Unexpectedly I was amazed at the emotional intensity and nuanced nature of the entire series, but that’s giving away too much too early. Perhaps we should begin at the beginning.
When we catch up with our ‘heroes’ at the beginning, they are innocents, as yet uninitiated into the class-ridden and divided totalitarian regime they are soon to join. All too soon, though, they begin their journey as the class divisions appear, and those born to privilege begin to reap their rewards, the possible first-year victory of Slitherin being reversed on a whim by the current dictator. It even becomes evident that a mixed-marriage between these class divisions is outlawed, as poor Snape is laughed at even for considering a rise above his station.
The way our empathy is still with the antiheroes at this stage remains an amazing piece of work, as they sink deeper into hatred of the underclass, and exploitation of the as-yet-hidden dynastic privilege which Potter will soon enjoy. The way the story continues to be told through the eyes of the evil side in the war continues to amaze me, our emotions being played beautifully as we almost care about these people, even as their slide into evil continues.
As the end approaches, the regime begins to reveal itself, but even as the internment and presumed genocide of an entire stratum of the embedded class system takes place we still almost care about the people inflicting it, and as the final stand begins – the gotterdammerung of the Potter series – Potter himself begins throwing his own armies at the forces arrayed against him without thought of their incapacity or what they would face, simply attempting, as he admits himself, to buy him some time. His co-conspirators seem equally unable to face their defeat, and continue to throw their friends and colleagues to their inevitable deaths, lured into their fates by the fresh-faced devil leading them.
The nature of the abuse of the obviously mentally-infirm causes a lot of intriguing subtext throughout the second half of the series, with those unfortunates being cast in their roles of heroes, overcoming their disabilities to take on the dictatorial Potter and his cohorts, and coming through with dignity and success. My only query would be the obviously poor jokes related to “My Lord has no nose. How does he smell? Like Voldemort.” Very tacky, and should have been avoided.
I have to admit I missed the final few minutes, after the scene where Potter himself is killed and has to face, in the form of a dying small boy, the full horror of what he had become, and is brought back to the bunker where the final surrender will, no doubt, take place. I am sure there will be a certain amount of cleaning up after this point, but I doubt it will materially change the plot or my love for this huge body of work.
All in all, I was amazed. The alternate ‘easy’ way of presenting such a story, continually through the eyes of the heroes, would have lacked any of the intensity and contradiction that this story managed. Well done to all involved.