CC photo credit "The Castle, at night" by elle_rigby on flickr
The Journey is Finished
Last weekend, in the space of less than 48 hours, I completed reading the final Harry Potter book to Alvis and Lavie; out loud.
My voice was sore, but more from the emotional twists and turns in the final chapters.
I won't post anything that could be considered a "direct-spoiler" to fans still reading.
I called Dad at work this week and he was curious on our progress. (He's waiting for his audio-CD rental service to send him them from his queue.)
I told him that we were satisfied with the conclusion. J.K.R. tied up lots of loose ends and some of the content seemed (at least to me) that she had a working knowledge of the more popular fan-forum threads and essays on all things magical with HP. She provided enough details to leave over 90% of our questions regarding the overall story-arc answered. We still have some puzzlements but that adds to the magic of the story itself.
Some characters lived; others died.
The pace was quite fast, thought we did have a few doubts for some chapters during the middle section. We did keep wondering when the "main-plot" would kick-off again, but it seemed clear to us that J.K.R. was needing to do a bit more character-growth before engaging the engines again for the final tension-filled plot buildup.
We were not disappointed.
The Magic Began...at Kroger's
About midnight, on release night, Alvis and I woke up and drove down to the corner Kroger's supermarket to grab a copy. We normally attend the larger release parties at a larger Barnes and Nobles store, but this year Lavie felt under the weather and we figured we would maximize our time with a quick few minutes drive over, pick up the book and be back in under 10 minutes.
Upon arrival to the Kroger's, we found more than the usual number of vehicles in the parking lot. A poor bemused stocker was fighting to un-box the final Harry Potter volumes onto a display but people kept taking them off as soon as they got put on. A circle of empty and semi-scattered chairs surrounded the display unit, like a cross between Stonehenge and an abandoned AA meeting.
Alvis snapped up a copy and we took our place in line. It was a bit surreal. It was past midnight, we were only buying a book, standing in line with a motley mix of young and old fans all with their copies held tightly as well. One high-school aged kid had a stack of frozen pizzas about two feet high along with his book. Guess he was stocking up. Back outside the parking lot had a light haze hanging over it, ghosted all the more by the sickly sallow glare of the vapor lamps.
We loaded up and a few minutes later were piled in the living room with our midnight snacks and the adventure began. We read through the first five or six chapters before bookmarking it for the night. I think it was almost 3 a.m. when we turned in.
That Which Must Not be Named: Sleep!
The next morning we began fresh around 10 a.m. and read through until 5 p.m. We ate some sandwiches and chips, stretched (I went and picked up a new hard drive) and piddled around until around 7 p.m. when we took up the story again. By the time we stopped, nearly 11 p.m. we were not-quite to the half-way point.
Sunday dawned with us ever more nervous as to the direction of the outcome. We had already be stunned at several points, and out faith in J.K.R.'s plotting was severely strained. I think we started reading again around 9 a.m. and continued past lunchtime. Another few breaks were taken in the afternoon between chapters as I struggled to clone my old hard drive onto the new between heart-breaking and heart-mending chapters.
We pushed through the final chapters somewhere between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.
And then it was done.
Lavie was in tears. I was in tears. Alvis though we were bonked in the head.
(Ahh, youth. One day she will understand why we cry as adults and parents.....)
We have been re-reading those last chapters again, more slowly and one-per-night together for the past week. We are picking up some of the details we missed in the rush to get through the first time.
What Lies Ahead
So, where to now?
You may be surprised to hear me say, back to the beginning of the series.
Ever since around the time the first Harry Potter movie was released, I began a tradition of reading a chapter of Harry Potter at Alvis's bedtime. Alvis was young and it seemed to help put her to bed and helped us spend some quality father-daughter time together. Soon Lavie got drawn in and it became a family bedtime tradition. We have continued almost every night, ever since. And have been through the first three over eight or nine times together, while the fourth,fifth and sixth books have been read about four times each.
We were actually about 3/4 of the way through Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when this final book came out, so we had to put it aside for a while. In a few more nights we will have finished re-reading these final chapters, and will go back and pick up where we left off.
Know knowing the final elements J.K.R. revealed in the final volume will surely cast new perspectives on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, as well as the entire series in general. Each time we read the stories, we pick up new links, new bits, and new amusements.
So, we have no plans in the near future to drop our traditional routine and will continue reading them until Alvis grows tired, then Lavie and I will read them together ourselves.
J.K.R. ended her final story with an Epilogue. I won't say what it contained, but if you do want to catch her final words and thoughts regarding what she left out of if, hop over to this "spoiler-filled" article: Finished ‘Potter’? Rowling tells what happens next - Wild about Harry - MSNBC.com
And we will just wait patiently along with the millions of other world-wide fans of Harry, Ron, and Hermione in the hopes that J.K.R. will release another encyclopedia-like addition to the Harry Potter universe; Hogwarts: A History perhaps?
Yeah, I'll stand in line again at midnight for that one as well.
There has to be something magical about the whole thing.
Bet you wouldn't do that for just any encyclopedia or history book.