Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

There shouldn't be any spoilers in this post ...

Having pre-ordered the book within three days of hearing that pre-orders were being taken, I was among the first group to run up to the shipping door of Village Books last night and exchange the yellow "Golden Snitch" for a copy of the book.

Rachael drove me home, both of us jigging with excitement, neither of us planning to sleep until we had some serious reading done. I haven't heard from her yet, or Chris, about whether they've finished it; although Chris, who as an East Coast resident got his book three hours before I did, left me a voice message at 4 AM his time to tell me to brace myself.

And, for the first time in my life, I stayed up all night. I finished the book.

Fair warning here, to anyone who is at all likely to take nightmares: I didn't stay up merely out of a need to know the end, although that helped. I stayed up because parts of it creeped me out so much that no way did I dare to face sleep without the resolution. Very little in the other books has affected me that way (granted, I didn't read any of them for the first time between midnight and 7 AM). This is no children's book, and it is very dark, so if earlier books left you unsettled, go cautiously; at the very least, don't read it alone or after dark.

Not enough people have yet read the story to justify me in posting any particular details, so I'll restrain myself from that. As to general thoughts on the story, however: at first I wondered if I would like it at all, and at one point felt furiously certain that I'd hate it, that there weren't enough pages left to contain an explanation that could justify what I was seeing. There still remains one decision a very important "good guy" made that I really struggle with, even disagree with.

But the other day I read a slice of an interview with Joanne Rowling done some time back. I had heard that she was a member of the Church of Scotland, that she claims to "go more often than at Christmas and Easter" (a rather cryptic remark that people will probably take a couple of different ways.) The interviewer, however, had commented on her books being secular. The article recorded her response as "Um, I don't think they're all that secular".

She wasn't kidding. They're not "all that secular".

Don't get me wrong--the main characters didn't suddenly drop to their knees and profess Christianity, not that that is what makes a story Christian. Nor is the story a clear and accurate descriptor of salvation theology, or any such thing, not that it attempts to be. What I will say, though, is that the allegory drawn is in its own way comparable to certain points in the most well-known works of those two venerable Christian fantasy writers, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

... and, after the final two chapters inspired me to that half-laughing, half-crying act that womanhood practices so naturally, I have to say that I liked the book.

But some time must go by before I can say more--others need the chance to read it. I need to re-read it, which will not happen immediately; there are three people waiting to read my copy, and I've put a lot of time into Harry Potter lately and should turn my attention to other things.

Happy reading, to all of you still in the process :-)


I’m No Cassandra Trelawney, But …

In about 31 hours, we will have the very last Harry Potter book.

I’ve worked on predicting Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows since reading HBP over a year ago. Now that the release of the series finale is at hand, my “predictions” have morphed more into thoughts, but here they are. As you'll notice, I'm rooting for a happy ending:

Harry. I think he’ll lay down his life but survive. If I had to bet on whether or not his scar is a Horcrux, my bet would be no--but I’m weighing the lines “Voldemort put a bit of himself in me?” and “[Voldemort] … could not bear to reside in a body so full of the force [love] he detests” and it’s a tough call. Also, the “Lily’s eyes” factor is supposed to be very important; I think that will have to do with his seeing someone through compassion--Snape, maybe?--at a crucial time, gaining him some necessary knowledge for his quest to destroy Voldemort.

Voldemort. He’s going down, oh yes.

Ron. Does something great--I think he’ll take out some key Death Eaters or maybe even a Horcrux. He might even take part in a battle with Voldemort this time. He’ll be there for Harry, and live to tell the tale.

Hermione. That blessed logical brain of hers and her loyal heart will give us a sight of her courage in a way we’ve never seen it before. Then she’ll live to marry Ron, who will eventually get himself together where she’s concerned.

Ginny. She’s going to be there for some battle action. Like she’d stay away! I hope she casts a bat-bogey hex on a Death Eater or two in the process. She’s Harry’s girl for better or worse now, even though he’s felt the need to distance himself while hunting Voldemort (that distance probably won’t last all the way through his search.)

Dumbledore. There’s still the portrait in McGonagall’s new office! That will prove important.

Fred and George. J.K. Rowling has informed us that at least two characters die. These are two of my top bets. But if they go, they’ll go down in the proverbial blaze of glory.

Draco Malfoy. I think he’ll defect to the good side at the last minute and die a hero.

Neville. Also one of my top bets for getting AK’d, but I bet he takes Bellatrix Lestrange with him. If he lives, though, I think he’ll be the one to teach at Hogwarts. Herbology.

Luna. “Ravenclaw will have its day” in the tabloid editor’s daughter--the girl who believes in strange things but represents the house best known for its intelligence. I, personally, hope we get to see a Crumple-Horned Snorkack.

Hagrid. My other top bet for “most likely to die.” Which means that Hermione will inherit Grawp. But he’ll be faithful to the last.

Minerva McGonagall. Lives and reigns as good-hearted-but-strict headmistress of Hogwarts.

Percy Weasley. Likely to get knocked off early. He’d better make up with his mom and dad first, the git.

Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. Live to see their grandchildren--Bill and Fleur’s kids, Ron and Hermione’s kids, Harry and Ginny’s kids.

Viktor Krum. Poor guy doesn’t stand a chance with Hermione after Ron gets to her, but I bet he finds Harry one of the Horcruxes.

Nymphadora Tonks and Remus Lupin. If they live, they are sooo getting married :-D

Mad-Eye Moody. I think the old Auror will have one last good fight, and if he survives it, will get a good retirement somewhere--though he’ll never stop watching for Dark wizards.

Sybill Trelawney. It’s a very bad, bad thing if she gets out of Hogwarts. That will probably happen.

Peter Pettigrew. No way will he make it through this one. But he has a debt to pay to Harry before he gets what is coming to him. A very, very big debt. I don't think he'll jump in front of Harry to protect him, but I do think he'll thwart Voldemort in a somewhat more subtle way.

Severus Snape. Also going to die, but Harry is going to get past this anti-Snape vendetta. Too much of that is bitterness and not enough based on solid evidence. I think Snape is a double agent, all right; mostly evil, but as we all know, there’s something key about his role that Harry doesn’t know about yet (and neither do I.)

That covers my biggest ideas about book 7. I should have that book read by Saturday afternoon, if all goes as planned, and will look forward to posting thoughts sometime in the days following. Got predictions of your own? Let me know.


Random Moment for the Day

... watching my MS Word auto-correct change "deeper" to "beeper" for no apparent reason. Weird.

I have now finished re-reading all six Harry Potter books, and am working up the list of predictions for posting on Friday.

Three days ...


Harry at the IMAX

Two posts in one week is pretty good for me lately, si? I promise to slow down on the Harry Potter blogs soon and post about other stuff. But these are two very intense weeks for us happy fans.

Last night a group of us went up to Canada for an IMAX showing of The Order of the Phoenix. Here I should say that generally speaking I have not cared much for the movies; my strong appreciation for the books only partially extends to the films, both for technical strength and for story value (besides the fact that they differ so much it's hard for a diehard fan to enjoy the change.) And I definitely wouldn't take young kids to these, especially not this movie.

But I was pleasantly surprised. While some of the acting still falls below standard (the three Dursleys will apparently never learn), for the first time I really enjoyed Gary Oldman in the role of Sirius. Daniel Radcliffe continues to grow into his talent, Rupert Grint did well and Emma Watson is getting the hang of it. But Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood was the best surprise of all. The girl came out of nowhere and brought her role to life, even without mentioning Crumple-Horned Snorkacks. Since Luna is one of my favorite characters, this helped make the movie for me.

The other great thing belonged specially to the IMAX presentation: the 20 minutes of 3-D through the Department of Mysteries scene, beginning with the flying on thestrals. If any of you HP fans have the chance to see the 3-D IMAX version, believe me, it's worth it.

Of course, there were the usual story abbreviations; particularly notable in the Cho Chang thread. Most of the time, though, considering that they had to fit a 700+ page book into a 2.25 hour film, the cuts made sense. The Weasley twins' spectacular exit, happening on their first major prank instead of the second, was a good example of this. I enjoyed that scene :-) And semi-props to the script-writers for, after cutting so many important Dumbledore lines in the first four films, taking the biggest one out of book 2 and giving it to Sirius.

Other things I really liked:
  • Dumbledore's Army (superb)
  • The rescue of Harry from Privet Drive
  • Neville
  • Harry's throwing off of Voldemort's attempt to take control of him
Things I did not like:
  • The dementors-in-Little-Whinging scene; Mrs. Figg's reaction was too understated
  • Harry actually giving Lucius Malfoy the prophecy
  • Dumbledore looking nonplussed at Umbridge
I also have kind of mixed feelings about the portrayal of Bellatrix Lestrange, but the more I think about it, the more appropriate it seems. And her hair and makeup was amusing :-P

The book itself still trumps, though. I'm glad to still be working through it, as it'll be nice to go back to the full story for my Great Chronological Re-Read. Current place:
"What sort of diversion is it?" asked Ron.

"You'll see, little bro," said Fred, as he and George got up again. "At least, you will if you trot along to Gregory the Smarmy's corridor round about five o'clock tomorrow."


It Finally Happened

After a year and a half, I have at last written a full article on Harry Potter.

Over that year and a half (and before), I have heard plenty of argument for and against the Harry Potter series. There may be little point in my adding a few thoughts to an already overwrought debate. I may convince no one of the good of these books; some people will respect my opinion because they know me, even if they disagree, and those who do not know me will likely continue to hold their own opinions :-P But I had to at least offer mine.

I can respect a difference of opinion about the stories; good, wise people approve and disapprove of almost everything. In regard to the basic question of whether or not the books are good, though, my answer, after a year and a half’s intimate knowledge of the stories, is yes.

Because it is generally Christians who take issue here, I will admit that these are secular books with a basically secular worldview, and due to this there are things for Christian parents to consider. One may disagree here and there with J.K. Rowling on what is right and what is wrong--but her good and evil are truly good and evil in an intensely human form, fraught with very real complexity and underscored by important values. And as I firmly believe, a good story such as this innately reveals truth--yes, even Christian truth.

There was so much that I wanted to say that would not fit inside the 1,000 word limit (my final word count was something like 998.) I wanted to talk over the Jeremiah Films video and the issues I took with it, starting with the fact that the terms “white magic” and “black magic” never appear in the books. I wanted to point out the books’ beautiful emphasis on standing up for what is right, even--if necessary--in the face of authority, and to delineate the strengths and weaknesses of various characters that show off the intricate truths of good and evil in possession of humanity. I wanted to say that I would put these books in league with Alice in Wonderland, The Lord of the Rings and Narnia. I wanted to expound upon the notion of allowing kids to grow into the books gradually, and why I think it such a good idea.

I didn’t have time, so I’m saying it briefly here. I will not ask anyone to read these books, unless they plan to speak publicly against them. But I am a Christian, and I am in favor of the books, and when I have children at a certain level of discernment they will be allowed to read the books as well.

Check out the full article here at Silhouette.

Current place in The Great Chronological Harry Potter Re-Read:

"'Come on, the quicker we get on the bus the better,' said Tonks, and Harry thought there was nervousness in the glance she threw around the square. Lupin flung out his arm.


A violently purple, triple-decker bus had appeared out of thin air in front of them, narrowly avoiding the nearest lamppost, which jumped backward out of its way."