Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the
seventh and final of the Harry Potter novels written by
British author J. K. Rowling. The book was released on 21 July
2007, ending the series that began in 1997 with the publication
of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. This book
chronicles the events directly following Harry Potter and the
Half-Blood Prince (2005), and leads to the long-awaited
final confrontation between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published in the
United Kingdom by Bloomsbury Publishing, in the United States by
Scholastic, in Canada by Raincoast Books, and in Australia and
New Zealand by Allen & Unwin. Released globally in ninety-three
countries, Deathly Hallows broke sales records as the
fastest-selling book ever. It sold 15 million copies in the
first twenty-four hours following its release,
including more than 11 million in the U.S. and U.K. alone. The
previous record, nine million in its first day, had been held by
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
The novel has also been translated into numerous languages,
Several awards were given to the novel, including the 2008
Colorado Blue Spruce Book Award, and it was listed as a "Best
Book for Young Adults" by the American Library Association.
Reception to the book was generally positive, although one
reviewer found the conclusion to be "hollow."
A two part film based on the novel is planned with part one's
release date in November 2010.
Throughout the six previous novels in the Harry Potter
series, the main character, Harry Potter, has struggled with the
difficulties that come with growing up and the added challenge
of being a famous wizard. When Harry was a baby, Voldemort, the
most powerful evil wizard in living memory, killed Harry's
parents but mysteriously vanished after trying to kill Harry.
This results in Harry's immediate fame, and his being placed in
the care of his muggle, or non-magical, relatives Aunt Petunia
and Uncle Vernon.
Harry enters the wizarding world at the age of 11, enrolling
in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He makes
friends with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, and is confronted
by Lord Voldemort trying to regain power. After returning to the
school after summer break, several attacks on students take
place at Hogwarts after the legendary "Chamber of Secrets" is
opened. Harry ends the attacks by killing a basilisk and
defeating another attempt by Lord Voldemort to return to full
strength. The following year, Harry learns that he has been
targeted by escaped murderer Sirius Black. Despite stringent
security measures at Hogwarts, Harry is confronted by Black at
the end of his third year of schooling and Harry learns that
Black was framed and is actually Harry's godfather. Harry's
fourth year of school sees him entered in a dangerous magical
competition called the Triwizard tournament. At the conclusion
of the tournament, Harry witnesses the return of Lord Voldemort
to full strength. When the next school year begins, the Ministry
of Magic appoints Dolores Umbridge as the new High Inquisitor of
Hogwarts. After forming an underground student group in
opposition to Umbridge, Harry and several of his friends face
off against Voldemort's Death Eaters, or followers, and narrowly
defeat them. In Harry's sixth year of school, he learns that
Voldemort has been using horcruxes to become immortal. Horcruxes
are fragments of the soul that are placed within an object so
that when the body dies, a part of the soul remains and the
person can come back to life. When returning from a mission to
discover a horcrux, Professor Dumbledore, the headmaster of the
school and Harry's mentor, is killed by Snape, a teacher at the
school with whom Harry is consistently at odds with and who
Harry has suspected of being a Death Eater (a follower of
Voldermort). At the conclusion of the book, Harry pledges not to
return to school the following year and to search for horcruxes
Following Dumbledore's death, Voldemort has completed his
ascension to power and gains control of the Ministry of Magic.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione drop out of school so that they can
find and destroy Voldemort's remaining three horcruxes. They are
forced to isolate themselves to ensure the safety of their
family and friends. All that they know about the horcruxes are
that two are likely objects that belonged to the Hogwarts
founders Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff, and that the
third is Voldemort's snake familiar. The locations of the two
founders' objects are unknown, and the snake is presumed to be
with Voldemort himself. As they search for the horcruxes, the
trio learn details about Dumbledore's past, as well as Snape's
The trio recovers the first of Voldemort's horcruxes, a
locket, by infiltrating the Ministry of Magic. They recover the
Sword of Godric Gryffindor; it is one of a few objects that can
be used to destroy horcruxes, and they use it destroy the
locket. In their travels the trio come across a strange symbol,
which an eccentric wizard named Xenophilius Lovegood tells them
represents the mythical Deathly Hallows. The Hallows are
revealed to be three sacred objects: the Resurrection Stone, a
stone with the power to bring others back to life; the Elder
Wand, an unbeatable wand; and an infallible Invisibility Cloak.
Harry learns that Voldemort is after the Elder Wand, but the
trio decides that discovering Voldemort's horcruxes is more
important than procuring the wand for themselves. They break
into a vault at the wizarding bank Gringotts to recover another
horcrux, the cup of Helga Hufflepuff. Harry learns that another
horcrux is hidden in Hogwarts, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione
enter the school. They find the horcrux, the Diadem of Ravenclaw,
and destroy both.
The book culminates in the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry, Ron,
and Hermione, in conjunction with students and members of the
wizarding world opposed to the rise of Voldemort, defend
Hogwarts from Voldemort, his Death Eaters, and various magical
creatures. Several major characters are killed in the first wave
of the battle. In an effort to save the survivors, Harry
surrenders himself to Voldemort, who attempts to kill Harry. The
battle resumes, and with the last horcrux destroyed, Harry is
able to defeat Voldemort. An epilogue describes the lives of the
surviving characters and implies that peace has returned to the
Choice of title
Shortly before releasing the title, J. K. Rowling announced
that she had considered three titles for the book.
The final title, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was
released to the public on 21 December 2006 via a special
Christmas-themed hangman puzzle on Rowling's website, confirmed
shortly afterwards by the book's publishers.
Asked during a live chat as to the other titles she had been
considering, Rowling mentioned Harry Potter and the Elder
Wand and Harry Potter and the Peverell Quest.
Rowling on finishing the book
Rowling completed the book while staying at the Balmoral
Hotel in Edinburgh in January 2007, and left a signed statement
on a marble bust of Hermes in her room which read: "J. K.
Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in
this room (652) on 11 January 2007".
In a statement on her website, she said, "I've never felt such a
mixture of extreme emotions in my life, never dreamed I could
feel simultaneously heartbroken and euphoric." She compared her
mixed feelings to those expressed by Charles Dickens in the
preface of the 1850 edition of David Copperfield, "a
two-years' imaginative task." "To which," she added, "I can only
sigh, try seventeen years, Charles..." She ended her message, "Deathly
Hallows is my favourite, and that is the most wonderful way
to finish the series."
When asked before publication about the forthcoming book,
Rowling stated that she could not change the ending even if she
wanted. "These books have been plotted for such a long time,
and for six books now, that they're all leading a certain
direction. So, I really can't."
She also commented that the final volume related closely to the
previous book in the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood
Prince, "almost as though they are two halves of the same
has said that the last chapter of the book was written "in
something like 1990", as part of her earliest work on the
Rowling made a public request that anyone with information
about the content of the last book should keep it to themselves,
in order to avoid spoiling the experience for other readers.
To this end, Bloomsbury invested GB£10 million in an attempt to
keep the book's contents secure until the 21 July release date.
Arthur Levine, U.S. editor of the Harry Potter series,
denied distributing any copies of Deathly Hallows in
advance for press review, but two U.S. papers published early
There was speculation that some shops would break the embargo
and distribute copies of the book early, as the penalty imposed
for previous instalments—that the distributor would not be
supplied with any further copies of the series—would no longer
be a deterrent.
Publication and reception
The Baltimore Sun's critic, Mary Carole McCauley,
praised the series as "a classic bildungsroman, or coming-of-age
tale." She noted that "[book seven... lacks much of the charm
and humor that distinguished the earlier novels. Even the
writing is more prosaic", but then observed that given the
book's darker subject matter, "how could it be otherwise?"
Furthermore, reviewer Alice Fordham from The Times writes
that "Rowling’s genius is not just her total realisation of a
fantasy world, but the quieter skill of creating characters that
bounce off the page, real and flawed and brave and lovable."
Fordham concludes, "We have been a long way together, and
neither Rowling nor Harry let us down in the end."
New York Times writer Michiko Kakutani agrees, stating,
"It is Ms. Rowling’s achievement in this series that she manages
to make Harry both a familiar adolescent — coping with the banal
frustrations of school and dating — and an epic hero, kin to
everyone from the young King Arthur to Spider-Man and Luke
Time magazine's Lev Grossman named it one of the Top
10 Fiction Books of 2007, ranking it at #8, and praising Rowling
for proving that books can still be a global mass medium.
Opining that the book is "dense with Rowling's ruling themes:
love and death", Grossman compared the novel to the earlier
books in the series thus: "This isn't the most elegant of the
Potter volumes, but it feels like an ending, the final iteration
of Rowling's abiding thematic concern: the overwhelming
importance of continuing to love in the face of death."
Novelist Elizabeth Hand agreed that Harry Potter and the
Deathly Hallows caps off the series, but also made the
criticism that "...the spectacularly complex interplay of
narrative and character often reads as though an entire
trilogy's worth of summing-up has been crammed into one volume."
In contrast, Jenny Sawyer of the Christian Science Monitor
says that while "There is much to love about the Harry Potter
series, from its brilliantly realised magical world to its
multilayered narrative," however, "A story is about someone who
changes. And, puberty aside, Harry doesn't change much. As
envisioned by Rowling, he walks the path of good so unwaveringly
that his final victory over Voldemort feels, not just
inevitable, but hollow."
In the 12 August 2007 New York Times, Christopher
Hitchens compared the series to World War Two-era English
boarding school stories, and while he wrote that "Rowling has
won imperishable renown" for the series as a whole, he also
opined that her "repeated tactic of deus ex machina has a
deplorable effect on both the plot and the dialogue", that the
mid-book camping chapters are "abysmally long" and that
Voldemort "becomes more tiresome than an Ian Fleming villain."
Stephen King criticised the reactions of some reviewers to
the books, including McCauley, for jumping too quickly to
surface conclusions of the work.
He felt this was inevitable, because of the extreme secrecy
before launch which did not allow reviewers time to read and
consider the book, but meant that many early reviews lacked
depth. Rather than finding the writing style disappointing, he
felt it had matured and improved. He acknowledged that the
subject matter of the books had become more adult, and that
Rowling had clearly been writing with the adult audience firmly
in mind since the middle of the series. He compared the works in
this respect to Huckleberry Finn and Alice in
Wonderland which achieved success and have become
established classics, in part by appealing to the adult audience
as well as children.
Sales for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were
record setting. The initial U.S. print run for Deathly
Hallows was 12 million copies, and more than a million were
pre-ordered through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
On 12 April 2007, Barnes & Noble declared that Deathly
Hallows had broken its pre-order record, with more than
500,000 copies pre-ordered through its site.
On opening day, a record 8.3 million copies were sold in the
and 2.65 million copies in the United Kingdom.
At WH Smith, sales reportedly reached a rate of 15 books sold
per second. By
June of 2008, nearly a year after it was published, worldwide
sales were reportedly around 44 million.
Awards and honours
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has won several
In 2007, the book was named one New York Times 100 Notable
Books, and one
of its Notable Children's Books.
Publishers Weekly also listed Harry Potter and the Deathly
Hallows among their Best Books of 2007.
In 2008, the American Library Association named the novel one of
its Best Books for Young Adults,
and also listed it as a Notable Children's Book.
Furthermore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
received the 2008 Colorado Blue Spruce Book Award.
Rowling's commentary and
In an interview,
the Wizard of the Month section of her website, and during her
2007 U.S. Open Book Tour, Rowling revealed additional character
information that she chose not to include in the book. The first
bits of information were about the trio and their families,
starting with Harry.
She said that Harry became an Auror for the Ministry of
Magic, and was later appointed head of the department. She also
said that Ginny Weasley, Harry's love interest in Harry
Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, played for the Holyhead
Harpies Quidditch team for a time, then left to establish a
family with Harry, and later became the lead Quidditch
correspondent for the Daily Prophet. Ron Weasley worked
at George's store for a time, Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, and then
joined Harry as an Auror. Hermione found her parents in
Australia, and removed the memory modification charm she had put
on them for safety. Initially, she worked for the Ministry of
Magic in the Department for the Regulation and Control of
Magical Creatures, greatly improving life for house elves. She
later moved to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and
assisted in eradicating oppressive, pro-pureblood laws. She was
also the only member of the trio to go back and complete her
seventh year at Hogwarts. Rowling then went on to reveal that
"Dumbledore is gay, actually".
Next, Rowling revealed the fate of Voldemort. After his death,
he was forced to exist in the stunted form Harry witnessed in
the King's Cross limbo, as his crimes were too severe for him to
become a ghost.
Rowling also revealed further transformations in the wider
wizarding world as follows. Kingsley Shacklebolt, a minor
character introduced in Harry Potter and the Order of the
Phoenix, became the permanent Minister of Magic, with Percy
Weasley, Ron's brother, working under him as a high official.
Among the reforms introduced by Shacklebolt, Azkaban, the
wizarding prison, no longer used Dementors. Harry, Ron, and
Hermione were also instrumental in reforming the Ministry.
Harry also is said to come to the Defence Against the Dark Arts
class at Hogwarts to lecture several times a year. Lastly, Rowling says that a portrait of Snape, who briefly
served as Hogwarts Headmaster, had not appeared in the
headmaster's office, as he had abandoned his post. Harry then
ensures the addition of Snape's portrait, and publicly reveals
Snape's true allegiance.
A two-part film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly
Hallows is planned, with David Yates directing both parts.
Part I is slated for release on 19 November 2010, and Part II on
15 July 2011.
The script was delayed as Steve Kloves was not able to start
working on it until the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America
strike had ended.
Filming began in February 2009 and will last for a year.
John Williams, who composed the scores to the first three films,
has expressed interest in returning to score the films.
Waiting for comment