I ordered this book from Amazon Japan, and it arrived on the day of release. The packaging had a sticker on saying “Deliver after 8:01 am on July 21st”, so that it would be after midnight London time, but it didn’t reach me until about 1pm. This is clearly discrimination.
I did still manage to finish it on the day of release, and thus avoid spoilers, but that didn’t leave time to write about it. And then there’s a backlog of book comments to post to my blog, so it got held up more.
The downside is that I don’t get to look like a cutting-edge opinion former, posting my review almost as soon as the book hits the streets.
On the bright side, that reduces the chance of my blog spoiling it from someone who really wants to read it. By this point, I suspect that most people who really want to find out how the series finishes by reading the book have done so, and can’t have it spoiled for them. Still, there might be a few left, and on the off chance that they are reading my blog, I’ll hide the actual spoilers from the front page.
So, if you click to read more, you will find out what happened. You Have Been Warned.
Right, so what did I think of it? I think it was better paced than Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and definitely up to the standards of the series as a whole. Over all, it was a worthy end to the series, and did a pretty good job of wrapping up the plot threads.
Among the things I thought were done well were Voldemort’s miscalculations. He made errors because he was arrogant, not because he was stupid. They are generally plausible errors for someone with his faults; if house elves are beneath notice, then of course they can’t do things that wizards can’t. This is important, because if the villain has no flaws at all, he wins. On the other hand, if he is stupid, you get ridiculous situations.
I was pleased to see that I was right about Harry being a Horcrux, and about Snape being on the side of good all along. Mind you, “Snape is not a villain” had been set up from the first book; he was misjudged there, and set up to be misjudged later on. Of course, he’s not nice, and bore a great deal of displaced resentment towards Harry’s father, but that’s also good; it’s good that the people on the right side are not all nice people.
Oh, I was also right about the final romantic pairings, but J. K. Rowling has said that she thought she was signalling those really, really obviously, and I agree.
I’m still less convinced about Harry surviving, and particularly about the conversation with Dumbledore in Chapter 35. If dead is dead, that really shouldn’t be possible. The Dumbledore Harry talks to knows things that Harry didn’t, which means he can’t just be an illusion. The intelligence and planning ability revealed by Dumbledore’s portrait in Snape’s memories are slightly worrying as well. It’s also not clear how the Death Curse could just kill the bit of Voldemort in Harry, and not Harry.
Actually, the last point could be explained. Dumbledore thought that it was vital that Voldemort kill Harry himself, which suggests that it might be something to do with the link changing the magic. The explanation in chapter thirty five is not fully convincing, though.
So, the way in which she kept Harry alive does not completely convince me, but it also does not feel like a blatant fix, which is good.
So, a good end to a good series. Rowling has been incredibly lucky with the popularity, but I can’t begrudge it to her; the books are good, and thus not at all a bad choice for “most popular fiction series ever”.