This is a very accomplished effort and it’s apparent that J. K. Rowling was really beginning to get into her stride, probably in the knowledge that she had the freedom to finish her saga in a multi book deal. (I’m only guessing here).
It has more of a feel that it’s part of a whole rather than a stand alone work. One piece of a greater tale. But none the less, this book can still be read as a story on it’s own and it delivers this with the usual pace, intricacies and skill that the first two books showed. Better in fact.
The characters have grown, along with the readers, and there are nice touches that really deepen your understanding and knowledge, not only of the people, but the world they inhabit. There are morality choices laid before our protagonists and these are dealt with in such a clever way as to seep into the consciousness of the reader without it seeming like your being led. I really like this, that J. K. is influencing youngsters without them even realising. I read something the other day that said kids who read Harry Potter have greater tolerances and empathy. This doesn’t surprise me at all. And the very fact that she got a whole new generation into reading is almost hero like.
The story, as usual, is your basic good verses bad again, but this is no bad thing. Aren’t the majority of stories that? There is the introduction of a new character, Sirius Black, that now gives Harry a parental/guardian figure, although this is not clear most of the way through the book. It’s a nice addition and I have no doubt that this will be an ongoing story line. There are many things set up in this book that (I hope) will be followed up in the next books.