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DH review - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
DH review
I got spoiled last week and was expecting to truly and fully loathe this book, as JK warned people might do. I would have to spend the library party putting on a fake smile, pretending to still like something that had pissed me off beyond all human measure. I would read it in the mode of "taking my medicine."

So naturally, I couldn't put it down, and loved at least 90% of it.

Oh, not the Remus and Tonks deaths, which still annoy me, as the basic premise seemed to be, "Oh, let's kill off a couple of people randomly to show that evil kills off random people," which almost never works well in fiction and doesn't here. And certainly not the Snape stuff, which bored me silly. But the Dumbledore stuff that was looking like "OMG! Dumbledore was totally evil and Harry should hate him" turned out to be... well... pretty good back story explaining how Dumbledore came to understand his own limitations, and the sorts of limitations that are inherent to geniuses of all stripes--in fact, how Dumbledore ended up Riddle's opposite for so long.

So, individual elements:
General
Everyone who wasn't the trio got a short shrift here, but that was unavoidable. It was time to start collapsing things back down. But I missed the complex cast.

Remus/Tonks
If JKR hadn't tossed them into the gratuitous body count, I'd so be dancing. "Dora" is her canon nickname, both from her father and from Remus when he's busy being in love. I didn't get jossed on their back story. Hell, I even called their son as a metamorphmagus, though I picked the wrong side of the family to name him after. Ted Tonks seems to network with Muggle-borns and be involved with the politics thereof. Harry finally lays into Lupin with his biggest problem--he may be great for rushing into battle with dark things of all sorts, but he's a coward when it comes to the courage of the ordinary. (I practically stood up and cheered Harry in that scene.) (Of course, then Remus and Dora both go off adventuring where they're not needed in any obvious way in the end, so I'm not sure how much good it did.) BUT THEY'RE BOTH FREAKING DEAD. I have no rational reaction to this circumstance, just a primal keening about having wasted three years, two months, and twenty-two days developing the relationship of people whose apparent purpose was to be redshirts. Which is not JK's fault, or any actual aesthetic reflection on the book. It's a totally irrational reaction which deserves neither brainspace or reviewspace. So Teddy and I are in delicate negotiations for him to throw the mother (and father) of all fanfictional temper tantrums, just to get some things off our chest. I just need to get used to him for a few days; not being actually raised by the self-controlled Remus, he's a lot fierier than his non-existent brother Orry ever was. I don't think I have much heart to go on with Stray, still plausible or not. It's one thing to talk about a group of three who loses one, and how they all cope. It's something else to write about a group of three who have a handful of months left between them and not much to show for it. Loses some of the joy I generally take in writing, you know? I could easily write them deliberately trashing the Shrieking Shack as soon as they find out Snape's in charge of Hogwarts, in the hopes of luring people there on the though that it's deserted.

I think this was well-handled for a very minor subplot, and Remus was very much in character, to the point where you want to grab him and shake him really, really hard. Because yes, the first time he saw that he was causing any hardship at all, he'd go right back to his default "I'm cursed!!!!!" position. And preggoDora might be whoopsing her cookies too much to have the energy to not be furious at him for it. So bless Harry. Though I wish they'd shown the christening, just to give us a scene that had to be there if he's godfather, and must have meant something to him!

Snape, Marauders
I've always said I'd believe anything she did with Snape at this point, and I believe what she did with Snape at this point, but the truth is, I lied. The dearest desire of my heart is exactly the sort of thing I'd never have accepted if she'd actually done it--which is to say, I'd have been so happy if, over the summer, Snape had run off with Durmstrang pal and they'd both joined the Moscow circus, and we'd never seen or heard from him again. However, that wouldn't be feasible, so I accepted that we'd have to deal with something major, and I'd even coped with the Snape-loved-Lily thing. I still don't see it, but as an OotP R/T shipper, I'll take the word of S/L shippers; I must have missed it, probably because I've been bored out of my skull with Snape since "Snape's Worst Memory," and therefore wasn't paying much attention to the minutiae. At least ghost!Lily didn't tell Harry how deeply sorry she was that she didn't marry dear Sevvy-poo.

My first problem with this were that, as expected, the glorification of Snape meant a diminution of characters in whom I was personally more interested. The whole Wormtail life debt thing boils down to a minor escape with a tiny, itsy-bitsy felicitation of Harry surviving, followed by killer appendages. My bigger problem is that he came off looking even worse than he did in SWM. Not only did Snape apparently never figure out that Lily loved James rather than him and why she loved him, but his very last act in life is, essentially, filling Harry's head with the idea that he, Snape, is much more important than that cipher who faced the most dangerous wizard of all time, unarmed and unprotected, in order to try and buy a few seconds for his wife and son. (On the plus side, I thought James rocked really hard in Voldemort's memory of what happened in Godric's Hollow.) The third problem is the same one I had with the theory in fanfiction, which is just that I plain don't find it interesting, but that's just a differing tastes thing. The other false note, just in a logic sense, was that if Snape and Lily had been actual friends, which the memory implies, the people who went to school with them certainly wouldn't be so mystified about what might make Dumbledore trust Snape so much. "Oh, sure, I remember--didn't they used to walk around the lake together? Weren't they from the same place?" And so on. Just not sure how that works.

Weren't we supposed to find out that there was some great reason Sirius died?

Speaking of Sirius... I really wanted more of the Regulus plot. More meat on the bones of the Sirius-Regulus relationship, more identity from them, more on the House of Black, in which JKR seemed to be taking so much interest. Of course, yes, this leaves it free for fanfictional interpretations, but after leaving R.A.B. as the big mystery in the last book, I'd have liked to have gotten a Pensieve view of that. Hell, I kept expecting to find that Regulus had survived the lake and had some story to share with Harry. That said, I really, really love that what pushed him over the edge was finding out what Voldemort had done to Kreacher. It definitely gives a Sirius-like edge to him--"Wait a minute--you took a creature who couldn't refuse your orders and ordered him to drink poison, then abandoned him to die? Not on my watch." So when it kept not having any repercussions, I felt like something had been cut and needed to be added back in during post-production, except that there was none. I'm also glad that Kreacher came around when Harry gave him the locket.

James... JK, it was our last chance to find out why Lily loved him so much! Couldn't we have had at least as much of him as we had of Snape? We already know Snape, but James is a mystery! And now, there are very few people who could give Harry non-Snape-tainted memories.

Random nitpicks
On the "gun onstage" theory, somewhere in book two, Harry should have flipped through a comic in Ron's room involving Martin Miggs getting his hands on a Deathly Hallow, to have been promptly forgotten about when they have to go out and de-gnome or something. Most authors, I wouldn't even bother making the criticism, but JKR's usually been pretty good, so that when something comes to fruition, you say, "Oh, yeah... I remember that!" But here's a major plot point, and... nada. It was the same with the Dumbledore family plot. She told us that DD's family would be a profitable line of inquiry, but it's hard to inquire without having the right information with which to formulate questions.

Wow. It wasn't Norbert. Points to scarah and other skeptics on that one. I guess I assumed that the cover would be a more prominent scene... then again, I've read it all, and I still can't figure out what the American cover is depicting! Though we do see that curved arch bridge for the first time since book 1 (not counting the movies), and come to think of it, what's it supposed to be on book 1? Not really a nitpick, just a very surprising thing to me about which I don't have a strong opinion.

The rest is all good.
I'd read the Baltimore Sun review talking about how a lot of the joy and wonder leaves, but if so, they had the extra-special non-wondrous edition. Harry's learning lots of new things, and is absolutely still capable of wonder, and the writing shows it.

The whole business with Harry taking and burying Mad-Eyes prosthetic eye after Umbridge's disgusting misuse of it was really great. That was show-don't-tell decency.

The Ravenclaw door-knocker is made of awesome.

So, in the end, was Scrimgeour.

McGonagall and Neville always have been and always will be.

Potterwatch! Rock on, Lee Jordan.

The weird little meta with Rita releasing teasers for her book, saying "Oh, I can't say that..." and so on, was possibly not even conscious, but an interesting commentary on book publishing just the same.

Dudley! Oh, Big D, I just want to chuck you on the chin, you know? May he and Harry get to know each other again and have a strong friendship as adults. (It's also very interesting to me that, for the first time, we see Harry voluntarily connect himself to the Dursleys when he chooses "Vernon Dudley" as his fake name.)

The wedding, Kingsley, Voldemort taunting Bella and Narcissa about Tonks's marriage (oh, he knows the Blacks, doesn't he?), the watch, Harry seeing Ron's fears, Ron getting the sword, saving Malfoy's life... so very many little elements I like very much. I also liked the Horcrux pointing out a very reasonable insecurity of Ron's--that Ginny was obviously the one Molly was waiting for, while he perceives himself as "just another Weasley boy."

Neville killing Nagini and Molly "NOT-MY-DAUGHTER-BITCH" Weasley getting Bella.

I thought R/Hr was well done--there was as much as would be visible to Harry, and it's enough to establish their dynamic, but there are no awkward moments when The Designated Best Friend conveniently eavesdrops on situations that would make Harry run for the hills.

Voldemort's a bastard, attacking right next door to Harry's home.

I love Shell Cottage, and am adding immediately to my list of great HP locations. And go, Fleur, with the putting up with goblins, invasions of first married holidays by husband's extended family, and not ripping Griphook's head off.

Interesting point from Bill about the different perceptions of ownership between goblin and human, since it would really cover a whole lot of misunderstandings.

And Viktor brings in a piece of key info! And was invited to the wedding by Fleur. Gosh, did those two know each other from somewhere? [/sarcasm]

I really enjoyed Dumbledore's weakness for power, and the way the superficially charming Grindelwald exploited it.

Eh, I'll have more to say, but I need sleep. Suffice it to say that when I know my two favorite characters, in whom I am deeply emotionally invested, are going to die at the end, and I STILL CAN'T STOP READING, we're talking about a hella good book.
126 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
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ashtur From: ashtur Date: July 22nd, 2007 01:15 am (UTC) (Link)
I think on one thing, you'd be right about Snape/Lily, except that the Worst Memory was wide open for all the school to hear, so it wouldn't be

"They were friends"

but

"They were great friends until the greasy git showed his true colors." Calling Lily a Mudblood would have been enough to convince everyone that Snape truly did not care.
tonksified From: tonksified Date: July 22nd, 2007 01:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm still really bummed about Remus and Tonks, as well as Ted and Andromeda. I was just so happy when I read that they had gotten married, even if the DE were laughing about it. I squealed when I learned Tonks was pregnant, and I could barely contain my glee because Remus was just so happy when he announced they had a little boy metamorphmagus!

Then, JKR went ahead and killed them anyway. I had the same thoughts as you, the

"Oh, let's kill off a couple of people randomly to show that evil kills off random people,"


Seriously! I know it wouldn't be completely believable if none of the order died, but just Remus and Tonks? Of course, I may be biased because I love these two very much. All the same, the one thing I am happy about this is that they died together. Neither had to suffer the pain without the other. But poor Teddy Lupin! :(
mincot From: mincot Date: July 22nd, 2007 01:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Mad Eye bought it, too. Became a wall decoration to boot, probably dyed a bilious pink.
danel4d From: danel4d Date: July 22nd, 2007 01:33 am (UTC) (Link)
I've been waiting for your review all day.

I knew you'd be upset about the whole Lupin/Tonks death thing, but I'll have to give my thoughts in more detail after I've reread. It seemed to work for me - I prefer it over one of them dying, I think, and it ups the pain just a little bit more. I've not understood the way that some people have hated Remus for his actions earlier - I understood it in a way as him trying to give his child what he believed to be the best thing he could - a Heroic Dead Daddy rather than a Cursed Living one, and he was so wrong about it.
I didn't see them as redshirts - far more than that - I think it really needed to show more than just evil killing randomly. I think in so many ways it was their deaths that pushed Harry over the edge, enough to say "No more."

On Snape: I don't dislike him as much as you do, nor love him as much as some - I think of him as one of those ambiguous characters I less love-to-hate as like-to-dislike. But I loved the way that, as others have noted, he wasn't a misunderstood woobie hero but essentially a man with both light and dark, from childhood to death - his contempt for Petunia, the fact that he lost Lily because he freely chose to mingle with the proto-Death Eaters, rather than doing so in a fit of angst after losing Lily... he's the halfway house between Voldemort and Harry in many ways - Harry capable of loving so many so much as to freely give his life, while Voldemort never loved at all, and Snape was able, in all his life, to love one. And I liked that it was a friendship rather than an affair or crush from afar, and I'm not even sure if I want to read it as "Snape wanted to sex Lily up", since he was described as looking at her 'hungrily' from about the age of nine. There's so much there that interests me - and it's part of why I really hate the whole hardcore Snapefen lobby which flattens him, removes the twisted and unpleasant streak. He's not at all a nice man - as Lily points out, it's not so much that he doesn't hate muggleborns as that he's prepared to make an exception for his best friend, while Dumbledore is entirely right to be contemptuous of the fact that he'd willingly have let Harry and James die as long as Lily survived. But yeah... he loved one person, one more than Voldemort, which makes him infinitely the better man - and infinitely worse than Harry, who was capable of so much more.

Next time I go through it, I'd going to write down every time the concept of remorse comes up. I think it may be more than once a chapter.
dreagoddess From: dreagoddess Date: July 22nd, 2007 02:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Maybe it's just me, but I was viewing Snape's love for Lily as the same as, say, James for Sirius, or Ron and Hermione for Harry. (Notwithstanding the slashers out there!) It was a friendship love. There wasn't anything romantic there. She was a product of the (relative) innocence of childhood, when they were best friends and nothing else mattered. They grew away from that, but when it came down to it, she was still Lily and he was going to do whatever he could for her. Just like Ron diving in after Harry.

I always loved Snape as a character because he was proof that you didn't have to be a nice person to be on the right side. (With Umbridge as the flip side -- "the world isn't divided into nice people and Death Eaters.") Whenever people asked me "Snape: good or evil?", I'd always reply that he was on Harry's side, but I refused to call him good. He was a mean, nasty git who made a helluva lot of mistakes. But he was on the right side in the end.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 22nd, 2007 01:43 am (UTC) (Link)
The R/T deaths were the first thing that really got me crying (By the time Harry was walking towards the clearing with the ghosty people, I couldn't see the page). I know what you mean about the apparent meaninglessness of it-- we didn't see how they helped; it was just bodies. I had to read the sentence about three times before I let it sink in. I also agree that a lot more could have been done with the Teddy-as-godson thing, especially with all Harry's orphan!angst floating around. Ex: somebody thrusts the baby at Harry during grief over Tonks and Remus; Harry holds him and has a responsibility/miracle of continuing life moment-- badda-bing, badda-boom, thematic closure. I love the fact that Harry was the godfather, though, as I loved many of the other things you mentioned above. Especially Molly's war cry. Hollah, Molly. And Lee hosting Potterwatch-- it makes such wonderful sense. But I was disappointed not to see more James and Sirius, and by the lack of redemption for Peter. As with Sirius's will, I get a faint sense that the Maurauder structure matters more to many fans than it does to JKR.

I was also interested to see quotations at the beginning (which have a special name I've forgotten. Definitely not epitaphs... that's going to bug me). My first thought upon seeing the one from William Penn was that anyone who has ever attended UPenn or lived in the state of PA has got to be proud like whoah. And the dedication was wonderful.

I was very happy to see this posted, by the way, as I have been waiting since this afternoon for other people to finish so that I can gabble with them about it. Thank you!

at_upton
redlily From: redlily Date: July 22nd, 2007 04:37 am (UTC) (Link)
As a Philadelphian, yes, the William Penn quote made me grin insanely.
i_autumnheart From: i_autumnheart Date: July 22nd, 2007 01:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I really felt for you when i saw Dora and Remus had both bought it - particularly since so much of your backstory still lined up. It definitely felt like their thread was an afterthought, or had been either never completed or drastically cut: unfinished, and unsatisfying.

Given the timing of Teddy Lupin's birth, and the speed of the wedding, it really looks like the pair forgot some things when they finally got together at the end of HBP...I can't see them marrying that quickly without an external impetus, even in wartime.

We never really found out if Lupin's angst over the child inheriting Lycanthropy were borne out - and the Harry-as-godfather idea wasn't really used as a plot point even in the epilogue. I could have almost understood both parents dying if Harry had then taken the child in (in contrast to what didn't happen for him), but there was no payoff there either.

The only other deficiencies that irritated me as much as the Remus/Tonks thread were the gender roles and the lack of Ginny - but those are rants for another time. The rest of the book, as you say, was pretty darned good :)

I'll be even more disappointed with the 'ship if you do stop writing Stray - slightly AU is perfectly acceptable! Completely your right to stop, of course, but won't you consider saving them for us?

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 22nd, 2007 03:52 am (UTC) (Link)
I can't see them marrying that quickly without an external impetus, even in wartime.

Hmm. I'd assumed for ages that they were going to marry almost immediately after HBP, with or without pregnancy going into the decision. Why put it off?
lurkerm1e From: lurkerm1e Date: July 22nd, 2007 01:56 am (UTC) (Link)

A minority view

I disliked most of this book for the unecessary deaths of most of the fringe characters. In Star Trek fandom, this is the place/time when all those wearing redshirts are offed. Sad.

The pointless death of Snape.

The survival of the golden trio and worse, ditto for the Malfoy trio.

And worst of all the happy Hollywood ending/non-ending with the trio seeing their kids off to Hogwarts. Sequels anyone? Let's say 'Albus Severus and the {plot title to be inserted by Rowling here} of - whatever-.?

The best bits are the house elves revenge and Kreacher.


lurker
narcissam From: narcissam Date: July 22nd, 2007 05:35 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: A minority view

The survival of the golden trio and worse, ditto for the Malfoy trio.

No, Crabbe burned himself to death, poor fellow.
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: July 22nd, 2007 02:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm afraid I was pretty darn sure that Remus and Dora would die, and die together, but I had hope when we heard she was pregnant that they'd make it.

I felt like the dialog in this book was on a whole new level. The kids felt really real, and there were so many lines that I just loved. Hermione saying "Merlin's Pants!" and Ron saying "She must really be upset," then asking about Merlin's saggy y-fronts, HA! And Harry saying that coming from Dudley "that's like 'I love you.'" And I snorted SO hard when at
McGonagall: "Potter, that was foolish!"
Harry: "He spat at you."
McGonagall: "Potter, I -- that was very -- very gallant of you..."

I just found this book extremely enjoyable to read, though I had a major case of sweaty palms for about the last third. I adored Hermione's endless beaded purse, which fit right into my best Wizarding World fantasies. All the camping sections, I thought, were really fun. I appreciated the feeling of despair that they started to feel, and how Harry (who really finally grew up, bless him) got through the various struggles and came to understand what he had to do.

I already started rereading it because I feel like I sped through some parts out of sheer nerves.
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: July 22nd, 2007 03:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, a question and a response that I forgot to include.

-Did I totally miss the character who performed magic "late in life"?

-Re. the US cover art, I think it's a very loose interpretation of the final duel in the Great Hall with everyone standing around them. Harry is reaching for the Elder Wand as Voldemort tries to reach out for it. That's my best guess, anyway. (I love that GrandPre gave Harry his little "I'm handy for keeping all things nearby all the time" pouch on him in the picture!)
neotoma From: neotoma Date: July 22nd, 2007 02:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Frankly, I thought the Lupin-Tonks subplot was a trainwreck from both Watsonian and Doylist perspectives. That was a marriage that I couldn't believe would have lasted a year if they'd both managed to survive Voldemort.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 22nd, 2007 03:54 am (UTC) (Link)
How do you figure? They obviously loved each other, and the major mistakes they were making were always involved in overthinking what was bad for the other one, not for themselves. That's usually a pretty good recipe.

Of course, I wrote them as married for decades and very happy.
minoukatze From: minoukatze Date: July 22nd, 2007 02:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Not only did Snape apparently never figure out that Lily loved James rather than him and why she loved him, but his very last act in life is, essentially, filling Harry's head with the idea that he, Snape, is much more important than that cipher who faced the most dangerous wizard of all time, unarmed and unprotected, in order to try and buy a few seconds for his wife and son.

Honestly, I didn't get that. I think what he was trying to do was explain where he was coming from and give him Dumbledore's orders (from beyond the graaave!!!- try to imagine me saying that in a spooky voice;), and he wasn't including James because he frankly hated him and it was purely from his perspective, not necessarily to prove that he was the better man. I think showing his relationship with Lily was also to try and convince Harry he was sincere, as opposed to just giving him the Dumbledore "Okay, now go get yourself killed" plan. I'm pretty sure that he understood that Lily was never in love with him, but he was (as a teen, at least) essentially a selfish bastard who refused to put his friendship before a cult which promised him power and the ability to defend himself against his hated bullies. After all, as DD pointed out, he really didn't care at first if Voldie offed her husband and son as long as she was okay- not exactly thinking of her best interests. We were seeing these memories from a guy who was seriously screwed in the head, in my opinion.

The other false note, just in a logic sense, was that if Snape and Lily had been actual friends, which the memory implies, the people who went to school with them certainly wouldn't be so mystified about what might make Dumbledore trust Snape so much. "Oh, sure, I remember--didn't they used to walk around the lake together? Weren't they from the same place?" And so on. Just not sure how that works.

Yeah, as much as my romantic side loves the idea of Snape's big unrequited love, this rang false with me too. Why wouldn't people be saying "Oh yeah, Snape, he was creepy- why did Evans hang otu with him all the time"?

James... JK, it was our last chance to find out why Lily loved him so much! Couldn't we have had at least as much of him as we had of Snape? We already know Snape, but James is a mystery! And now, there are very few people who could give Harry non-Snape-tainted memories.

Gotta agree there too. There must have been something that won her over.
alkari From: alkari Date: July 22nd, 2007 04:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I totally agree. I mean, surely Remus and Sirius knew that Lily was at least friends with Snape! And with Harry's issues about Snape in OotP, plus his concern over the Pensieve scene, I though the friendship might have at least been mentioned by one of them. Then we get to Harry's revelation of Snape's 'remorse' at the end of HBP, and still no-one tells Harry that his mother and Snape were friends? Even McGonagall, who presumably had some vague knowledge of what went on around the school!

losdosmos From: losdosmos Date: July 22nd, 2007 02:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Couldn't agree more about Lupin and Tonks. I was gutted by their deaths, even though I thought it was coming after Ron announced that Lupin had gone back to her, and Lupin showed up at Shell Cottage so obviously over the moon about Teddy. I figured if they were both going to live, they'd stay estranged for more of the book and make up at the end, like in HBP.

Killing Lupin and Tonks seemed like an easy way of offing "big" characters (though I wouldn't really call either big, especially not Tonks, much as I love her) without having to kill another Weasley or a McGonagall/Hagrid. L/T are familiar characters that Harry obviously cares for, but they haven't had as much time or detailed build-up as some of the other members of the Order, and most readers probably aren't as emotionally invested in them. "Cop-out" is too strong of a phrase, especially as I quite liked the book in general, but it did seem like an easier way of adding to the body count with important deaths without doing anything that would rock the boat too much.

I was also a little put-off by the lack of closure for the deaths. One minute Lupin's off fighting, the next Tonks appears and goes wandering around looking for him, and the next they're both dead. I realize it happened in the middle of the last tumultuous battle, but come on, Fred was dead too, and more time was spent on Mad-Eye and Dobby.

And it sucks to be Andromeda, doesn't it? She was disowned for marrying a Muggle-born only to have him, their daughter, their son-in-law, and one of her few decent relatives murdered.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 22nd, 2007 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)
I was also a little put-off by the lack of closure for the deaths. One minute Lupin's off fighting, the next Tonks appears and goes wandering around looking for him, and the next they're both dead. I realize it happened in the middle of the last tumultuous battle, but come on, Fred was dead too, and more time was spent on Mad-Eye and Dobby.

Mmm-hmm. There wasn't even an attempt to get around the PoV problem, which tells me that their deaths didn't accomplish anything of note, either. Even when Harry's dear departed go to help him past the Dementors, Lupin is superfluous--Harry could have gotten by fine without him; there were enough others there.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 22nd, 2007 02:24 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not really a commenter on here, more of a lurker because of your marvelous Shifts and Shades. I however, have been checking ever since I got back from a friends where we all read together.

I agreed with all of the stuff mentioned as "The rest is all good." The line with Mrs. Weasley and Bellatrix made me laugh SO HARD although that might have been delirium setting in. The thins is, I hated it and loved it to death at the same time. The stuff with the Deathly Hallows I agree would have been a bit better, in my opinion if Harry had seen it but had it been unimportant in a comic or something. That's a more JKRish way to go, but still. The part with more of Dumbledore's back story made him much more human and real and vulnerable... I loved the whole entire book to death.
Now I'm going to go sleep. YAY
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 22nd, 2007 02:26 am (UTC) (Link)
The death of Dora (which I have been secretly calling her, thanks to you!!) and Remus nearly made me cry. No one I know is quite as emotionally invested in them as I am so no one really gets why they were two of my favorites..!!!!

(That was me, above.)
victorialupin From: victorialupin Date: July 22nd, 2007 02:24 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad you enjoyed it! I did as well, though I pretty much had the same gripes as you.

Being upset about Remus/Tonks is a gut reaction for me, too, and I know it's unfair to judge JKR on it just because I had an unusually strong emotional attachment to them, especially Remus. But ... *sigh* like i_autumnheart said, there's no payoff from it. There's that nice sense of leaving the MWPP generation at rest, and seeing Lupin with James, Sirius and Lily was beautiful, but it still doesn't feel quite right to me. His death deserved to be on-screen, at least.

About the "gun onstage" theory: word. I don't even know if it had to be a mention of the Deathly Hallows, but it would have been nice to have something. Especially about the Invisibility Cloak -- surely, somebody before seventh year would have remarked on its strange resilience?

I'm glad that you were happy with Remus and Tonks, aside from their deaths. I've heard people complain about Remus being OOC, but I didn't think that at all. He's always been that way, and the scene with Harry strikes me as a particularly distraught moment. Besides, he seemed to go back to Tonks perfectly well after Harry knocked some sense into him. I'm really not sure why I keep seeing massive complaining about his actions.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 22nd, 2007 03:44 am (UTC) (Link)
His death deserved to be on-screen, at least.

Exactly. Being caught between scenes, apparently accomplishing absolutely nothing... that's just... depressing.
marikenobi From: marikenobi Date: July 22nd, 2007 02:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I finished a little while ago and I'm still between blubbering and not making much sense.

I agree with most of what you have to say. For me the Snape thing just rings false. And naming his kid after him, with the whole bravest man he's even known... no... just wrong. It's even worst for me that he treated Harry so awfully considering that he loved Lilly so much. Look at my memories... see I'm a heroic good guy! yay!

No.


Killing of Tonks and Remus. So not fair. She could have at least let us know what happened. How about a character comes up to Harry when he's looking at their bodies and says that they protected so and so or something like that. Just one line.

Argh!

I liked most of the book, but not all.

eir_de_scania From: eir_de_scania Date: July 22nd, 2007 08:59 am (UTC) (Link)
And I love your icon! :-D
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: July 22nd, 2007 02:49 am (UTC) (Link)
It just fell so flat for me, Fern.

First, there was a whole third of the book where we didn't hear a word about horcruxes or Hallows. Hello?? And that horcrux hunt was the most unhappening thing in history - teenage wizard camp, more like. Worse, those parts just read like Hermione Granger and the Deathly Hallows - if ever there was a Hermione Sue, THAT was it - a confessed author-insert.

But I LOVED the Dumbledore plot, just like you did. I think it took guts to make the guy in the white beard this close to all-out evil. Guilty of the very thing he accuses Voldemort of - conquering death - until the very end! And that in addition to those humungous skeletons rattling in his closet... Amazing!

I HATED the way she killed Lupin and Tonks (and Colin and Fred - Rocks fall. Fred dies. Literally!!). And I DO blame her for it, it's her job to show us meaningful events, not just random "oh, let's kill these two off". What do you want to bet that these were the two caracters who got the axe late, and Draco was the one originally slated for death but got a reprieve? Ugh. I hated the lack of thought that went into these meaningless deaths for absolutely no reason. And then they take the ONE interesting thing that would've come out of it - the possibility of Harry and Ginny raising Teddy - and nix that as well!

I find Snape interesting, and though I'm not a fan of Snape/Lily, I've long predicted it, hoping against hope she'd go some other way. *shrug* Not too bothered by it, except obvious complaints of NOT ENOUGH JAMES. I did think Snape's death was by far the most moving (the only other really moving deaths are Dobby and Hedwig), Snape gets the best final line - "Look at me", and his death is also associated with the best, most chilling line in the book, "I regret it." *dies*

I liked the final battle fine, except a lot of it was too weird and rushed and jumping from plot twist to plot twist so fast it began to lose meaning.

On the whole, though, the stuff I hated outweigh the stuff I liked. Ron speaking Parseltongue, suddenly? Wormtail's total non-event of a death/life debt, after all that buildup? Dementors doing nothing but hovering around orclike, easily defeated, instead of being "the foulest creatures on earth"? Not a single nod to SPEW and the freedom/slavery dilemma, because even in the final battle the elves rush out *in the name of their master*? I mean, Harry says two kind words to Kreacher, and *snap*, all's well.

No mention of Harry's thoughts on murdering Voldemort - he comes back from the dead all cool about being a murderer, is it? Or does resurrection give you Dumbledore-like super-future-knowledge that tells you you won't have to kill because the AK will very conveniently backfire?

Percy reconciliation sucked balls, Fred died from ROCKS FALLING for heavean's sakes!

I hated Molly's last stand - why couldn't she be awesome at duelling without also suddenly forgetting her BIGGEST pet peeve (swearing)? It was exactly as if Snape's last gesture to Harry had been to give him a bag of sweets.

So many questions unanswered (what is the veil? why did Sirius have to die? what was in that locked room in the dept of mysteries? who was the "source" that Snape discussed with Voldemort, because NO WAY is Snape telling him it's Dumbledore (if his source was, in fact, Dumbledore - and if it was, how did Dumbledore know stuff to tell him?)? What did James and Lily do for a living? What are Harry and Ginny and Ron and Hermione doing for a living? Where was George in that epilogue? etc)

But none of these disasters compare to that TRAVESTY of an epilogue! How could she write that bilge? How could her editors let her get away with it?

Sigh.

Sorry for ranting in your space. :(
alkari From: alkari Date: July 22nd, 2007 04:27 am (UTC) (Link)
It just fell so flat for me, Fern.

That is very much my reaction. There was a lot of good stuff in there, and some of the creepier stuff, and some of the clues, were really well done.

But as I have ranted on SQ, WHY did we need the truckloads of anvils about "poor Ron is insecure". We've had SIX BOOKS of it by now ... they've had fights and made up, they've had their growing up, we can all manage to read between the lines and think that Molly was probably sick of having boy babies - so why oh WHY did we need the Ron walkout in DH? And why did we have to get Super Kloves Hermione? GRRRRR.

As for the meaningless and off-screen deaths of Remus and Tonks - don't get me started. Having carefully set up the chance for Remus to move on, and be the one Marauder who has a happy life, instead we get him dying, and the back-with-James-and-Sirius scene in the Forest. The scene was very touching, but I couldn't see why Remus had any part in it - HE hadn't died for Harry in the way that the others had, and I have never really seen him as "loving" Harry, in the way that James, Lily and Sirius did. So why was he going with Harry? That bit about dying so the world would be better ... blah, blah, blah. Others died for that reason too, like other long-standing Order members who fought Voldemort on principle.
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contrail From: contrail Date: July 22nd, 2007 02:56 am (UTC) (Link)
There was a lot I liked about the book, even though I'm mostly agreeing with some of your gripes in this comment.

The dearest desire of my heart is exactly the sort of thing I'd never have accepted if she'd actually done it--which is to say, I'd have been so happy if, over the summer, Snape had run off with Durmstrang pal and they'd both joined the Moscow circus, and we'd never seen or heard from him again.

I would've quite happy with that happening, too.

The whole Wormtail life debt thing boils down to a minor escape with a tiny, itsy-bitsy felicitation of Harry surviving, followed by killer appendages.

This is definitely annoying me. After waiting half the series to get resolution on the life debt, couldn't it at least have been a somewhat major escape? *grumpy*

The Ravenclaw door-knocker is made of awesome.

So true, and it fit a lot better than anything I'd thought of as a possible means of entrance to the Ravenclaw dorms. And the Ravenclaw Common Room looked a lot like I imagined it would, so that made me happy.

Looking forward to seeing what else you have to say about the book.

- Contrail
alkari From: alkari Date: July 22nd, 2007 04:15 am (UTC) (Link)
I thought about the Wormtail hand - and then I figured it was really creepily fitting. A mean little man dying a mean little death, with no heroics. And the sheer horror of 'what' Voldmoert had done to that hand - ensure that it could only act to serve Voldemort, not Peter. Nastily neat.
From: sleepingfingers Date: July 22nd, 2007 03:31 am (UTC) (Link)
When I read of both Remus's and Tonks's deaths, I thought immediately about you, and felt horrible for Teddy. And even though Snape was one of my favorite characters and I could see where Snape/Lily came from before this book, I agree with you that they having been best friends was something really abrupt (even though it makes more sense as far as Snape's motivations go). But still, I can't convey how much I love this book.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 22nd, 2007 03:44 am (UTC) (Link)
My take on R/T deaths -

Denial.

There we go, pure and simple.

Or, rather, I'm going with your stories being in the AU where Hagrid died instead of Remus and Dora. Let's face it, Hagrid survived the spider deluge? With just his umbrella and half-giant genes for protection? Not unless Aragog left him something special when he died (of course, I was pretty tired and going over 24 hours without sleep when I got to that part, so I became pretty confused when Hagrid turned up alive after the spider deluge but Remus and Dora were dead).

A friend has pointed out that Hagrid is the only person who could carry Harry that far without realizing he was alive. Also, that's a long way to carry anyone, period, if you're not Hagrid.

So, AU theory, if you're interested:

I see some different ways to go at it -

1. Lucius and Narcissa are both present. Lucius is the one forced to carry Harry. I'm not sure whether they should know Draco's alive or if it should be that they're at the breaking point and that part of this is that neither can sacrifice a teenage boy the same age as their own son at this point.

In this case, I think Dora should also have been captured, increasing Narcissa and Lucius' identification of people on the other side with their own child and because we need someone here who can yell at the centaurs for not joining the fight. But it might be laying it on too thick to have Dora captured with little Ted (or Orry, as this is AU), although this would have a certain logic. Dora, as a mother with a child (and a child who can be identified precisely because he's a shape-changer but doesn't know to control it yet) is perhaps more vulnerable to capture. Of course, this suggests Remus would already have been killed, which isn't what I want at all, so I need another reason why he's not there yet or killed yet.

Anyhow, Voldemort is willing to let the Black half-blood live but he intends to get rid of the "shame" of the baby. Not that he's killing an innocent child, oh, no. They'll get rid of the baby as befits a werewolf's child. Voldemort means to give the baby to Greyback to change or to kill, whichever way it turns out (and Greyback is just SOOOOO happy to get his jaws on Remus' son).

2. Or (with or without Lucius present) Remus is the one who's captured. He gets to carry Harry. Orry or Ted may or may not be present. Narcissa's emotions are still being somewhat mangled in this scene as she finds herself seeing her niece's husband carrying her cousin's Godson, a boy the same age as her own son.

Whoever gets to carry Harry, I'm thinking a sort of vague resemblance to Michelangelo's Pieta and, perhaps, the guy forced to carry Christ's cross whose name I am suddenly going blank on.

Hey, lay on the symbolism, that's what I say.

Ellen
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 22nd, 2007 03:56 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm more on "fury" than "denial." It was a dirty, rotten cheat. Oh, wait, I was going to leave that to Teddy to point out.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 22nd, 2007 03:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I thought of you as soon as I saw "Dora". It's officially canon!

So many fanon theories became canon, but I guess people were predicting so many different things somebody was sure to get something right.

And that bizarre little "Alien" moment. That was just...weird. I didn't think she'd get away with actual swearing. I saw that in the spoilers and assumed it was fake.

I actually felt sorry for Kreacher.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 22nd, 2007 04:21 am (UTC) (Link)
I just have to say, as upset as I am over R/T dying, especially becuase it means no sequel to Shifts and Shades, you should NEVER, even for a moment, think the time you spent on them was a waste. You wrote a lot of excellent fic about two characters who deserved to have their story told - and nobody did it in a better and more comprehensive way than you. JKR killed them, but you are the one that made their deaths so painful.

Thank you for all your wonderful fic. I, for one, am grateful for your work. I hope to read more by you in the future, whether about Teddy Lupin or about any of the other characters whose stories have yet to be fully told.

-Cara
victorialupin From: victorialupin Date: July 22nd, 2007 04:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, yes, I want to echo these sentiments. I got caught up quite a bit in mourning Remus and didn't mention it, but the time you've spent (and continue to spend, I hope!) on R/T is phenomenal. I honestly love your fic as much as the books themselves, which is a pretty amazing thing.
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jadeddiva From: jadeddiva Date: July 22nd, 2007 04:55 am (UTC) (Link)
So many people felt Remus was out of character and I kept seeing a mixture of his martyr complex and his love for Tonks and I'm glad you see that too.
singingtopsy From: singingtopsy Date: July 22nd, 2007 05:14 am (UTC) (Link)
I thought of your Remus and Dora a lot while reading DH and I am still shocked an appalled that she killed them off. Especially since it seems pretty obvious that they were the two "extra deaths."
When you're going to kill off characters and expect their deaths to hurt like Lupin and Tonks were supposed to, you have to have adequate character development. Lupin had it. Tonks didn't! Dora gets almost no screen time in this book (or any other) and it just seems utterly cruel to kill her off when there's a BABY. For no other reason than to comment on the "good people die too" phenomenon. I liked and/or was resigned to everything in DH except their deaths. I'm still mad about it. I hope you're still going to write R/T?
While I was very pleased that Snape turned out to not only be on the Order's side but to also read as firmly in the "good" camp, obsessive nasty git that he is, I was displeased with how the Snape-loved-Lily element (which I believed in prior to DH) made his character FAR less complex. His conversion to the Light had everything to do with the fact that he fancied a muggleborn? Not, you know...moral or intellectual scruples, even a little bit? Actually, Snape was portrayed so sympathetically as a kid that I was perplexed as to how JKR expected us to explain his turning to the Dark Arts. I'm just going to pretend that I can ignore the soap opera version of Snape by reasoning that Snape made sure Harry saw the exact right combination of memories so that he would get the crucial bit of information and believe it. And that the "Prince's Tale" wasn't a full and objective explanation for Snape's character and life choices, just a highly selective and effective one.
That's three of my favorite characters dead. Snape I expected. Lupin and Tonks I absolutely did not.
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deaka From: deaka Date: July 22nd, 2007 07:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really enjoyed most of the book as well, though I was pretty upset about Lupin and Tonks's deaths. I'm a big fan of Shifts and Shades, and it was great to see Dora's nickname confirmed in canon. I thought Lupin's actions and his spat with Harry was totally in-character. It's more or less the same thing he did with Tonks in HBP; and given how much suffering the condition has caused him, I can't see him *not* being distressed at the thought that he might have passed it on to his child. Harry's reaction made sense as well, given his issues with absent parents. I thought the whole scene was pretty well done and haven't really understood why there's so much negative response to it.

The deaths took me completely by surprise, mostly because they were so off-handed - here's Fred, oh, and look who's next to him! Um, what?!? Like you said, they didn't have to be there at all. It's like, hello, now they have a baby, obviously the characters are expendable. Shouldn't it really be the opposite way around? Shouldn't they now be *less* expendable, with an infant that's going to be an orphan with both of them gone?

And it's understandable you feel like the work on Shifts and Shades was a for nothing, but I certainly don't feel that way as a reader. I appreciate the stories as wonderfully written, with fantastic characters. I honestly don't think their deaths would have had anywhere near the impact they did for me without those stories.
ladylavinia From: ladylavinia Date: July 22nd, 2007 09:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Why is it that when favorite fictional characters die, many people tend to dismiss the moment as bad writing? I know, because I'm guilty of this, as well. The HARRY POTTER novels were about growing up. And one of the things we learn while growing up is that people and other forms of nature have both light and darkness within. There is no "one or the other", as Harry eventually learn about Snape. And another thing we learn is that LIFE IS BASICALLY UNFAIR. No amount of protests in the world will ever change that. Personally, I see Remus and Dora's deaths and/or Snape's death as examples of how life can be unfair. How many times have we seen Harry learn this lesson . . . over and over again?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 22nd, 2007 02:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
The problem in the writing was just that their arc seemed to go in a different direction, toward hope instead of despair. But yes, I see the point JKR was trying to make, which is another problem. It shouldn't show so clearly, and yes, fictional deaths of beloved characters need to make more sense than deaths do in real life. It was especially gratuitous because they were doing exactly the thing--the specific thing--that Harry had already yelled at Remus about, and everyone had agreed Harry was right about, so instead of merely coming off as "life's not fair," it came off as punishing them for continuing to willfully misbehave.
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From: lexie_b Date: July 22nd, 2007 10:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I loathe what happened to Remus and Tonks. I felt it was gratuitous and it felt like I was being bashed over the head with parallels to James, Lily and Harry. I think both characters deserved better, and I hope that this most depressing piece of canon doesn't stop you from writing your wonderful Tonks and Remus fic :)
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