Rowling and ‘Deathly Hallows’: A Master Author and a Masterpiece

OK, for starters no spoilers here. If you are reading this article, that means you have at least a passing interest in the Harry Potter series, and that means you must read “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”. Of course, millions of Potter fans are doing that right now, but my point for here is that if you enjoy good fiction, you will want to be able to point back and say ‘oh yes, I knew Rowling was that good, and of course I have read her work’, because the Potter tales will be taught as classic Literature. Rowling herself may well be too modest to claim her spot in that pantheon, but I assure you she has bought that seat.

The effect that Rowling has had on the interest in reading has been noted many places before, and the popularity of her books is self-evident. But what makes the Potter stories so worthwhile, is not just a good yarn, say on the level of a Stephen King or a John Grisham thriller, but the way Rowling has layered her stories. I just finished the first reading of ‘Deathly Hallows’, but from experience with her books I noted many places where I know that I will discover new facets on the subsequent readings. There is a depth to her characters, and to her backstories, which makes the story, well, more than a story.

Another thing which works well for ‘Deathly Hallows’, is how well Rowling set up her finale. Not many people have considered the difficult position Rowling was in for the last several years. Unlike some authors, Rowling continued to give detailed interviews and make public appearances, answering questions and even maintaining a website about her stories. With all that, there was a great deal of information which fed speculation, much of which has been proven accurate in past books. Rowling herself has said that she likes the idea of the reader discovering things for themselves, which is to say that she takes pleasure in readers being able to anticipate plot developments – up to a point. After all, the Potter stories are a kind of thriller, and there’s no sense spoiling the ending or any of the really good mysteries:

Will Harry live or die? What about his best friends Ron and Hermione?

Did Albus Dumbledore really die from an ‘Avada Kedavra’ spell?

Will Harry get back together romantically with Ginny?

It’s pretty much clear that Harry will defeat Voldemort. How in the world will that happen?

What are the unknown horcruxes, and how many of them are there?

Is Severus Snape good, evil, or something else?

… and dozens of other questions asked by fans on discussion sites around the world, and debated hotly. More than a few of the answers will lead to prolonged gloating in certain places, though I doubt anyone solved all of the mysteries – one of the most amazing things about Rowling, is her ability to lay clues in plain sight, yet we do not recognize them for what they are, until Rowling chooses to present the answer to us.

By the way, there was an article here a couple days ago about the financial aspects of the Potterverse. The short answer is not that Rowling did not consider whether to make the money part more realistic, it is that she wanted to focus on those aspects of the story which would matter. It’s sort of the same way that “CSI” pretends it’s all about the science, but in the show they never analyze any evidence which doesn’t turn out to be important, and they never make mistakes, and their equipment always works and is the most modern, and so on. Or did you think David Caruso is really a good example of how a forensic pathologist works in real life?

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