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  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

  ( Harry Potter - 7 )

  J. K. Rowling

  Readers beware. The brilliant, breathtaking conclusion to J. K. Rowling’s spellbinding series is not for the faint of heart—such revelations, battles, and betrayals await in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that no fan will make it to the end unscathed. Luckily, Rowling has prepped loyal readers for the end of her series by doling out increasingly dark and dangerous tales of magic and mystery, shot through with lessons about honor and contempt, love and loss, and right and wrong. Fear not, you will find no spoilers in our review—to tell the plot would ruin the journey, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is an odyssey the likes of which Rowling’s fans have not yet seen, and are not likely to forget. But we would be remiss if we did not offer one small suggestion before you embark on your final adventure with Harry—bring plenty of tissues.

  The heart of Book 7 is a hero’s mission—not just in Harry’s quest for the Horcruxes, but in his journey from boy to man—and Harry faces more danger than that found in all six books combined, from the direct threat of the Death Eaters and You-Know-Who, to the subtle perils of losing faith in himself. Attentive readers would do well to remember Dumbledore’s warning about making the choice between “what is right and what is easy,” and know that Rowling applies the same difficult principle to the conclusion of her series. While fans will find the answers to hotly speculated questions about Dumbledore, Snape, and You-Know-Who, it is a testament to Rowling’s skill as a storyteller that even the most astute and careful reader will be taken by surprise.

  A spectacular finish to a phenomenal series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a bittersweet read for fans. The journey is hard, filled with events both tragic and triumphant, the battlefield littered with the bodies of the dearest and despised, but the final chapter is as brilliant and blinding as a phoenix’s flame, and fans and skeptics alike will emerge from the confines of the story with full but heavy hearts, giddy and grateful for the experience.

  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

  The dedication of this book is split seven ways.

  To Neil

  To Jessica

  To David

  To Kenzie

  To Di

  To Anne

  And to You

  If you have stuck with Harry until the very end.

  Oh, the torment bred in the race, the grinding scream of death and the stroke that hits the vein, the hemorrhage none can staunch, the grief, the curse no man can bear.

  But there is a cure in the house and not outside it, no, not from others but from them, their bloody strife. We sing to you, dark gods beneath the earth.

  Now hear, you blissful powers underground—answer the call, send help. Bless the children, give them Triumph now.

  Aeschylus, The Libation Bearers

  Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still. For they must needs be present, that love and live in that which is omnipresent. In this divine glass they see face to face; and their converse is free, as well as pure. This is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present, because immortal.

  William Penn, More Fruits of Solitude

  1. THE DARK LORD ASCENDING

  The two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane. For a second they stood quite still, wands directed at each other’s chests; then, recognizing each other, they stowed their wands beneath their cloaks and started walking briskly in the same direction.

  “News?” asked the taller of the two.

  “The best,” replied Severus Snape.

  The lane was bordered on the left by wild, low-growing brambles, on the right by a high, neatly manicured hedge. The men’s long cloaks flapped around their ankles as they marched.

  “Thought I might be late,” said Yaxley, his blunt features sliding in and out of sight as the branches of overhanging trees broke the moonlight. “It was a little trickier than I expected. But I hope he will be satisfied. You sound confident that your reception will be good?”

  Snape nodded, but did not elaborate. They turned right, into a wide driveway that led off the lane. The high hedge curved into them, running off into the distance beyond the pair of imposing wrought-iron gates barring the men’s way. Neither of them broke step: In silence both raised their left arms in a kind of salute and passed straight through, as though the dark metal was smoke.

  The yew hedges muffled the sound of the men’s footsteps. There was a rustle somewhere to their right: Yaxley drew his wand again pointing it over his companion’s head, but the source of the noise proved to be nothing more than a pure-white peacock, strutting majestically along the top of the hedge.

  “He always did himself well, Lucius. Peacocks…” Yaxley thrust his wand back under his cloak with a snort.

  A handsome manor house grew out of the darkness at the end of the straight drive, lights glinting in the diamond paned downstairs windows. Somewhere in the dark garden beyond the hedge a fountain was playing. Gravel crackled beneath their feet as Snape and Yaxley sped toward the front door, which swung inward at their approach, though nobody had visibly opened it.

  The hallway was large, dimly lit, and sumptuously decorated, with a magnificent carpet covering most of the stone floor. The eyes of the pale-faced portraits on the wall followed Snape and Yaxley as they strode past. The two men halted at a heavy wooden door leading into the next room, hesitated for the space of a heartbeat, then Snape turned the bronze handle.

  The drawing room was full of silent people, sitting at a long and ornate table. The room’s usual furniture had been pushed carelessly up against the walls. Illumination came from a roaring fire beneath a handsome marble mantelpiece surmounted by a gilded mirror. Snape and Yaxley lingered for a moment on the threshold. As their eyes grew accustomed to the lack of light, they were drawn upward to the strangest feature of the scene: an apparently unconscious human figure hanging upside down over the table, revolving slowly as if suspended by an invisible rope, and reflected in the mirror and in the bare, polished surface of the table below. None of the people seated underneath this singular sight were looking at it except for a pale young man sitting almost directly below it. He seemed unable to prevent himself from glancing upward every minute or so.

  “Yaxley. Snape,” said a high, clear voice from the head of the table. “You are very nearly late.”

  The speaker was seated directly in front of the fireplace, so that it was difficult, at first, for the new arrivals to make out more than his silhouette. As they drew nearer, however, his face shone through the gloom, hairless, snakelike, with slits for nostrils and gleaming red eyes whose pupils were vertical. He was so pale that he seemed to emit a pearly glow.

  “Severus, here,” said Voldemort, indicating the seat on his immediate right. “Yaxley—beside Dolohov.”

  The two men took their allotted places. Most of the eyes around the table followed Snape, and it was to him that Voldemort spoke first.

  “So?”

  “My Lord, the Order of the Phoenix intends to move Harry Potter from his current place of safety on Saturday next, at nightfall.”

  The interest around the table sharpened palpably: Some stiffened, others fidgeted, all gazing at Snape and Voldemort.

  “Saturday… at nightfall,” repeated Voldemort. His red eyes fastened upon Snape’s black ones with such intensity that some of the watchers looked away, apparently fearful that they themselves would be scorched by the ferocity of the gaze. Snape, however, looked calmly back into Voldemort