Tag Archives: fantasy

Harry Potter and the Parallel Themes, An Analysis

The Harry Potter series is one of the best, most intertwined series I have ever read.  Items briefly seen and characters mentioned could play a key role in a later in the series.  We see Hagrid mention of Sirius in book 1, Voldemort’s horcruxes in book 5, and the Polyjuice Potion in book 2.  However, there’s something else that makes J. K. Rowling’s wonderful series all the more intertwined.  Something that I would like to refer as *cough* Harry Potter and the Parallel Themes!

Okay, imagine the seven books in the series.  Smack dab in the middle is book 4.  Ah yes, the Goblet of Fire, a very important addition in the series.  It stands at a doorway between children goodiness and young adult realism.  Books 1-3 were not as dark or as foreboding as books 5-7 and had more uplifting endings.  Indeed, you can feel this transformation come forth as you read GoF; terror at the World Cup, former Deatheaters make their appearance, the first emotional death, and the rebirth of Voldemort.  It’s no wonder many people, including my sister, like this book the most.

Now imagine this.

Imagine that book 4 is the focal point of the series.  As you step farther and farther away from this mirror, certain themes, plot points, and characters that you were once introduced to now become reintroduced with a stronger focus.

Take for example, books 3 and 5.  These two books share many things in common with each other.  The prominent role of Sirius Black, the return of the Dementors and Lupin, prisoners escaping Azkaban, and Harry’s dad’s past.  Harry’s dad seems especially important in these two books as Harry now learns so much more about him and subsequently realized that he wasn’t that great of a guy.   Harry’s relationship with Cho also plays a role.  He was introduced to her in book 3 and their tumultuous relationship ended in book 5.

Now, let’s take a step further, book 2 and 6.  This is where I began to notice the parallel events in the series.  Indeed, it’s pretty noticeable, most prominently of which were horcruxes.  In book 2, we saw our first horcrux, the diary.  And though its origins were hinted at, we were finally revealed in book 6 what it truly was, a part of Voldemort’s soul.  This was a part of a more important concept mainly Tom Riddle’s past, something that book 2 grazed over.  Of course, there are other smaller things.  Ginny’s infatuation with Harry in book 2 finally blossomed into an actual relationship in book 6 and Aragog’s old age finally bested him at the same time.  I was actually hoping throughout most of the book that we would see the Ford Anglia, but alas, that wasn’t the case.  Finally, Fawkes the phoenix was introduced in book 2 and we last saw him in book 6.

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Also, this was one of the best scenes in the book AND the movie, no doubt

But what about book 1 and 7?  Going into it, I thought we would surely see the Mirror of Erised which played a strong and melancholic role in the first book.  It would only be fitting that we would see this magical device again.

Alas, again, this was unfortunately not true and I was sad because of it.  But we got something that I didn’t expect.  Dumbledore’s past.  Indeed, our only window into Dumbledore’s past was through the Chocolate Frog Cards which gave a light description of Dumbledore and his battle with Grindelwald.  Now, in book 7, we see the dark, sad, and lonely past of Albus.  It was almost too much to bear.  Gringotts made its return as well along with Griphook the goblin.  The Gringotts’ boast of being the most secure place in the Wizarding World (second only to Hogwarts) in book 1 was finally tested in book 7 and was subsequently foiled by three teenagers and a blind dragon.  This was very fascinating to me as when we first saw Gringotts, it was a magically mysterious place that seemed more strange than dangerous.  But in book 7, we see its true colors of paranoia, greed, and hate.

But most important out of all of this are the Deathly Hallows (the magical items, not the book).  True, many themes from all the other books come back to book 7 but the Deathly Hallows have their special roots in book 1.   The Invisibility Cloak’s, which was given to Harry during his first year from Dumbledore, origins were finally revealed (and why Harry’s dad had it).  The Resurrection Stone, though first seen in book 6, was hidden in Harry’s very first golden snitch.  Of which, its puzzling lock frustrated Harry through most of book 7 as he tried desperately to open it. It is a relief when he finally figures out how to open it.

I’m still impacted by that passage “I open at the close.”

Deathly Hallows

And finally, rounding it off, the Elder Wand, passed along from powerful wizard to powerful wizard, finally ending with Dumbledore.   And it’s not just the Elder Wand, the connection between a wizard and his wand was never elaborated on, save briefly in book 4, until book 7.  It is because of this importance that we see why the climatic events at Malfoy Manor in book 7 were so important.  Harry had sealed his fate, and Voldemort’s as well, when he disarmed Draco Malfoy and became the rightful ruler of the Elder Wand.

These parallel events really go to show how great of a writer J.K.R. is.  Even before she knew she had a big hit on her hands, she had been dropping themes, ideas, and characters long before their importance was established.  What’s more, she took it a step forward and made a clever series of parallel events that really helps tie the book series together.  It’s very likely that I’m not the first person to notice this, as such, what other parallel events and such have you noticed in the series?

Finally, I just wished that I could have seen the Ford Angila one more time!

The Darkness Series by Harry Turtledove

Long before I knew about Game of Thrones, there was another fantasy series that I was heavily invested in during the course of its publications.  It was known as the Darkness Series, written by Harry Turtledove (also known as “the Master of Alternate History”).  The Darkness Series is, in a sense, very similar to the Song of Ice and Fire series.  Mainly, many viewpoint characters that are from different nations whose individual stories weave a larger, more epic story.  These characters are from a fantastical world in the grip of war and who, even if they are a viewpoint character, can still die.

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There is also another similarity the two have.  If A Song of Ice and Fire is inspired by the War of Roses, then the Darkness Series is not only inspired by, but directly paralleled with, the events of World War 2.  Each country in the Darkness Series, which takes place in the fiction continent of Derlavai, is usually based on one (sometimes a few) country(s) in our world.  For instance, Algarve represents Nazi Germany while Unkerlant represents Soviet Russia.  The similarities don’t stop there as these fictional nations have the same languages, city names, customs, and so forth as our world does.

These similarities though are highly jumbled.  The Algarvian people speak Italian, have red hair, and wear kilts.  Unkerlantians, meanwhile, speak German, wear tunics, and have a darker complexion.  For those of you who are curious, the Jews are a race of people called Kaunians who are fair skinned, tall, have blonde hair, and speak a Slavic-like language.

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But here, the similarities to our world end.  Great rhinos are tanks, dragons are airplanes, fierce leviathans are submarines, rifles and pistols are wands that shoot energy beams, and magical crystals serve as communicating devices similar to our radios and telephones.  Also, like Game of Thrones, the world’s countries are mainly monarchial.  These fantastical elements are amazing and give a great twist to a world at war.

I never had such joy in reading and appreciating a series such as this before.  Figuring out what historical events are happening and guessing how the characters will survive was a real treat.  And though we know that dear Algarve will eventually lose the war, what we don’t know is if our characters will survive the war or not.  Some of my favorite characters did eventually past away and that was a great shame.

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Turtledove has a greater appreciation for characters than George R.R. Martin does.  Though characters may die, their deaths do not seem premature or forced.  We have grown to love and respect the viewpoint character as Turtledove takes time to flesh them out.  We are also not bogged down with tons of characters who may show up for a few chapters and then go away without any further notice on what exactly happened to them.

Some of the best moments in the book are when viewpoint characters meet each other for a brief moment.  They may fight each other in the battlefield, walk by one another in a busy town, or develop an actual relationship of some kind with the other viewpoint character.  I even developed an intricate diagram years ago dedicated to how all of the characters were connected to each other and it was amazing (too bad I can’t find it now).

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Well before I knew about Game of Thrones, I imagined what it would be like for this series to hit the small screen.  At the time, I thought it would never happen but now with Game of Thrones being quite popular nowadays, that idea isn’t too far off.  However, because of their similar concepts, people might think it was just a shameless rip-off which is too bad.  Regardless, seeing the Darkness Series in live action would be amazing.

In short, if you are fan of Game of Thrones, epic fantasies, or World War 2, this is a great series of novels that is fun to read.  I highly recommend it if you have the time.

(for those who are curious the series goes Into the Darkness, Darkness Descending, Through the Darkness, Rulers of the Darkness, Jaws of Darkness, and Out of Darkness)