Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Magill's Literary Annual 2008)
In the art of magic, seven is a sacred, mystical number, which symbolizes perfection and completion. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh novel released in the seventh month of 2007, J. K. Rowling concludes her monumental series, and her main character, Harry Potter, completes his task of ridding the wizarding world of Lord Voldemort and his followers.
More than the six previous Potter novels put together, this volume sparked a firestorm of discussion in the media and online about what would become of “The Boy Who Lived” and his cohorts. Prepublication rumors ran rampant in the press, and spoilers, both accurate and fraudulent, abounded on the Internet. The publisher alternately tried to take advantage of the hype to aggressively market the book and, at the same time, keep a lid on false yet tantalizing revelations concerning the plot on blogs and in chat rooms. Such tight security surrounded the publication that even reviewers had a difficult time obtaining advance copies of the embargoed novel. Meanwhile, at the witching hour on July 21, eager readers camped out in front of bookstores worldwide in order to make sure they secured their copies.
Expectations for the book were unquestionably high. Throughout the series, Rowling proves to be a masterful storyteller who carefully lays the groundwork leading up to the grand climax in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. When Harry is first introduced in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997; published inthe United States as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, 1998), he is an abused eleven-year-old orphan who discovers he is a wizard. When he enters Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he is targeted for death by Lord Voldemort, a renegade dark wizard who has murdered Harry’s parents. Harry also learns that not everything is as it seems. At the heart of each book is a mystery that Harry must solve in order to uncover more about his identity, his relationship to Voldemort, and his mission. Often, Harry misjudges situations, as well as people. For example, in Sorcerer’s Stone, he believes Severus Snape, the duplicitous Potions (later Defense Against the Dark Arts) teacher, has set his sights on the stone, which confers immortality on its owner. Harry believes Draco Malfoy is the heir to Slytherin in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), and in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999) Harry is sure that escaped prisoner Sirius Black betrayed his parents to Voldemort and is set on killing him, too. Similar mysteries occupy Harry in succeeding books. In each case, Harry not only perceives that many of his first impressions are wrong but also learns from his mistakes. His realizations lead him to a fuller knowledge of his own history and purpose.
As Harry journeys from boy to man, the plot of each successive novel grows darker, the behavior of some characters becomes more baffling, and new questions are posed while existing mysteries deepen. Finally, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the enigmas Rowling has so carefully developed in the previous six books crystallize into five key questions: Who will live and who will die? Is Snape good or evil? Is Albus Dumbledore really dead after Snape apparently murders him? Is Harry a horcrux, host to one of the fragments of the Dark Lord’s soul? Will the two couplesRon and Hermione and Harry and Ginnyever get together? Book seven poses three more questions: What are the deathly hallows, where are they, and where are the horcruxes? As obsessed readers combed the first six books for clues in the run-up to publication of the final volume, they no doubt expected that Rowling would tie up loose ends. She does just that, but perhaps not in the way her fans anticipated.
Rowling once commented that she views Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as two halves of a whole, and the final book does indeed read less like a stand-alone novel and more like a continuation of the sixth book. At the close of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore lies in his white tomb on the grounds of Hogwarts, Snape has become headmaster under the watchful eye of Voldemort, and Harry mentally and emotionally prepares to confront Voldemort in a life-and-death battle.
Two quests confront Harry and his friends, Ron and Hermione, who choose to accompany him on his mission: the...
(The entire section is 1883 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2008)
Entertainment Weekly, no. 948 (August 17, 2007): 30-34.
Horn Book Magazine 83, no. 5 (September/October, 2007): 551-553.
Kirkus Reviews 75, no. 16 (August 15, 2007): 810.
The New York Review of Books 54, no. 14 (September 27, 2007): 32-35.
The New York Times Book Review 156 (August 12, 2007): 1-11.
Newsweek 150, no. 5 (July 30, 2007): 60.
Publishers Weekly 254, no. 30 (July 30, 2007): 83.
Weekly Standard 12, no. 45 (August 13, 2007): 35-37.