Sunday, February 28, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 9: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


I finished the series, and it was fantastic!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
J.K. Rowling

This book was a phenomenal, intelligent (in short, perfect) capstone to the series. I don't know that anything I type here about it will truly do it justice.

Instead, let me write a little more about why I didn't read the series sooner. After reading Dumbledore's confession to Harry, I'm feeling that I ought to follow his example.

Honestly, it's baffling that I haven't read Harry Potter before 2016. It was published in the US when I was 18 years old. My preferred books were the various DragonLance novels written to expand upon the D&D campaign setting. I wanted my fantasy to be fantasy and my modern-day stuff to be modern-day and I didn't really want them to mix, so seeing young Harry as a wizard from the modern world going to a wizard school...I don't know, it just didn't seem like something I would want to read.  Not when I could be reading about the Heroes of the Lance!

I don't recall any of my friends reading Harry Potter way back then, but I'll be the first to admit that my memory is dodgy at best. My younger sisters weren't much for reading, my older siblings were less of an influence on me at that time. My own reading habits were beginning to decline as video games evolved, and some of my favorite stories came to me through my Nintendo or PlayStation.

Fast forward to being married. I didn't really start showing an interest in Harry Potter until I was married. The first film hit in 2001, but I didn't meet my future ex-wife until 2003. She was a huge Potter-head, among other things. Sadly, the two of us didn't read much together. It would have been wonderful of me to read Harry Potter then, so she and I could discuss the books. I had her read DragonLance, we played video games, and...well, anyway. We enjoyed the films together, and I read the first book, but no more.

Now it's 2016. I'm divorced. A large part of my family has read the Harry Potter series. Though I've wanted to for a while, I was hesitant. Knowing that my ex was such a huge fan, thinking of the time she and I had devoted to movie marathons, I wasn't looking forward to feeling the feels that reading these books at long last were certain to stir within me. There is so much anger and sadness within me because of her, and it is hard to look back without feeling bitter (there's really only one or two things I can look back on with her and not feel pain). Reading Harry Potter would force me to look back, consciously or not.

Reading the series I became engrossed in the characters, the sweeping story, and the messages contained therein. I met a preacher's daughter once and was saddened to learn she wasn't allowed to read the books (this is before I started reading them, but after I had seen all the films). It's a story about witchcraft, she told me. It's a story about love, I replied. I knew this from the movies, and now I know it in my blackened heart. Love is at the very core of this amazing series, and it is magical for that.

I'm looking forward to re-reading The DragonLance Chronicles later this year, as that trilogy came to me when I was first learning what love was. The struggles of Tanis Half-Elven in the world of Krynn, and of his heart as its allegiance was tested by the human woman and the elven woman he holds a very special place inside of me, and it has been years since I've reread them. The love Tanis and his companions have for each other, though...that was always something I felt very strongly about. It's a love that is exemplified in Harry Potter and a love, I hope against hope, to cultivate in my own life.

I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows today and I feel...peaceful. It was a fantastic, fantastic book. I haven't thought about my ex beyond what I've recorded here. I'm sitting in my apartment listening to sad music, sipping cocoa, and looking forward to the next book I will read. Like Harry, I will be ok. The Boy Who Lived gives me hope.

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