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31 August 2007 @ 07:54 am
Finally read the Deathly Hallows  
In the early 90s a friend of my sister's identified a model for fools and heroes fests that he dubbed "The Amulet of Zlarg". In an Amulet of Zlarg fest something horrible happens on Friday night. By Saturday morning it has become clear that the problem can be solved by acquiring the four components of the Amulet of Zlarg which have been hidden in the surrounding forest - groups go out and collect these. They then have a banquet and get very drunk. The following day the Amulet has to be used in some complex fashion while the villains attack and so, allowing sufficient time for everyone to recover from their hangovers, there is a big battle.

Funnily enough the Deathly Hallows was pretty much entirely as I expected. It's plot was largely Amulet of Zlarg (without the drunken banquet), Snape turned out to be a good guy, Neville got his moment of glory, Harry ended up with Ginny, Ron ended up with Hermione, and so forth. About the only things missing from my mental check-list were a moment of redemption for Draco Malfoy and the revelation that the prophesy had been about Neville all along.

I really enjoyed the book, more so than any since Prisoner of Azkaban but I'm not entirely sure why. It displayed many of the flaws I've criticized the later books for: which mostly boils down to too much padding although in this case most of it wasn't so much padding as simply drawing events out longer than necessary and perhaps unnecessary repetition of Harry's thought processes. In some ways this may have become a strength in this book, much as people have argued that the second half of The Two Towers is about instilling in the reader the sense of monotony and hopelessness experienced by Frodo and Sam, the slow pace of parts of this book instill a similar sense of the extent to which Harry, Ron and Hermione are both directionless and helpless. It also benefitted, I think, from the removal of the Hogwart's setting and hence the lack of repetition of the don't trust the grown-ups/sneak about dodging teachers/sit detention formula that had established itself in the rest of the series.

I found I'd actually forgotten much of the detail of the preceding books and had to struggle in places to keep up. I think this reveals the strengths and weaknesses of Rowling's writing. I had no trouble remembering characters, who they were and what they were about, but the details of plot points, in particular the interactions with inumerable magical artefacts had obviously blurred somewhat. On the whole plot does not appear to be Rowling's strength whereas the creation of vivid characters (believable where necessary) obviously is. The plot in this book I thought workmanlike and more competent that some (particularly Goblet of Fire which was the book that turned me into a Harry Potter critic) but it didn't deliver the twists, turns and revelations I had somehow been expecting. However, it seems unfair to criticise it for failing to deliver something that had never been promised and was probably an artefact of the surrounding hype and spoiler-related paranoia.

So as something of a Harry Potter curmudgeon, demonstrated by the fact I've only just read it (but it was getting to the point where nieces and nephews were likely to start summarising the plot for me) this book won me over in the end. It was much as I expected. Good characterisation, a perfectly competant though rather by the numbers plot and all of it gripping enough to keep me up reading past my bed time. Now to go and read all those other posts and reviews about it which I've been carefully avoiding.
Gabbygabcd86 on January 7th, 2010 10:30 pm (UTC)
I still remember being awake at 3AM the night my dad came over from England with the Deathly Hallows in his bag, and reading the last line of that chapter:

"The Ministry has fallen. Scrimgeour is dead"

And just gasping. I really, really didn't see the whole nazi-orwell thing coming, and that's probably my favourite thing about the book, just the feeling of "fuck, that's not good" as stuff gets worse.

Also, the Battle for Hogwarts is my go-to guide for chaotic big battles that you can't be bothered to write in too much detail. :P