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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Full Review
Audiobooks - Harry Potter Audio Book

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Full Review

by JK Rowling

The Harry Potter series reaches its climax with a dark, sinister shadow cast over the future of England. There is no point in pretending that Deathly Hallows, with all its torture, scenes of humiliation, death, and destruction is a pleasant read. Anything but. But in many ways it is the finest of the Harry Potter novels.

The style of writing is brave, ambitious. In substance, the plot is equally daring.

There are problems too. A very unfortunate use of the pensieve - a magical memory device - to resolve certain aspects of the plot, and which amounts to little more than a series of poorly constructed flashbacks.

And even more problematic, the chapter King's Cross - a surreal confessional scene that stands out as being unquestionably the worst chapter in the series. The narrative style here is mechanistic, lacking in emotional intensity and is an unconvincing way to resolve certain important plot lines and even more unforgivably to prepare the reader for the conclusion to the novel.

That said what remains of the novel is impressive. There is not one main storyline, but three. Each intricately interwoven with the others: the two stories of two individuals seeking to fulfill the same prophecy and the story of the quest for the Deathly Hallows - objects that provide the possessor with the means to worse Death.

This is as much a novel about Albus Dumbledore's life story, as it is about Harry Potter's quest. It is a story that links Dumbledore and Potter and the Dark Lord, Voldemort in a quite unexpected fashion - each responding very differently to the same temptation; each motivated in the same quest for immortality by quite different instincts.

The quest for the Deathly Hallows is perhaps the most intriguing of the developments in this novel and whilst being the basis of the novel's ingenious title - it is one that is not really fully explored in the story.

When Potter is presented with temptation he responds quite differently from either Dumbledore or Voldemort, both of whom pay a price for their greed.

Potter is not tempted to seek immortality for his own sake, but for the sake of what it may permit him. For the sake of the task he must complete...

Let Potter fail in that task, and Voldemort may exercise an eternal reign of terror over all the country - and perhaps over all the world.

Neither can live while the other survives. Voldemort must perish if Potter is to survive. Is that the meaning of the prophecy? Does the prophecy indeed hold any truth?

Voldemort believes in the prophecy and is driven by it. Consequently, he losses to some extent his freedom of will: he acts as a robot might. But robots respond to clear and unambiguous instruction. The prophecy is anything but clear and unambiguous; nonetheless, casually Voldemort destroys lives as he seeks its fulfillment.

By his very actions - actions that cry out for a response - he makes the prophecy come alive, and its fulfillment as much a concern for others as it is for himself.

Dumbledore's motivations are revealed in the novel to be something complex and in spite of the attempt to clear up some of these question marks in the awful King's Cross chapter, there is still a profound air of mystery about the Hogwarts stalwart even as the novel concludes.

Severus Snape's story achieves some resolution in the clumsy pensieve scene referred to earlier. Here the closure is more complete but in spite of some access into the workings of Snape's mind, there remains an even greater sense of mystery and wonder about his actions than in the case of Dumbledore. Snape is a character with whom the reader is not intended to relate emotionally.

The aspect of Rowling's writing that works best here is the curious narrative style that allows Voldemort's latest quest - a quest that ties in with Potter's quest for the Deathly Hallows - to be presented right alongside Potter's own storyline.

This is done through the curious connection of mind that Potter shares with Voldemort. The effect, somewhat paradoxically, is to bring an immediacy to Voldemort's actions that a change in point-of-view could not achieve.

Potter's sudden, swooping insights into Voldemort's activities provide the story with a fresh momentum resulting from the simple fact that Potter must react to these insights the moment he sees them - this may mean changing his own schemes, trying to assess Voldemort's motivations, or trying to convince his critical ally, Hermione that he is not foolish to give weight to these possibly dangerous visions.

The second and perhaps more important impact of these insights is to provide the reader with an opportunity to contrast the wide differences in Potter's and Voldemort's personalities.

Potter is presented with discoveries that must surely challenge his most firmly held beliefs, sap his courage and emotional strength and challenge his very balance of mind. He responds with determination, self-believe and resourcefulness and not a little compassion.

Voldemort's responses on the other hand suggest that he lacks equilibrium of mind, ability to trust, and ability to live with disappointment. He lacks compassion. In short Voldemort lacks that which must be evident in a true leader.

Potter is also more capable of withstanding temptation than Voldemort. The lure of immortality does not destabilize him: the quest for immortality consumes Voldemort. In spite of Potter's not infrequent rashness, when this one great temptation is dangled in front of him, he is able to take a step back and to see the matter in it's proper perspective.

Perhaps the understanding that his mother embraced death that he might live plays a role in his thinking on this matter. The title of the novel is, after all, very well chosen.

Bloomsbury Publishing

Unabridged Audio CD Edition – 2007

Read by Stephen Fry

Litrev Rating

Overall 5______

Suspense 5______
Characters 5______
Plot 5______
Audio 5______
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Audiobook

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Full Review
Audiobooks - Harry Potter Audio Book


"It is impossible to manufacture or imitate love. No, this will simply cause a powerful infatuation or obsession. It is probably the most dangerous and powerful potion in this room. Oh yes!”, he said nodding gravely at Malfoy and Nott both of whom were smirking skeptically. “When you have seen as much of life as I have, you will not underestimate the power of obsessive love.”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Bloomsbury Publishing
Read by Stephen Fry
Unabridged CD Edition, 2005

JK Rowling

This is the sixth novel in the Harry Potter series and it consists of three main storylines involving Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy - Harry Potter's least favourite teacher and fellow student at Hogwarts, Horace Slughorn - a dapper professor returning to Hogwarts and Lord Voldemort, whose past existence as Tom Riddle is explored in some detail.

It is curious that whilst this novel ties in well with the rest of the series, the various storylines in this novel touch only at various points. The novel lacks an overall theme but the question of Snape's true allegiance is the most convincing candidate.

The most interesting storyline however is that of Horace Slughorn - an acquaintance of Professor Dumbledore. Slughorn is a rather grand figure who's sumptious existence has been turned upside down by the return of the Dark Lord.

A very social creature, he is nonetheless somewhat self-centred and has developed a justified paranoia: he is obsessively concerned for his own safety. But his paranoia produces behaviour more bizarre than the more utilitarian "constant vigilance" of Mad-Eye Moody, who, like Slughorn, has some cause to fear every knock at the door.

It is with reluctance that Slughorn joins the staff at Hogwarts - and in seeking him out, Dumbledore is not averse to using Harry Potter to achieve the desired outcome.

Once at Hogwarts Slughorn relaxes and flourishes and is an impressive teacher. But Slughorn is a man with a deeply troubling past and is a haunted man. Haunted by his own memories.

And it is at Hogwarts that the reason for Slughorn's constant fear finally becomes evident: a past as troubling for Slughorn as surely it must be for the many professors who tutored, nurtured and encouraged Tom Riddle, considering him a model student.

The novel explores in some detail the history of the young Voldemort and this - in spite of the fragmented nature of these explorations - is one of the more successful features of the novel.

The novel also encompasses several romantic attachments between some of the students and whilst this provides some relief from the darker themes, the romances are in the main superficial and make for uncaptivating reading.

The most interesting relationship in the novel is that between Potter and Dumbledore. After some shaky ground in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the relationship here gains in intensity and in trust.

But when the two achieve their greatest intensity it is not in a meeting of minds, but in Dumbledore's fierce attempt to persuade Harry that in spite of all that has passed, he - Potter - has a free will and doesn't have to accept unquestioningly every word of the prophecy. And equally in an impassioned and increasingly desperate attempt by Harry to convince his mentor that trusting Professor Snape is a mistake.

The novel reiterates the theme of the power of love and brings fresh emphasis on the value to Harry of his mother's sacrifice. But in spite of some pretty good passages, it fails to maintain the suspense and mystery found in previous books and one of the most interesting characters in the series, Severus Snape, appears less complex and less enigmatic by the end of the story, and the story suffers greatly because of this.

Litrev Rating

Overall 3______

Suspense 4______
Characters 3______
Plot 3______
Audio 4______

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