Monday, 21 October 2013

The Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling (1997-2007)

5 stars

Back in 2001, when I was seven years old, my mother bought me the first Harry Potter novel because of a glowing staff recommendation. I was at a stage where it was hard to find me a book as it was either too easy or too mature. I ate it up and my mother went on to purchase the next three in the series. I was hooked and my mother constantly found me late at night, still reading after I had promised "just one more chapter". Thankfully for me, Harry Potter has quite long chapters. I then had to wait another couple of years before I got my next fix. Because I read them in such quick succession, the first four are mingled together in my head. My far and away favourite was the Chamber of Secrets (which unfortunately, the movie scared me out of) and my least favourite is and always will be the third - which I suspect is for the lack of Voldemort.

As we all know, this series is record-breaking. Despite its success, I found lots of critical reviews. I cannot help but think they are simply kicking themselves for not writing the series themselves. Here is a video that runs through the plot of each book in song to the theme of each movie.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry is an orphan who discovers that his parents were wizards and so is he. A Dark wizard, Voldemort, killed his parents and tried but failed to kill Harry. He goes to a wizarding boarding school and befriends Ron and Hermione. Voldemort is using the body of a teacher, Quirell, to house his soul. Harry, Ron and Hermions realise that something is hidden within Hogwarts and suspect that Voldemort is after it. They go to recover the object - the Philosopher's Stone, only to find Quirell. Quirell/Voldemort tries to kill Harry, but Quirell himself dies as Harry is still protected by the charm of his mother dying for him and Voldmort's soul manages to escape.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
When Harry goes to Hogwarts for his second year, mysterious messages written in blood appear on the walls of Hogwarts saying that the "Chamber of Secrets" has been opened and that the "heir of Slytherin" is going to kill all Muggle-born students. A number of students are petrified, but not killed. Harry, Ron and Hermione all try to work out who it is. Harry and Ron open the chamber and discover that Ginny has been possessed and she has been letting the creature - a Basilisk- out of the chamber to attack the students. She has been writing in Voldemort's old diary and he has been writing back to her. The more she confided in him, the stronger his soul grew. Harry kills the Basilisk and destroys the diary and therefore the form of Voldemort with the tooth of the Basilisk. He gives the diary back to Lucius Malfoy, who planted it, with a sock inside. Malfoy gives it to his house-elf, inadvertently freeing it.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry accidentally inflates his Aunt when he loses his temper and runs away from home. The Minister of Magic tracks him down and puts him up in a wizarding pub until school begins. An escaped murderer, Sirius Black, is rumored to be looking for Harry. To protect the students, the wizarding prison guards are stationed at the school. Problem is, they make Harry faint. The new teacher works with Harry on a spell to repel them. Harry learns that Black betrayed his parents and got them killed and he is Harry's godfather. Ron's rat Scabbers also goes missing. Harry, Hermione and Ron try to save Hagrid's beloved hippogriff Buckbeak from being executed for attacking Malfoy (after being provoked). They find out Sirius' innocence and that Scabbers is actually a man called Peter Pettigrew who framed Sirius. Using time travel, they spirit Sirius away on Buckbeak and travel back to the current time.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
An inter-school tournament called the Triwizard Cup in being reinstated at Hogwarts. The students are only allowed to enter if they are older than seventeen. Harry is not eligible or interested and doesn't enter, bu nevertheless his name appears out of the cup. Along with another Hogwarts champion - Cedric Diggory. The champions go through a series of challenges and are given clues to each challenge weeks in advance. Harry fumbles his way through all of them  with a bit of help. The final task is a maze with lots of magical hurdles. Harry and Cedric make it to the end and touch the Cup at the same time, only to be transported to a graveyard. There they find Voldemort and some Death Eaters. Pettigrew takes Harry's blood and uses it to resurrect Voldemort. Cedric is killed by Voldemort and Harry escapes. He uses to Cup to transport back and announces to the awaiting crowd that Diggory is dead and Voldemort is back

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry is stuck at the Dursley's and is miserable because he hasn't received any mail from his friends. He and Dudley are accosted by some Dementors and Harry uses a spell to ward them off. He then receives an expulsion letter for using magic out of school. He is collected by a group of wizards and taken to Sirius' house. There he is told the place is serving as the headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix - which is a group led by Dumbledore dedicated to fight Voldemort. Ron and Hermione have been there for weeks. It has to operate secretly as the Ministry of Magic refuses to believe Voldemort is back. Harry goes to trial for his misuse of magic and Dumbledore manages to clear  him. Umbridge, who is from the Ministry is the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Umbridge and Harry clash and she is given a promotion that allows her to create new regulations, Harry, Ron and Hermione form their own Defence Against the Dark Arts group called "Dumbledore's Army". They meet and practise defensive spells under Harry's direction. After predicting Mr. Weasley's injuries, Dumbledore suspects Voldemort can probe Harry's mind and gets Snape to give him Occlumency lessons. But as they pair clash, the lessons soon stop and the pain from Harry's scar only gets worse. They start taking their exams and when Umbridge confronts them they take her to see their "secret weapon" and they lead her into the forest where she is taken captive by the centaurs when she provokes them. Harry sees a vision of being Sirius being tortured at the Ministry. The DA all go, but it is a set-up and Sirius is killed. Harry is distraught and smashes the prophecy Voldemort wants, which is about him and Harry. Fudge appears at the Ministry, faced with the proof that Voldemort is back

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Snape makes an unbreakable vow to Malfoy's mother that he will protect her son. Dumbledore gets Harry to convince an old Potions master to come out of retirement. Harry, Ron and Hermione see Draco going into a Dark Arts store and this only aids Harry's suspicions. Harry starts doing very well at Potions thanks to second-hand Potions textbook with useful annotations from the "Half-Blood Prince". Harry has fallen for Ron's sister, Ginny and is constantly following Malfoy's movements. Dumbledore tells Harry about Voldemort's Horcruxes and how he believes Voldemort has split his soul seven times, one was the diary, the other was a ring, three are objects belonging to the founder's of Hogwarts and the last lives in Voldemort's snake. They leave to destroy one, only to find it had already been taken. When they return, Dumbledore is suspicious and petrifies Harry. Draco walks in and threatens to kill Dumbledore, but Snape walks in and kills him instead. The spell on Harry is broken and he tries to avenge Dumbledore but Snape escapes, but not before revealing he is the Half-Blood Prince (he had a Muggle father and his witch mother's maiden name was Prince.) Harry tells Ron and Hermione that he will not be going to school next year, but instead plans to hunt Horcruxes. The pair promise to join him.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Harry flees to the Burrow with help from the Order of the Phoenix as the protection he had at his aunt and uncle's place will be broken when he turns seventeen.. On the way, they are attacked, George Weasley loses an ear and Mad-Eye is killed. Harry, Ron and Hermione go to Sirius' place, where the house-elf tells them that Umbridge has a Horcrux - Slytherin's locket. They infiltrate the Ministry and steal it. They all wear it to keep it safe, but it makes them argue and Ron leaves. Harry and Hermione go to Harry's birthplace and talk to Bathilda Bagshot - a historian - but Voldemort expected this and Batilda is actually Nagini  and attacks them. They escape to a forest and Harry is led to Gryffindor's sword at the bottom of a lake. When he tries to get it, the locket tries to kill him, but luckily Ron returns and saves him and uses the sword to destroy the locket. Luna's dad tells them about the Deathly Hallows; the unbeatable elder wand, the resurection stone and the infallible invisibility cloak.With these items you can summon the dead. Harry realises he already has the Cloak and this is what Voldemort is looking for. The three of them are captured and thrown in the Malfoy's cellar with Luna, Ollivander, Dean and Griphook. Dobby helps them escape, but is killed in the process. They continue to look for the Horcruxes and even break into Gringotts and steal Hufflepuff's cup. They sneak into Hogwarts and destroy the cup with a basilisk fang. Harry finds Ravenclaw's diadem in the Room of Requirement. The Death Eaters attack Hogwarts, and Harry and the Order defend the school. Tonks, Lupin, Fred are killed. Voldemort kills Snape to make the Elder Wand his own. Harry realises that he himself is a Horcrux and that he must die in order for Voldemort to die. He finds that Snape never betrayed Dumbledore and that he loved Lily Potter. Dumbledore asked Snape to kill him as he was already dying from wearing the ring (a horcrux and the Resurrection Stone) He also found out that Dumbledore knew Harry had to die. Harry uses the Resurrection Stone to bring back his loved ones to support before he walks to his death. When Voldemort uses the killing curse, it does not kill Harry, but sends him to limbo. In that state, Dumbledore appears and explains that Voldemort has only destroyed the Horcrux, and hasn't killed Harry. He says that Harry is the true master of the Hallows, as he faced death, instead of trying to avoid or conquer it. Harry returns to his body and feigns death. Neville does as Harry asked and kills Nagini. Harry reveals he is alive and the battle resumes, with Bellatrix being killed by Molly. When Harry and Voldemort begin their final duel, Harry reveals that because he willingly sacrificed himself, his act of love would protect the entire wizarding community, just like his mother's sacrifice protected him. He reveals that Snape was always loyal to Dumbledore and never was the master of the Elder wand. Draco was, when he disarmed Snape, and then Harry was when he disarmed Draco. He claims that the wand will not kill its master. In the duel, Harry refuses to use the killing curse and encourages Voldemort to feel remorse, which could save him. Voldemort dies when he attempts to use the killing curse against Harry's disarming curse. Nineteen years later, at platform 9 and 3/4, Harry and Ginny are married with three children; James Sirius, Albus Severus and Lily Luna. Ron and Hermione are also married with children. Harry's godson Teddy Lupin is found kissing Bill and Fleur's daughter in a carriage. Harry even sees Draco with his own son. Neville is now a Herbology professor. Harry comforts Albus who is worried he will be in Slytherin. He says that one of his namesakes was in Slytherin and he was the bravest man he's ever known - and that the sorting hat will take his wishes into account. Harry's scar hasn't pained him for 19 years.

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