Over the last few months, I have had the pleasure to read the whole Harry Potter Saga, and even more than that I've had the wonderful opportunity to discuss the books with a few lovely friends. Their comments while I was reading have been a precious gift to me, and I can finally understand why they love the books so much.

Today SatinCoveredSteel and I are sharing our comments about the whole Saga. Warning: (some) spoilers ahead!

1. Mystery Writing

Raum: I love the way the author put so many hints in the books and used them to build such a complex and fascinating plot. So many times there were scenes that made perfect sense given the setting, but then they took on a new meaning as well, because they were preparing us readers for something different. E. g. Aragog had been mentioned in one of the first books, so when it died it wasn't strange for the readers. But the death and the "funeral" became very important given the things Harry got going to the funeral with Hagrid and Slughorn.

SatinCoveredSteel: This is something I love about JK Rowling's writing, too.  She works very much like a mystery writer, laying out many clues or situations that are only fully understood much later.  I love the how the seventh book in particular showed us a new side to so many things we thought we understood before.

A question for the readers: which is your favorite book in the Saga?

2. What changed during the Saga

Raum: I love that JK Rowling's writing style improved during the Saga. I think it takes courage and strength to always try to do better, and that shows in her writing.

SatinCoveredSteel: What I noticed was that I liked her plots better and better as the series progressed (although I think I enjoyed the 3rd and 4th books better than the 5th).  Generally, the books became more complex and interesting as they went along, and of course each one built on the existing complexity of the last one.  In addition, as the main characters grew up and dealt with more grown-up situations, it became more interesting in that way as well.

A question for the readers: which changes did you notice during the Saga?

3. Characters

Raum:  I love the care the author gave to all the characters. Each one has his/her flaws, and I really appreciate it. The Saga is not just Harry's story, but it's the story of all the people the author makes us love or hate or despise or pity. JK Rowling didn't create just a main character or an adventure; she created a new world. 

SatinCoveredSteel: She put gave years and years of her life to creating that world, and yes, it is a very full and interesting one.  There are many wonderful characters, some of them straightforward and others far more complex and at times hard to figure out.  For me, interesting characters are the most important ingredient of a good story.

A question for the readers: who is your favorite character and why?

4. Fanfiction?

Raum: The whole story is so well-crafted that, after reading it, I don't feel any need to read HP fanfics (let alone writing them!). I'm open to suggestions because...never say never, but so far I just want to reread what the author wrote. I wouldn't like to see a single detail changed, while in other fandoms I really enjoy AU fics, where the same characters have different backgrounds and adventures.

SatinCoveredSteel: Of course the first thing you want to do is reread it; I would too, if I'd just read all seven books in a row for the first time!  I've read a few short Harry Potter fanfics, but I never searched very seriously.  I'm sure there are some good quality ones out there...but like you, I haven't had much desire to read them.  I think you have a point that the story in the books is very tightly constructed and satisfying, but I think many people have written AU HP fics.  I know some people like to explore different character pairings, for example.  I'm sure there are fics elaborating upon things that happened in the canon Saga, as well. A Snape POV of certain parts of the story would be interesting, but it would have to be done well.  Same with Dumbledore, perhaps.  Something else I think could be interesting would be stories about what happens to the next generation of Potters and Weasleys—the kids we see at the end of the book.  

A question for the readers: which HP fanfics would you recommend?

5. Deep Meanings

Raum: I love the way the story can be read discovering so many layers. I think the last book is a great reflection about self-sacrifice (Harry), the complexity of every human being (Dumbledore), the way you can keep love going on even after the person you loved died (Severus). 

SatinCoveredSteel: I found Dumbledore's story fascinating, and we learn so much more about him in the seventh book.  Harry sees that everyone is fallible—even his hero—but of course he also sees that we can learn from our mistakes and become better people.  Both Dumbledore and Snape had to learn from some major mistakes in their lives.  

For me, Severus Snape was the most fascinating character in the Saga.

One of the main things I noticed throughout the books is the idea that appearances can be deceptive—don't judge a book by its cover.  Examples abound in the books.  Professor Quirrel, who seemed like a just a harmless teacher, but turned out to be helping Voldemort.  Mad-Eye Moody, who turned out to be Barty Crouch Jr. in disguise.  Scabbers, who seemed like just a hand-me-down pet rat, but was actually Peter Pettigrew, the man who betrayed Harry's Parents.  Sirius Black, who was believed by everyone to be that betrayer, but who had actually been framed by Pettigrew and wrongfully imprisoned all those years.  There are other examples, but those are the ones that come to mind.  Some characters are more straightforward, of course—for example, we pretty much knew what Bellatrix Lestrange was like from the first moment we saw her, and were never proven wrong.  

But I had a feeling that Rowling was playing with us when it came to Snape.  She usually showed a character's true colors over the course of one book (Sirius's arc in the third book, for example), but in Snape's case, she made us wait until the last book to show us what really happened.  One thing I never saw coming was his history with Lily, although when Harry saw the silver doe Patronus in the forest, I did wonder if that might have something to do with her (since James's was a stag).  I thought that was one of the most brilliant things in that book, and it's interesting to look back at the earlier books with that in mind.  For me, it's not simple...not at all.  Snape wanted to protect Harry for Lily's sake, but at the same time, he had to spend all those years watching over this boy who looked so much like James, but with Lily's eyes.  Harry is the reminder of the girl he lost, the girl he couldn't have...the girl who chose another.  I wonder how much of his poor treatment of Harry throughout the story was to hide his true mission, and how much was genuine dislike because of the boy's resemblance to his father?  I suspect it's some of both.  Perhaps Rowling leaves that as an open question for readers to decide.  

A question for the readers: which plot twist or which character surprised you more?

6. Humour

Raum: JK Rowling's humor was an elegant trait that made all the Saga even more enjoyable. It helped to break the tension, but it helped also to fall more and more in love with the characters. Fred and George are a great example of that. Even in the darkest moments, they kept their smile on their faces.

SatinCoveredSteel: Humor is another thing I feel is key to a good book—not always necessary, but it almost always helps.  With so much dark material, there needs to be something to break it up, to make us smile in the midst of it, and I think Rowling is wonderful at writing humor that appeals to a broad spectrum of people—both kids and adults. Fred and George were brilliant...but I'm still sad about Fred's death. The author clearly knows where to hit her readers where it hurts, doesn't she?

A question for the readers: which was the most funny or sad moment in the Saga?

7. Learning from the Saga

Raum: I think the Saga teaches us how our free choices are truly our most important talent. Intelligence, wealth, beauty... they matter, they all matter: the author doesn't deny it, because the characters wouldn't have been the same without their most important talents. But no talent is enough to grant you happiness. Everything depends on the choices you make. 

SatinCoveredSteel: You're right.  For example, Tom Riddle was an intelligent being with a natural talent for magic (and yes, a handsome face), but he lacked empathy for the people around him.  Whereas Bellatrix was a fiery villain who took pleasure in the pain of others, in comparison Voldemort almost seemed detached, uncaring, cold.  He could have been of great service to the world, but instead, he turned his natural talents to domination and destruction.  

Dumbledore and Grindelwald are another good example.  Dumbledore learned early in his life the pitfalls of thinking oneself superior, and he changed course, instead becoming a champion of Muggle-borns.  Grindelwald did not learn the same lesson.  Both men were similarly talented and intelligent, but one chose the path of light while the other chose darkness.  

I think if I had to name the single most important theme in the last book, it's the power of love.  Voldemort's failure to understand the human heart contributed to his downfall.  He didn't understand Snape's love for Lily—couldn't fathom the power of such a feeling—and so didn't see how Snape was working against him.  It had also proved his undoing on the night he killed Harry's parents, when Lily's love protected Harry from harm and his own attack rebounded upon him.  He overlooked that power, because he didn't understand it—didn't feel it for anyone himself.  And he failed to learn, because he made the same mistake again, on the night he tried to kill Harry in the woods (in the last book).  Once again, it was a mother's love for her son—Narcissa Malfoy's love for Draco—that brought about his ruin.  She lied to him, telling him Harry was dead, and that saved Harry's life again.  Her priorities had shifted, and she didn't care about the death eaters anymore; all she cared about was finding Draco and getting him to safety.  Voldemort didn't see this coming, because once again, he didn't understand her love.  It's one of my favorite things in the book, and the fact that it's one of Harry's enemies who is mirroring the actions of his own mother makes it all the more poignant for me.  It's like a perfect bookend for the saga.

A question for the readers: what have you learned from the Saga?


  1. A very enjoyable interview but I have to strongly disagree with Raum about HP fanfiction. There are some remarkable HP fanfics out there Although JKR's sage is brilliant there were certain things that didn;t make sense to me, Ron and Hermione for one. lol I also think Snape got a really raw deal, ff can make that all better. :)

    1. Thank you for your comment!

      I haven't read any HP fanfic (yet), so I'm very open to suggestions :)

      - Raum

  2. I read HP till the end, but while I really loved the first books my interest waned a little as the boys got older. The "sentimental" part made me cringe, and I am still amazed by the number of M rated fics it generated, because I found the older characters completely unsexy and the language about it stupid. I have to recognize that Minisinoo wrote a masterpiece with "Finding Himself" and follow up but she had to resurrect Cedric to do it.

    However, I was impressed by a comment of an Italian journalist who wrote (at the time in Italy the Church had unexplicably condemned HP) this (More or less) about the main lesson delivered by the books: You are an extraordinary boy, in fact you are a Magician, or you will be. You will then be able to achieve everything. But, in order to get there you have to go to school, study hard and follow the rules. Sometime, however you will find that you can't obey the rules. You can disobey then, provided you are prepared to pay the price.
    Therefore HP has a highly educational message for growing kids.

    1. Thank you for your comment!

      There's an interesting debate about Religion and HP: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_debates_over_the_Harry_Potter_series

      Have a great day!

  3. Thank you, my friend, for this opportunity to share some of my thoughts on the Harry Potter series. I've enjoyed revisiting it with you!

    -Sarah (SatinCoveredSteel)

    1. Thank YOU!!! I enjoy a lot our discussions about Twilight, Harry Potter, and the relationship between those Sagas.


      - Mari (Raum)

  4. Harry Potter was the book that got me back into reading again years ago. I picked it up thinking I should understand what my children might read in the future. I never thought I would love it so much. Not only did it re-ignite my love for reading, but it also sparked the same love for my oldest two children. Now at 14 & 10, I often have to tell them to stop reading & go to bed!
    JKR managed to create an amazing world that was so wonderful to get lost in, and actually made me sad when it ended. I think my favorite book was #4 GoF, and I agree with many of your points. Never has a story been so vivid in my mind or have I felt the same emotions as the characters. My daughter actually took more months to finish the 5th than any other book, purely because of Umbridge. It was her first taste of just how mean & evil a character could be in a story. I also have to add though that they did an amazing job with the movies...especially the sets. They exceeded what my little imagination could picture & only enhanced the experience for me.
    Thank you for sharing your discussion here. It was lovely to remember all of the reasons why I love HP so much.
    ~allidel :)

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment! I'm very glad you liked this post.

      All the best,

      - Raum


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