Without Spoiling the Surprise: Harry Potter #7
Both as someone who loves a good yarn and someone who writes regularly about ethics both in my blog and in my award-winning sixth book, Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First, I want to talk for a minute about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
There’s so much I could say about this latest (and final) Harry Potter book–but it’s a challenge to find things to say that won’t mess it up for those who haven’t read it yet. I think I’ve succeeded.
Let me put my bias on the table first: I enjoy the HP books so much that we’ve given copies of Book #1 to several of our childless friends. I believe all of them have gone on to read the others, in order (and for these books, in chronological order is the only sensible way to read them). Also, I’m extremely grateful to J.K. Rowling for creating an entire generation of book readers in an era where that didn’t seem at all likely. Yet, there are places in some of the other books where I felt 50 or 100 pages could have easily been cut.
In spite of its length, I don’t feel that way about #7. In fact, the drama is so intense, so early, and continues with so little down time that I almost wish for a bit more filler. It’s a very fast read.
As a writer about ethics, I’ve long been fascinated with Rowling’s take on the nature of good and evil (and that of other writers in the genre, particularly Phillip Pullman, whose His Dark Materials series is every bit as masterful). In this book, she goes much, much deeper on that front, with lots of surprises. Several characters turn out to have a lot more depth than we thought, and Harry himself has to make a choice unlike any he has faced before. And the events following that choice just feel so right!
One flaw, though, is the number of gratuitous characters she’s introducing. It’s a lot to keep track of, and several have only cameo roles. Another flaw is that the trail of corpses leaves some of the deaths without justification or even description, and no time to grieve and remember them before plunging into the next round.
Still, these are minor. Rowling, not only a master storyteller but incredibly well-informed about mythology from many cultures, has long ago earned a special place in literature, and this book proves her mastery. She deserves every good thing that has happened in her life.