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A 35-year-old man reads the Harry Potter books for the first time (part two)

Posted by Team Fanattik on

Friend of Fanattik, Oli, is back having completed the final Harry Potter book...

I did it. It took me just over two months (although you could argue it actually took me twenty years), but I finished all seven books. The last three took me longer than the first four, but they are generally longer books, so that makes sense. In fact, of the 1,084,170 words in the entire series, the last three books account for 57% of those.

Over the time period it took me to get through them, I averaged 16,679 words per day (one of the very few positives from COVID-19 is all the time I have on my hands!), but that average will have been brought down massively by the later books, especially when you consider that the Philosopher’s Stone took me one day to read the 76,944 words it contained.

Anyway, enough stats, let’s get on with what I thought (you can read my thoughts on the first four here, and don’t forget: SPOILERS!).

Harry Potter

The boring one
Oh my, the Order of the Phoenix is long. 58,000 words longer than any of the others (and more than three times as long as the Philosopher’s Stone), and about 500% less plot than any of the others as well! Nothing happens for about two thirds of the book. It’s pages and pages of Harry moaning about Cho and Umbridge and Dumbledore and Sirius and Snape, and if it wasn’t for the final quarter, it would have been a complete waste of time. On the plus side, however, we do get the introduction of Umbridge (what a cow), and a major character gets killed off for the first time (I don’t count Cedric Diggory, he was only introduced so that he could die, he may as well have worn a red Starfleet shirt). The ending does get you excited by the next one, and after the hard slog of getting through this, I was keen to get going on what I hoped would be a book that’s a bit more exciting.

The Dumbledore one
The Half-Blood Prince seems positively short after the marathon of the Order of the Phoenix. This is where we learn a lot more about Voldemort, as well as Dumbledore, and I think this was probably my favourite book to read. Things actually happened, and all the way through as well! We meet Professor Slughorn for the first time, and although he is seen as a ‘good guy’, his methods of ‘collecting’ students to be his ‘favourites’ actually seems pretty sinister. I’d like to know if his DBS check showed anything up. This one also features a death, and it’s pretty huge, permanently shaking things up in the wizarding world. On to the final book!

The last one
I remember a fair amount from the two films that the Deathly Hallows was split into, although what happened in which film, I wasn’t sure about, so I didn’t know in which part of the book things were going to happen. It really is a different book to the others. For starters, it doesn’t take place in Hogwarts as all of the others do, and we get character deaths right in the first few chapters (one of which happens completely off the page, and is quite annoying really, he had earned a better death).

It was a really good read, very dramatic, but there were a couple of points I didn’t like. I don’t really think Snape deserved a redemption. He had been awful to Harry for seven books, and really cemented his bad guy status at the end of the Half-Blood Prince. There are also a lot of things that happen in these last two books that seem quite sudden. I get the feeling that Rowling decided that Ron and Hermione would get together quite late in the process, because there aren’t an awful lot of signs of it beforehand. And it’s taken me seven books to realise that, actually, I don’t really like Harry. He has moments of brilliance, but I was very sick of his teenage angst by the end of it. Doesn’t fill me with hope for when my own kids get to that age.
Also the epilogue was pretty unnecessary, and contained the obligatory children-of-characters-that-are-named-after-other-characters trope (hello Lord of the Rings).

All in all, I’ve really enjoyed reading them. As mentioned in part one of the blog, it’s been such a long time since I read actual physical books. As much as I enjoy reading on my Kindle app, it was great to be able to lose myself in something away from my phone.

Just a couple more questions;

1. The word “godfather” is used a few times (Sirius is Harry’s godfather, Lupin asks Harry to be his son’s godfather), does this mean that wizards are also religious? Do they have christenings? Which ‘God’ does this term refer to in the wizarding world?

2. There’s a lot of talk through the series of how quaint Muggle technology is, and more than once a phrase similar to “How do the Muggles cope without magic?” is used. However, there are several occasions where a phone would be ideal! When Harry has a vision of Sirius being attacked in Order of the Phoenix, he needs to find out if he’s okay, and what follows is a complicated scheme of looking in fireplaces, etc, when a simple “You alright mate?” text message would have sufficed! Fair enough, the books are set in the 90s when mobiles weren’t as prevalent, but you’d think they would have come up with a better way of communicating than us Muggles.

Right, well that’s those two months done. What shall I do now? Any reading recommendations?

If you're a Harry Potter fan, or you're looking for Christmas gifts for a Harry Potter fan, make sure you shop the collection at Fanattik including the new silver plated Yule Ball invite!

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