Yeah, I know what this blog is about. Consider this a post written about a movie yet to be released.
Warning: Here be spoilers!
First off, I loved the book. Thought it wrapped things up nicely and gave the series a satisfying conclusion. The final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort totally worked. When Harry calls Voldemort by his original name (Riddle) and then responds to the latter’s enraged shout with “Yes, I dare!”, I felt exhilarated. Calling him Voldemort instead of You-Know-Who was one thing, but calling him Riddle meant that Harry had finally gotten the self-confidence to face his nemesis. Harry became a man when he walked to his death a few scenes earlier, but this was the moment that Voldemort realized it.
I was also quite pleased with myself on account of the fact that most of my predictions were on target. Harry being the last Horcrux was more or less universally cracked. But the one that surprisingly few people seemed to have gotten was about Snape: I guessed long ago that Snape betrayed Voldemort because of his love for Lily. The flashback scene in HP5 where James torments him and Lily comes to his rescue was what gave me the idea.
The other reason why I thought so was – believe it or not – Star Wars. Many of these stories have some similar themes. There’s a memorable scene in The Empire Strikes Back, where Darth Vader tells Luke that he is his father. I didn’t think Snape was Harry’s real dad, but him being in love with Lily seemed eminently plausible.
The big surprise, and in some ways a very satisfying one, was the way Dumbledore’s character was developed. Until this book, he had no shades except snowy white. It was interesting to see him as more human, less godlike. This is something where I see a similarity with The Lord of the Rings. A common theme in both books is how people react to having power. Sauron seeks the power in the ring, but is thwarted by Frodo who, as it happens, is tempted by it himself. Voldemort seeks power over death, but so does his arch-enemy Dumbledore.
Finally, the epilogue. For the most part, it’s just a feel-good section that allows you to close the book (and the series) on a happy note. It does, however, have one line that makes it all worthwhile. Just before he boards the train to Hogwarts, Harry’s son Albus turns to him and expresses his fear that he might be sorted into Slytherin.
“Albus Severus,” Harry said quietly, so that nobody but Ginny could hear, and she was tactful enough to pretend to be waving to Rose, who was now on the train, “you were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew.”
I found that line very moving. When Snape dies and Harry receives his memories, the plot is proceeding at a breakneck pace. Yet, since it is so important, everything halts until Harry understands what really happened. But this chapter turns out to be a double whammy, since it reveals both Snape’s true nature and the fact that Harry is a Horcrux. Besides, once the revelations are done, Harry (and therefore the reader) only has enough time to process them and figure out what to do next.
It is only after everything is over that he has the time to reflect upon what he knew of Snape in the last seven years, and how little he understood. So, when he calls Snape as “the bravest man (he) ever knew”, you feel like Harry has finally achieved closure in one of his most important relationships.