The End of Harry Potter? by David Langford is a nonfiction study of J.K. Rowling's bestselling fantasy saga, with some thoughts about likely narrative developments in her seventh and final volume -- whose title was subsequently announced as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and which was published in 2007.
More about the writing and the first edition below.... This reprint should include all the revisions and updates made for Tor.
Here's the Tor web page for the US edition shown at right. This version has been slightly revised, corrected and updated.
- Publication Date (First US Edition): 20 March 2007
- Publisher: Tor Books, New York
- Format: trade paperback
- ISBN: 978-0-7653-1934-0 [ISBN-10 0-7653-1934-9]
- Page Count: 208
- Cover Artist: David Wyatt
- Availability: Book Depository
From the Langford home-page diary, 20 March 2007: Even a man who is pure in heart / And says his prayers by night, / May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms / And the autumn moon is bright. Why am I quoting this doggerel from the 1941 Lon Chaney horror film The Wolf Man? Because today, dear readers, is publication day for Tor's edition of that book, and despite my and my editor's protests the Tor lawyers nervously insisted that the verse must be deleted -- even though it's been quoted in scores of books without any problem, and though the context (discussion of the werewolf legend in popular culture) is clearly one of fair use. Instead, US readers will find slightly sarcastic instructions for using Google to locate one of the many, many hundreds of instances of this quotation on line....
The genesis of this book was a conversation with Gollancz people (oh, all right, with Malcolm Edwards) at the 2005 Glasgow Worldcon, following which they commissioned me to write The End of Harry Potter?.
The text was delivered to Gollancz on 31 May 2006, the specified deadline day. Official reaction from my editor Jo Fletcher was very favourable, and I corrected the page proofs in mid-September. There were nervous delays while lawyers checked and double-checked. At last, early in November 2006, Amazon.co.uk announced that the book was available.
Paperback editions are to appear from Gollancz in the UK and Tor in the USA. Here's the Gollancz web page for all Langford titles.
A fragment of history. Here at the right is the draft cover which appeared in the Gollancz SF/Fantasy catalogue (July 2006 to January 2007). I'd been told to expect last-minute changes in the wake of legal advice. Presumably m'learned friends thought it important to stress the unauthorised aspect and to insert the titular question mark which had in fact appeared in my own draft text.
Latest. [No longer being updated!] July 2007 brings a brief namecheck in The Times (14 July) and a slightly longer mention in the New York Times: "And in London, where the saga of Harry began, Sectus 2007 at the University of Westminster will feature a winter-dress ball in July. The guest speakers will include Colin Manlove, author of 'From Alice to Harry Potter: Children's Fantasy in England,' and David Langford, author of 'The End of Harry Potter?'" (Austin Considine, "A Gala Time for Muggles", 6 July 2007) My Sectus talk is at 3pm on Friday 20 July. June 2007: a late review in The Register. The book appears in the British Fantasy Awards recommendations list in the newly added nonfiction category. 27 May 2007: Patrick Nielsen Hayden tells me that Tor Books went back for a third printing of 25,000 copies, bringing the US run to 75,000 in all. 3 May 2007: copies of the Gollancz trade paperback arrive. Langford interview in the Tor/Forge newsletter, concerning their edition. A few rueful personal comments in Cloud Chamber 156. Gollancz paperback scheduled for 10 May 2007. Hungarian translation deal. More reviews.
Guy Kewney, The Register: "Harry Potter and the Pedant of CIX", 21 June 2007
See also the comments here ...
Cathy Collison and Janis Campbell, Freep.com (Detroit Free Press), 5 June 2007
Langford, an award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer who used to be a nuclear physicist, is obviously a smart guy and a careful reader and fan of the series.
Living the Scientific Life (blog), 8 May 2007
If you are an intense Harry Potter fan and you are anxiously awaiting the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, then this delightful and intelligent book is essential preparatory reading for you. It also is a quick read: this book arrived in the mail yesterday, and I devoured it in less than four hours, and am already re-reading it today on the subway.
Pauline Morgan, Brum Group News, March 2007
Langford's timely little book is carefully balanced ...
The tone of the book is just right. It is not too erudite to put off the younger readers but at the same time has enough depth for the more serious speculator to take seriously. The tone is light and easy to read but does not denigrate a series that Langford knows well. This is a serious addition to a growing genre and even after book seven is published, will still have interesting and positive things to say about the writing of an international success story.
Neale Monks, SF Crowsnest, 1 March 2007
The depth of his study is really quite remarkable and both adult and teenage readers will find themselves driven to re-read the 'Harry Potter' books once more, just to find all the subtleties that Langford spotted but we missed.
Natalie Clubb, Dreamwatch Sci Fi, 15 February 2007
This entertaining companion that poses (and attempts to answer) the questions that Potter fans worldwide have been asking has something for everyone from diehard Harry aficionados, to casual readers who just enjoy a good adventure. [...] Langford has used his extensive knowledge of the Potter universe to create an extremely enjoyable read and, while it makes no pretence of offering any definitive answers, if you weren't excited about the seventh novel before, you will be after reading this!
Tansy Rayner Roberts, ASIF, February 2007
What Langford does bring to the text is a breezy, no-effort-to-read writing style, a genuine (but not crazy nuts) love for the material, and a keen and thoughtful approach to not only analysing what Rowling might provide in the much awaited final volume, but also examining what, exactly, she has achieved so far. His chapters are short but meaty, arranged in interesting theme bites.
Karen Burnham, Strange Horizons, 7 February 2007
... And the best part is that the experience will be consistently enjoyable. Langford's style is light and breezy, and the book reads incredibly quickly. It wouldn't be any problem at all to finish the whole book in a few hours, but it may well cause you to spend many additional hours thinking upon the things he's raised.
Nathan Brazil, SF Site, February 2007
Styling itself as an unauthorised guide to the mysteries that remain, the book is a meticulously deconstructed history of essential Potter, and cleverly reasoned speculation concerning events yet to come. Langford offers insightful observations on how J.K. Rowling constructs her stories, aided by comparisons with classical and contemporary literature.
[...] Invaluably for the Potter devotee, Langford's literary torch does more than most to shine into corners deliberately made shadowy by Rowling's twisty plot. Readers who believe that Harry is inescapably hurtling toward his doom may disagree with some of the author's conclusions, and the book could do with an index. But, these minor issue[s] aside, The End of Harry Potter? is well worth reading while we wait for the real thing.
Lucy Sussex, Sunday Age (Melbourne), 21 January 2007
Book of the week
It sounds nefarious. Bloomsbury publishes the mega-selling J. K. Rowling. Gollancz, well-regarded for its science fiction and fantasy list, doesn't. Yet it commissions a book on what the final Harry Potter book might contain. Small wonder lawyers got very, very interested. However, any suspicions that the book might be trashy sour grapes prove unfounded, largely because of the author. Langford is a former nuclear scientist, now a literary critic with 27 awards to his name. A deft hand with parody, he is interested in the phenomenal fan activity that surrounds popular fiction. Langford's knowledge of fantasy conventions enables him to second-guess the plot with authority. He is also not afraid to critique the books. His assessment of Rowling is that her themes are "not terribly original (when did you last come across a brand-new fantasy theme, anyway?)" but she combines them "very cleverly with the British boarding-school tradition, and is remarkably skilled in leading new readers into the fantasy universe." Favourite bits: alternate endings that include versions a la Star Wars and Some Like It Hot.
Meg Wilde, SFX, January 2007
Seeing as none of us can divine the future or practise Legilimency on an unsuspecting JK Rowling, it's up to clever types like SFX's own Dave Langford to figure out what might happen in the final Harry Potter novel. You want theories? They're here, along with an often tongue-in-cheek analysis of all things Potterverse. [...]
The End of Harry Potter? is frighteningly well-researched -- particularly when analysing seemingly throwaway lines from previous books. It'll get your brain cogs whirring ...
Stuart Kelly, LivingScotsman.com Books, 31 December 2006
Do-It-Myself Awards [...] Most Transparent Cash-In
Scholar's Blog, 9 December 2006
This is a good book, an interesting mix of the funny/silly and the serious, and comes highly recommended.
Funday Times (Sunday Times childrens' section), November 2006 (Flash page linked from here)
It's immensely readable and the author gives a balanced critique of JK Rowling's books which thankfully doesn't rubbish her writing just because it's popular. As a source of gossip among avid Potter fans on tenterhooks, this works its magic[.]
Guardian website, November 2006
... entertaining exploration of the mysteries that remain unsolved ...