The Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33: The Half-Good Prince

I pre-ordered my copy of Deathly Hallows, thinking I was being smart because it would be delivered a bit early and I’d get the jump on everyone. I was already planning on staying away from the internet until I’d finished it, for fear of spoilers, and this was six years ago. Can you imagine the spoilers you’d have to avoid if it came out now? Impossible. I can’t even watch a TV show with any sort of delay without being spoiled while innocently scrolling through Facebook.

Because I am me, I somehow missed the delivery, even though I’d been home all morning, practically glued to the window in anticipation. I found a “sorry I missed you” note on the front door from the mailman, stating that he’d left my package in the apartment complex office. I sprinted to the office, but, alas…just as I got there, I saw the leasing agent driving away on a golf cart. My Harry Potter dreams were dashed before my eyes.

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Chapter 32: That Which Lies At The End of the Path

Goodness. This is my last post. That’s sad. And exciting. Because it means the archive is coming and the archive will persist. It’s not the end, though (it’s never the end!) because we still have that wrapup post coming OOPS SPOILERS.

Today, again, I only get to discuss one chapter, though. So let’s see if we can pull it all together and make something that’s truly magical. I shall miss everyone’s many and varied thoughts that are many and varied. It’s been a real wonder to go back and look at this series again and see how well it holds up, because it does hold up and hold up well. And stuff like that. Also critical brain being critical still loves this series. Possibly more.

To start this, I should mention, I suppose, how I read this book, because it was most peculiar.

I started around two in the morning because Borders was a total madhouse. Got home, started reading. Read for maybe three hours and passed out around five (as I am wont to do). It was only going to be a nap. I had plans to wake up at seven in the morning so I could finish in time for a work/errand thing I had to do at 5:30 later that day. The plan was to be done by the work/errand so I could worry about work.

Surprise surprise, I overslept (probably woke up around nine), realized that I wouldn’t have had time to finish before the work/errand, and spent the rest of the day not speeding through it, but taking my time. I didn’t STOP reading, of course. But I took my time. I even got a text message at seven thirty in the morning from my best friend saying she’d finished and she didn’t cry (fascist).

I read all day. And when I had to stop to go to work, I looked at how long the next chapter was (it was pretty long) and closed the book. Went to the work/errand (thinking about where I had stopped) and hurried back soon as I was done with the work/errand so I could finish. Which, for the record, was me alone in my childhood home, crying, sobbing, and screaming at the events that unfolded in the very next chapter. It was, to my recollection, the hardest I have ever cried at anything and is still the hardest I have ever cried at anything.

And the chapter that I ended on? When I closed the book for the first time that day and went off to go do my work/errand? The hour or so long break I had between chapters?

Guess what that chapter was. Continue reading

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The Deathly Hallows, Chapter 31: Goodbye, Fred Weasley

I’ve only been to one midnight release of Harry Potter, and this was the one. I left that Barnes & Noble feeling both excited and a little sad. In just a little while I would be turning new pages for the last time. Sure, there’s always rereads, and sometimes I even forget things and can be surprised again. But that initial reaction as you read a book for the first time is so special. After hanging out with my friends in glow-in-the-dark Harry Potter glasses, taking covert pictures of the guy dressed up as Hedwig, and grabbing my precious book, I promised myself one chapter before going to bed. The next morning felt like Christmas: I set my alarm for 6am and had set aside the entire day for reading. I’d had this planned right down to food and work schedule. And apparently this was back when I only needed a couple hours of sleep to function? Ah, to be twenty-one!

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Honestly, I’m surprised that I didn’t cry through the entire thing, but I remember being so emotionally drained by the end. I’d had this decade-long relationship with these characters and here was the end of our journey together. I’m sure it doesn’t help that I’m an incredibly sentimental person who hates endings, whether in books, TV shows, or life, but reading this book felt so important and so devastating.

Anyway, thank God I’ve only got ONE chapter this time, because this one is a doozy. It’s enormous. Everything happens and it’s simultaneously thrilling and soul-smashing.

So, please forgive me for the following. I’m late and not so great at action scenes. Plus, the end of this chapter just hurts.

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The Deathly Hallows, Chapter 30: Minerva McGonagall, HBIC

Act 1, you put the hero up a tree. Act 2, you set the tree on fire. Act 3, you get him down.

This is the basic storytelling structure that was explained to me a few years ago, and while I’ve had a fair amount of instruction in narrative writing in my life, this is the one that stuck in my mind the most.

Sometimes I think that our generation’s childhood1 was the best childhood because the late 80s and early-to-mid 90s had some of the best stories for us to choose from. The first Disney Renaissance began in 1989 with The Little Mermaid, and in 1992 we had Batman: The Animated Series. 1994 gave us two great seasons of Gargoyles, Toy Story started our Pixar craze in 1995, and Animorphs came around in 1996.

What’s the common denominator here? These were stories and franchises that not only knew how to captivate their target demographic of school-age children but also understood the fact that kids could handle deep storylines, dark situations, and disturbing connotations.

I mean, let’s take a look at Animorphs. Much like Harry Potter, it begins with a homicide. The books are mostly light-hearted romps in which the kids experience the joys of being animals, but they never let us forget that War was happening. People die. They kill people, they watch people die. They see loved ones be enslaved before their very eyes. They even explore how animals aren’t just cute and cuddly. One of the most resonant lines from one of the Cassie books goes something like, “And then I knew that the color of nature wasn’t green. It was red. Blood red.”

I re-read the entire series just a couple years ago, and it holds up surprisingly well. A lot of the references are dated (which the reprints tried to update to varying success) and the descriptions are very 90s and colorful, but the message holds even more true today, as we grew up into a world where war really was real, and just around the corner. The series ended right around 9/11, and the U.S. went into rally-and-response mode, which we’re still feeling the effects of even now.

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The Deathly Hallows, Chapters 28-29: Exposition and Emotions

I made the mistake of finishing the rest of Deathly Hallows before writing this, so bear with me if this is more of a reflection of the book and series as a whole instead of focusing on these two chapters exclusively.

Which isn’t to say that they’re not important, because they most definitely are; but it’s a lot of exposition and pieces falling into place instead of some more “iconic” chapters that follow them.  But no epic is complete without its sections of exposition, and I think it’s pretty well done anyway, so I honestly don’t mind too much, because the quality of your set-up and rising action is so important to the weight of your climax; you have to answer some questions brought up earlier on before pushing forward.

For all its controversy post-finale, these chapters—and honestly the book and series as a whole—remind me a lot of LOST.  Now, I know that’s a really loaded statement, and I don’t think I can really properly describe it, but there’s this scope to both stories that really strikes me as very similar in both set up and execution.  Especially here, in these chapters, it reminds me of how we really get some (but not all!) answers and a sort of excitable calm before the storm of the inevitable clash of forces in the finale.

(Which is a compliment in my mind, but your mileage may vary.)

Anyway.  Onward.

CHAPTER 28: THE MISSING MIRROR

Having only read this book once over the span of less than 24 hours on the day of its release, I’ve really enjoyed coming back to this one immensely.  Since I finished the series initially, I’ve said that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is my favorite of the seven, though I think upon this revisitation I’ve changed my mind.  I definitely think this is the best-written of the books, Rowling’s magnum-opus as it were, but I’m still super partial to Goblet of Fire, in all honesty.

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