Chapter 22 – The Deathly Hallows
- Preventing the Death Eaters from seeing Ron because he’s supposed to be at home with spattergroit – Hermione really does think of everything.
- “She’s tough, Luna, much tougher than you’d think. She’s probably teaching all the inmates about Wrackspurts and Nargles.” I think Harry’s right – Luna’s personality does seem the least susceptible to being broken by imprisonment.
- “If he were the master of the Deathly Hallows, would he be safe?” Once again, Harry’s not interested in power for its own sake – he just wants to get rid of Voldemort so he and everyone else can have normal, worry-free lives.
- This is another chapter which covers a long period of time where nothing really happens, though it summarises it all well. Despite Harry being unhappy and focussed on the Hallows, things still feel more positive than before Ron left, and the group as a whole more proactive: it’s like they’ve experienced the absolute low point and there’s nowhere to go but up.
- There’s a lot to like in the Potterwatch broadcast. I like the codenames used – for example, Lupin’s codename ‘Romulus’ is a reference to the brother of Remus in Roman mythology (the two of them were suckled by a wolf as babies). Fred brings some much-needed levity, and it’s good to hear that some wizards are working of their own initiative to protect Muggles. There’s also the focus on Harry, which really emphasises his importance to outside parties.
Chapter 23 – Malfoy Manor
- Through a simple slip-up by Harry, the situation really escalates in this chapter, and the story starts rolling again.
- It’s telling that Draco is reluctant to give Harry away and thus let him be killed. This is a very different Draco from the earlier books: he’s been participating in grown-up evil, rather than schoolyard bullying, for a while now, and it’s not really fun anymore.
- Ron offering himself to be tortured instead of Hermione, and then going crazy as he listens to her screams – he really does demonstrate his virtues strongly in this book.
- Grindelwald’s aims may have been similar to Voldemort’s in many ways, but he indicates a key difference when he declares “I welcome death!” – which Voldemort would no doubt see as an indicator of inferiority.
- Wormtail’s silver hand strangling him is both unexpected and yet appropriate for a gift from Voldemort, but I really thought his life debt to Harry would pay off in a more open act of defiance, rather than a momentary hesitation. It doesn’t feel especially significant, though I suppose it’s good to have expectations subverted.
- We get our next big chapter-closing death, and this time it’s Dobby. It’s another unexpected one, and it feels even sadder having read the other books in quick succession, with all the times that Dobby has helped Harry still fresh in the mind.
Chapter 24 – The Wandmaker
- The chapter begins with another section of very powerful prose: Harry realising his priorities, sealing his mind against Voldemort through the power of his grief, and digging Dobby’s grave himself, trying to hold back the pain as he does so. It may only be a little funeral with a crude gravestone, yet it still feels incredibly heartfelt and meaningful.
- Ron puts an arm around Hermione as they stand around Dobby’s grave, as if they’re already a couple. I’d like to think there are many interactions between Ron and Hermione that Harry doesn’t notice, or maybe even things they don’t need to say out loud between themselves.
- Harry may be a legal adult now, but given that he’s still young, I like how Bill respects him enough to trust what he’s doing without too many questions.
- Hermione willingly calling herself a Mudblood can’t really be called character development, because I don’t think she’s ever shown signs of being really hurt by the word; Ron always reacts more strongly to it than she does.
- You can really see the value of the memories Harry saw in Half-Blood Prince; those insights definitely help him in understanding why Voldemort would want to hide a Horcrux in Gringotts. And although Harry says, “I just wish I’d understood Dumbledore as much,” he certainly shows signs of understanding Dumbledore more in this chapter.
- Ollivander’s talk about wands is interesting – one of those aspects of magic that doesn’t suffer for being a bit mysterious and vague.
- Voldemort refers to Hogwarts as “his first kingdom, his birthright” – as if he wasn’t arrogant enough already.
Chapter 25 – Shell Cottage
- The book continues to revisit less obvious aspects of the previous stories, as Harry states that Dumbledore would have “gone on”, just as Nearly Headless Nick said Sirius would have.
- I like how more conflict is generated with the new problem of having to give up the sword of Gryffindor to Griphook.
- We’re back to making proper plans again – excellent.
- The birth of Remus and Tonks’s son provides a lovely moment of happiness – from this point onwards, there aren’t going to be many breaks to feel that way.
- Giving goblins a different notion of ownership than humans is a good bit of worldbuilding.
Chapter 26 – Gringotts
- So apparently Bellatrix Lestrange can just walk around Diagon Alley now. Did anyone even bother to offer an excuse to the wizarding public? Then there’s the shops for the Dark Arts that have been set up: things have changed quickly.
- I like how Harry looks back to the first book when considering Gringotts – who’d have thought, back then, the story would end up here?
- Maybe now’s not the time and place, but I wish there was more exploration of the fact that Harry used the Imperius Curse. It feels significant, and not in a good way.
- It actually feels satisfying to discover that Gringotts really does have dragons guarding the vaults. And the trio making their escape on it – following a frantic sequence in the vault itself – is just the kind of dramatic action that the final book deserves.
Chapter 27 – The Final Hiding Place
- Another line that I love: “Well, I don’t know how to break this to you, but I think they might have noticed we broke into Gringotts.”
- The tension builds and the stakes are raised, as Voldemort finally realises that Harry is after his Horcruxes. Another direct look into Voldemort’s head shows his thoughts perfectly backing up what Harry learned from Dumbledore: he never trusts anyone if he can help it.
- And so we’re going back to Hogwarts for the climax. But really, where else could it have taken place?