Who was Fabian Prewett?

    Thanks!

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  48. I liked the epilogue..... I just wanted to know what they (Hermione especially) were doing for a living (as she's not going into magical law... she wants to make a difference). I guess that's what the encyclopedia's for... right?

    I loved when Ron came back.
    The only book I really sobbed during was HBP. I got choked up when Sirius died, and got teary-eyed during this book, but I think I just wanted to keep reading- I didn't have time to cry. I cry really loudly as well, and since everyone else in my house was asleep the first time I read it... that also played a part.

    Now, rereading, I know what's going to happen, so I'm still not crying. I wish I was.....

    Anyway, enough of my tangent. I pretty much agree with you on every point. Congrats on being able to freely discuss the Harry Potter world!

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  49. All I can say is WOW! I loved it. AND, having just found out that Jo said she would be putting out an encyclopedia where it would fill in more of the 19 years I am more content with the book than ever. I never had a problem with it, and I thought that the epilogue makes for a good mysterious and left us to our imaginations. I am excited that some day we will find out what happened to the whole lot of them.

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  50. Fabian Prewett was Molly's brother. When Moody is showing Harry the picture of the first Order of the Phoenix, he mentions both of the Prewett brothers having been killed, but taking out many Death Eaters with them. Rowling confirmed that the Prewetts were Molly's brothers on her web site.

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  51. Thanks for defending the epilogue and the deathly hallows Cheryl. I work for Leaky and have been noticing the discord cropping up in the lounge, but really haven't had a chance to go back, reread the book, and gather my thoughts nicely enough to face off against raging posters. It was nice to read your take on it, and recognize that I understand and feel very similarly to you. I've felt almost shamefaced at liking the epilogue as everyone seems to be trashing it, I'm glad your on my proverbial side with that; to me the epilogue was simply showing that Harry had finally gotten the peaceful "normal" life he deserved.

    Not that I don't want more details, answers, and character backgrounds though- just that I'm willing to wait for the encyclopedia. Have fun editing that monster!

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  52. Snape asking Harry to look at him with Lily's eyes ask he slipped into death was worth the whole series. I knew it was coming, and it still hit home. I could so be Snape.

    Yep, I noticed not noticing the adverbs. I didn't have to gloss over the tags nearly as much.

    TiTANic? Bloody mental, you are.

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  53. I think a lot of fan disappointment with the epilogue will fade with a second reading.

    I was a little perturbed by it the on the first read, for several reasons which may hold true for others. In all of the first six books, there are at least 20 or more pages following the "final battle" in which loose ends are tied up and the characters reflect on what just happened. Therefore, there is a sense of resolution and the reader is able to reflect and process the events as well. DH has only about five pages of this and then suddenly we are 19 years into the future.

    I was so emotionally wrecked after my first read that I hadn't had any chance to process or reflect and it made the epilogue feel a somewhat disjointed, forced and emotionally "off-kilter."

    It was such a drastic emotional switch and the tone was suddenly so different after 750 intense pages. I think this is why people were calling it "cheesy" for example, because the cheery domesticity can ring false after such a dark, emotionally heavy book.

    However, the second time I read DH (that would be Sunday) it didn't bother me at all and it felt exactly right. I agree with everything you wrote in this entry (which was fantastic, btw).

    I think the best strategy would be to read DH, but wait until the next day to read the epilogue (as if).

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  54. Well done. Your comments mirror so much of my own thoughts, it's gret to see them articulated so well.

    Yes - about the Deathly Hallows - ultimately I felt that the objects were not important. It is the emotions, the moral challenges and the relationships between the characters that felt painfully real to me. The objects are just objects - it is Voldemort's greed, Harry's courage, the growth of the characters that I was engaged by, not the pursuit of objects.

    That's why I loved when Hary simply dropped the resurrectoin stone. Harry was not the one to wield the Gryffindor sword. He rejected those items. Perfect.

    And imagine... there is closure in Harry's story but not in the secondary characters... people, JK Rowling gave the Harry Potter and the Fan Fic community a GIFT! A GIFT! We have so much to imagine, so much to discuss and we never, ever have to say goodbye to this magical world.

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  55. This was a lovely summation and I can agree with most of what you said here. I too, had no tears until Harry walked the walk towards death and self sacrifice. That he remained limp afterwards was a master stroke of story telling. He surrendered all his vanity, pride and anger, which is a place I think we all wish to attain some time in our own lives.

    I did not appreciate the epilog, I wanted to own the character's future in my imagination. I might have chosen the same end, but I would have liked to have had the choice.

    That there was going to be a Happily Ever After was assured when Harry did not die, he deserves his peace and happiness. I do not dispute this, but I do feel it was a vanity move by JKR to wind it all up that way. I understand why she did it and why it meant so much to her to end the series. Alas, I feel cheated in some indefinable way by its presence.

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  56. I am curious, what did the "green eyes meeting the black" mean? For some reason I'm just not understanding. If someone could explain I'd really appreciate it :) I'm trying to understand, I might have to go through it all again I spose...

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  57. Snape wanted to look into Lily's (Harry's) eyes as he died.

    Also, the Barry Crouch seems to be on page 94 in some editions. I have the deluxe edition, and it's right in mine, but I saw page scans that showed it wrong on 94.

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  58. Hello! Melissa from Leaky put me on to your blog, and I have to say I agree with you whole heartedly. A friend of mine said he was shocked that "as a person with a degree in English" I had liked the book. His ensuing arguments sounded as if he could not accept how JKR finished *her* novel because, seemingly, he'd dived far too deep into the dark side of the fandom that makes you angry when Jo does thinks her way. Seemed to think that none of the trio died because she was trying to keep it a kids book...well, I dunno what about a man choking himself to death or an elf with a knife through the chest is exactly "children's literature." Anyway, I loved your points and many just direct him this way as well.

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  59. I'm not an epilogue kind of person in any kind of book. i really think that all those things which you said were reflected in the epilogue were obvious just from reading the series and the last installment. of course harry would value family life and being a regular no one over anything else. He saw his family in the mirror and he did get rid of the hallows (except for the cloak). and it was obvious during the last duel with voldemort that he was going to, if he had not already, forgive snape and value his sacrifice.

    At least i hope this epilogue will spare us bad sequels from people who are not jkr. if there's anything i hate more than epilogues, it's fanfic and sequels to books such as "gone with the wind" or "pride and prejudice" written by someone other than the original author and without the author's consent.

    finally, for those of you who wonder how come harry the horcrux was not destroyed by the basilisk in book 2, i think the answer is given by hermione little before bill and fleur's wedding: phoenix tears.

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  60. I agree with you! LOVED the epilogue! I LOVED Albus Severus! I LOVED Snape and Lily! I LOVED Aberforth! I LOVED the humour through the darkness! I LOVED Teddy Lupin! I LOVED Dudley's goodbye! I LOVED the book!!!!!!!!

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  61. Cheryl, thanks for this: really well put and insightful.
    I have to say that I was so moved at the moment when Hermione finally kisses Ron at the mention of House Elves, it was funny, moving and enormously significant of the development of the characters, as you have well explained.
    I also thoroughly enjoyed the wandlore that was included in this book: I know that many people felt that there was a little bit too much wand-swapping going on, but it fitted in beautifully in my opinion, with the whole theme of personal abilites and the tools to channel them (hallows, horcruxes, wands), and added a new level to the complex magical universe that JKR has created that makes it even more admirable in my opinion.

    I loved Neville and Luna immensely in this book: Luna's quiet resourcefulness, Neville's courage and warmth.

    But what I loved most is Dumbledore: he's always been my favourite character, and now he is even more so. His flaws made him human, his explanations for his life choices made him more lovable. I always liked him, but I think this is where he really becomes lovable. You had to admire him and respect him in previous books, but this was different.

    Overall, I am so happy to have been able to follow this story in the next number of years. I feel it like it is truly mine now.

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  62. I agree with your feelings on the epilogue 100%. As a parent, I felt terribly comforted and at peace with that chapter. Parents have an unceasing desire to look into their childrens' futures just to see how they will be in twenty odd years. Alhtough impossible to know, the fantasizing about how their lives will turn out: happy, content, and yes, normal, are hopes that keep you going. Although these characters are not JKR's true children, they are characters she has nurtured for so very long. There will be a time for "encyclopedic" knowledge to be given. For know, I am content with just knowing that all is well.

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  63. After I read your post, I really came to agreements with the epilogue and the whole series in general. :-)

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  64. Thanks for the "Barry/Barty" page reference, Melissa. It clearly says "Barty" in my regular edition too, so unless someone sends me a copy of a printed page that says "Barry," I'm going to assume it was simply a blurry scan and not a real typo.

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  65. 1) I feel badly for Severus Snape. He really didn't catch much in the way of breaks, did he? But at least he gets to have some immortality along with the other headmasters. (He and Dumbledore get to be little Albus Severus' ghostly godfathers, I suspect, with McGonagall being godmother. And with the initials A.S.P., you know the kid's going to be a Slytherin.)

    2) A lot of people are angry at Dumbledore for his apparent callousness at leaving the Riddle-thing behind to suffer. Can you talk more about that? Is it callousness, or is it the idea that everyone must choose what they are going to be -- that Dumbledore couldn't have helped the Riddle-thing in any event?

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  66. I have to disagree with the people who found the camping unnecessary. I felt it illustrated their isolation and frustration with their task, committed though they were they had very little to go on. It took me a day or so to really appreciate the epilogue, the more I thought about it the more I realized what it revealed about Harry's life now. I laughed and cried through this book and at the end I felt at peace, that's all I really wanted from the book.

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  67. Nymphadora's NaranjasJuly 25, 2007 11:26 AM

    Thank you for writing this. I have been trapped without internet since reading DH on the 21st, with no other readers to talk to, and I came up with similar thoughts after a lot of reflection. I was part of the small "Harry must die" camp, after reading the first three (five?) books and looking at the literary tradition from which JKR arose. At our Predicitions Party I admitted that the books may have given an out for Harry to survive, but it would have to be one hell of a sybolic conclusion, and I think JKR did it beautifully. I wondered how she would reconcile a "British/Irish" ending with the "American" expectations of Happily Ever After...I am just in awe. Still in mourning for Lupin and Tonks dying in perpetuation of the cycle, but overall in awe of how she synthesized her world view into this fantastic journey! I also love all the allegory for present times, and hope readers will apply the lessons to their own lives.

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  68. Absolutely wonderful review! Just ran across your blog and think it brilliant.

    Thank you so much for the thoughts on the epilogue. I think you got it exactly right.

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  69. I loved the book the themes, humour, morality questions(euthanasia, sacrifice, bonds of family and friendship choices love, death, etc etc),the including of many references to previous legends and lore.

    there were however a couple of things which i am unsure about

    Harry being a horux was already mentioned several times in previous books - hinted at anyway - however why when he was bitten by the Basilisk did it not destroy the horux in him? Was this because the horux was also healed by the healing tears of fawkes?

    If Fawkes (reference to guy fawkes bonfires and ashes - nice) has healing tears then how come he couldn't heal Dumbledore's hand?

    Also the bit where ron could suddenly speak parseltounge(sorry my spelling is not so good)surely there could have been a better more inventive way (a spell perhapsa performed by H) for him to do that - otherwise anybody could have spoken parseltounge as if it was easy - this is my main quibble with this book - it was the only bit as a reader i came out of the story cause it just didn't fit with the other books [which was otherwise amazing] and thought wait a minute what?, but I had to just ignore it and keep reading tho.

    Was it the fact that at the time of Harry's first battle with Voldemort that he was the pocessor of the 3 hallows that he survived rather than Dumbledores guess? Or a combination of both?

    Wasn't it interesting that Voldemort and Harry were actually related by their ancestors, was this why Voldemort chose Harry to be his victor/enemy over Neville?

    As to the epilogue I am not gonna make a major comment as I have been back and forth on it - however i really hope that they don't film the epilogue - unless they wanna wait a few years for an anniversary edition trying to age such young actors would be truely appalling and would bring out the cheesyness of it yet if they wait a few years perhaps they can make something of the essense of the best of it?

    My Best Wishes to all
    Potter Fans
    Maelrubha

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  70. I just wanted to say that I agreed with everything you wrote. Thank you for them. I felt the same way reading the comments on all the discussion boards. I loved the book and was disappointed by how many people seemed to miss the point.

    I have never cried reading a book before but while reading 'The Forest Again' I sobbed. I sobbed harder after he asks his parents, Sirius and Lupin to stay with him and James replies "Until the very end." It is one of the most moving things I've ever read. Thank you for sharing that as I haven't had anyone else tell me they cried while reading it.

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  71. I absolutely agree and thank you so much for your thoughts. I, for one, was so grateful to Jo for giving Harry a "normal" life in the epilogue. After all, that is what he longed for throughout all the novels. I appreciate the opportunity that she bestowed on her readers to imagine the "left out" details for themselves. What a gift!

    PS The comparisons to Jane Austen were spot on.

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  72. I loved the epilog, but, overall, found the book too expository and frequently boring. That said, I enjoyed it...just not as much as the rest.

    Of course, I wanted Snape to get the girl (any girl; and a bottle of shampoo.) I knew he was really a hero!

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  73. Hello,
    Thanks for making your comments public. For me, the success of this series revolved around the conclusion of the Snape story arc. Here, Rowling chose unwisely. She reduced her wonderfully real, powerful, intelligent and complex character to the status of simple pawn who is rightly to be pitied. Then she capped that off by giving said character the most cruel and meaningless death she could contrive.

    Regardless of the book's few fine points, this great failure of follow-through means the death of her series for me. It's a shame, realy but there it is.

    Be well,
    Ljd

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  74. Cheryl, that was an amazing analysis of the book, and I have to say I totally agree with you on all points. The epilogue was an amazing chapter and the "The Forest Again" chapter was the first time I ever got teary-eyed at a Harry Potter book as well.

    I have to apologize, though--I didn't see your awesome editing job of Book 7 because I'm Canadian, and had the Bloomsbury edition of the book, which didn't have the cool font for Regulus Black and R.A.B.... But oh well. It was an awesome book.

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  75. Maybe you can answer a question (or debunk a rumor) that I've heard for years: Scholastic "translated" the HP books from British English to American English -- true or false? If the books were "translated", then what was the reasoning behind such a decision?

    Freddie (freddie_mac1@yahoo.com)

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  76. Thank You Cheryl for your wonderful insight. It must have been so difficult for you over the past 7 months, virtually having to avoid everyone, I suppose. Finishing the book on Sunday night, I was filled with such a comforting sense of fulfillment. I think JKR is perhaps the most brilliant author to have come out of Britain since Tolkien. Bar none.

    The most amazing insight I have gotten out of the book is the realization that the 'love' that Dumbledore kept harping about to Harry was not so much the love Harry had for others, as the love others had for him. After all, while Voldy was flying all over Europe trying to get the things he thought he needed, not one of his 'friends' were helping him (nor would he have allowed them to help). Right from the very beginning with the first book, it has been Harry's ability to inspire others that has been his strength. He only even actually destroys only one of the horcruxes; the book. (And isn't it ironic that it is Voldemort himself that destroys one?) Verry very cool. And very wise.

    With all the talk about the religious parallels, I have to say that I feel JKR was also wise in not being too overt about it...in fact I wouldn't even say that the references like 'King's Cross' were that important. I feel it is in the overall messages of the book: Choice, Selflessness, the beauty of the mundane, that speak for a spirituality that goes way beyond religiosity. In the end, witches and wizards aren't that much different from muggles. We all need the same things. I hope that the few references mentioned, like Harry's use of the word 'God', and his putting a cross over the place where he buried Moody's eye, don't give some the fuel they need to gloat that it is a 'Christian' book. Again, it belongs to people of all persuasions.

    As for all the deaths in the book, for which am still in mourning, the one that struck me hardest when it happened, was Hedwig. I raged that Harry had left her in her cage when so many other times he had let her fly free while he was in transit. But of course I see the wisdom in it. It would have added
    complications to their secrecy as they moved around the countryside. Still....(sniff) Ok. so I am an incurable animal lover. And a tree hugger too. But there you go.

    Cheers!

    Lauren

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  77. Nice review! I agree with you wholeheartedly!

    on the whole 'Harry is a horcrux so why didn't the basilisk venom destroy it in book 2' thing, i think it's because the venom must destroy the vessel of the horcrux to destroy the horcrux tself, and because fawkes saved Harry by crying onto his wound, the horcrux remained intact, as it were, inside Harry.

    Also, don't you think that Sirius' story is almost, if not as sad as Harry's, and has distinct parallels? Both unloved or estranged from their families, adopted into another (Potters/Weasleys), lose their childhood because of Voldemort (Sirius in Azkaban, Harry in fighting him) and then Sirius escapes, is on the run because is believed to have murdered his best friend, suffers another kind of imprisonment, then in his one moment of freedom is killed by a relative!

    I can't possibly relate all that i loved about this book, but it must suffice to say it was AMAZING! And the deaths were upsetting, though necessary.

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  78. Nicely put.

    I hadn't noticed the adverbial dialogue tags, which is of course the point. Great! That makes me happy.

    My problem with the epilogue was simply that I didn't think it was written as well as the rest of the book. It wasn't the content or the scene, it just seemed a little forced to me. It was like she was trying too hard to put all these details into it, when of course your aim is to make it seem natural.

    But I agree with more or less everything you've said.

    My review of the book is here (if you're in the least bit interested):
    http://www.david-wood.com/?page_id=64

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  79. I am soooo sad that the series is over. They have seen me through some tuff times. But alas, all good things must have an ending and I will always have the books to read and I will continue to pick them up and read them.

    This book was great because it was the end and we have all been looking forwards to it. It was also greatly saddening because of the deaths and the revealing moments and the 19 years later made me want for more. I hope that JKR writes more books along this line, I know Harry is done but....

    I would like some help on a line it the book that confused me. In the chapter Dursley's Departing pg 34. "If we'd even seen CVs..." began Uncle Vernon... Does anyone know what this means? It is totally bugging me.
    I really enjoyed Cheryl's thoughts.

    TB

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  80. I did love the fact that he became a regular joe at the end. It would have been nice to know who was taking care of the son of Lupin and who Luna wound up with, but my wife has many abandoment issues. That's why she was most interested in that aspect.

    The line I loved was "Yes, this is all happening in your head, but why does that mean it's not real?" (to paraphrase). Having hit that wall many times in my own religious practices, I can resonate with it.

    I enjoyed reading the main entry. Thank you.

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  81. I have to say that I agree with you Cheryl. I have already started to re-read the 7th book so I can go back and look at the many points all of you readers have been making!

    The only thing I'm disappointed with, and it's entirely my fault, is that Harry didn't become the Defense against the Dark Arts teacher. I completely had my heart set on that for him. I thought it would have been perfect for him to break the curse that was placed there when Voldemort was refused the position.

    Thank you for you insite.

    Q

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  82. So many comments here speak of the many deaths in the latest book as being inappropriate for a children's book; two points:

    1)First, I see nothing wrong with death in children's literature; it is a fact of life, and I often wish I had been exposed to it more as a child prior to my grandfather's death--I might then have taken it better.

    2) Second, one must remember that the real, core audience of the HP series are no longer children. The ones who read The Sorceror's Stone as a child ten years ago have grown with Harry et al. Case in point, more cursing.

    My only gripe is the lack of exposition/development of Harry and Ginny's relationship prior to the epilogue. I think her character could have been much richer than it was given a chance to be, both in battle and in love.

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  83. In response to tracyb's question, "CV" stands for curriculum vitae. It's basically a resume, that includes education, awards, achievements, publications, etc.

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  84. Hey, thanks for the post.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading Deathly Hallows, but I do think the epilogue is corny. I have no problems with Harry and company leading normal, peaceful lives. After what they've been through, they are well deserved. However, I feel that the chapter could have been left out entirely, the details perhaps only hinted at. I realize that by saying this I risk being publicly flogged, but I don't feel the need to know all the details of who spawned whom and who's courting who's spawn... I'd like to read that in the accompanying encyclopedia.

    One more complaint: I agree with an earlier post about the reduction of the complexity of Snape's character.

    Anyway, on whole, I LOVED the final book. Great job.

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  85. I really loved what you had to say on the epilogue. Thanks for that. It did fulfull all those things. And I basically sobbed at Dobby's death and through bits and pieces up until "The Forest Again", where I basically bawled like a baby until the end. But I did laugh at those things you mentioned with the teachers and such. And the gargoyles that guard the teacher's breakroom where so cheeky, just like always!

    I liked the Deathly Hallows themselves...I was a fan of the theory of the Seventh Horcrux or what some people in the fandom referred to as "Harrycrux", meaning that Harry accidently had a bit of Voldy inside of him, so that one I had guessed. But the three objects I had not, and how they tied into Dumbledore and Grindewald, and how Harry could have had the power from them but refused it, and how the Invisibility Cloak, included from EVERY STINKING BOOK was a major part of it was just...wow. So brilliant, and so JK Rowling. Some people guessed some things right, but we didn't guess exactly how it was all going to come about and the awesome manner Jo put it all together. I loved this book!

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  86. I was thrilled with this book.

    I also loved the epilogue and how it answered questions wonderfully.

    My favourite parts were when neville pulled the hat out, when ron and hermione kissed, and when molly killed bellatrix.

    Hermione(YES THAT IS MY REAL NAME) i promise.

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  87. ******I mean when Neville pulled the sword out of the hat Gwaaa!!
    Hermione*

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  88. I noticed the handwriting as well and knew in that second, :). So good job, :).

    And same thing with me for crying, I didn't cry for Dumbeldore or Sirius even though I loved them to death, but I cried in 'The Forest Again' as he was going to face death, I cried so much there.

    I liked the epilogue, personally, I just wish it had more detail and talked about people like Luna, :). And I guess I agree in that I wondered what else they did, if Harry became an auror, if they went back to Hogwarts after Deathly Hollows (I know Hermione would want/NEED to complete her education. It's Hermione, I'm still amazed she dropped out of school.)

    But, yesh, :).

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  89. I want to know if ASP (Albus Severus Potter) was intentional on JKR's part? (surely it had to be.)
    Thank you Melissa for sending me to this blog via Leaky, I'm sending the link to all my complaining friends. Cheryl, you ARE the best Secret Keeper Muggle (are you a muggle?) in the world!
    You are also so good to share your thoughts. They helped me understand my reaction, as I haven't had months to sort through the emotions. Thank you.
    violetmoon

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  90. Thank you Cheryl for sharing your comments. What a treat to hear from someone so close to the "action."

    I did like the epilogue... and for those who didn't (pick your reason... not enough info, to soon after the emotional battle, etc.) I just wonder what they would be saying if there was NO epilogue. If we hadn't been given those tidbits... I think people would have been very disappointed -- and we'd be hearing all about not having any closure.

    My two thougts about the epilogue.

    1. Remember the train platform when we're first introduced to it in the first book? Things were amazing, fun and everything was rosy. It was the calm before the storm. Then we had six years of hell. For me the epilogue brought us back to the innocence -- to the beginning -- to hope. Things are as they should be... calm again... with no storm in sight.

    2. Something was bugging me about the epilogue though, but I couldn't really put my finger on it until another poster mentioned that it seemed (I'm paraphrasing) like it was written by another author. It had a very amature feel to it. I still liked the information it gave us though, and your comments made me appreciate it even more.

    My other comment, that I haven't seen mention of, is about Luna. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the scene where Harry sees the painting of "friends" on her ceiling. I had chills. Good chills!

    Thanks again for sharing. And I'm apologizing for my poor writing skills:-)

    OK... one more. How cool for someone to catch the initials of Harry's child as ASP... and wonder if indeed it is a foreshadowing that he ought to be in Slytherin.

    ARW

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  91. I loved the book. Every word. I've been in a fog for days now. It was beautiful, heart breaking, funny, scarey, and joyful. Not since Wuthering Heights or Emma has a book affected me like this.

    You don't have to defend it.
    But I'm glad you did anyway.
    Bravo.

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  92. Thank you for this, you speak out of my heart!

    I first grumbled quite a bit over the poor punctuation of the book (I find it distracting), but after the first 200 pages or so, it didn't distract me anymore because the plot was so damn engaging.

    I've seen a lot of people complaining about the "senseless" deaths JKR put so many characters through. All I can say to that is that it's a war situation she shows. And the realistic way she shows it makes me seriously hope that those young people who read the book will think more than once before signing up to become canon fodder.

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  93. It's not that I didn't like the epilogue, because I liked it, I just wanted to know what the careers were of the some characters, Harry, Ron, Luna, Ginny, and Hermione.

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  94. I must say I'm totally with JKR on DH being my favourite book out of the series; it made me love and care for Harry as none of the others did, and I can finally really understand why Harry is her favourite character. ThankthankTHANKYOU so very much, Jo, for sharing this world with all of us.

    I agree with a lot of the opinions already voiced here, e.g. that in order to destroy a Horcrux its vessel has to go, too.
    Mrs Weasley was priceless, loved Percy's return (and his fab one-liner) and Aberforth, all the back stories, Neville rules and Luna's the best, Dobby's death broke my heart, was so proud when Harry chose the Horcruxes over the Hallows, missed Ginny, LOVED the silver doe and the Arthurian parallels it evoked for me, the BoH, the teachers (Trelawny, yay!), thought I'd die of fear when Hagrid vanished among the spiders, Regulus and Kreacher (a bit) vindicated, the line-up of Dumbledore, Harry and Snape, Hugo, Rose and little Albus Severus and...oooh too many things. :)

    One of the reasons why the epilogue pleased me might be precisely why, I assume, it bothers some others. (Though I will admit that I'd have loved a couple of more tidbits - Luna in particular, and the Dursleys, solely for a personal roundup.) I can see why people would say it felt cheesy or written by someone else or just as an afterthought. It's such a clean break and right after all the nerve-racking excitement of the battle that it might feel too...tranquil and serene or maybe dispassionate. Someone wrote childish, or something along those lines, I think.
    A normal and peaceful life filled with love and contenment - isn't that what Harry craved all along? Don't we all, by the way? And isn't this the hardest thing to achieve? Recognising and valueing the beauty of the ordinary life. That perpetual struggle is certainly less jazzy than a duel with the evil Uberlord, but ultimately the one most worth fighing for.
    Anyway, didn't mean to preach, I apologise. ;)

    In my estimation Snape's story was not diminished at all. I thought it was about the two most important things JKR kept 'harping on' about: love and the choices people make.

    Almost finished, I promise.
    Wouldn't it be cool if Neville was the new DADA teacher? :)Herbology could still be, say, his hobby.

    How did Bellatrix know that Fred was dead?
    And was Dudley the one purported to perform magic late in life? His 'transformation' is magical enough for me at least. :)

    All right, thanks for bearing with me.

    Looking very much forward to that encyclopedia!!

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  95. Me again, sorry, of course I forgot to mention some points in my earlier 'quick' note, haha.

    I found the Trio's months-long camping/hiding absolutely realistic because where the heck were they supposed to go to look for Horcruxes? They are not precisely listed on a map of Britain's must see sights, complete with instructions on how to destroy them.
    Ron imitating one word in Parseltongue...come on, people, only ONE word, that's feasible. It is a language after all, just not one that people want to learn. Or teach, for that matter.
    As for Harry being a 'better man' than Dumbledore...I'd have to say yes and no to that. Harry is, to put it crudely, the product of his circumstances (e.g. the Dursleys), the events/his adventures/all he's been through and the guidance and help he received (Dumbledore, first and foremost). Of course, unquestionably, Harry is also more than that, we all are more than the sum of the pieces. He had, if you will, the potential to become the man he eventually became, and he decided to use it. The world would certainly be a better place if more people could use theirs as magnificently as Harry.

    Couple more things, and that should be it then. I hope. ;)

    I loved that Hermione not once mentioned school, missing exams or anything related to that. (10 cheers, minimum, for her! HOW many time did she save their ...bums, not to mention all her preparations that enabled them to keep going.)
    But could someone please tell me why she didn't cut Harry's hair during all that time? :P They had a bathroom in the tent. Was there no mirror? Hillbilly-Harry never glimpsed his reflection in a stream or pond or...oh, I'm just kidding of course. :)

    -K

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  96. My problem with the epilogue was not exactly what happened in it--I agree that the closure was necessary and I think your thematic analysis is spot on. It was the style that killed me. I've heard that the epilogue has been written and waiting since the first chapter of the first book (or something similar) and if that's the case, then I think it explains my frustration. J.K. Rowling's style has evolved tremendously over the course of this series, along with her characters and readers. By the end of Deathly Hallows, her writing and story are rich, nuanced, and complex. After that incredible conclusion, the epilogue felt flat and predictable--much more like the writing and characters of earlier books.

    Maybe there's no way she could have followed up without a little bit of predictability; if she suddenly pulled a fast one and had Harry end up with Hermione or somesuch nonsense there would have been reader outcry loud enough to deafen her and all her children. Maybe I'm just a heartless cynic. But the feel of the epilogue just didn't do it for me, down to the last line, which I found to be incredibly heavy-handed and obvious without delivering the sweet punch of, say, the last line of the Lord of the Rings.

    To prove I'm not a total Scrooge: One of my favorite touches was the way to get into the Ravenclaw common room. I loved the idea that the way in might be personalized to the House--it was one of my favorites in a long list of little, everyday touches that Rowling has thrown in throughout that really bring her wizarding world alive.

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  97. Thank you Cheryl! These are the first real comments I've read after finishing the book, but my conersations with friends were not to uplifting.

    I found the book very graceful and true to the story, though I were shocked to hear that some of the teories going strong in the fandom actually were true. It feels like an ending, and the big themes of J.K. Rowlings writing are tied up and continued so well. Choise, greif, death, friendship, honesty, power...

    Like so many other I want more of both time and storyline, but it's ok. The more time I spend digesting this book, the more I love it, and the fact that it says what it says; no more - no less. The epilogue works wonderfully that way, carefully pointing ahead, not wrapping up, but pointing ahead into a world that will never be perfect. I loved Albus Severus! I sort of hope he's a Slytherin, and that he might do what the war could not, and help unite the houses.

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  98. I really enjoyed the manner in which you expressed your thoughts, it definitely shows you had plenty of time to thing about them.

    How heart-wrenching was the 'death march' Harry had when passing all the friends he wouldn't be saying good-bye to? In the forest talking with his parents/parental figures was the first time I started to tear from the books. (I was at work and had to hold them back)

    I had to re-read the Kings Cross part but was pleased with it. The next part that got me 'all choked up' was the simultaneous reenforcements from the forest and Hogsmeade. Finally Mrs. Weasley 'battle' (she made pretty quick work of Bellatrix) is the part I lost it because I was worried she would die and the fact she was protecting the 'important' girls from the story.

    I can't wait until the movie, seeing Daniel Radcliffe circling Ralph Fiennes will give me goosebumps.

    Sorry for all the ''s.

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  99. Hey, Cheryl. I was linked here by way of PotterCast, and I'm really glad that I was! You've done a great job summarizing the two main points that I've been running around the Internet attempting to stress since all the griping began.

    Personally, I *loved* the Hallows and thought it was just mind-blowing, that instant where Harry had to choose: Hallows or Horcruxes. It hit me at that moment just what was at stake with his decision.

    And the Epilogue. Thank you! Thematically, it's a befitting ending and, come on -- Harry's worked so hard. He deserves the things he's always wanted: family, love, a bit of normalcy.

    Great post; I will definitely link back!

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  100. "It was the style that killed me. I've heard that the epilogue has been written and waiting since the first chapter of the first book (or something similar) and if that's the case, then I think it explains my frustration. J.K. Rowling's style has evolved tremendously over the course of this series, along with her characters and readers. By the end of Deathly Hallows, her writing and story are rich, nuanced, and complex. After that incredible conclusion, the epilogue felt flat and predictable--much more like the writing and characters of earlier books."

    I completely agree with you there, with the exception of the first sentence. I didn't mind much, though it may have been written 'better', if you will. Her writing really became exponentially better with every book.

    Still, I think she deliberately chose this style that echoes the first book. It's simple, straightforward, even casual. And for me, at least, that helps me believe that even after all the carnage, the atrocities and losses of war, normalcy returns, life does goes on, relentlessy one might even say, and there will always be beauty, love and innocence.
    There, in keeping with the 'mushy' tone of the epilogue. ;)

    -K

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  101. Melinda LeydonJuly 26, 2007 1:10 PM

    I loved the epilogue. I loved that it showed us enough to see that Harry was happy in a longterm way, that he was a wonderful dad, and that he got everything he always wanted - plus it also left plenty of room for us fanfic writers to play in this universe for years to come! I only wish we could have seen Harry's reunion with Ginny, but otherwise, I got everything I'd hoped for Harry with this book. Thanks! - Melindaleo

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  102. Thank you, Cheryl! I can't imagine what it must have been like to have lived with the book for so long an not being able to share it with others outside of work. It must have been torture for Jo Rowling!

    I wasn't looking forward to the epilogue before I had the book in hand, and I think they're always kind of a let-down. At least it was narrative, and not a encyclopedia-like list of who was doing what nineteen years later! But I would have been personally satisfied with the story ending where it did (without the epilogue): what a perfect close!

    I am so emotionally wrung out after finishing the last 150-odd pages in the wee small hours last night! I am terribly sad that I'll never read one again without knowing what will happen next.

    Like other commentors, Deathly Hallows was the first of the books I cried while reading (and at several points, too): Luna's painting of "friends", the inscription on Dobby's headstone, Neville (hooray!), Molly in the battle with Bellatrix.

    I loved so many things and can't remember them all. The pacing and the action were amazing. For me, the depth of the story grew tenfold with the introduction of the hallows and the quest for the horcruxes, especially as told by the fairytale within the fairytale.

    Thank you for making your comments public; I've really enjoyed the feeling of sharing the book with all the commentors here as I read.

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  103. ...forgot to say that the whole reason I started to comment myself was that after reading it, I actually liked the epilogue just fine, and felt it fit in just right (how could it be otherwise, it's her world!).

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  105. Cheryl,

    As a born again Christian, I couldn't help but think of the following scripture when reading Ch. 34 "The Forest Again":

    John 15:13

    Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

    People can do comparisons all they want; I don't care. Harry isn't Christ and isn't even close. But he did love his friends so much that he attempted to die for them. I consider that sacrifice to be even greater than Lily's.

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  106. "If Fawkes (reference to guy fawkes bonfires and ashes - nice) has healing tears then how come he couldn't heal Dumbledore's hand?"

    Because pheonix tears heal wounds, not curses. Dumbledore's hand was like that because of a curse from the ring (that Snape managed to temporarily trap in his hand.)

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  107. One thing that bugged me in my Bloomsbury edition was in the "Magic is Might" chapter:

    "The quality of Kreacher's cooking had improved dramatically ever since he had been given Regulas's locket..."

    Correct me if I'm mistaken but I'm sure Kreacher had not cooked for Harry until after he had been given Regulas's locket so Harry wouldn't have known what Kreacher's cooking standard was originally to be able to make the comparison.

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  108. Cheryl,

    Many, many thanks for your excellent analysis of the epilogue, as well as your thoughts on the book in general. I, too, was one of the many who felt only lukewarm towards the epilogue after my first read (That's it?!? Where's the rest? What are the trio doing for jobs? Who raised Teddy? How did George go on? etc.), but after some additional time spent thinking about it I was just deciding to give it another read through... and then I came across your blog. I'm pleased to say that you (and a few others) have completely changed my mind about it, and whereas before all I could see was what *wasn't* written, I now read it and see just was was there: A mature Harry who finally has just what he wanted, and has grown to appreciate all that came with it. Kudos to you.

    There are many times over the past year or so that I've listened to PotterCast and thought that you had just about the coolest job ever. But I can now see how much of a struggle the past months must have been for you. I think after all is said and done I'd rather have stood in line at midnight and enjoyed being swept up in the mania - the predictions, the theories, the clue hunt - than read the story early. I hope you got some enjoyment out of watching the reactions, and not just felt the need to defend yourself or JKR.

    Thanks for all your hard work, and thanks for letting us play about for a bit in your sandbox. Just because we may complain about the grittiness of the sand between our toes doesn't mean we'd rather be anywhere else at the moment. :)

    -Lindsay

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  109. I know this may sound silly, but on page 364 (us edition)Harry puts on a "jumper." Am I right in assuming that this is a british word for shirt or jacket? In the US, a jumper is a dress.

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  110. Anonymous - a "jumper" is a "sweater". Harry was cold!

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  111. I totally agree with what you said about the epilogue. After all, Harry said somewhere that all he really wants is a quiet life--and I think he deserves it. He deserves to be happy and have the family he never had when he was younger.

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  112. Re Kreacher'S cooking abilities

    I'd say Harry was thinking about the times he spend at Grimmauld Place during OotP when Sirius was till alive. Probably Kreacher did a bit of 'cooking' then.

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  113. Kreacher didn't do any cooking in OOTP - Molly Weasley did. The reader has never seen Kreacher cook for Harry before DH.

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  114. I was one of those that thought the epilogue was a little sickly sweet the first time I read it. But on rereading, I realized that it was just because of the switch off from the battle was so fast (only 3-4 pages after Voldemort's death). My emotions were too strung up and the contrast was jarring. The second time around, my emotions weren't as keyed up and I really liked it.

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  115. Here via Pottercast's pointer too - thanks for all the insight! To follow up on Christina's point, I think my reaction to the Epilogue was similarly colored by the cathartic/exhausting effects of the DH roller coaster. I loved the book, but I had been through so many traumas in such a short space that when I read the final two sentences of the epilogue, I read them as threat rather than reassurance! I thought, "19 years - we're definitely due for another Dark Lord by now!" I swear, five minutes after closing the book, I had convinced myself that the last sentence said "All seemed to be well." That reaction came, of course, because Jo did such an amazing job of taking us from thrilling highs to despairing lows in this book. Perhaps there ought to have been a page before the epilogue that said, in large, soothing letters, "Before you turn the page, go take a break, have some chocolate, process what you've read a bit, and then come back." I did take myself out for a chocolate ice cream cone and it helped.

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  116. Yes! I definitely agree with everything you said. Deathly Hallows was lovely.

    I just bawled so many times throughout it. I would cry at the most trivial things, too... like the description of Hagrid's hands being as big as dustbin lids just like in the first book. Luna's room was really emotional for me too with the "friends" painting. Wow.

    The only thing that bothered me was that Hermione says that she hasn't ever done a memory charm before she does on those Death Eaters, but she already had done one on her parents.

    -Courtney D.

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  117. I loved the book; and on second reading, most of the questions i had are subsiding happily. But what is bugging me now is Dumbledore's treatment of Snape.

    Yes, one theme is that “it is our choices, Harry, rather than our abilities that determine who we are...” Snape chooses Slytherin, and continues throughout to be an unforgiveable bully. He never learns from his love for Lily to care about others, and JKR gives us only a couple of hints that he might have been capable of anything more. But whether or not he is written with that possibility, Dumbledore’s entire plan not only depends on his remaining closed, emotionally repressed, unloved and unloving (except for Lily); it ensures all that. Dumbledore uses him, specifically the only good part of him — his love for Lily — mercilessly, to isolate him utterly. Dumbledore’s plan traps Snape in his flaws.

    The hints? When Dumbledore says “I sometimes think we sort too soon,” Snape looks ‘stricken. ‘ That's a pretty strong and suggestive reaction. When Dumbledore asks Snape to kill him in part to save Draco’s soul, Snape asks “what about my soul?” Dumbledore’s response -- essentially “a mercy killing won’t hurt you” -- certainly ignores any opening there. In another plot and another book, Snape’s question might have been an opportunity for Snape to be shown a little loving kindness and grace – what Dumbledore so unfailingly (after his repentance) offers others.

    Snape promises “Anything” to Dumbledore in return for Lily’s safety. Dumbledore can’t deliver; yet Snape then vows to protect Harry. Every time he saves Harry, he is acting on the memory of love, however limited, and with integrity. Like Harry, he remains true even in extremis. Yet from the moment of his promise, he must be alone. His skill at occlumency, on which everything depends, cuts him off completely. Expressionless, rigid, blank, cold – if he ever did let down his emotional guard, not only would he be in mortal peril from Voldemort, but so would our good guys, all of them. The price of ultimate victory finally turns out to be not Harry but Snape.

    I realize that this is an extra-plot-line protest. JRK says in an interview that he is brave but not a hero; she wrote him without the possibility of that kind of change, so I suppose that Dumbledore is off the hook. But… Snape looks stricken; he asks, however resentfully, about his soul, he wants Dumbledore’s trust. If Dumbledore had responded, rather than ordering him to ‘dangle like a bag from V’s wrist’ for 16 years…Snape’s fate is the best evidence that Dumbledore has never lost his ruthlessness, whatever else JKR writes about him.

    And when Snape looks into Harry’s/Lily’s eyes, he doesn’t even get a beat, a pause, a semicolon before dying – just a ‘comma, but.’ Would a couple of moments have killed her?

    It’s a wonderful book. But I would like some reassurance about Snape after death. Is there shampoo in heaven? Perhaps he does get a portrait, and he and Dumbledore play Snaps? Something...

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  118. I would just like to say that I agree with the previous comment made about Snape. I think that this is what makes Snape such a powerfully tragic figure. All he has ever wanted or needed was to give and receve love but he never gets it; not from Lily (only a friend), not from his father or, I suspect, his sour-faced mother and he has no friends. He is unable, even, I am sure, to like himself. His readiness to cut himself off from all human contact is also perhaps a result of the fact that he sees himself as unworthy of love. I have just had a thought, these lines remind me forcibly of why I find Snape so tragic:
    "I love thee with the passion put to use
    In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
    I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
    With my lost saints - I love thee with the breath,
    Smiles, tears of all my life! - and, if God chose,
    I shall but love thee better after death.
    (XLLIII Elizabeth Barrett Browning 'sonnets from the Portugese) I know this poem is about requited love but I think these lines could be read as Snape's committment to his dead, unrequited love too.
    I do agree that Dumbledore is rather ruthless in his treatment of Snape; but Dumbledore is shown in the book to have a ruthless, somewhat hard streak in him - look at the way he treated his family in his pursuit of glory. He is "not as white as his beard" after all and Snape is not as black as his hair. I have always been a Snape fan and I feel more emotionally attached to him now that I know how much pain and loneliness he suffered to remain true to the one person who a ray of light in his abused, loveless life. That's courage, love and heroism right there - she never loved him but that didn't seem to matter. I wonder what Sirius or James would have to say to that? This does not mean that I like him more than Harry, I have just always had a soft spot for him. I agree that Snape was on no-one's side but his own but - so what? Without him staring death in the face every time Voldemort's snake eyes looked searchingly at him and asked for information more of the good guys might be dead. O.K, he didn't quite put aside his feelings towards some members of the Order but then, neither did Sirius Black who took every possible opportunity to rekindle the old hatred. Yes, he is bitter and twisted and a bully but I don't think that Snape's contribution should be 'reduced' by a purely rationalist approach to his words and actions in the books. Yes, Snape had his (big) faults but JK balances this out with the revelations of Dumbledore's weakness where power was concerned, the revelations that James Potter was arrogant and a bully who picked on those who were vulneable, that Pettigrew was synchophantic, weak and treacherous, that Sirius exhibits the same lordly unconcern regarding house elves that is displayed by Lucius Malfoy. Sorry if this is a load of old crap but I really agreed with the comments and am glad that someone thinks that Snape deserves a break. I would have liked him to live on and find a kind, understanding witch who would heal the heartache!

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  119. It took me 3 days to get through all 118 comments, but I am glad I did. I "met" you through your Pottercast appearances, but I was referred to this entry by someone else.

    I am not one of those who will say "I never cry at books" or "I only cried when". I will freely admit that I started crying the moment Hedwig died and only stopped during the laugh-out-loud parts.

    I cheered out loud when Neville was mentioned near the start and then when he came through the portrait. I think I cried the hardest when Ron left. That just tore me up. I loved the ceiling painting in Luna's room. That brings me to my only problem with the epilogue.

    When I finished the epilogue I was disappointed, but then as I thought about it I realized the only thing I really missed (not jobs, not weddings, not childbirth) was Luna. I would have given anything for one sentence about Luna.

    As I read the book, I actually thought of you Cheryl. How lucky you were to have been a part of this process, how hard it must have been to keep the secrets, and what a great job you did keeping everything right. Thank you!

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  120. Hello, I heard about your blog through Pottercast's latest podcast where Melissa went over your support for the epilogue. For the most part I agree, at least with the first four points. But the last discussing power and happiness bothers me because I really don't think that is the case. Of course I cannot speak for every individual but I know many didn't like it because of the lack of detail when we were expecting more tidbits than we received. I don't think it's true that Harry is no longer different, simply because he has grown up or has a family does not denounce his "boy who lived" title. He will always be that, will always be the so-called chosen one. I do not believe his status has changed because even as he stood there on the platform he was receiving stares from numerous stangers all looking at him as they did the first day he stepped into the wizarding world and as they will until he leaves it. Maybe J.K. doesn't explicitly tell us of his magical ability but he still is anything but ordinary or normal, any sense of normalcy has been achieved through finally acquiring a family but that can never remove the fact that he is the one who fought and defeated the greatest evil ever known. Simply because time has past and Harry has achieved his happiness does not mean he is normal or uninteresting, it shows us that even the greatest are in many ways simple and that is probably why they turn out to be so great.

    I apologize if this sounds like an attack, I don't intend it to be but I really needed to get this off my mind.

    Thanks, Simren.

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  121. Can someone please explain to me what ASP means in relation to Albus Severus Potter? What does ASP mean, anyway? I looked it up on Wikipedia and it was quite unenlightening.

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  122. Rowling has an editor? The continuity in the books as well as the at times clumsy prose suggest otherwise.

    If you have to explain the epilogue, that means it wasn't executed properly.

    The epilogue read like something out of fanfic net.

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  123. Well then, that just means that we have some truly great writers at FF.net, doesn't it? One of them may just be the next J. K. Rowling.

    And on behalf of all Potter fans who wish to appreciate this great, beloved book unhindered by hurtful remarks like yours, please confine your book-bashing to your own forums in future. (Goodness knows you have enough of them!)The rest of us are here only to say thanks and discuss the book in the most civil manner possible.

    Hasini. (ladymirth@gmail.com)

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  124. Having read your blog, I look forward to rereading the epilogue and having a better appreciation for it. Overall, I was extremely happy with the book and was jolted by the simplicity of the epilogue. Having repeatedly been jerked in new directions throughout the book, the return to a simplistic time was unexpected, and I initially could not understand why Jo had chosen to end the book that way. I love the points that you make about how much Harry has matured. Thank you for your hard work on the series!

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  125. I think I would have been disappointed without the epilogue. I've followed Harry Potter from Book 1 and I was thrilled to see him FINALLY enjoy true happiness without the threat of it being taken away. He started out without a good father figure, and lost everyone he did have down the road. I felt I could "leave" Harry knowing he finally had the happiness he so much deserved. I mean, isn't this what we have been rooting for over the last ten years?

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  126. The epilogue is disliked for many reasons,and I think all of them are valid.
    One: Jo had promised several things in her interviews she did not deliver. This is an obsessive fandom. They remember things like that. She had told us that the epilogue would tell us what happened to the survivors and that we would soon know everything. No one really expected everything, but we got info on only a few survivors, and nothing on the aftermath of the war in the wizarding world. Obviously they're still sorting too soon, and Slytherin is still considered a black hole, so that interhouse unity we had heard about for several books went out the window with a lot of other things.
    Two: Most people accuse epilogue haters of being disgruntled shippers. especially anti-H/G shippers, of which I concede I have always been. No one would be calling Ginny some of the names they are calling her if Harry had ever cared about anything except her snogging ability, and by extension her ability to reproduce. We needed covnersations about her feelings, her opinions and her desires to buy into this ship and believe it would last. Harry being happy is fine, it's great, but what's disturbing is he could never be happy without someone else devoting themselves slavishly to his happiness. He couldn't be happy on his own, so Ginny who was his fan girl from the age of ten, and by her own admission never gave up on him, had to be the prize he got for winning, never having any shining moment all her own.
    Luna even stuns Alecto, but Ginny is not powerful like Jo says she was, not Harry's equal like Jo said she was- the special 7th child of a 7th child. She's his little trophy wife.
    The epilogue read like fan fic, because it had the main mistake novice readers make in it. They think because they see something in their head, everyone else is going to see it just as clearly, and they don't write what is necessary for that understanding on the page.
    I had to stop and think who the heck Victorie was, for example. There just wasn't enough there, on top of the other things that were left out. And that's not even getting into the other things that were confusing in the book.
    I'm not anonymous because I'm trying to hide. I just don't have a google account right now. But if anyoen wants to know who I am, I'll come back and get one.

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  127. I disagree with most of your points, but most of my reasons have been restated time and time again; I will not reiterate. However, one thing that agitated me greatly about the book was one thing that you pointed out--that Harry rejected power in lieu of a sandwich.

    But it was that part that I hated the most; after an epic battle, where Kreacher led the house elves into battle and ultimately, aided in securing a much-needed victory--Harry asked Kreacher for a sandwich, without any consideration to the house elf's own possible injuries and losses.

    So, yes, Harry rejected power, but this was some sort of rich metaphor for choosing normalcy instead--that normalcy seems to be prejudice against, or, at the very least, a lack of consideration for non-human creatures.

    And considering that this book emphasized acceptance and a rejection of prejudice, it was that tiny request that disappointed me the most in the book.

    Aside from that, I wanted to see the social, psychological, and physical reprecussions of the war; the ending as is romanticized war, and the impact that it had on people. Life very rarely ends that sweet, and I would have preferred an ending like "La Vita e Bella" ("Life is Beautiful")--an ending where not everything is picture-perfect, but life continues to go on.

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  128. Oh, yeah, that was an AWESOME kiss, there, by the way. Really subtle. Thanks for that, we love you right back.

    You know the one I mean, right? The twisted, evil, OOC-spawned-from-the-NIGHTMARES-OF-THE-WICKED!one that needed to be stabbed to death in horror? Yup. Right. I say again; subtle. Thanks. We appreciate you too.

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  129. Loved the book, the commentary, all the news - yup Dumbledore/Grindenwald, who would have thought that was possible?- and here's some parts -
    -Page 113 or 116, whichever one's Ginny
    -Page 625, "Oy!There's a war going on here!"
    -Greenery vs Death Munchers and their Dark Tosser
    -Epilogue!

    What left me a bit mad (well, I read in five hours so duh I was overwhelmed about Fred, and Harry Bombarda-ing Hedwig's body [I totally agree with John from PotterCast and Leaky; it's just pretty rude]) was the fact that Harry just defeated good ole Moldyshorts, gave up the Elder Wand, wants to go have a sandwich (I don't blame him, sandwiches are good), and then it just skips to nineteen years later. That's a huge leap! I mean, what happened with Ron and Hermione and Harry and Ginny? Comments on the Epilogue-
    -My favorite pairings. Yay!
    -Teddy Lupin/Victoire...yay!
    -who married Draco?
    -Scorpius Malfoy...how do you get away with naming a kid that?!?!?!
    -Albus Severus Potter. I feel sorry for the kid! I mean, Albus is okay, SEverus is odd, but Albus SEverus is just... I'd rather not comment on that any more...Harry matured a lot!
    Love it!

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  130. I simply must say this to someone sometime, despite the tackiness of such late commenting:

    I loveJKR's adverbial dialogue tags. LOVE them. I find them droll, and playful, and witty, and fitting in perfectly with her style, and definitely not intrusive.

    Plus, adverbs are people too, and they need someone to hug them :)

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