Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pottermore and the Deathly Hallows

Welcome to the inaugural post on the Best In Fantasy Blog!  The blog was conceived when several friends who are also fantasy authors and I were commiserating over the fact that there are fewer blogs dedicated to fantasy and epic fantasy than there are to say, steam-punk or paranormal romance.  Each week I will be giving a book report on the book that I have read that week.  Each book may be from an established mainstream author such as todays offering, or it could be from a hot new indie author, and there will be guest blogs and occasional double-posts.    I love to talk about my favorite subject!

This week author J.K. Rowling announced the impending arrival of her fansite, Pottermore which is now accepting advanced registrations at http://www.pottermore.com/. The site is still under construction but promises to build an exciting online experience around the reading of the Harry Potter books. With the advent of this announcement and the (at least in my case) excitement over the July 14th release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 it promises to be a big hit.  Here is the link to the bing page with the movie trailers so that you can watch them over and over again as I find myself doing in anticipation of the real thing!  http://binged.it/jticCu .  

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling  http://amzn.to/kcUEkQ   is the final book in the series, and is the book where we meet the adult that the boy Harry Potter has become.  He is still a very young adult, but he is making adult choices and trying desperately to protect the people he loves.  I loved the book and immediately read it twice!  Now I am re-reading it again and it is just as exciting to me as it was the first time I ever read it.  Rowling's characters are masterfully drawn.  They feel like real people and the reader cares about them like they are real people.  That feeling of attachment carries through all the books in the series and the final book in the series is no exception.  For those people who have never read the books and have only seen the movies I will only say that you have missed so much of the story!

The book takes up after Dumbledore’s death. Voldemort has completed his ascension to power and has gained control of the Ministry of Magic. Harry, Ron, and Hermione decide to leave Hogwarts to hunt and destroy Voldemort's remaining horcruxes as Dumbledore had requested. In order to ensure their friends and families' safety they go into hiding. They begin the search despite the fact that they have little knowledge about the remaining horcruxes.   What they do know is that two of them may be objects  that once belonged to Hogwarts founders Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff, and the third may be Nagini, Voldemort's snake familiar. What the objects are and their whereabouts is unknown,  but they are sure that Nagini is with Voldemort. As they search for the Horcruxes, they discover many things about Dumbledore's past; things which are not at all comforting to Harry.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione find the first horcrux, Salazar Slytherin's locket, by sneaking into the Ministry of Magic disguised as employees. Now they must carry it with them until they find a way to destroy it. Under the object's malevolent influence and suffering from the stress of being on the run, Ron abandons the others. A mysterious silver doe, the patronus of an unknown friend leads Harry to the Sword of Godric Gryffindor, which is among the very few objects able to destroy horcruxes.  However, when Harry attempts to recover the sword, the horcrux, which is on a chain about his neck, attempts to kill him. Ron suddenly reappears, saving Harry’s life.  Ron uses the sword to destroy the locket. 

I like the way that Rowling portrays Ron, Hermione and Harry as young adults facing this terrible situation.  They are forced to grow up too fast,  but they rise to the occasion.  They each have strengths and weaknesses that make the story engrossing.  At this point in the tale Harry is a bit of an ass.  Hermione is desperately trying to hold everyone together. Ron's slow crumbling under the weight of the horcrux is absolutely one of the better parts of the tale, and the way that Rowling deals with his insane jealousy is very realistic.  Hermione's complete mystification is so natural, as is Harry's hurt and anger at what he perceives as Ron's unwarranted attitude.  There is a part of them that knows that  the deterioration of their friendship has arisen because of the piece of Voldemorte's soul that is held within the horcrux and that it is the horcrux that is causing Ron's depression and anger, but still they are not able to deal with their own emotions.  I was totally hooked at that point when I first read it, and it is still one of the better sections from my point of view.

Reunited, the three resume their search, and continually encounter a strange symbol, that an eccentric wizard named Xenophilius Lovegood (Luna’s father) tells them is the symbol of the mythical Deathly Hallows. The Hallows are three sacred objects: the Resurrection Stone, with the power to summon the dead to the living world; the Elder Wand, an unbeatable wand; and an infallible Invisibility Cloak  (hmmm…ring any bells?).  Harry discovers that Voldemort is desperately seeking the Elder Wand. He realizes that the evil wizard is unaware of the other Hallows and their significance and is completely ignoring them. Against his friends' better judgement, Harry decides that finding and destroying Voldemort's horcruxes is more important than procuring the Hallows because the destruction of each horcrux weakens him. In a mad adventure, they break into a Death Eater's personal vault at the Wizarding Bank, Gringotts, to recover another horcrux, Helga Hufflepuff's cup.  Harry learns that another horcrux is hidden in Hogwarts. The three find a way to enter the school and a fierce battle ensues, the climax of which finds Harry saving Draco’s life; an act which makes all the difference in the end.
Voldemort and his followers besiege Hogwarts and an all out wizarding war ensues.  Several main characters die in the battle, and each time I read this part I cry over their deaths as if they are my friends. In another deeply moving scene Harry discovers, while viewing the memories of Severus Snape, that Voldemort inadvertently made Harry himself into a horcrux when he attacked him as a baby and that Harry must die to destroy Voldemort. (Snape has always been my favorite character after Harry in this series.) These memories also show to Harry the truth of Professor Snape's unwavering loyalty to Dumbledore and his role as spy in Voldemort's camp.

Harry then fully understands what he must do, and he willingly makes that choice. 
I loved this very dark and thrilling finish to the wonderful series.  It is a book that I will read again and again, and I will push my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren to read it!  When you see the movie you are only seeing the book-report version of the story, and of course it is wonderful, but the real action is inside the book!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - The Story of Snape