Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ben Caldwell and the Deathly Hallows.

So I dropped friend-of-this-blog Ben Caldwell, an illustrator with something of a history with Harry Potter, a line with a friendly enquiry about whether he'd enjoyed THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. His reply was quite comprehensive, so I'll run it verbatim as a second review of the book. He makes some great points. And then drew some kick-ass pictures. Check out more of his art (including more HP-inspired work) at

"Hi Mark!

I did indeed read hp7, it was great! I was actually surprised at how
good it was -- not that Rowling is a bad writer, but when she
introduced the whole horcrux angle in hp6, and then the hallows
angle here, I didn't think she'd be able to tie it all together, and
there would be
some limp Stephen King ending.

And while Voldemort was a pretty stereotypical villain in the
beginning, these last two books really fleshed him out as maybe
the best villain since Dracula. When you think about similar
villains like Sauron, Dr. Doom or Darth Vader, both their motives
and their "evilness" have a certain abstraction to them.
Voldemort's drive is so visceral that you could picture a real
person in his mold. And his casual murders (chapter 1) are
much more intimately disturbing than the general threat of
goblin hordes or clone armies or doominators.

I think that quality in the books is the true secret of their
success -- Ihave friends who barely read fiction, let alone
fantasy, who were really wrapped up in these characters and
their lives. It's hard to imagine any-one
wrapped up in Legolas, as cool as he is.

I didn't expect it when I started the series, but I think
collectively these are really the great fiction classics of our
age. People are used to thinking of "classics" as serious,
"realistic" books where nothing happens -- which flies
in the face of thousands of years of the Odyssey,
Beowulf, Dante, Moby Dick andthe like -- HP shows how
broad a field great literature can be. I don't know that
Rowling is a particularly elegant writer, which I used to
hold against her, and of course a huge chunk of her
material was done before by other people, but there's j
ust no escaping the overall quality of the stories.

Anyways... here are some doodles I did after reading
hp7. I wish Flitwick, who is a total sissy but also a
master wand duellist, had done some
crazy stuff in the end. Oh well."