I’m quite sure there’s a lot out there about this book and those that came before. I’m not going to be able to add much to it, and I suspect if you’re looking into book 7 in this series, you’ve already read the first 6 books, and you’ve already made up your mind on reading this one. And I’m not a huge fan of this series, with lots of insights and deep dives about the meaning of this or the implication of that.
I read these books originally because my mother was working as a teacher’s aid when the first few came out, read them, and suggested them to me. Her not being a fan of the Fantasy genre at all, yet really enjoying these books about a kid wizard got my attention. I read the first few and enjoyed the heck out of them. As I was reading them, I kept thinking to myself, this is what the future of the Tabletop RPG Ars Magica might look like.
With the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I felt J.K. Rowling hit a surprisingly sour note. Harry and friends had begun to drift into whiny teen angst before this, but it got to be too much, and the whole book, easily 200+ pages too long, bogged down and sucked the fun out of the reading. I put it up for months, almost dreaded picking it back up, slogged through to the end and felt totally unsatisfied. To be honest, I don’t know why I picked up the next book at that point, but I did, and it was a big improvement. This and that happened, including movies, shifting interest, a long wait for the last book to hit paperback, and a major, life-changing move. Reading the final book fell off my radar for a long time.
So, here I am. More than a decade later, I’ve finally read the last chapter of this book series that spawned many imitators, helped grow a whole field of books and series, and created generations of readers. It’s a worthy finale to the series, and I’m glad I’ve finally finished it. These books are never going to be among my favorites. Heck, they’re not even especially original or profound. They are, however, very entertaining, well structured, and packaged in a way that should bring in young readers, giving them a springboard to dive into more, better, and varied works. For that, I tip my hat. If it wasn’t for the fifth book, it would be a perfect series for a young person to get into. And I don’t know, maybe a young person would more readily embrace the things that bothered me in book 5?
Thinking about Harry Potter and Ars Magica, I think it’s kinda strange there hasn’t been an official Tabletop RPG for it. Maybe Rowling is like Redwall’s Brian Jacques, and she really doesn’t like role-playing games?
Looking back over the series, I like how the characters and the books themselves become more mature as each year passes. The language becomes a touch harsher, the stakes get higher, the danger gets scarier, and the kids begin to act more independently. By the final book, Harry starts to actually drive the story in a way he doesn’t early on, and that’s refreshing.
Again, I assume if you’ve read the previous books, you’re going to read this one. I guess, if you’re contemplating reading the series but worry that the ending will be unsatisfactory, then maybe you’ll take my word for it that it’s got a solid finale. If you can make it through book 5, the series is quite good and worth your time. Yes. It’s a children’s book series. So what. Get over yourself. If you’re that uptight about it, don’t read it.