Harry Potter: The magic will never end

It's exactly an year since we first saw the last of Harry Potter (in books). Without doubt it is the most amazing book series I have ever read, I haven't read too many but have read LOTR, Bourne, to name a few.

It all started on a train journey when J K Rowling conceived the idea of a boy wizard. Little did she know that her stories will become the one of the most sold/read books in the history of mankind.

Well, it was a 24 hour train journey for me as well when I picked the second installment of Harry Potter series (first HP book for me). It wasn't bad, wasn't great either. It seemed a lot like a pot-boiler, the kind you won't regret going through once but that's just about it. Sometime later I picked the first one since I couldn't find anything better to read and then I read the third one. And as they say third time is the charm, this time I became a complete convert. It no longer seemed an ordinary series to me and I started waiting for the release of the next ones with quite eagerness until last last year.

There are countless fans of Harry Potter and a good number of detractors. Some of the arguments that I hear to justify the hate are:

1. It is regressive
2. Harry Potter is gifted, a trailblazer of sorts in everything and just cannot go wrong
3. It is childish
4. The series is dark! (Indeed it is)

I don't intend to blame any of those people to have that point of view. What I have noticed in most of the cases is that those guys have read 'about' the books but not the books themselves, may be because they never considered them worthy to be read. However, reading about them may actually give some of the ideas mentioned above as central to the book's theme. But stopping at that will be an injustice to yourself if you enjoy good story telling.

I took my time to start appreciating the series and its characters and mind it, the sum of parts is indeed greater than the whole. Even though each book can be enjoyed as an independent piece, the difference in the scale of enjoyment will be huge when they are all read. To an outsider the book may seem kiddish, they are not. Some of the gems in the book are age old wisdom and are so clearly enacted that it makes them permanent in your mind. Some of my favorite ones are:

- Power should not be given to those who seek it.
- It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
~Professor Albus Dumbledore

This is the central theme of what makes Harry Potter what he is. He isn't the most powerful character, isn't the smartest, may be one of the bravest but with his own share of doubts. He may be the best flier, for sure one of the best. But these are not his defining characteristics. This isn't why he is the hero. He is hero because when it comes to choosing, his natural instinct is to 'not harm' and protect whoever is involved. Sacrifice isn't something that comes naturally to him, but given a situation, if that is something that can make everyone else' life easier, he would do it willingly or unwillingly.

To sum it up, he is essentially a good guy and that is his biggest strength.

- He could not use a dark spell effectively against his godfather's killer because for dark curses to be effective you need to mean them
- He didn't kill the guy responsible for his parents' death even when he had a chance (that paid in the end)
- In his final showdown with Voldermort, Voldermort casts the death spell on him whereas he casts only the disarming spell.
- He chooses to die since that was the only way to stop Voldermort.

Therein lies the difference between the one who won and the one who lost. It is not the most powerful one (Voldermort) who won, it was the good one. That I think is the defining part.

Voldermort, probably the most gifted wizard in terms of capabilities (may not be in terms of knowledge, Dumbledore was far more intelligent and knowledgeable than anyone else) had one mortal fear, of death. He sought throughout a way of being immortal where Harry embraces his death for 'the greater good' and becomes the master of death (and the possessor of Deathly hallows - you will need more context to understand what they are)

There were many times when Harry was saved by his friends and there were times when Harry was responsible for the death of his well-wishers. All because he is normal and makes as many mistakes as anyone else.

Coming to the second most important character in the series, the character is one of the purest villains, interestingly, for no fault of his. For he was conceived under temporary love induced by magic and hence was incapable of love. Barring this he was exceptional in his capabilities magical or otherwise. However, in the final showdown, it wasn't his power that fell short, and caused his downfall. It was Harry's goodness that caused Malfoy's mom to cheat him in the end and something unknown to Voldermort and knows as love caused Snape to do the same throughout. Combined this with his lack of knowledge caused his downfall.

There is a whole bunch of characters equally interesting and with a lot of history in the series that makes it such a compelling read. It has its own parallel world with different rules and laws.

Each book opens up a layer of understanding about what is going on. Remarkably there are references in the books early in the series which get clarified when you move further down and that is what makes the sum much greater than the parts.

It's exactly an year since I last picked a Potter book and now writing this post brings out my withdrawal symptoms. For those of you haven't read the series, try it. As Jeffrey Archer said while he was in India this year, every now and then he discovers a remarkable new author to read. I consider JKR to be as remarkable as the best ones I have ever read, so if you are looking to expand your options, go for it.

(To know more information on the series and characters, you can visit HP Lexicon)

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