Tag Archives: Harry Potter

The Deathly Hallows, Chapters 34-35: Valar Morghulis

So I’m just straight up going to tell you that when I went to start my post for these chapters — almost two weeks ago — I panicked. Utterly.

It seemed like such a great idea six months ago to assign myself two of my favorite chapters in the entire series, the chapters that probably mean the most to me personally, and the chapters that cemented my love for this series not just because they represent the beginning of the end of something that I love, but because they hit me in a place I normally hide even from myself. And they hit me there hard.

I also questioned my decision to put these chapters together (a decision I made more than six months ago), but when I remembered that I had done so because both are pretty short, it made sense. Unfortunately for Present Ashley, Past Ashley wasn’t thinking through the emotional implications, and Present Ashley is having to deal with the fallout.

All that is to say: bear with me if I start blathering.

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In many ways, the internet is a wonderful place. But it’s also a very large place. When I went looking for a couple of interviews I’d read or seen with JK Rowling in order to properly write this post, I couldn’t find them. Not even evidence that they ever really existed anywhere except my head. So I guess you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you these things (and as Dumbledore says in the next chapter, just because it’s in my head, why on earth should that mean it’s not real?).

When I first started reading Harry Potter back in 1999, I was drawn to it against my will, and once I was in — sucked into that very special imaginary place only really great books can bring you, where you actually and truly forget that what you’re reading is not real, forget that you’re even reading in the first place — I never really questioned the experience. It was only years later when I was called upon to put into words just exactly WHY I had taken this story so far inside of myself that I’d essentially spliced it into my DNA that I realized I didn’t actually know why it was that this story about an orphaned boy who discovers he’s a wizard was so important to me. I’m the kind of person who takes stories way more seriously than most people to begin with, but my feelings for this story a kindhearted and sassy British woman thousands of miles away pulled out of her mind are seriously beyond the pale. And it’s really a hard thing to express to someone, that kind of love that is so strong it turns the thing being loved into something else, something that can’t really be expressed, but begs you to try anyway.

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The Deathly Hallows, 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, 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.


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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The Deathly Hallows, Chapters 24-25: Goodbye To You

I have a confession to make. This is only my second time ever reading this book cover to cover. I was born in the golden year to be an American Harry Potter fan: 1987. When the first book came out, I was eleven years old. I was Harry Potter. Or I could have been, if my stupid letter hadn’t gotten lost in the mail. The first three books came out annually and I waited for them eagerly, I grew up with the Trio, I worshipped Hermione. The thrice-as-long wait for the fourth book nearly killed me, but I gobbled that one right up, too. It was like coming home to old friends. But by the time the fifth book came out, I was older. More importantly, my peers were older. And meaner. Dumbledore’s death was spoiled for me and I wanted no part in it. I decided to let the series live on with only my happy memories. By the time the last book came out, I was in college, and over my stubborn refusal. I vowed to go back and read the whole series, start to finish like it’s meant to be read, but college and grad school and boring Muggle stuff got in the way, and I just never got around to it. I still quoted it and referenced it and loved it with all my heart, I just didn’t know it in its totality. Since I wanted to do it right, I never watched any of the movies past the fourth, not wanting it to spoil the reading experience I was still determined to have. So when my friend invited me to go to the midnight premiere of Deathly Hallows: Part Two, the summer after I finished grad school, I knew the timing was right. I read all of the books and watched all of the movies in less than two months, and made it to the midnight showing with the Deathly Hallows symbol inked (temporarily) on my arm.

But, as I said, this is only my second time reading this book cover to cover. I’ve read snippets here and there. Picked up the book to move it and engulfed a chapter or two on the walk from a shelf to a box. Read quotes and theories and discussions. But never really re-read it. And goodness gracious it is SAD. Sadder than the first time around, because you know their fate, even though they don’t. “When I get married,” said Fred… that’s all it took. My heart shattered. SHATTERED. And it just kept shattering over and over and over.

Anyway, as I believe I mentioned in one of my first posts here, before Harry Potter, I never really understood why people would reread books (there are so many NEW books to read!) but these…these I totally understand. And I can’t wait for next year’s reread.

Enough blabbering. We’ve got things to discuss. Sad things and complicated things and happy things and scary things. The end of one life and the beginning of another.

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The Deathly Hallows, Chapters 18-19: We Finish Each Other’s Sandwiches

Grad school has consumed my life this semester and my Spring Break vacation has effectively canceled out my motivation to do anything, even if it is something I enjoy. Because of this, the time difference, and the fact that my motion sickness meds turn me into a zombie, my post is late. My apologies.


I tend to procrastinate things when I don’t want them to end. I am known for not watching the finale of a TV show or season just to stretch it out a little bit longer. You don’t want to know how long I didn’t watch the demise of David Tennant’s Doctor. Let’s just say Matt Smith was firmly established as The Doctor before I finally gave in. I also did this with the latest series of Sherlock, refusing to watch the last episode. When asked how I avoid spoilers, my answer is a resounding “Ha! You think I have time to get on the internet these days? Or watch TV, for that matter?” I have never been one to frequent any sort of blog, website, or tumblr feed that would post spoilers anyway, so there are no worries. Also, I have vehemently shushed friends who tried talking about it in my presence before it even aired in the US. So not ok. But, I digress. Please, no one spoil it. I promise I will watch soon.

Because of all this, I have procrastinated my re-read and my writing of this post. I do not want us to be blogging the last book. It feels like Harry Potter is ending all over again, which was basically the worst thing ever to happen to me, literarily speaking.

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