Sunday, July 22, 2007

Potter - After the hallows

Spoiler Warning: This post will contain references to the story of Harry Potter and the deathly hallows and will discuss some parts of the story.

So, the wait is finally over. The final edition of Harry Potter has come out. I was eagerly waiting for my copy on Saturday when my friend from India boasted over the phone that he has received his copy. Finally the book came in by around 10:30 am. I brought it in, unwrapped it and immediately called my friends to do my bit of boasting :) I started reading by 1:00 pm, and completed the book by around 12:30 pm the next day.

Now, coming to my impressions of the book. Overall it is a good story. Most of the plot is on expected lines (atleast my expectations), but there are a few unexpected things too.

Looking at how Rowling killed Dumbledore and Sirius, I expected her to finish off either Ron or Hermoine. But she has played safe and kept both of them well and alive. In fact, eventually Ron marries Hermoine and Harry ties the knot with Ginny. I would've been heartbroken, but that might have done justice to Voldermort's power. And all along, Rowling kept saying that we're delaing with a great war and so loss of some of the bigger characters should be anticipated. But the people who died are no doubt important, but by no means the main pivotal characters - Mad-eye, Dobby, Fred, Lupin, Tonks etc.

Sometime back I received a fake 7th potter book (fan-fiction). That author had paid a great deal of attention to every small bit of information that Rowling has provided in her first six books. Plus she (I remember the author is a lady, but not her name). She has also carefully analysed the small clues that Rowling provided about her seventh book. The basic storyline of this fake book is so much like the Actual book (Or should I say the reverse, since the reverse came out first?). In both the books, the horcruxes are the Locket, Ravenclaw's diadem, helga hufflepuff's cup and finally Harry himself. And the person who stole the locket is 'Regalus black', sirius' brother. this has been guessed by so many people in the discussion forums. We just cannot think otherwise. The raven claw's tiara is vaguely specified in HBP to be on a bust in the room of requirements. Both books have placed that exactly in the same place in this book. I'll give more credit only to the author of the fake book. And there are similarities in the retrieval of Hufflepuff cup too. In the fake book, Harry goes to the house of Hufflepuff and goes to someother place through a cupboard and fights a dragon to get the cup. In the original book, the trio steal it from Bellatrix Lestrange's vault in Gringotts and in the process makes use of a dragon to escape.

A special mention should be given to the cup retrieval. For all the hype given about the safety of gringotts, it seems to be childishly simple for Harry, Ron and Hermoine to go in and steal voldermort's most treasured article from one of the most secure and guarded vaults. If this is the case, then I can't imagine, how lax the security will be at ordinary times.

I really liked Dobby's appearance and sacrifice. The author has cleverly used the available options to help Harry come out of difficult situations. Dobby's innocence and unfailing devotion to the person who set it free is really moving. This is to just show the effect of love on a person. We should not think any creature as being lowly and inferior. We should learn to love everything around us.

Hermoine is absolutely brilliant. She compliments the Hot-headed Harry and the emotional Ron very well. Her expert knowledge on the complex charms, quick-thinking abilities are visible throughout the story. The way she led the three of them to safety after Bill's wedding, their escape from the ministry, escape from Lovegood's house etc. But as lovegood says, she has a narrow view. That is why she refused to believe about the hallows.

The hallows themselves are just additions to the plot. They are like a distraction for Voldermort from his main quest of destroying Potter. Gaunt (Voldy's grandpa) mentions that he descended from a Peverell. Then Dumbledore says that Harry is a descendant of Ignotus Peverell, the youngest of Peverell. Voldermort is younger than Dumbledore, but elder than James and Lily. So in a way, Voldy is a very distinct uncle to Harry. :):):) Harry and Voldy are related. I remember that in HBP, Voldy is said to be the descendant of Salazar Slytherin. so that means, Harry is also related to the slytherin line :)

Rowling has taken it in her mind to talk about Dumbledore's past. And to make it interesting, he has portrayed him to have been briefly overcome by desire to rule over the world and dominate the muggles. Isn't this exactly what Voldy is now trying to do? Of course, Dumbledore comes to his senses, mainly due to the death of his sister. Makes an interesting read, but this doesn't seem to make a difference to the story. Anyways, Dumbledore fought Grindelwald and confiscated the Elder wand. So it doesn't matter if they were friends before or not.

And Rowling has done justice to Neville. The poor guy has always had an inferiority complex all through his life and had difficulty coping with his studies. The manner in which he resisted the death-eater shows the warrior in him. And the loyalty he shows towards the end, that makes the Gryffindor sword appear before him and the way he killed Nagini are simply brilliant. But to make this point, Rowling has made Voldy summon the sorting hat and show some tricks. Just like our tamil cinema, where the villain will have the gun and the hero will be unarmed. Inexplicably, the villain will throw the gun off and will say that he doesn't need a gun to finish off the hero. :)

And Rowling is using the Love-protection clause so often in her stories. It has become an overdose. Whenever Harry is face-to-face with Voldermort, some aspect of love comes in and Harry is saved. As bad and filled with hatred Voldermort is, he would've found a way over this. He is not some petty thief to not be able to master over this. And the final duel between Harry and Voldermort is just too simple. This is not a dueling clib match, where Voldermort and Harry fire spells at the same time. Voldermort is an accomplished legilimens and would be able to read Harry's mind within seconds. And he's also skilled in non-verbal spells, whereas Harry is not. He can cause incredible damage just by thinking a spell. For the hype given to him, I felt that he can just obliterate everything and everyone in the great hall.

Rowling has been portraying Harry to be just a school kid with some additional powers bestowed upon him by a sequence of events during his childhood. He does not possess any extra-ordinary magical power. At the same time, she has to show him as a hero matching Voldermort, the greatest wizard of all times. She has handled that really well to some extent. Whenever Harry is stumped, his mediocrity is well complimentede by the brilliance of Hermoine. Even though Harry is the center of the entire book, he does not do everything alone. He is helped by various people . Ron, hermoine (obviously), Aberforth at hogmeade, Luna a couple of times, Snape in delivering Gryffindor sword, griphook in gringotts, narcissa in the forbidden forest, Neville in killing Nagini, Dobby from Malfoy manor and Dumbledore himself from his portrait through Snape, Fred, George, Mad-eye and so on. That is good. Obviously Harry cannot handle this alone. But he handles the final duel with Voldermort to justify him being the hero. But I guess that is the main crux of the story. You need to love people. Harry's love for the people around him, made them rally around him (though the prospect of getting rid of Voldy is another reason), stand up in his defense when Parkinson talks about handing him over to Voldy. Of course, Voldy also had his set of faithful followers. But that was due to fear rather love (except probably Bellatrix. She seems to be totally in love with him).

The handling of Snape is yet another masterpiece from Rowling. And I'm happy that my instinct about this before reading the book had been correct. After saving Potter for so many years, it just didn't make sense that he suddenly switched sides . And simlarly I was right in telling that Dumbledore will help Harry in some way (Though he did not pass on any power as I suspected). But I do not like the prospect of talking portraits. In the earlier books, this looked good - the photos just moving about. But now all the photos are talking, thinking and just behaving as if they are in real world. Just one another way Rowling has used things to explain some part of the story.

It is unfortunate the "Mcgonagall spy" theory didn't come true. But it was fun thinking in that angle. but I myself never believed it. But I feel that she is just a waste of space. For a teacher of her caliber, she has not done anything worth-while in any of the books. This book is no exception. She makes her appearance only towards the end and runs here and there fighting. So did so many others. But did she do anything extra-ordinary. No, Nothing. Many other like Mad-eye, Snape, Trewlany (atleast she gave the prophecy), hagrid made some contibution through the series. Similarly Ginny also didn't have any role. She's like a heroine in Tamil movies who appear just to fall in love with the hero and dance a few duets (Of course, she did have a good role in COS, though she didn't do much even there.)

All these days, Rowling has been saying that some non-magical person will perform magic. But I don't recall anyone like that from this story. I'm not sure if I missed that. If any of you know about this, let me know.

I see a lot of similarities between this and the fake book. In the fake book, Harry will lure voldermort to the ministry of magic and use Avada Kedavra on him. At the same time, he holds the golden snitch and created a horcrux from his soul which effectively rips off Voldy's soul from Harry. In Rowling's book, Harry gets a snitch from Dumbledore, Hermoine researches about the Horcrux and finds out how to create it. But then towards the end, the snitch just opens up to reveal the "resurrection stone". And I really did not see any use for the stone. In what way Sirius, Lupin, James and Lily help Potter when he went into the forbidden forest? They followed him for sometime and he just let the stone slip from his hand and they vanished. Did Rowling originally intend to put the snitch to the same use as in the fake book? But then after reading the fake one, she probably changed her mind. I got this feeling in many places throughout the book. For example, Bill and Fleur marriage is also so similar in both the books.

A review in Time magazine has specified that the "Accio" charm is childishly simple. At one point, they say "Accio Hagrid". Why didnt Voldy get this idea? When there are seven copies of Potter at the beginning, all he should've done is "Accio potter" and the real one would've come zooming to him or atleast struggled against the charm :):):)

I thought that there are only 7 pieces of Voldy's soul. But in this book, it seems that there are eight: Seven horcruxes namely Riddle's diary, Ring, Cup, diadem, Nagaini, Locket and finally harry. Then the last piece of Voldy's soul is with himself. That makes it eight.

We can keep asking lots of questions like this and give zillions of opinions. But we should admit that it is a good piece of work from Rowling. It is not easy to tie all loose ends together and provide some acceptable solution. She has done that job really well. She is a master story-teller.

A few of my predictions / theories have come true - Dumbledore's help, Snape's goodness, Fred/ Lupin's death, Neville's role. Some have gone wrong - Ron/Hermoine's death, Kreacher helping Voldy, Draco's death etc. But on the whole, it doesn't look bad :):):)


Rainbow said...

it was stank.
I didnt like it at all

Raj-Kris said...

Vijay...the book was brilliant. She has explained everything beautifully without leaving anything loose.

There is one thing between Harry and Voldermort that you did not note. It is not that Voldy did not know it was love that was saving Harry, he could not understand it because he had no experience of it and hence was unable to overcome it. Another thing separating Harry and Voldy is the fear of death. By destroying all his horcruxes before the final duel Harry brought out Voldy's fear of death which weakened him considerably in the final duel.

The stuff about wandlore was an interesting read and another reason why Voldy was weakened and could not use the Elder Wand properly.

The use of the resurrection stone just before entering the forest and the sight of his loved dead ones was the thing that removes Harry's final doubts about allowing himself to die. It was crucial that he was fully prepared to die and their presence made it easier.

The bit about Ron coming up with the idea of the Chamber and opening it with an imitation of Harry's parseltongue was a bit far fetched.

I was disappointed Rowling didnt use Ginny..she is skillful and brave and being Harry's love should have had a bigger role.

Harry also gets obsessed with the Hallows just like Dumbledore and just as Ariana's death brought dumby to his senses, dobby's brings Harry to his. Dobby's death and his burial was indeed very touching.

I can keep going on and on and on....but will stop here :)

Overall an amazing last book and wonderful stuff for a movie.

Raj-Kris said...

and it was always 7 Horcruxes...u cannot call wat was left in voldy a it was 7 horcruxes and hence 8 parts of his soul...

BadhriNath said...

wait over. all done and over.

Vijay said...

You make a good point rajiv. But I feel that she has over-used the "Love protection" clause. Things could've been slightly different.

But I agree with you. The book is really good. I liked it.