Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Stephen Fry, J.K. Rowling In the few hours since I finished listening to Stephen Fry's narration of the last episode of the saga of Harry Potter and his friends, I've been letting the novel wash over me and trying to determine my impressions not only of this book, but of the series as a whole.

There were times when I felt irritated by the way the narrative was progressing. I know I'm not the only reader to wonder whether the book should have been called Harry Potter and the Awfully Long Camping Trip. The three heroes really did seem to spend a lot more time in a tent than was strictly necessary for the telling of the tale. Harry Potter and the Bickering Housemates is another possible title which came to mind after yet another session of yelling, pouting and stalking off.

I was also irritated by some of the plot devices introduced into the final instalment which seemed to come out of nowhere. For example, I could accept that the wand chooses the wizard. After all, that was established in Book 1. But mastery of the wand goes to the person who defeated its previous owner? Seems to me that a lot of wizards and witches were defeated during the course of the previous six novels with no real indication that they lost mastery of their wands as a result.

There's lots to criticise in this book: plot holes, heavy-handed religious symbolism, stretches of tedium interspersed with episodes of crazy activity culminating in deus ex machina-engineered escapes. However, there's also plenty to love. And I've decided that it's the things that I love about the book - and about the series - which will be my lasting impression of reading all seven books one after the other.

So .... I love that Rowling created characters I care about. To me, the characters were much more successfully achieved than the overarching themes of love, loyalty, sacrifice and death. Lots of writers have done a better job writing about those themes. But the characters are great creations. I loved seeing Harry, Ron and Hermione grow up. I loved Ron's family and Neville, Luna, Sirius, Remus and Tonks, Hagrid and even Dumbledore and the Hogwarts teachers. I wanted to know what happened to all of them. I wanted to know the mystery of Severus Snape. And I was very glad that I was right about him all along. I found the revelations about his motivation and his role unsurprising, but very moving nonetheless. In fact, I suspect that Snape's story will stay with me the longest. And I really loved the way in which Stephen Fry brought all of these characters to life.

There were scenes, too, both in this book and throughout the series that I will remember. Too many to chronicle, really. However, in this episode Neville's bravery, the return of Percy, Dobby's bravery and the scenes involving Snape stand out.

While over the course of the series I have found lots to criticise in Rowling's writing - including her tendency to jam large amounts of exposition into set speeches and dialogue - I liked some of the plot devices which allowed the narrative to be seen from different points of view, specifically the pensieve and the connection between Harry and Voldemort.

All in all, I'm glad I finally came to the Harry Potter party, even though I arrived so late. Still, I suspect that enjoying the series as one long party, rather than having to wait for a long time between each instalment, has had its advantages.