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An end worthy of Harry Potter

By Sumit Bhattacharya
Last updated on: July 23, 2007 09:40 IST
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the rousing finale to the magical mystery tour of a scrawny, spectacled boy with a lightning-shaped scar.

It has been 10 years since he first charmed his way into the hearts of millions and wove a parallel world for the young and the not so young. A world as fascinating as it is real -- of wizardly magic and human folly.

And as you turn the last pages of Deathly Hallows, an unputdownable take no prisoners tale that borrows imagery and concepts from literature and life -- it leans equally on the fantasy of Lord of the Rings and the reality of fascism -- you will realise J K Rowling had it all planned; maybe from the very day the idea of Harry Potter came to her on a train ride.

If the last six books were about school years in Hogwarts, Deathly Hallows is about Harry the king in exile, Harry, the last hope of wizardkind -- who must turn blind to physical and emotional agony and meet his destiny.

And if the last six books were about a children's story turning progressively dark, Deathly Hallows is the coming of age climax which you hurtle through from page 1, never 10 pages away from an attack, or a scene of torture, or a death.

The story -- deliciously flab free, a claim a couple of Harry's six adventures before cannot make -- is full of so many twists and turns that to say anything about the plot will be a spoiler, a giveaway.

Treading very carefully, let it just suffice to say that Deathly Hallows is about Harry taking on the full might of Lord Voldemort --- finding the pieces of the dark wizard's soul and destroying them. In the process, Harry questions everything he has held as true, and finds the truth at last -- a truth many of his followers through the years might have guessed.

All about Harry

And it all comes to pass with a grand battle in the only place where it could have.

People and loved characters die -- yes, quite a few of them, and then again no one too key, if you're the cynical kind.

The story borrows heavily from folklore and imagery of the Second World War resistance movement. At times the Horcruxes -- parts of the evil Voldemort's soul -- seem to act just like Frodo's ring.

The writing is also cinematic, much more than the last six books have been. Not just in the final battle, but right from the beginning, when Harry is about to leave his uncle's house forever.

The end is not spectacularly unpredictable, but which great epic has a spectacularly unpredictable ending anyway?

The real charm, like all of Rowling's previous books, lies in the subliminal messages -- that love is magic, that power corrupts, that intolerance is evil. The icing of the cake is the brilliant pace of the narrative, which keeps you glued through the 607 pages.

And if you have travelled with Harry through the years, you will feel the emptiness that inevitably follows the end of a great journey. That's what matters, more than the destination.

You can grudge all you want that it is media hype, that children queuing up from 5 in the morning is just blind aping of global hysteria.

But face it, when was the last time you saw such hysteria about a book?

You never finish a great read. It stays with you long after the last page is turned. By that token, the Harry Potter books will live for a long time and lure generations of children to grow up with the boy wizard.

And what a fantastic way to grow up that is.


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Sumit Bhattacharya