Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #20: Disappointed?

I put up three “sure thing predictions” this time last week at before posting my more speculative guesses using the Five Keys in my Book ( Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader): (1) Deathly Hallows would sell well, (2) We would see spoiler books by the time of release, and (3) a lot of folks were going to be disappointed in how Ms. Rowling ended this series. I got the first two pints right (duh). Are you disappointed with the finale? Scratching your head about which person late in life does magic? Confused (and upset) about the mechanics of Harry becoming a Horcrux (“only living object nearby”?)? What questions do you still have or faults do you see in how it all turned out?


  1. EmmaReader says

    Mary: At the school where I work, we have an unofficial ‘program’ where teachers identify kids who need a little extra adult guidance and role modeling. These kids are assigned an adult staff member buddy who checks in with them regularly and encourages them to get involved in positive school activities. In real life at my school, Snape would have been one of these students! I get the sense that you feel compassion toward this character and I can tell you that so do I. I really love this sad, complex, devoted character! I wish he had been treated differently in the end by JKR (although I keep trying to talk myself into believing that his death scene was respectful – see my above post).

  2. Not at all disappointed. I have read it twice and intend to read it again in about a week. I’m still making connections. The depth of planning and its realisation are mind-boggling. No hasty judgements on my part about disappointment. Other than there will be no more, of course! But the analyses are just beginning and there will be much to ponder for the years I have left.

    I am one very satisfied, exhilarated, and challenged reader. In short, I am blissful. An author could ask to do no more. Rowling is clearly in the same class as Dante, Lewis, Tolkien, Williams, and Sayers! No reader can pay a higher compliment than that accolade!

    Thank you, JK Rowling. Thank you very much.

  3. brother andrew says

    I loved it, loved it, loved it, every word, every page, all the way through. I always hoped she (JKR) would take us through to the other side of death at the end, and she did. There, we saw a whimpering not-even-pathetic thing which was the reality of Voldemort, and two grown-up human beings meeting in love and friendship. Note how the whimpering thing was not allowed to distract the two adults, they were unable to be moved to sympathy with it, this I think is the gulf fixed between good and bad beyond this world, so that the bad, there, are forever unable to blackmail the good into turning away from the good.

    There is a bottom line, in that good and bad are different things and will one day be clearly seen to be so. CS Lewis in The Great Divorce has a lot to say about that. In that book all the action takes place on the other side of death, and at the end, the protagonist realises he isn’t in fact dead yet, and is sent back into this world, like HP was.

    But, back in this world Harry was armed, with weapons V. knew nothing about,and the rest of the duel with Voldermort wasn’t really much of a contest, although H. of course, still had to be very careful; H, as he pointed out to V. had seen the reality of V., had seen what he was heading to become. He said as much to V. and even used the ‘r’ word, not repentance, but something close to it, – remorse, warning V. that a bit of remorse was in order. Such language, such concepts, meant nothing to Tom Riddle, it was too late by that stage.

    I’m reading it again now, slowly. I still get teary when I think about Colin Creavey.

    As others have said, thank you, KJ Rowling, thank you very much.

  4. Juts weighting in on the person who learnt magic later in life. I think there are two people. Merope who literally learnt magic after her father and brother were sentenced to Azkaban and Dudley, who learnt the magic of… loving or at least respecting/appreciating Harry for the good he did for him. Merope who learnt actually MAGIC, put it to use in a way that was destructive and set a lot of disastrous events into place once she created the love potion. Dudley on the other hand, learnt the power of love/respect. It’s not physical magic but it shows again that physical magic doesn’t change or effect the likes of REAL magic (love, life, death, etc.)

    This brings into my reasoning as to why we didn’t see the DoM. We didn’t see anything as the things within it as they are MYSTERIES! God’s wonderful mysteries. Yes I believe the Mysteries within the DoM are all those fascinating creations we as humans see as Mysterious. And so do wizards. They are some of the most beautiful aspects of God’s creation. Having Harry go into the locket room or discover the meaning of death would be so tacky/corny. For me it’s the absence of the place that speaks more. Us humans and the wizards in the HP world have not been able to uncover these secrets for a long time. So Harry wouldn’t be able to either. So I think A HUGE part of Jo’s message is, even with wands, people aren’t that much better off. They haven’t found out about the secrets of love, live, death… she left them a secret as being part of God’s creation they remain part of the mystery. And again going back to Dudley… he was able to overcome whatever dislike he had for Harry and turn himself around. WITHOUT MAGIC. That’s the biggest power of all. Love. He was able to grasp that without a wand. That IS I think a major message Jo is wanting to really bring on home with her series…

    I hpoe this made SOME form of sense. This sight being one where we can discuss religion in HP, I want to know what you think.

  5. Question: has Jodel posted her views on the book yet? I’m eager to hear what she thinks of this one.

  6. HallowsFan says

    Wow…lots of great comments. Not going to be able to coherently respond to all of the ones I’d like to…
    So instead, I will (hopefully) briefly (oooo a dreaded double adverb! hehe) go into my own personal impressions of the book. (, he said humbly.)

    First things first: I loved it. Disappointed? Not in the least. A roller coaster ride from page one to the epilogue… thrilling, breathtaking, and heartbreaking (as well as ultimately uplifting).

    I was glad that she did continue down the route of presenting a “Christian symbolist” story (and did so in Deathly Hallows as blatantly as she possibly could… she had fairly successfully snuck past the Watchful Dragons with the first 6 books and was able to lay all the cards on the table, as relates to Christian themes, with Deathly Hallows).

    Which brings me to what I saw to be a huge theme of Deathly Hallows… that of Redemption. The theme of Redemption is paramount to Christian thought, and I think this themes appearance in Deathly Hallows is yet another proof of Rowlings true intention with these stories.

    Dumbledore– going from a slightly Darker past to become the noble wizard he did (champion of fair treatment for all, stalwart defender of the power of Love, etc).

    Snape– we learn for sure of his redemption from Death Eatery. Important to note that said redemption come about because of his self-sacrifical (and heart-wrenching) love. Snape is also redeemed specifically in Harry’s eyes (and Harry in turn spreads the Good News of Snape’s true character to hudreds of witnesses in the Great Hall).

    Grindelwald– supremely evil, but seems to have shown remorse at the end, as is evidenced by his last act of defiance against Evil incarnate. (Perhaps, this is a nod to the thought that it is never too late to be Redeemed).

    The Malfoy’s– ’nuff said. (although the true depth and nature of their redemption is left largely unclear, it is my belief that they do, indeed, shun the evil that had held them chained for so long).

    Harry’s attempted Redemption of Voldemort (and Voldy’s fatal choice to refuse).

    And many, many mini-redemptions (some literal, some of a more symbolic nature)– Ron’s return to Harry and Hermione, Lupin’s return to the pregnant Tonks, Percy’s return to his family, Slughorn’s return to the final battle, the Grey Lady telling Harry her story (Confession is the first step towards Redemption), etc. etc. etc.

    So, that’s my “Redemption-as-main theme-of-DH” theory.

    On a final side note– I found it interesting that Harry and Voldemort were related (albeit extremely distantly), seeing as both the Gaunts and the Potters can trace their ancestry back to a Peverell brother. Also fitting that Voldemort’s Peverell relative (Antioch ?) was the one who was most obsessed with Death (and finding ways to “conquer” it).

    A note on the Epilogue: To my tastes, Perfect. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Just enough indication to reveal that, indeed, “All was well” to make the series ultimately about the uplifting spirit of Hope (that comes from Redemption?) 😉

  7. pamgalloway says

    You guys are so cool! I just love reading your insight, your appreciation and explanation of nuance, your depth of understanding. Reading these posts has truly made this wonderful book richer for me.

    Thank you, EmmaReader for posting that beautiful post about Snape death.

    Thank you, Manning 67 for reminding me of Neville’s heroism and strength; of Luna’s exquisite peace and focus; of Percy’s repentance and restoration; for offering this: * The ongoing theme that you never have to do your life’s mission alone. You’re only as alone as you choose to be.*

    Thank you, jvs, for the Aslan quote.

    Also, Bro. Andrew, I love your comments about the whimpering thing and
    the fixed gulf.

    And, Christinathelibrarian, you are absolutely correct about Harry and Hermione saving Norbert. I went back and read the chapter in SS.

    My husband just finished the book last night and made this interesting point…Harry’s younger son’s initials are A.S.P.

    I agree with inked. Because of JK Rowling’s genius and hard work, we’ll all enjoy discovering and analyzing for years to come.

  8. HallowsFan says

    I completely forgot to mention Regulus and Kreacher (!) in my Redemption list…. if I forgot any other instances, feel free to believe they are contained in the “etc. etc. etc.”

  9. Oh, and Dumbledore didn’t send Norbert off to Romania–that was in the movie, not the book. Harry and Hermione struggled to get Norbert’s cage up to the Tower where Charlie’s friends came to collect him. And on their way back down, they were caught by McGonagall, who’d been tipped off by Malfoy. (That’s the one that resulted in Harry, Hermione, Draco and Neville, who had tried to warn Harry but was caught also, having detention with Hagrid in the Forest.

    Ron was missing from the Buckbeak saving adventure because he was laid up in hospital, but he was in hospital for the Norbert one due to a bad bite from Norbert that had turned nasty.

  10. Well, I thought I had posted about the magic late in life person, but it’s lost apparently.

    It was Ted Tonks. (Someone else came up with that over at SOG, so I looked it up.) It’s on the Black Family Tree at the Lexicon. Andromeda, Tonks’s mum, was blasted off the Family Tree after she married muggle Ted Tonks.

    And how do we know that he did magic? He’s the one who fixed Harry’s broken tooth (the one that was knocked out and bleeding), fixed his ribs and injured arm. Now, the arm and ribs could be a good bit of muggle First Aid, but the broken tooth? As we don’t see Harry walking around for the rest of the book with a gaping hole in his mouth, Ted must have regrown it somehow. He tells Harry that he is the one who fixed him up and that his wife is taking care of Hagrid. (It’s on page 64, in the US version.)


  11. chrystyan says

    I have a question on the significance of the white or albino peacock on page 2 and later seen by Harry at the Malfoy Manor (chapter 23).

    I’m also curious about Adriana’s picture at the Hog’s Head when Aberforth sent her down the tunnel to open the way into Hogwarts. Her picture appeared to be the doorway. I thought it was very interesting that it was the “only way” in as the other passage ways were watched. I also thought it was very great that members of Dumbledore’s Army came through that “only way. ”

    What about the Deilluminator’s blue lights that entered Ron near his heart to guide him. Reference to being guided through the spirit?

  12. What word is the most opposite from “disappointed”? That’s what I felt. Honestly, I think Ms. Rowling not only anticipated that some fans would be disappointed, but she also anticipated WHY they would be disappointed. Lots of us wanted the details – we wanted the scoop. Who married whom? Who did what for a living? She could have easily changed her story to preemptively satisfy those disappointments, but she did not. Good for her.

    Ms. Rowling chose not to concentrate on what was interesting. She chose to concentrate on what was important. What was important, in the end, is that all of the faithful remained faithful. That Harry’s well-named kids would experience a more blessed childhood than he did. That the possibility of a Weasley child growing up to marry a Malfoy child was an opportunity for amusement, not bitterness. That Hagrid the Red awaited the children of Ron and Hermione, Harry and Ginny, in his hut for tea. That Neville Longbottom, who led the rebellion at Hogwarts, wielded the sword of Griffindor, and destroyed the snake, ended up in the gentle vocation of nurturing plants and students. All was well. Isn’t this far more substantial than what we were all looking for?

  13. Pat–
    Actually, Ted Tonks wasn’t a Muggle. He was a Muggle-born wizard.

  14. No disappointment here! At first, I felt like the epilogue was a bit of a let-down, but let’s face it, we read it coming down off the highly intense and emotional battle of Hogwarts. Putting the book down, and then going back to the epilogue shows that it is a very satisfying ending to the series.

    All the unanswered questions are really insignificant. The questions that people wanted answered make me think a little about newstand tabloids. (“GUESS WHICH WIZARD IS GIVING UP BACHELORHOOD…only WE have the answer…turn to page 67 for the full scoop!!!” or “DOES HARRY WORK FOR THE MINISTRY OF MAGIC? Our sources have given us the exlusive inside story!”) I think Ms. Rowling did a wonderful thing in leaving these details out. She clearly has a distaste for the tabloids, and answering all the tabloid-ish questions of fans would have cheapened the entire series.

    There is a more significant reason for leaving some of the questions unanswered, though. It is the same reason why Dumbledore did not always tell everyone the whole story. We have to be Seekers. The Story becomes more significant when the answers are sought and found rather than given. We live in an internet world where we want the answers “NOW”, and get frustrated when our server slows down when Googling Harry Potter. Ms. Rowling demonstrates her wisdom by showing us that answers obtained by a determined search are far more valuable than instant gratification. Her dangling use of scripture in Godric’s Hollow seems to indicate that this is exactly her intent.

  15. I think the Malfoy peacocks were there as a traditional symbol of pride and vanity. A very emblematic bird for that family.

  16. Interesting, Helen, as in my tradition, the peacock is one of the many symbols of Christ. And, in spite of the family love they display, that doesn’t seem to suit the Malfoys at all.

  17. Everymannh says

    I was definitely not disappointed. The action was non stop. Even with the microscopic dissection we HP fans have given the books and the plethora of possible endings (developed through remarkable creative thinking and attention to details) J Rowling’s path to the ending surprised me.

    For those who were disappointed not to know more about what Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione were dong those 15 years before the epilogue, the most important information was all there. They raised families. They were the ultimate soldiers in a magical world war. When the war was over they went home to resume the life they were fighting to preserve. That’s no different than what the Greatest Generation did after WW 2. Whether the world is magic or muggle, life is caring for our fellow persons, from family and friends to recognizing all races and treating everyone and every creature with respect.

    I was sorry Ginny did not figure more in this final installment but it was right that the Harry, Ron, and Hermione finished the task that took all three to accomplish successfully. However, it was interesting that it was Ginny’s love that was Harry’s final thought as he gave his life to save the rest.

    Who knows how long before the next Grindelwald or Voldemort appears on the magic world’s scene. When that next source of evil appears it will be someone else’s story. At least until then the families can enjoy the peace and quiet that their courage and sacrifice won.

    But I do wonder… Could Cruikshank be the cat Harry chased with his broom when he was one year old…?

  18. Harry became the Horcrux because he was the only living creature in the immediate vicinity. That would seem to rule out any pet’s being there.

    How long do cats live, anyway?

  19. Arabella Figg says

    I don’t have time to put my thoughts here, but Dateline on Sunday night the 29th has a full hour on HP and interviews with Rowling. Parts of these interview were on Thursday and Friday’s Today Show. You can go to to view them, also get them in print (some printed ones have info not on the show, also lack info from the show). She gives info on what happened to the various characters, etc. You’ll get some satisfying asnwers.

    Thudders, down!

  20. Cats live long enough, and Kneazles probably live longer. But if Crookshanks was the Potter pet, wouldn’t Crookshanks have adopted Harry and not Hermione?

    I am feeling much less let-down by the epilogue since reading that JKR is thinking of writing a HP Encyclopedia. Hopefully we’ll find out more than just who married whom.

  21. Arabella Figg says

    I’ve shut Thudders out, so here goes.

    I thought the book was fabulous! Filled with so many “I didn’t see THAT coming!” twsts, I felt like my brain was being tied in knots. About six months ago I went into quarantine from speculation, even those parts in John’s Unlocking Harry Potter. So, although I knew some speculation, I came to the book with no expectation and let Rowling shock, thrill, touch and carry me away for two days.

    I give DH an E for Exceeds Expectations.

    Top marks for Dobby’s death, which made me cry (see my second comment on the Christian Ending thread). For the strong redemptive theme. For Harry’s fantastic confrontation and defeat of LV. For the shock of Stan Shunpike on a broom with the DEs. For King’s Cross. For Moody’s awful death and Ron and Harry joking about his remains. For the many transformations and maturations, kids and adults. For those who found courage to reject their feelings of inadequacy and embrace selfless courage. For Fred and George declaring, after being Polyjuiced into Harry, they looked just alike. For the heavy Christian symbolism and imagery. For the Godric’s Hollow graveyard scene and Bathilda shocker. For the Dumbledore story. For Molly’s battle with Beatrix. For others finishing off the Horcruxes, even Crabbe of all people!

    And, yes, for Snape’s death–as it was. Rowling said in her Today interview Thursday that Snape was not a hero, but he was brave. Snape was to the end, what he advised Harry to be–a person with his mouth shut. How ironic, then, to release all those memories to Harry, which I think was a kind of apology and a need to finally be known.

    I’ve always said, despite the other fascinating characters, especially Snape (one for the ages), that these books were about Harry and Harry’s heart. I’m glad Rowling made this such a strong focus of this book.

    Two things I’m curious about. Since James Potter was old wizarding family/old money, I’m sure he came from a grander home in Godric’s Hollow than the small house in which he and Lily were hiding out. Were they perhaps living in Dumbldore’s childhood home?

    The other thing, what was Petunia tempted to say to Harry before she left? It struck me after Snape’s death and the Pensieve memories, that she, also, had to look at Lily’s eyes every time she looked at the despised Harry. Her memories of her sister were complicated–love, envy, fear, disappointment, inadequacy, loss of companionship–and she chose to emotionally distance herself from Lily and feel superior to cope with these complex emotions, as shown when Lily left for Hogwarts. How poignant her writing to DD, asking to come too. While this doesn’t make Petunia’s treatment of Harry any less despicable, I felt Snape’s memories made her more human.

    If there was a person who performed magic late in life, was it perhaps Sybil Trelawny, transformed from misty crystal ball gazer to warrior crystal ball hurler, whomping Fenrir Greyback? Before she threw the second ball, she touched it with her wand for oomph and it powerfully shot out a window. We’d never seen her perform magic before this.

    I felt very satisfied with DH and closed the book in great happiness. Thank you, Ms. Rowling, for the great time you’ve given me with this series, with its delightful creativity, humor and imagination, so many beloved characters and fascinating beasts; for your profound exploration of love and death. I’ll enjoy rereading them for the rest of my life. And exploring their deeper meanings and magic.

    Oh, and thanks for expanding the epilogue on the Today show (see I, too, wanted to know more.

    Friends, see Dateline, Sunday evening July 29th, devoted to Harry Potter, for the full interview with Rowling.

    Rumbleroar wants a lap…

  22. ESerafina says

    Overall, I loved the book. As with a lot of people, though, there were a few things that bothered me.

    1) The use of the Cruciatus curse by the “good guys.” I think that you could justify their using the Imperius curse, but using Cruciatus seemed to be totally gratuitous to me.

    2) I found the epilogue to be very weak, mainly because the characters seemed to be very two-dimensional. Obviously they’re not the people we’ve come to know and love over the past 7 books, mainly because they’ve actually lived another lifetime, during which we have no idea what has happened to them. Someone did say somewhere, though, that one of the main reasons for that chapter was the revelation that Harry had named one of his children after Snape, and the line about Snape being the bravest man he had ever known. I would hope that James’ middle name is Sirius!

    3) I never felt that JKR had suffiiently developed the character of Ginny Weasley or Harry’s relationship to her (she’s virtually invisible between CoS and OotP), and I continue to feel that way. Maybe that’s one reason I didn’t care for the epilogue – I would like her to have left the possibilities open on who everyone was going to end up with.

    On the other hand, I did love the Dumbledore backstory. We always see the “wise old man” figure as having always been that way, forgetting that he wasn’t always old and may have been far from wise at one time. The way that he had turned his own life around after making horrible mistakes goes a long way towards explaining his willingness to see the possibilities in others and give them a second chance.

    Also, despite not being a Christian, I found Harry’s sacrifice to be tremendously moving and nowhere near as “in your face” as the similar scene in _The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe_ – maybe because it’s not direct allegory like that one was, but a more subtle parallel.

  23. Jayne1955 says

    You’re all going to hate me, but what else is new?

    Yes, I was horribly disappointed, for all of the things Jo promised that we didn’t get, like someone doing magic late in life, and powerful Ginny, and the fact that Lily’s eyes only mattered because Snape had the hots for her, among other things.

    The wandering in the forest went on way too long. I thought it would never end, and I didn’t like the locket acting like Tolkien’s ring of power, as I’ve discussed elsewhere.

    A lot of wonderful theories came about from things that turned out to be nothing. I was on a board earlier today where there was an entire thread devoted to “Arnold the Pointless Puff” and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The veil, the locked room, Neville’s parents, Lockhart- I can go on and on.

    And the epilogue was putrid. Jo promised we’d find out what happened to the survivors, but where was Luna? Winky? Kreacher? Narcissa? Trelawney? Ollivander? Mr. Lovegood? Umbridge? Who did Draco marry? Was the whole point of killing Remus and Tonks to make Teddy the next generation’s Neville Longbottom? And I’m sorry, I was ready to spit when Jo said in an interview McGonagall was getting on in years, so she couldn’t be headmistress at the end. She was about 50 years younger than Dumbledore, and she certainly came close to kicking Snape’s tail in that fight! It was an insult to me.

    This book had alot of things that either were flat out mistakes, or were so badly written/explained/worded that they could be confused as mistakes.

    I think the book needed an editor that had some guts, instead of some people who I assume spent all their time wondering what color of lipstick would look best on Rowling’s backside.

    Six of ten, IF I take a box cutter and cut out the epilogue.

  24. Jayne, I agree with you. I thought that, in many ways, the book was poorly written and poorly edited (and I will never believe Snape had to die that way. (smirk)) And the epilogue infuriated me! All the problems left unsolved, and even un- addressed, by this book, and we are to believe everything is now happy and nice? I couldn’t believe it for a second.

    And I have been ignoring Rowling’s interviews as much as I can. *I* was ready to spit when she insisted Snape was no hero, and what she said about McGonagall was silly, too. Why is a 75 year old woman too old to be headmistress if a man more than twice her age can be headmaster!! That is simply ridiculous.

    I had many more problems with the book than the poor editing and continuity errors, but it’s nice to find someone agreeing with me. )

    Up to OOTP, I thought we might have a classic series on our hands. Now I’m convinced we don’t. Rowling blew it.

  25. My only disappointment is that we didn’t see a final defeat of Umbridge at the end. She was conspicuously absent from the final battle and, since she’s easily the third most evil character in the series (second only to Voldemort and possibly Bellatrix) I thought she deserved a more definitive takedown. I wish it had been she who was clonked by Trelawny’s crystal ball. Or that McGonagall had transfigured some Quills into darts and driven her into a steaming pile of Hagrid’s centaur dung fertilizer.

  26. Oh, yes, I would also have liked to see Fluffy and the Weasley’s car join the final battle (they could have taken out a few spiders) and Filch get a few Death Eaters with his horsewhip!

  27. MaWeasley says

    Great comments, everyone. Someone (sorry, I can’t find the comment now) wondered why Harry named his child Albus Severus. Both Dumbledore and Snape had become equal in his mind. They both spent his childhood protecting him and instructing him (although Snape’s methods weren’t as pleasant, they were certainly just as important in the end), and they both sacrificed their own lives so that he could triumph over evil. That was one element I really appreciated from JKRowling. It shows not only forgiveness for Snape, but a deeper understanding that only comes with maturity… Just my $0.02.

  28. Hear, hear (‘ear, ‘ear) Jayne 1955 and mary! I haven’t even forced myself to read it again (although that may have something to do with the fact that the county fair begins in a few days and we are frantically finishing projects! 😉 ). My husband and I a just simply disappointed – we thought, as mary said, that it really had the makings of a classic series, but now we aren’t sure. As Travis Prinzi has said, we do not have the luxury of simply reading it straight through, without the hype and buildup and interviews and . . . but, I just can’t seem to get over the fact that I think all the makings were there, but simply didn’t deliver in the end. And my gut feeling on this is because JKR wrested control of the story away from the story itself. It reads like the ending was made to be ‘popular’ rather than true to the story.

    Again, I know we are in the minority – and there are still some excellent parts even in the last book (and the last part of the last book). I cried so hard during Severus’s memories. Finally, vindication! However, in the end, I was just left feeling cold and empty – not satisfied or happy or even really able to accept the way it read. And, as has been said before, the epilogue didn’t even read like JKR wrote it.

    Oh, well, I’m sure I’ve disappointed those who love me many, many times myself. I’m still trying to keep an open mind . . .

  29. Disappointed? Only a bit …

    By the end of HBP, I was certain Snape was on the side of Voldemort for whatever reason. I found the emerging concept of Snape’s identity as “The Prince” being a nod to Machiavelli, a sign that he was manipulating both sides towards his own purpose. But a focus for the purpose was lacking …

    Everything at the beginning of DH seemed to fit with that as it regarded Snape. When the Deathly Hallows were explained, then it seemed that they might serve as Snape’s goal. By playing Dumbledore and Voldemort against each other, he might have been hoping to gain them for himself and become the greatest of all.

    Of course, “The Prince’s Tale” was nothing like Machiavelli’s. And that, for me, was the one sour note in an otherwise outstanding book.

    Severus and Lily as childhood friends? I was okay with that. It explained quite a bit, actually, and was nicely done. However, his “love” for her seemed quite a bit like Merope’s “love” for Tom Riddle, Sr. – which is to say more like obsession than love.

    At Hogwarts, Snape runs with emerging Death Eaters and takes to calling Muggleborns the M-word … except, of course, for darling Lily. He’s (so far as we can see) a very bright kid, yet he can’t see that such a distinction is rather ludicrous?

    So his “Worst Memory” is shattering their relationship by calling her the M-word … okay, that works quite well. Yet, despite his immense sorrow over this rupture, he does not turn from his path? (James, on the other hand, did become better after that moment.)

    Then, much later, after years as a faithful Death Eater, he discovers his master intends to kill the young woman he’s still (somehow) pining for. Then, he finally repents and seeks to change his ways? And when she dies anyway, he can offer no love whatsoever to the part of her that remains in her child? (Sounds quite like Merope at that point.)

    But worst of all was what this did to the character of Albus Dumbledore.

    I have said before that if Stoppered Death/Staged Death turned out to be the way Albus died, I would be disappointed … not so much because I was wrong (though I admit there is some of that), but because it would rob Dumbledore’s death of the deep pathos and drama it had as HBP ended. Instead of it being a heartbreaking result of misplaced trust and horrific betrayal, it was just another item on a checklist.

    Even worse, Dumbledore comes off as exceedingly manipulative. The part directing Snape to tell Voldemort when Harry would leave Privet Drive was terrible. I found it rather unbelievable that Dumbledore would plan such a terrible risk as that. (Surely having arranged his own death at Severus’ hand with Harry as witness, he would know Snape would have been drummed out of the Order by then and hence, would no longer be expected to relay their plans to Voldemort.)

    And trusting that final instruction for Harry to Snape … how could Dumbledore possibly be able to think that Snape could tell Harry – or that Harry would ever hear? The Pensive memory from the dying Snape was the only way that could possibly work.

    It’s been asked for sometime if these books are more plot-driven or character-driven. Now that the series is finished, I’d have to say the plot was the primary driver.

    I admit, I like drama in my stories. I liked it better when Dumbledore’s death was a wrenching tragedy rather than a slight inconvenience. And given the way Harry wrestled with Dumbledore’s plan, his feelings and fears about Dumbledore, it seemed rather cheep that he learned about his final task in such a round about way. Dramatically, I think it would have been better for a letter (or the memory and the Pensieve) to have been left with Aberforth. (Surely Dumbledore must have “guessed” that one of the Horcruxes would have been hidden somewhere at Hogwarts.) To have Albus himself give Harry that final request: you have to die at Voldemort’s hands and then for Harry to have to wrestle with the choice to continue trusting Dumbledore, despite the (by then) obvious flaws in the man… that would have lifted the whole book into something truly extraordinary.

  30. Well for those who aren’t happy, and I do know you are in the minority, write your own version of how it ended. Join up on a fan-fic blog and you guys along with Jodel who apparently loathes this last book as well, go write ahead with all the years of experience you have as authors, and write it.

  31. mary I have to disagree. But as you are in a minority, I wont even bother challenging your opinion of having Jo blow away her series. Please, if you’re more capable, write the ending your self. I’d love to read this AMAZING finale you have mapped out.

  32. (I don’t think I posted this last night, if so, sorry for the repeat.)

    Expanding on Trudy’s observations on Snape eventually telling Harry the truth – is there any chance whatsoever that Harry would have believed Snape had he told him? Here’s the guy you despise more than anyone in the world, who killed your mentor, and has shown himself (in your eyes) to be loyal to your greatest enemy.

    Now this same guy comes to you and says “guess what, I’m really a good guy under cover, and your hero, whom I killed, wanted me to tell you that you have to sacrifice yourself to the great enemy, whom I’m not really working for, but it will all work out for the best.”

    If I’m Harry, my response is going to be the same thing our friend Mr. Abanes said to John in a debate a couple years ago – “What are you smoking?”

    This might be the one really noticeable logical flaw in Dumbledore’s plan as JKR wrote it. Even if Snape says “let me show you with the Penseive”, it seems unlikely that Harry’s going to willingly go with him into Snape’s private office, where who knows what might be awaiting.

    Still – this doesn’t mean I’m disappointed with the book. Just that some of the pieces don’t fit the way they should.

  33. richardtenor says

    Just finished this last night. A few thoughts:

    I liked it better when Dumbledore’s death was a wrenching tragedy rather than a slight inconvenience.

    The problem with this is that it is inconsistent with the tone of Dumbledore’s character throughout. It is Dumbledore who tells us that “to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” Surely the Dumbledore who says that would not want his death to thought of as a tragedy? Besides, the point of book 7 (and indeed, in retrospect, the whole series) seems to be that of coming to terms with the idea that death need not be feared–that is, after all, Voldemort’s tragic flaw, that his fear of death is so overpowering.

    The reason why Harry had to find out in the “roundabout” way he did is so he could come to the realization that in dying, he was protecting everybody–not just his friends, not just those who had been warm and fuzzy to him throughout, but also those like Snape whom he thought was an open-and-shut case of somebody it was okay to hate. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have worked.

    Ultimately, Snape (and even the Malfoys) had some demonstrable capacity to love, to care for something outside of themselves for unselfish reasons, and that is what separated them from Voldemort. Indeed, that Snape loved, however twisted it might have become by that point, is what sets Harry’s story in motion–hearing the prophecy, knowing Voldemort’s reaction, and going to Dumbledore to try to save Lily’s life. And as far as being able to not offer any love to the part of her that was left behind (Harry)–in the first place, he agreed to protect him, and he did. In the second place, that Snape loved did not make him any less human and error-prone. Harry was as much James as he was Lily, and that would be something he could not get over. In his death, I think he gave Harry as much as he possibly could–and I think took several years for Harry to digest just what that meant (hence why his *youngest* is the one named for him).

    So, as far as that goes, I don’t think I can agree that the series is plot-driven rather than character-driven.

    For those who’ve suggested there’s far too much wandering about in the woods… I dunno. The way she structured that either works for you or it doesn’t, I suppose. Getting lost in the wilderness and/or having to venture out of “home” for a long spell is an inevitable component of most stories with a mythical (or, to make a careful qualification, mythlike, since not all stories that are mythlike are necessarily myths) structure; the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and their subsequent 40 years in the desert, Jesus and His 40 days in the desert, a large chunk of Lord of the Rings, the Taran, Wanderer volume of the Chronicles of Prydain–the list goes on.

    That some would be disappointed by the denouement of the series is probably unavoidable. It is here that Rowling finally makes plain what story it is she’s telling, and if that’s a different beast from the story some readers *thought* she was telling or wanted her to be telling, it’s going to be hard to readjust expectations.


  34. EmmaReader says

    I don’t know whether this will pass the screening process, but here goes: I’m assuming John is looking for people’s actual reactions to the book, not just the positive reactions. His question was about whether or not we were disappointed. Mary’s answer was an honest yes, that she was disappointed, and she spelled out why. Is she required to be able to write a ‘better’ ending in order to have that opinion? I don’t want contributors like Mary to go away because someone basically told them to “I don’t want to hear about your disappointments if you can’t do better than JKR.” Personally, I would love to hear more from Mary because her ideas are thought provoking. Sorry, this isn’t really a comment on the book itself, probably another reason why it won’t pass the screening.

    In any case, thanks, John, for all your enlightening work. Are you planning on updating your God in HP book now that the series is finished?

  35. cigar95 wrote:
    This might be the one really noticeable logical flaw in Dumbledore’s plan as JKR wrote it. … Still – this doesn’t mean I’m disappointed with the book. Just that some of the pieces don’t fit the way they should.
    Thanks for taking my point and expanding on it beautifully. I agree; it’s inconceivable that Harry would ever accept this explanation in words from Snape’s mouth … assuming he would even give Snape a chance to get them out. This is where I think she sacrificed characters for the plot lines. Purely on the basis of the characters invloved, Snape’s hatred for Harry, Harry’s distrust of Snape, the whole set up of Snape killing Dumbledore, etc., this plan of Dumbledore’s that Snape should tell Harry to let Voldemort kill him is a non-starter. it doesn’t work.

    I agree with you: “some of the pieces don’t fit the way they should” and this is a prime example. There’s no maybe about it; this is a logical hole in Dumbledore’s plan … and it’s big enough to fly a dragon through.

    And in response to richardtenor: to say that Dumbledore’s death as it appeared at the close of HBP was a tragedy is not to say that he feared death, or was unprepared for death, or anything like that. I never took his pleading “Servus …” as a sign that he deared death or dying. It was always clear Dumbledore did not harbor such fears.

    What is bothersome to me is that when an author kills a major (and especially well-loved) character, s/he owes it to the readers (who, after all, are to be emotionally invested in the character) to make that death about something, make it meaningful. When Dumbledore’s death appeared to be the result of misplaced trust and betryal, it had an impact; it was major As merely an item on a list of plot points to be accomplished/checked-off, his death becomes rather insignificant, a minor inconvenience.

    Think of Gandalf and the Balrog in /Fellowship of the Ring/ … what courage, what sacrifice was involved … what emptiness was left in the wake. You could feel it yourself as you read the characters’ reactions.
    Oh wait. It was all a set-up. It was no big deal at all, just business as usual, a needed step in the plot because “the old guy with the beard always gets it. ”

    However, the return of Gandalf as the White Rider in no way diminished the sense of loss or the emotional impact of Gandalf’s death. It honored that sacrifice and made the character into something even more than he had been before. This adds to, rather than detracts from, the dramatic impact of Gandalf’s death.

    Do you see the difference?

  36. Thank you for your support, Emmareader! My feelings about these books are complex because they are complicated books, but (aside from being really, really sad about Severus’s death, which of course I am), I do really think Rowling’s reach exceeded her grasp in a few areas. Carlalute and I are in agreement on two of them: there is a real moral double standard – the good guys get to do whatever they want with no consequences to them, while the bad guys are bad precisely because they do the same things (major example: cruciatus. If it was meant to show that Harry is imperfect, there should have been some consequences TO HARRY, and not applause! Torture is a very great evil, and to show an adolescent hero indulging in it without need or consequences is a real problem, IMHO.)
    And I hated the way Slytherin house was treated throughout. Heck, the two bravest and most self-directed (that is, with the most initiative) warriors against Voldemort were from Slytherin – and yet it’s still the evil house, throughout the book and in the epilogue. Nothing has changed, There is no healing. There is no reconciliation, no forgiveness, no love of enemies – and on it goes.

    But I guess I said all this before.

    MPolly, you can find my version of the ending on my blog, if you’re really interested. It’s a story called “The Last Horcrux”. But at this point I’m more into original fiction than fanfiction.

  37. richardtenor says

    When Dumbledore’s death appeared to be the result of misplaced trust and betryal, it had an impact; it was major As merely an item on a list of plot points to be accomplished/checked-off, his death becomes rather insignificant, a minor inconvenience.

    Still disagree. His manner of death is a means by which he is able to save Draco from going past a point of no return; and the overarching reason for his death was still the result of a flaw on his part–his inability to move on from his past. Neither of these are exactly impact-less, and they are, to me, unquestionably character-driven.


  38. Mary, I can’t see how you can say that Harry had no love for his enemy…? I was frankly, shocked at how often he showed mercy to his enemies. Especially, saving Draco and the croney from the cursed fire when they were there to kill Harry (or to take him to his death). I’m confussed at perhaps your meaning of love? Harry demonstrated love to his enemies… he wasn’t their best friend or anything… perhaps the change you would have wanted was for every one to repent and be friends? If so, that would be entirely too unrealistic. “They lived happily ever after” doesn’t leave room for more growth through out their lives.

  39. TrudyK, if Snape hadn’t died he could have shown Harry his memories still. It wouldn’t have had to just come from his mouth (you’re right that Harry wouldn’t have believed just that). Also, Dumbledores sacrifice was (in my mind) more meaningful than Gandaulf’s because it was to save a boy’s soul from being damaged by commiting murder. Though it was not as dramatic (as you pointed out) it was very in the end more meaningful (I think) because though Gandaulf died fighting evil to keep others from death, Dumbledore wanted Snape to kill him to save a boy from damnation (so to speak).

    I’m not saying these things to start arguments. Everyone has a very strong oppinion, but I wonder if the inconsistancies some of you think you are seeing in the books are perhaps simply from your asumptions about the books before they were complete?

  40. thisoldhobbit says

    With regards to the much-discussed question of who performed magic late in life:

    Rowling stated in an interview after the book release that this element was dropped from the story. It was something she had mentioned in an interview years ago, but as time went on that idea was dropped.

    To the poster who said that Ted Tonks was the person who performed magic late in life – Ted was a Muggle-born, not a Muggle.

  41. Jayne1955 says

    If I did write an ending that I thought was better, I’d get accused by people of not respecting canon, so I’m not sure if I want to go there. The question was, were we disappointed? Some of us were, and said yes. That’s as far as it has to go, as I see it.

    What experience we have as writers had nothing to do with it. (I only write non-fiction. Right now I’m working on a book about famous fires that led to changes in fire codes.) Jo had no experience when she started, and she became popular, and made a lot of money. Whether the books hold up well depends on how future readers see them. Perhaps the majority of fans are not diappointed, but the majority of people anywhere tend to like what is poular, not what is necessarily great.

    Anyone see “Wicked”? Remember Galinda’s advice?

    “think of celebrated heads of state or simply great communicators- did they have brains or knowledge? Don’t make me laugh! They were popular. It’s all about popular.”

  42. I both loved and was disappointed with Deathly Hallows.

    I loved the final battle at Hogwarts. I loved Harry’s sacrificial death and resurrection. I loved that Harry defeated Voldemort with Expelliarmus. I even liked the epilogue pretty well.

    But I was very disappointed with several aspects of the books.

    Tonks and Lupin: I really disliked the storyline of two of my favorite characters. Both of them were really great and interesting characters when they were first introduced, but their stories tanked. Tonks was a witty auror and a metamorphmagus – imagine the narrative possibilities – who loses her storyline to lovesickness, then marriage and pregnancy. Lupin seemed the wisest and most compassionate of James’ friends and a great help to Harry. He becomes an overly formal and foolish character.

    While their relationship might have been an interesting marriage of opposites, I thought that the storyline just made them look dumb. There is no real indication that their marriage is a mature or loving one. She seemed to have an obsessive crush, and the narrative offers no real indication that he returned her feelings at all.

    Their deaths are not even narrated. Their entire relationship plotline seemed to be a lot of quick and awkward maneuvering just to produce an orphan. Since I loved these characters, this was really disappointing.

    The Gals: Where are they? In Deathly Hallows – as in the series – the ladies are notably missing from the prominent places and the leadership roles in the story.

    – Hermione: Brilliant, yes, but her character is as often written to be an impediment to progress as a help.

    – Ginny: Wonderful character sadly underused and underdeveloped.

    – Tonks: See above, but I have to add that I nearly did backflips when I read that Lupin moved her in with her parents to keep her “safe” in his absence. She’s an auror for heaven’s sake!

    – Molly: The most prominent female member of the Order, loved but often dismissed as a nag. Her moment with Bellatrix was great though.

    – Fleur: A Tri-Wizard champion (although always written as the weakest of the four), whose storyline also gets swallowed up in marriage.

    I could go on, but you get the point.

    The Order: Where are they? I know it is Harry’s story, but I got the sense that the Order was pretty inactive. Also, the Order suffered many casualties and losses and the Death Eaters never seemed to. If some DEs were killed, it would have made the Order seem much more effective.

    The Showdown: I really thought that Neville would battle it out with Bellatrix, or that Lupin would kill Greyback.

    Redemption: Yes it was there, but not enough. I would have like to have seen something much more definitive about the Malfoys and/or the Hogwarts houses. Wouldn’t it have been great if Draco and his wife named their child something that didn’t sound like “scorpion?” Even better if the child had been an enthusiastic Gryffendor!

    In spite of my disappointments, however, I am deeply grateful to JK Rowling for this enjoyable and thought-provoking series.

  43. Jayne1955–
    You wouldn’t be acused of anything. It’s called “fanfic” and people do it all the time, even as we speak.

  44. Mary I do apologies if I came off as harsh. Upon reading what I wrote again, it sounded very rude. And part of it was meant to come off like that. My apologies. Had a bad day. No excuses though.

  45. Coppinger Bailey says

    I really, really loved Deathly Hallows, and the heartfelt wishes I posted under John’s original “Great Expectations” entry all came true, so I can’t say that I’m disappointed. I have experienced a little “longing,” however, with regards to some of the characters, especially Ginny. I wanted Harry, in the end, to marry & have children with Ginny and experience true love and parenthood, which is what happens in the Epilogue, so no complaints there.

    I just thought that maybe we’d get to see a little more of Ginny in action in Deathly Hallows. Having reflected on this for a week or so, I’ve decided that these feelings are akin to those one has when someone close to you marries someone you don’t really know personally. It’s not that the spouse-to-be doesn’t measure up, it’s just that you don’t feel like you know them well enough. But in the end if you see even the glimpses of love that they share, then you feel like everything’s going to be fine. And besides, is it really your business to judge anyway?

    I’m going way off the overwrought, sappy-romantic ledge there. Sorry. Can’t help myself. I weep every time I see the expression Alan Rickman captures on Brandon’s face the first time he lays eyes on Marianne (Kate Winslet) in Emma Thompson’s “Sense & Sensibility.” Whew! I digress…

    All things considered, I think Ms. Rowling was true to all the characters and their story arcs, as well as being true to the continued use of Christian symbology in the story-telling (which I also was hoping for). This was a story of Harry’s spiritual journey, no one else’s – no matter how much we liked or didn’t like other characters (even Dumbledore – but that’s for another one of the HogPro discussion points). They were all great characters, but they were always secondary to Harry, and their ultimate importance to Harry’s story is how Harry chooses to repsond to them (namely, he respects, loves, and/or forgives them).

  46. Wow, what an excellent website and discussion. I agree that there are many wonderful things about the book, and you all have made those points better than I ever could. I especially liked, and agreed with, Hallowsfan’s take on the repeated theme of redemption in DH. My own favorite parts of the story were the Godric’s Hollow chapter, and Harry’s walk to his death, both of which were heart-wrenching and hauntingly beautiful.

    I was disappointed at a few points, however– mostly with the use of the characters Ginny, Tonks, Lupin, and Fred. I thought it was silly how much the love between Harry and Ginny, and the character of Ginny herself, was built up towards the end of book 6, only to have her virtually fall off the map in book 7. She does get to do a few things (duel w/ Bellatrix for example) but as a reader I had looked forward to that payoff when her and Harry were reunited at the end, or seeing her do something really meaningful to help Harry and his quest. We don’t get to see it.

    As for Tonks, Lupin, and Fred– how their deaths were treated was the biggest disappointment for me. Imagine you are reading the Lord of the Rings. You fall in love with Gimli the dwarf and Legolas the elf, who are major characters and are present almost from the beginning of the story. You follow them through countless dangers and heroic deeds, see them protect their friends and vice versa. Then, when they’re in the paths of the dead during the last book– a flash of light, and they’re dead. Aragorn looks at them in shock, and continues on, and that’s it–end of story–they’re not mentioned any more– no funeral, no description of how or why they died–nothing else. What an empty and cheap way of “doing in” great characters. Of course, this is war, and that’s the way things happen. However, this is also a book, and it feels to me like JK, out of nowhere, switches gears in to this hard-as-nails, ultra-realistic story telling at the end of this book. It doesn’t make sense to me, as someone who has followed the stories from the beginning. Kill off three major characters, and (in the case of Lupin and Tonks) not even show how they die or (in the case of Fred) make the cause of his death so random, inexplicable, and convenient that I found myself picturing JK in the very last moments before publication, someone saying to her “you need to kill off some more people,” and she said “oh, right, sure, easy. Well, kill Fred here–just a random explosion, easy–stick in a few sentences. Tonks and Lupin, well, I can’t think of anything good, so we’ll just say they’re dead. I’m sure it’ll really add to the emotional impact…I’m sure my readers and I will for years to come love reading the random deaths of wonderful main characters without any explanation, heroic deeds, funerals, etc. Smashing.”
    Sorry if I sound disrespectful–I still think JK is amazing–It’s just difficult for me to understand this decision.

    As for the epilogue, I agree with some of the previous comments– that it almost doesn’t sound like it was written by JK. There are some nice things about it, and a certain charm to leaving some things unsaid, but it doesn’t quite work, IMHO . The ending–after Voldy’s death–just feels wrong. Rushed, and too brief, and so it comes out feeling cheesy and flimsy. I hate to make another Lord of the Rings analogy, because I know JK is her own author, and that this is her story–but here goes: Remember at the end of the Return of the King, when everything was resolved–the quest was completed against all odds, the enemy was finally defeated, etc. There are three glorious chapters of friends being reunited, the dead being honored, long-suffering love finally coming to fruition, loose ends being tied up. This is great, great stuff. It is not cheesy. As a reader, you savor every moment of this. You get to see what becomes of your beloved characters you’ve followed for so long. It’s part of the story–not an afterthought that a smart author should leave out, or that a reader should feel guilty or old-fashioned for wanting to have. I wished there was a little more of it at the end of DH.

    Anyway, my two cents. Keep up the awesome discussions…

  47. rab–
    oh, I don’t know. I’m probably Tolkien’s biggest fan, but I think he was too easy on his characters. More of them SHOULD have died, but he was too soft-hearted to let it happen. And yes, I think it would have been better if it had happened starkly–no funeral, nothing. That’s war.

    The “glorious” chapters of LOTR are, in my not-so-humble opinion, the worst part of the book. It is, indeed, thoroughly cheesy. The celebrations should not have been there. It jars; it doesn’t ring true; the writing seems forced and uncomfortable. It’s pasted in, not part of the real story at all. (And most of what we find out about the characters’ fates comes AFTER the book itself, in the appendices.) I think Rowling did this part right and Tolkien didn’t. And that’s my two cents.

  48. hey trish,
    I respect your opinion, and maybe it’s just a matter of personal preference. But, just for the sake of discussion…

    It is indeed war, and the cost is always high in war. However, are we sitting down to read a documentary, or a novel–to have our imaginations drawn away into this story as a great entertaining experience? Plus, In war, people die, but they are remembered by their comrades for what they did, and honored–even if it’s after the war is over. I still hold that this is very much part of the story. It helps bring the story full circle, instead of taking you to the height of conflict and tension, then chopping it off and ending it right there. As for the celebrations, didn’t people dance in the streets of Europe and the US when Hitler was defeated at the end of WWII? If you’re going for realism, it makes sense that these things would be there.

    Another point about Tolkien–he himself admitted that he didn’t know or adhere to all the conventional rules that authors follow–he said that his story was too long at the beginning, too long at the end, etc. Yet his books have stood the test of time, and are some of the most adored and widely known there are. Jo’s books have yet to pass that test.

  49. oops–meant to say about Tolkien–he commented that his story was too long at the beginning and too short at the end.

  50. On Tolkien being too easy on his characters, I’d say both yes and no. Yes, in the sense that very few “named” characters in LOTR die. Very few who the reader comes to care about. Theoden dies a noble death but was near the end of his life anyway – a Dumbledore-ish death. Gandalf dies but comes back like Harry. Denethor and Smeagol die but are Pettigrew/Snape type figures, not Tonks/Lupin/Fred. 8 of the 9 in the Fellowship survive – and Boromir brings his fate on himself.

    But no, in the sense that IMO Tolkien does a better job of making the reader feel the weight and significance of the aftermath of such an event. He is harder on Frodo, for example, than Rowling is on Harry. Frodo has saved the shire, but not for himself. Harry’s scar doesn’t hurt anymore – Frodo’s scar hurts and will worsen, unless he leaves Middle Earth forever. He has paid a very high price, and must sail west (though to a place of rest) with the elves. Likewise the happiness of Arwen and Aragorn is tainted with the knowledge and weight of Arwen’s choice. The happiness of Pippin, Merry and Sam is tinged by the loss of Frodo. The elves such as Galadriel have helped defeat the enemy but now must diminish and fade, and leave Middle Earth forever, etc.

    Contrast all of that with the happy scene at the train station. Nothing at all wrong with the train station scene, and in the background there is the reader’s knowledge that those characters are dead. The closest Rowling comes to that is Harry’s statement to his son about Snape being the bravest man he ever knew – that did bring me to tears. But I think Tolkien’s resolution leaves both his characters and the reader with more of a bittersweet sense of what the triumph cost than Rowling’s.

    As far as Tolkien as a writer in general being easy on his characters – you can’t read the Silmarillion and fault him for that. Tragedy, loss, failure and death (in the midst of valiant struggle and costly victory) hit you – and all the main characters – at every turn.

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