Slytherin for Albus Severus?

July 22, 2007

Farewell to Harry Potter? I bought my copy of the Deathly Hallows after clearing customers at Sydney airport at around 1630 and it burnt a hole in my bag through journey to the hotel, one room change (the first had not been cleaned), a failure to get a working internet connection, the need to go shopping and the live screening of a Bledisloe Cup match in Eden Park (excellent Welsh referee by the way). Either way, I finally settled down with a bottle of beer, and a couple of bacon butties and got reading as the hooter went on another fairly easy All Blacks victory. Ominously they looked like they could have stepped up a gear or two if they had needed to.

Now I am not going to spoil the plot for those who are in the queue to read it after their children, so will confine myself to some cryptic comments. Just let’s say its a good read, I didn’t put it down until I finished it approaching midnight and it kept me guessing until near the end. The explanations of why via the Penseive are a little rushed but well done. The twist with the wands and the seeker references clever. Snape’s Patronus is a real surprise and cleverly thought through. Narcissa’s role is unexpected but realistic and Wormtail has the expected Gollum moment. Overall I was not too badly wrong with my predictions, but all the aspirational ones failed.

There is much that is derivative in Harry Potter, but the synthesis is unique. The idea of an annual ritual with the readership growing up with Harry was truly original. My daughter and son bracket his age group and I think the experience of their generation will be different from subsequent readers. Their own development from nervous 11 year olds to young adults stepped hand in hand with with their heros through each annual (more or less) publication, uncertain as to the future in both worlds. Whatever you think of the writing, the fact that children are prepared to read long books is worthy of praise

The ending means that there could be more books to come, but all the loose ends are tied up, so they would be new themes in the same world about some of the same characters. It would be interesting to see Rowling explore a more adult theme within a variation of that space and genre. I also half hope, if it is not over, that the Sorting Hat chooses Slytherin for young Albus Severus and I think its significant that he comes after James, and that the book ends with his first meeting with Scorpious.

PS: My son wishes it to be known that he things I am spinning the inadequacy of my forecasts, and anything I got right he told me anyway ….

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