Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoneix

Author: J.K. Rowling

Published By: Scholastic Inc.

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            A long time ago, a friend told me that I simply had to check out the Harry Potter series of novels.  I agreed to do so, but, unfortunately, sometimes life gets in the way and before I knew it, movies were being made and the series had swelled to seven novels.  I finally got to start checking the books out a year ago and I’ve been hooked.  However, I admit to some trepidation upon seeing the size of the fifth novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  At over 850 pages in length, when was I going to have time to read it.  Well, recently, I found the time.

            When we last left Harry, he had just won the Triwizards Tournament, but at a heavy cost.  Cedric Diggory was killed by Lord Voldemort who had become stronger than ever and was planning on making quite the comeback.  The Defense of the Dark Arts teacher was revealed to be a Death Eater posing as former Auror Alastor Moody.  The world as Harry Potter once knew it had come to an end.

            When we come upon Harry in this novel, he is desperately awaiting news of Voldemort’s return.  It is while he is home with the Dursleys that Voldemort decides to make a daring move.  He sends Dementors after Harry and, forced to use magic to protect himself and his cousin, Harry is told that he will be expelled from Hogwarts, pending a hearing.  The real Alastor Moody, along with former professor Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks and other members of the Order of the Phoenix, a newly reformed group of witches and warlocks dedicated to fighting Voldemort, bring Harry to Sirius Black’s home where he will be kept safe until his hearing.

            Harry soon discovers that the Ministry of Magic has been doing whatever it can to discredit him in an effort to downplay Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore’s claims that Voldemort has returned.  When Harry beats his charges and returns to Hogwarts, the Ministry of Magic sends Dolores Umbridge as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.  She soon becomes Harry’s worst enemy at the school, vowing to make him recant his stories about Voldemort and using whatever means necessary to do so.  Following orders from the Ministry of Magic, she refuses to teach the students how to defend themselves in actuality and teaches them only theories.  Harry, Hermione and Ron find a way to thwart this and ready all those willing to learn how to fight the coming evil by forming their own class with Harry as their teacher.

            Meanwhile, Harry and the other fifth year students must somehow learn enough to pass the most important tests of their wizarding careers - The OWLS.  But how can they possibly do that when Dolores Umbridge becomes the first High Inquisitor at Hogwarts and reeks havoc with the rules she puts into place as well as her sacking of teachers.  Yet, the disastrous state of affairs at Hogwarts is nothing compared to the dreams Harry keeps having about Voldemort and his quest to obtain a very important weapon.  Can Harry convince everyone that he is telling the truth about the Dark Lord, retain enough knowledge to pass his OWLS and figure out what this weapon is in time to stop Voldemort from obtaining it?

            The fifth installment of the Harry Potter novel series is very long and rightly so.  There is a lot of information to impart in this novel, such as information about the original Order of the Phoenix, its members and what happened to them, Sirius Black’s family history, and more.  All of these things are incredibly important to the storyline contained in this book and in subsequent novels. 

            Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a great deal darker than past novels and we start to realize that the death of Cedric Diggory will not be the last in this series.  Harry carries a great deal of guilt at Diggory’s death, but there are a lot more to come if he and his friends are to fight Voldemort and he must come to grips with what happened to Cedric before he can continue on his quest.  This part of the series also marks the death of another main character, this time someone a great deal closer to Harry Potter, letting the reader know that things are going to get a great deal darker and more painful as the series moves forward.

            This book actually contains two groups of villains - Voldemort and his lackeys and the non-believers in the Ministry of Magic, Cornelius Fudge (the minister himself) and Dolores Umbridge.  Umbridge becomes the immediate enemy as she has taken it upon herself to deal with Harry and his followers personally.  We come to hate her character even more than Voldemort.  We see Voldemort as an entity who has been evil from the start and thus we accept his evilness more easily.  However, Umbridge is seen as ignorant - both in her dealings with the Voldemort situation and in her personal feelings toward sentient creatures and half breeds.  Hers is perceived as a greater evil because we can relate to the pain she causes through ignorance and thus, we can‘t wait until she receives exactly what she deserves and hope it is at the hands of the people or creatures she has hurt the most.

            I enjoyed this novel immensely and was disappointed to discover a great deal of it had been left out in the movie.  I know there are time constraints that will not allow for all of the story to be told in the film, but I felt there were some important facts that had been left out of the movie that somewhat changed the storyline in the film.  Despite the length of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I finished it relatively quickly and was pleased with how much the book revealed.  It left me satisfied as far as that particular storyline went, but itching to read more of Harry’s adventures.  I can’t wait to start reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince!


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