Gryffindor Tower #9: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix — My Thoughts

by Dan

(Disclaimer: the following contains many Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenixspoilers. Do not read ahead if you haven’t finished the book.)

The following is from The Toronto Star:

Sirius Black: Noble wizard slain in battleThe Ministry of Magic is saddened to announce the death of Sirius Black, a ranking wizard who was godfather to Harry Potter, the famous Boy Who Lived.

Mr. Black was slain in battle between the Order of the Phoenix, the secret organization that has been recently revived to oppose the return of You-Know-Who, and a squad of Death Eaters inside the Ministry of Magic headquarters.

Previously Mr. Black, a graduate of Hogwarts, had been sought in an intensive manhunt after his escape, two years previous, from Azkaban – the only inmate ever to escape the prison and its Dementor guards.

Mr. Black had been wrongly convicted 12 years ago, the ministry can now reveal, for the mass murder of 12 muggles and one wizard during You-Know-Who’s first reign of terror.

“No wizard has done more to oppose evil and the dark arts,” said Hogwart’s headmaster Albus Dumbledore. “He shall be greatly missed.”

Mr. Black, it can also now be revealed, was an Animagus whose shape-shifting talents helped him avoid recapture.

Of course, I couldn’t start with anything but that. One of my favorite characters, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that, has been lost to the cause against Lord Voldemort. I won’t say anything else about it now.

As I’m sure you’ve all read on the main page, I chose not to write last week, as it was only one day after OotP came out. Now, I’m sure most of you have finished the book, so I would like to offer my review of the latest installment in JK Rowling’s stories about the Boy Who Lived. After thinking for awhile about it, I decided that I would be breaking down my next few columns like this: each week I will review ten chapters of OotP in detail, pointing out many of the possible plotlines and events of books six and seven. You are all more than welcome to email me any predictions you have about books six and seven, but I must ask you to please offer predictions that are grounded only in book five, and may also be supported by evidence in books one through four. This column will offer my overall review of the book.

First, I must say, overall, OotP was my favorite Harry Potter book thus far. That’s not to say that it has blown the other four out of the water for me, but I must admit, OotP was my favorite. One thing that makes it so is the fact that I have related to Harry in this book much better than previously. I have noticed a lot of negative comments from people on Harry’s attitude in book five, and I have also noticed that many of them are younger people offering these appraisals. What I must point out is that many fifteen year old kids and younger have never been through what Harry has. That is not to say that no one has, but I notice that alot of the kids who emailed me about Harry’s attitude are younger, so many of them have not had the life experiences that make someone as cynical and angry as Harry has become. Suffering many personal losses myself, many of whom were as close in relationship to me as one can get, I see only myself in Harry, and I’m sure many of the older readers (as well as some younger readers) can concur.

Harry faced a lot at the end of his fourth year, and the one thing he wanted, answers, he couldn’t get. Granted, he had even more questions by the time he got to Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place (like Arabella Figg being a Squib, Aunt Petunia knowing what dementors are, Aunt Petunia getting a Howler, his possible expulsion, the color of his socks, his hormones, the state of the stock market, the price of bread, etc.). I found this book to be an amazing addition to the Harry Potter stories, and I especially loved many of the events of this book: Fred and George’s farewell to Hogwarts, Firenze being hired by Dumbledore, Ron and Ginny leading the Quidditch team to the Cup, and of course, the battle at the end. Many characters, like Neville and Ginny, really came into their own in this book, and it seemed that there was a surprise every few pages.

The party I ran at Borders was a complete success. Even though we surpassed 1000 guests, we were able to run a great event that kept everyone entertained well past midnight.

The most important thing about getting this book, for me, was a clear reminder of why I love Harry Potter and the world that JK Rowling has so skillfully and masterfully created. Harry’s newfound angst, a clear and reasonable example of what he’s been through in the past four years, tells me one thing and one thing only: Harry Potter is the most remarkable normal guy ever. He is this amazing, famous person, who just wants to hang out with his friends, who hates being objectified and exploited, and who, in his moment of greatest loss, does what anyone at his age (or older, for that matter) would do: breaks down. Actually, he tore apart Dumbledore’s office in a maddened, insane range and, in all likelihood, probably could have ripped out Dumbledore’s larynx via his armpit had he felt so inclined. But it’s not exactly abnormal, which again, is what makes JK Rowling that much better than other writers: her characters are never larger than life, they are you and I, simple yet complex, angry yet kind, scared yet courageous, and, of course, characters that we will always love.

I must impress upon you all my extreme disappointment in some Harry Potter fans over the last few weeks. In the week leading up to June 21st, a few “lucky” fans who got early copies of the book decided to ruin some surprises on the staff and webmasters of various HP sites. Fortunately, the biggest thing that I got out of spoilers was that Ron was the new prefect, and although I would have liked to read that, it wasn’t as bad as some. Emerson even got a scan of the page that Sirius died in an email…it’s absolutely ridiculous. I was horribly offended by that, and I hope that it will not be so when books six and seven come out.

Even though I have topics for the next few weeks, feel free to email me any ideas you guys have. I really hope you all enjoyed the book. And I am sorry that this wasn’t more in-depth, but unfortunately, I have been running into a few problems that, just as in mid-March, require my attention. However, they aren’t big, and my next column reviewing chapters one to ten will be much more in-depth. If you have any other questions about my personal feelings on the book, as always, email me. Peace!