Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:12-13)
It may seem strange to begin a book review of the last volume in the Harry Potter series with a quote from the Bible. To my mind, however, it makes perfect sense in light of how the meta-narrative that has arced across seven volumes unfolds at the very end of the journey that we have witnessed. In the end, faced with a final battle with Lord Voldemort from which only one of them would emerge, Harry Potter engages with a reality that Voldemort cannot understand.
Love does conquer everything; not power, not immortality, but love.
The preparedness to offer one’s life because of one’s love of others is the true conqueror of death. This reality is something that Harry finally embraces and which Voldemort does not and cannot understand.
The last volume of the series follows Harry Potter, accompanied by his closest friends Ron and Hermione, as they struggle to finish the task that has fallen to them. Significant dangers are facing them, both external and internal. They manage to overcome all those things that could foil them, however, because of the love that binds them together. In the process of the journey, the love of Ron and Hermione is made manifest, and Harry’s love for Ron’s sister, Ginny, is recognised. Harry remains concerned, however, that acknowledging his love for Ginny would place her in mortal danger.
The final battle takes place in Hogwart’s School, the building that has genuinely been Harry’s home for the last seven years. The school itself suffers severe damage in the struggle between good and evil, and we must confront the death of well-loved characters.
In the end, Harry overcomes Voldemort – whom he refers to during the last battle as Tom Riddle – and does so because there is no possibility of Voldemort ever being able to triumph. Voldemort’s full understanding of what is essential, what is vital, is entirely mistaken. When confronted with the love that has been part of Harry’s life since he was only one year old, Voldemort cannot succeed.
Finishing this last volume of the Harry Potter series is akin to saying goodbye to a good friend. These audiobooks have accompanied my driving for many hours. Stephen Fry’s voice, combined with Rowling’s narrative, has entertained me and provoked profound thought and reflection. The characters have become friends (or enemies), and their adventures and journeys have offered insightful commentary on human nature and the ever-present battle between good and evil.
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