I’m in a state of heroine worship with JK Rowling right now. As demonstrated by the dedication at the beginning of the book, JK loves her readers, making her one of the few people in the world that deserves to be that rich.

So, some quick thoughts after finishing on Sunday.

The ending was inspired; as JK said on the Today Show, we went into book 7 thinking Harry might die, and if not Harry, Ron or Hermione. But she backs up his survival of the impossible with three solid pieces of wizarding logic: he was ready to die and that willingness was a charm; he was an inadvertent horcrux, so it was a piece of Voldemort’s soul that was destroyed by the first killing curse; and he had vanquished the true master of the Elder Wand, thus surviving the second.

I liked that any success or escape came at a real price. They get in and out of the ministry with the horcrux locket, but Yaxley ends up at Grimmauld Place meaning they lose their safe house AND Ron is splinched. They have an incredible escape from Malfoy Manor with Luna and Ollivander (and, it turns out later, had a critical moment of triumph over Draco), but Dobby dies. They rob Gringotts! But lose Grynffindor’s sword. And of course George loses an ear, Hedwig dies, and Mad Eye is slain in the first 100 pages. Not to mention the many who fall in the Battle of Hogwarts.

I’m stunned by the complex tapestry she’s woven through seven books. Seemingly unrelated events from earlier books turn out to be lynchpins of the ending. And the information she reveals in abundance through Snape’s captured thoughts and other means felt plausible and not some bad pulling back of the curtain at the end of a magic show. How could Snape’s unbreakable vow be reconciled with his possible redemption? Well, Dumbledore was already dying. The magical logic holds throughout…the taboo placed on any who says “Voldemort,” the flesh memory of the snitch and how Harry first caught it, the restrictions on floos and portkeys…at every turn wizards on both sides make logical moves to control and defeat their opponents. And of course the Patronus is taken to new levels.

The politics are solid. We are horrified by ethnic segregation and the Dark Lord’s version of a holocaust. Those who stand and fight are in constant danger and people have to suffer or betray their friends and neighbors. We have a resistance movement that even has its own liberation radio! And JK demonstrates a continuing (somewhat Scottish) suspicion of government and media.

And in the personal realm, Harry is always human. He fears failure, he doubts his leadership and abilities, he resents Dumbledore, and his personal desires put him in danger. A key to Harry’s character is of course his choice of spells—he chooses stunning, disarming, and shield charms over the unforgivable curses as far as possible. And as for Voldemort … that’s a thesis in itself.

So, I am barely scratching the surface and haven’t even started on the layers of interpretation the book invites, but I declare my self extremely satisfied. A good story is a truly magical thing. Agreed?


  1. agreed.

    i laughed out loud at your ability to stitch all these spoilers together in a satisfying summary of why the finale was so satisfying. and you did it in a few paragraphs, whereas the 7th book’s conclusion was a full 200 pages! (i kept saying, “i’m almost done!” and i’d still have 100 pages to go.)

    i flew through this one so fast that i want to go back and read 5, 6, and 7 again. 5 and 6 were a little disappointing for me because they weren’t very self-contained. they kept driving us to a conclusion that was still years away from being published. now that they’re all out, it may be more satisfying to return to the last few, where the big picture plot line really kicks in.

    my favorite bit about the finale was the return of the sword of gryffindor and neville’s triumph over nagini, notwithstanding the flaming sorting hat.

    what to make of dumbledore’s weaknesses? did that aspect seem convincing to others?

    great spoiler post, shar. i hope pandora’s already done reading …

  2. Robyn says:

    AGREED x 10000.

    (For some reason right after I finished the book my mum started telling me about the bad reviews she read on amazon.com. I don’t know why…was she trying to destroy my view of the book? Um. THNX MOM, didn’t work. I’m reading the book over again.)

    Also, you summed up everything freakishly well. I felt bad when I got USED to characters dying left and right after a while, but it only made sense. …Although I did make a funny internal sound when Hedwig was blown to bits. “Damn, that was quick.”

    You may have heard this already since it’s from the Today Show, but here’s an article with more details about what happens after the end of the book. I need mooore.

  3. Rachel says:



    …But I look forward to when I can join the conversation.

  4. boo hoo says:

    i’m just a widdle girl and i did looked up harry potter on the innernet and seed your story. you told me who died!!!@@ Oh no. me so sad.

  5. HughC says:

    The best thing I’ve read on this is at In Medias Res: http://tinyurl.com/ysmezj .


  6. Stella says:

    HC – Thanks for sharing that review. I liked his insistance that Harry should have had a last showdown with the dead Snape via the resurrection stone…I think that would be too much of a final humiliation for the deeply humiliated Snape, but it’s a great fantasy.

  7. #5 — funny. that blog’s written by someone i knew in college & haven’t really kept up with. i’m not sure if that’s coincidental or if you’re representative of some demographic link between this site and his.

    i thought snape wound up just right. the names of harry’s children were a little cheesy, but i think “albus severus” clinched it for me, along with harry’s comment to the kid that snape was the bravest person he’d ever known.

  8. PB says:

    #1 no worries – finished July 23rd at 2:30 a.m.
    Ditto all Stella.