Review: Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows

I bought my copy of Harry Potter #7 on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. I completed the book by 10 p.m. the same day. It was a rewarding read, heavily reminiscent of Tolkein’s Return of the King.

The parallels between Potter and The Lord of the Rings have always been there; however, the similarities were highlighted beginning in Book 6 when Harry was given the task of destroying the horcruxes (pieces of Voldermort’s soul contained in magical items like the Diary of Tom Riddle destroyed in The Chamber of Secrets).

Book 7 continues the quest to destroy Voldermort and the horcruxes, and introduces a new set of mysteries called the Deathly Hallows.

The quest to destroy the horcruxes with Harry and his friends detached from the rest of the wizarding world is very similar to the long path taken by Frodo and Sam in Return of the King. The young heroes are alone in a world at war. But are they truly alone? Just as in Return of the King, others are at work helping the fight against evil—and sometimes even those whom we would least expect.

The NY Times review said it best: J. K. Rowling’s monumental, spellbinding epic, 10 years in the making, is deeply rooted in traditional literature and Hollywood sagas — from the Greek myths to Dickens and Tolkien to “Star Wars.” And true to its roots, it ends not with modernist, “Soprano”-esque equivocation, but with good old-fashioned closure: a big-screen, heart-racing, bone-chilling confrontation and an epilogue that clearly lays out people’s fates.

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Rowling sets the stage on the books first pages, before the chapter begins she telegraphs what to expect in the book by quoting Aeschylus’ Libation Bearers (interestingly enough my favorite of the Orestia trilogy). Chorus-like, Rowling lets us know this blood feud will reach finality and like the Greek’s, it intructs us along the way.

Over the last century, English literature has declined. Today there are few authors worth reading, and any list of the greatest works of literature over the last century pales in comparison to prior lists of literature’s greatest. But Rowling has added her name to the pantheon of modern greats—a list which includes Thomas Pynchon and J.R.R. Tolkein—and English literature is richer thanks to her contribution.

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