Harry Potter; Reading Again And Discovering More

It has been sometime since I read or watched Harry Potter movies again for the umpteenth time. Finally my craving was too strong and I decided on a marathon reading of all the books once again and as usual I was not disappointed. It is a great feeling when you know the story by heart and still end up discovering nuggets that were hidden somewhere or finding something that you had not really appreciated earlier. Here I am going to focus on such simple things that I discovered.

This being a long series of books you wonder how J. K. Rowling managed to maintain consistency across characters and events. But the truth is that she did maintain it. It was a pleasure to come across the name “Lovegood” in book four “The Goblet of Fire” before the introduction of Luna in book five. But that mention tells you how Ron will remember that “Lovegoods” stayed close to “Burrow” in book seven. Similarly reading about Peverell coat of arms in book six while Dumbledore takes Harry to meet with Gaunts in memory was interesting since the actual meaning of Peverells gets clear only in book seven.

The most amazing discovery was during the final fight between Harry and Voldemort when I realised that during second round of fight nobody from Harry’s side gets hurt since he had already sacrificed himself to save everyone else and it was same sacrifice that her mother had made for him. Somehow I had missed that finer detail during earlier readings of the book in the excitement of final battle.

I also found one inconsistency in book four. I am not sure if it is a well-known mistake or not. It comes towards the end of the book four by when Harry had already faced Voldemort and seen the death of Cedric Diggory. He uses horseless carriages to return from Hogwarts to train station to catch the train at the end of the year but does not notice the invisible creatures “Thestrals” pulling on the carriages. In book five he notices them on arrival at Hogwarts and the explanation we are given is that he can see them since he has seen death. But he should have seen them in book four itself or he should have used another means of transport to return to train station.

I am sure I will find more such nuggets as I read it again sometime in future and it will amaze me once again. This is a great story however many times you read it.

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“Kane And Abel”, By Jeffrey Archer

I read “Kane and Abel” more than twenty years ago when I was still at college. Jeffrey Archer was one of the popular authors and this book was one of the most sought after. It must have been amongst the first few books that I enjoyed in popular English writing. When I started the blog, I wanted to write about the book but my memory of the whole story was very hazy and I did not want to do a poor copy-paste job with content from wiki. I finally read the book again last year and enjoyed it once again thoroughly.

This is a story of two men separated by distance, heritage, culture, upbringing but united in their destiny. One of them is born in Russia in very poor family and the other is born in United States with silver spoon. Both the men create their fortunes through grit and determination but are each other’s sworn enemies due to wrong information about each other. On top of that their children end up falling in love with each other. In the end everything falls in place but the story keeps you engaged till the end.

There are many sequences and characters that you like more than the main story and the protagonists.  Abel’s friend George or his daughter Florentyna’s Governess really take you by surprise. They are shown as simple people but fiercely loyal and proud. Similarly, Kane’s love story and how he proposes to his wife  and gets married is really interesting. Love and chivalry at its best. Another interesting sequence was where Abel tries to correct his daughter’s behaviour with help of her Governess and does not take his daughter’s side against his employees.

It is a great book to read with true heroes who show once again that grit, determination and strong character always pays you and even though there may be some bad people in the world, you will still find good people who will help you in tough times.

I also ended up reading the sequel “The Prodigal Daughter” but I will get to that story some other time.

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“Inferno”, By Dan Brown

Another book by Dan Brown and another roller-coaster ride of facts mixed with fiction, history with technology, visits to historical sites to solve current issues of the world. It has become his signature style that is predictable but still enjoyable. “Inferno” is once again featuring Robert Langdon who has already featured in many of his earlier books including “The Davinci Code”. This time our hero is trying to save the world from genetic catastrophe.

The story this time unfolds in Florence with Robert waking up in hospital with no memory of last few days and being chased by a murderer. He is saved from murder by one of the Doctors tending to him and together they start running across Florence and then other countries trying to solve the mystery of biohazard cylinder found in his pocket with symbols of Dante’s Inferno. The story keeps on getting more and more complicated with each chapter with multiple layers of deception and drama till we figure out in the end that the world has been changed forever by a crazy scientist.

Of course there is interesting stuff that you learn about Florence, Istanbul and Venice where the story takes place. You learn about the advancements in genetic science that leaves you in awe and fear at the same time. You also learn about the shady world of power politics that creates deception and propaganda to suit their hidden agenda.

It is definitely difficult to put down the book once you start reading it. At the same time, it is difficult to fully appreciate the book. It is like addiction that forces you to read it through so that you find out what happens in the end but not necessarily completely enjoying the journey and that is where Dan Brown does not live up to the expectations of good literature.

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“The Casual Vacancy”, By J. K. Rowling

Even though it was the first book that too meant for adult audience that J. K. Rowling had written after Harry Potter series, I waited for sometime before picking it up. I guess I did not want to be too disappointed. After all, there is no way she could have created the magic of Harry Potter series once again. Of course there was lot of media attention for this book and I ended up reading reviews and watching endless discussions. Finally, I could not wait and picked it up with the understanding that it is not going to be like Harry Potter but it still may be very good book and to a great extent I was not disappointed.

This story is about election for a council seat in a small British town and how it affects all aspects of society and brings out the best and worst in people. The characters here are powerless (pun intended) against the push and pull of societal pressures and their own shortcomings. Interesting part is that here also young children come out on the top as compared to their adult counterparts. Two of them Krystal and Sukhvinder stand apart from the rest. Krystal is teenage daughter of drug-addict mother but has dreams of coming out of it. Sukhvinder is daughter of respected Doctors in the community and has her own secrets.

I liked the detailing and development of characters in the story. It was also interesting to see how few young kids could hack the council website and post incriminating content. I would have liked a different and happy ending to the story but it is author’s prerogative and probably closer to reality.

“The Casual Vacancy” is not magical (again pun intended). At the same time, it is a realistic story told in engaging style.

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“Command Authority”, By Tom Clancy With Mark Greaney

There is nothing better than Tom Clancy when you are looking for a fast paced thriller and “Command Authority” does serve the purpose. This is the last book by the author and was published after his death. In some of his previous Jack Ryan books, the author had moved from projecting Russia as prime enemy of United States to China and terrorism. In this book he returns back to old school of United States versus Russia.

The story revolves around power struggle in Russia that has deep roots in last days of communist rule. Some of the old characters have come back to power in Russia and are now using war, propaganda and deception to bring the country back to its lost glory. Ukraine becomes the symbol of this struggle with forces pulling it in both directions. There is also lot more focus on international financial crimes and how it aids war, corrupt governments and businessmen.

As with the past few books, now there are two Jack Ryan’s (father and son) fighting the enemy in their own different ways. I really liked the part where Jack Ryan Jr is researching the world of International finance and how his research leads him to information in unravelling the plot and provides his father a key to fight the enemy.

As with other Tom Clancy books, the story here is current with world events even though it is a work of fiction. Most importantly, he has stuck with his main characters of Jack Ryan, his family, his security team, his cabinet and the members of campus. While reading the story you do not feel that the author was writing it as his last book. It feels that he would have gone on with these characters for more amazing stories. We will never know now what those stories were. It is truly an end of an era of Tom Clancy’s books.

I chose to write about this book since I read it recently but I will come back with more on some of the earlier books as well.

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