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Sunday, July 01, 2007

cover of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Angry Harry. For various reasons, Harry spends the bulk of this book, his fifth year at Hogwarts, being very irritable and the slightest provocation will start him raging and shouting. Hermione and Ron seem to take turns patiently reminding him that they're on his side and would he please stop taking it out on them. And Harry has some pretty good reasons for being so on edge, the biggest of which is that Voldemort is back, and Harry's scar is twinging all the time (and flares up and really hurts whenever Voldemort is particularly angry or happy). The Ministry of Magic is trying to suppress rumors of Voldemort's return, using the newspapers to make Harry out to be an attention-seeking liar, and even interfering at Hogwarts in the form of the despicable Dolores Umbridge. There are also some interesting ideas about how seeing death alters your perception.

One of the things haunting Harry is Cedric's death at the end of the last book. While there has been plenty of death and loss in Harry's life, he's never exactly witnessed it first-hand, and in this world that changes your perception. The most obvious way we see this is the Thestrals-- beasts which have invisibly pulled the carriages from the train to Hogwarts every year, only now Harry can see them (along with the delightful character of Luna Lovegood). Later on, when they are in the Hall of Mysteries, there is an arch with a veil-- and only Harry and Luna can hear voices whispering behind the veil, calling to them. There are some pretty interesting ideas about death here, and I guess we will get to learn more about Rowling's ideas of death in the last book.

One of the really great things in this book is the Defense Association (aka Dumbledore's Army). Umbridge steps in as the ministry-appointed Defense against the Dark Arts teacher, and decides to give them a "purely theoretical" course-- designed to keep them from practicing any practical magic that might be used against the ministry. At Hermione's instigation and encouragement, they start an underground group led and taught by Harry to learn Defense spells. It's clear that Harry really enjoys teaching this stuff, and is a good teacher (the other students are able to conjure Patronuses, which Lupin wasn't sure Harry would be able to do in book 3). It made me think that if Harry survives his final encounter with Voldemort, he should eventually come back to Hogwarts and teach.

The DA is the source of the group that eventually goes with Harry to the Ministry of Magic and ends up facing off against the Death Eaters (along with some help from Dumbledore's Order of the Phoenix). Seeing Harry and his classmates practicing and learning made me see that the DA is sort of the next generation of the Order of the Phoenix.

Finished in about five days.

Title:Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Author:J. K. Rowling
Date published:2003
Genre:Young Adult Fantasy
Series:Harry Potter
Number of pages:870
Notes:repeat reading


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