I hope you’ve all enjoyed my trips down memory lane and brought in some old blog entries to my latest blog. There were a few other entries that, for one reason or another, I chose not to re-blog, mostly about the 2004 US Presidential Election and why I was so enthusiastic to be rid of George W Bush in the White House. And we all know how that turned out.
But now we’re back to more up-to-date items, I thought I’d get back into the swing of things by writing a book review, on a par with what I wrote a few months ago when I wrote a long-delayed review of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol.
About two days before the release of the last book of the Harry Potter series, the ‘net was abuzz with a leaked copy of the book. Having already pre-ordered my copy of the actual book (a collectors’ edition, actually), I downloaded a copy of the 659-page PDF file that purported to be the story.
The moment I picked up my copy of the real book, I knew that it wasn’t the real story but a very elaborate fan fiction.
Since I was not eager to use more than a ream of paper to print out the whole thing, and since I really didn’t want to read this document on my laptop, it kind of just sat there until I put it on my Kindle.
So I finally got around to reading this epic-length book written by someone whose identity I still don’t know.
I have to give credit to the author for writing something this long and providing an alternate progression of the narrative in which the Boy Who Lived defeated Him Who Must Not Be Named. (It always bothered me that, throughout the books, Voldemort is “He Who Must Be Named” without regard to the part of speech “He” represents.)
As I said before, it was obvious that this wasn’t the real book the moment you could compare it with the actual book. Chapter titles alone gave that away.
If you had actually read the .pdf, there are two other clues that this wasn’t real:
First, there are a couple of points where the author makes parenthetical statements about his (I’m assuming it was a man who wrote it) authorship and his admitted variances from the way magic actually works in the wizarding world. These statements are generally mea culpas for having written something that was later contradicted by J.K. Rowling in a speech or interview. (For example, what happens when the secret-keeper involved with the Fidelius charm dies.)
The second point is that nowhere in the expansive story does the phrase “deathly hallows” appear, nor does the story relate in any capacity to the title itself.
So… Factoring that much out of the story, I think it’s interesting what this author picked up on in drafting an interesting narrative nonetheless.
This story got a fair amount right. Practically from the moment Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was published, there was a huge amount of speculation as to the identity of R.A.B., who had intended to destroy the locket horcrux. That this story got it right that this was Sirius’s brother isn’t a huge surprise. (Although it would’ve been nice if they’d gotten his middle name right.)
This story also correctly predicted that Dobby would come to Harry’s rescue in Malfoy Manor, that Harry would end up with Ginny in the end, and that the tiara Harry found in the Room of Requirement as he was hiding the Half-Blood Prince’s book was actually a horcrux.
Among the things the story got wrong include the belief that Snape actually did betray Dumbledore when he killed him, that Draco and Narcissa Malfoy chose to accept the assistance of the Order of the Phoenix to go into hiding, and that Hogwarts closed after the death of Dumbledore.
But what the story did and didn’t get right isn’t really relevant. The very fact that there were two different authors should mean that something will vary between them.
What I think is even more interesting is what this author picked up on, that wasn’t otherwise revealed in the actual books.
When Harry and Dumbledore reviewed various memories in his office in the sixth book, they saw one memory about a woman named Hepzibah Smith, who showed a young Tom Riddle a cup that once belonged to Helga Hufflepuff. In this .pdf, Hepzibah’s old home has been converted to a museum, the cup is in storage there, and one of Harry’s classmates, Zacharias Smith is both related to her and an employee of the museum.
Even more fascinating is something that Dumbledore tells Harry at the end of the fifth book: in the Ministry of Magic Building, in the Department of Mysteries, that there is a room that’s always locked and that contains love. In this alternate narrative, Harry defeats Voldemort but is badly injured in the process; his spirit floats across the Department of Mysteries and settles in this locked room, which, in Harry’s mind, resembles the Gryffindor Common Room. It is there that he sees his parents, Sirius, and the recently-deceased Remus Lupin.
In all, this is a decent read. I’m not a big fan of fan fiction in general, but this is a fascinating narrative because it purports to be the finale of an epic series. I don’t know if you can get it anymore anywhere, but it’s a reasonably interesting diversion if you’re a fan of the series.