Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The final book of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. A few days before his 17th birthday, Harry waits for his ride to move away from Privet Drive altogether. Once he comes of age, he can do magic without being traced. And in these hard times when Voldemort is taking over most of the magical world, this is a good thing. Harry knows what he has to do this year: complete the task left to him by the late Albus Dumbledore. Harry has to find the remaining Horcruxes and destroy them and eventually destroy Voldemort. As a result, Harry knows he won’t be returning to Hogwarts this year. Ron and Hermione both intend on going with him on this journey. Harry has broken up with Ginny due to fears that Voldemort may use her as bait; a decision that he continues to regret due his strong feelings for her. Voldemort and his Death Eaters take over the Ministry and Hogwarts with Severus Snape being appointed Headmaster. Harry still has immense hatred towards Snape for what he did to Dumbledore and continues to think Dumbledore was a fool to trust Snape. As Harry, Ron and Hermione search for the Horcruxes, they are faced with obstacles including wondering just how much they knew Dumbledore given that they find out he had a Squib for a sister who was apparently locked away; meet Death Eaters and Voldemort himself more than once; deal with goblins and Umbridge; and of course, the Horcuxes themselves. They also have decipher why Dumbledore left them a few things in his will: a snitch for Harry, a book of wizarding fairy tales for Hermione and a deluminator for Ron. Through their travels, they also discover the story behind the Deathly Hallows and figure out what Voldemort is eventually looking for — something that will fight Harry and his wand once and for all.

Being the final book of the series, this one is obviously action-packed. There are more tears and fewer laughs compared to the previous books. It is fast-paced and the adventures are brilliant. Ron and Hermione’s relationship and their feelings for one another have never been more apparent. The final battle scene between the Voldemort and his Death Eaters and Harry and his friends and the Order of the Phoenix is one to behold! You find yourself literally holding your breath and wanting to know more.

The book has several themes with one of the most prominent ones being death. The fear of death versus the acceptance of this fact of life is explored through the book of fairy tales as well as through Voldemort and Harry’s characters. It was Voldemort’s fear of death that led him to want to be immortal and therefore create the horcruxes. Another theme is how power can be blinding. Voldemort has always thought of wizards (particularly pure-bloods) as all-powerful but under-estimates the magic of house-elves, centaurs and other magical creatures. This is a weakness given the important roles house-elves end up playing in his own downfall. The book also looks at the importance of second chances. We finally learn why Dumbledore trusted Snape all along and gave him a second chance to redeem himself. Given that no one is perfect, you can see why it is important to sometimes give a person a second chance. Love, which is a theme talked about right from the first book, is once again prominent here along with sacrifice. The power of love and how protective it can be. Lily’s love for Harry created a protective charm around him. In a similar way, Harry’s love for his friends and his willingness to sacrifice his own life for the greater good creates a similar protective charm for them. Several people Harry loves too end up sacrificing their lives fighting Voldemort or standing up for Harry.

It is a fitting finale to an enthralling series. Yes, it is quite sad with the deaths of loved characters. I was in tears several times through the book. But if there is anything to learn from this book it is that death is not necessarily final. And the dead shall always live with us in our memories. The last chapter though which goes ‘nineteen years later’ is a bit of a cheesy ending but I think J. K. Rowling did that to ensure that she ended the book and the lives of her heroes on her terms. All in all, another brilliant book and truly deserving of a rating of 5.

If you want to check out the reviews of books one, two, three, four, five and six, click on their respective links.

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry, Ron and Hermione enter their 6th year at Hogwarts. This time though, Harry is dealing with the death of Sirius a few months ago at the hands of Bellatrix Lestrange in the Ministry of Magic. Simultaneously, he has to deal with knowing a prophecy made years ago which states that neither he nor Voldermort can live while the other survives. Harry now knows that he has to vanquish Voldermort or be vanquished himself. This year, Harry suspects Draco Malfoy of being a Death Eater — an idea scoffed by his best friends as well as Lupin and Mr Weasley. At school, Harry who now does Potions with a new teacher, Professor Slughorn (Snape now teaching Defence Against Dark Arts) is given a text book which is turning him into somewhat of a genius at the subject. The book belongs to someone who referred to themselves as the ‘Half-blood Prince’. This year, Harry is also given extra lessons by Dumbledore and these lessons involve delving into Lord Voldermort’s past and trying to understand him as a child and later a student at Hogwarts. Harry finally learns about Horcruxes. Basically, through the lessons he learns that Voldermort split his soul into 7 pieces thereby ensuring his immortality unless and until these Horcruxes are destroyed. Thus making his attempt to overcome Voldermort that much harder. The book looks at life in general for Harry at school, battling feelings for Ginny Weasley, while at the same time dealing with his suspicisions of Malfoy and Snape, learning about Voldermort’s past all culminating to a thrilling yet sad end.

Trust and betrayal are one of the main themes in this book. Harry trusts Ron and Hermione with no doubt whatsoever. Yet, he has difficulty with Dumbledore trusting Snape especially when the former never gives a reason for his trust. And for the reader too, there is that doubt as to why Dumbledore continues to trust Snape. Especially as we know he makes an Unbreakable Vow to help Draco Malfoy and keeps his word in the end. There also exists the theme about self-sacrifice which is seen through Dumbledore’s character in the end as well as Harry’s attempts. Another important and interesting thing spoken about is the prophecy. Dumbledore attempts to make Harry understand that it is not just because of the prophecy that was made that the situation between him and Voldermort is as it is. Voldermort chose to take the prophecy seriously and hunt Harry down and kill his parents in the process. It is Harry’s choice and decision following what Voldermort did to avenge his parents’ deaths and not just because the prophecy says so. In other words, nothing is necessarily destined in our lives. It is the choices we make that pave the next path in our lives.

As always, this is yet another book with humour and an engaging narrative that keeps you going and wanting to know more. It raises several questions particularly about Snape and his motives. At the same time, the Horcruxes and the ending leave you intrigued. Let’s just say if you haven’t read the books and will now, it’s a good thing you don’t have to wait a couple of years for that! Like I did initially.

I give it a rating of 5.

To read reviews of the first, second, third, fourth and fifth book of the series, click on their respective links.

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The fifth book begins with a very disgruntled Harry spending his summer holidays with the Dursleys and itching to find out what has been happening in the wizarding world since the return of Lord Voldermort. However, he can’t seem to get straight answers from anyone and this only fuels his anger. Eventually he is taken to Grimmauld Place where he finds the members of the Order of the Phoenix. The group of witches and wizards who are planning to fight Voldermort. However, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Fred, George and Ginny are underage and hence not permitted to be part of the Order or know too much about their undertakings. That doesn’t stop Sirius and Lupin informing them that Lord Voldermort this time is after a weapon. A weaapon that is very powerful. However, the details remain unknown to Harry and his friends. After Harry manages to get acquitted in a trial for using underage magic outside of school and in front of a muggle (Dudley), he gets back to Hogwarts with Ron and Hermione being chosen as prefects for Gryffindor. They are in for a surprise in their crucial fifth year where they have to take exams known as the O.W.L. (Ordinary Wizarding Levels). The Ministry of Magic appears to be infiltrating Hogwarts with one of their staff being appointed as the Defence against the Dark Arts teacher: Dolores Umbridge. They still do not believe Voldermort has returned and the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge is adamant that Dumbledore is plotting against him. As Umbridge wreaks havoc as a teacher with the help of the Ministry and refuses to teach her subject to the standard it should be taught, Harry and his friends on Hermione’s idea, start secret meetings of their own practising defence against the dark arts. Taught by Harry. Harry’s school year continues as he goes on a forgettable date with Cho Chang, gets banned from playing Quidditch, has visions of walking through a dark passage, sees Dumbledore ousted as principal, wonders why Dumbledore doesn’t make eye contact with him and also has visions occasionally of Voldermort’s experiences. He is asked to practise Occlumency with Professor Snape by Dumbledore in order to be able to block his mind from the visions he has been having; however, being a teenager and not liking Snape result in him not really learning this skill. Which consequently results in a thrilling and heart-wrenching finale.

After the third book, I think this is probably one of my favourites. I did not see the ending coming and the loss of one of my favourite characters had me in tears. In this book though, Harry is not very likeable particularly in the beginning where he seems to think every one is against him and he is better than Ron and Hermione. Furthermore, his anger at them is a bit too egocentric given that they have stood by him through a lot. Yet at the same time, this depiction is that of any teenager. The egocentrism, the flouting of rules, the mood swings, the impulsive behaviour — very common of adolescence where consequences of ones actions are not always thought about. And Harry, makes a big mistake by letting his arrogance get the better of him when it comes to learning Occlumency.

The role of the corrupt Ministry is not dissimilar to governments we see in so many countries around the world. The ease with which educational decrees are passed all for the benefit of the Ministry with no thought of the students or others, reminds you of the power governments can hold, particularly in some countries where democracy is but a farce. The Ministry hears what it wants to hear and chooses to speak ill and come down hard on those against it. Almost like a dictatorship. The role the media plays in printing and delivering the community with lies is also an important factor especially when you think about the power of the media in our world. How many people make up their minds just based on what the media tells them? In the same manner, majority of the wizarding world makes up its minds about Harry and Dumbledore and how the former is just craving for attention and is nothing short of a lunatic thanks to the Daily Prophet.

The importance of education is also highlighted in this book where the Ministry through Umbridge threatens to deny first Harry’s individual right to education, and then the rest of the students’ rights by teaching them a tame version of an important subject. But by educating themselves in this area, a number of students are empowered. Finally, an important theme in this book is unity. Dumbledore is trying to get the giants and the goblins on the good side because only then can they fight Voldermort. The Sorting hat talks about the students being united and fighting the war. However, the manner in which students are segregated into houses itself kind of defeats this. At the same time, Harry’s friends stay united in their attempt to help him — Ron, Hermione, Neville, Ginny and a new character, Luna all insist on coming with him to the Ministry of Magic in the end and by keeping a united front, they are able to stave off the Death Eaters until members of the Order arrive.

Once again, a fantastic piece of work by J. K. Rowling. There is the ever ongoing theme of bravery and the discrimination that exists in the wizarding world. Her characters are brilliant. Umbridge is a new addition and is a fantastic character in that you loathe her with all your heart. You get annoyed with the “hem, hem” by Umbridge because you just know she is just going to say something horrible. You can visualise her toad-like features and it makes you squirm. Luna Lovegood too is an interesting quirky character. I love how Ron is developing, how Hermione is so smart and a great friend to have and how Ginny is no longer shy but outspoken and funny. And of course, Fred and George Weasley are absolute riots!

I give it a rating of 5. [You can read reviews of Books 1, 2, 3 and 4 if you want]

Until next time,

Cheers!!!