Review: "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" by J. K. Rowling

A million people pre-ordered Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I guess that makes me one in a million! (Thank you, I'll be here all week.)

Honestly, though, you can't imagine how I felt when I opened my door mid-Saturday morning, and found the box from Amazon.com sitting there. I'm a huge Harry Potter fan. For the next two days, I didn't turn on the TV, didn't shave, barely bathed, and left the house only once or twice to get a couple of snacks (and didn't bother to brush, my teeth look nasty).

I was determined to read the entire book before I had to go to work Monday, and at 870 pages, that was a big task for me, as I probably don't even clock in at 40 pages an hour. But at ten minutes to eleven o'clock on Sunday night, I read the last page.

I don't know if the book was worth the three year wait, but it's a pretty damn good book.

And a big book, but I'll try to explain. No, there is too much, let me sum up. Buttercup is marry Humperdink in little less than half an hour, so all we have to do is get inside, break up the wedding, steal the Princess, and make our escape, after I kill Count Rugan... Wait, scratch that.

The book starts off four weeks after the end of book four. Harry is at the Dursleys' home on Privet Drive. Harry and Dudley are attacked, and Harry uses magic to escape, breaking the laws against underage wizardry. He receives a letter from the Ministry of Magic telling him he will have to face trial, as this is the second time this has happened. (The first time being when Dobby floated the dessert in Chamber of Secrets, for which Harry got blamed.)

Later that week, Harry is visited by several wizards, who take him away from the Dursleys', and bring him to the secret headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, an orginization started by Dumbledore to resist the rise in power of Lord Voldemort.

And then so much happens that it will take another five pages just to summarize. So let me hit the high points. The Ministry of Magic, headed by Cornelius Fudge, is on a campaign to bring down Dumbledore, as they are unwilling to believe that Voldemort is back. The Ministry pushes its way into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and all hell breaks loose. Harry's scar, which in the past has shown a kind of connection between Harry and Voldemort, is working overtime. Hagrid tries to convince the giants to aid Dumbledore, and brings back a little something to keep in the Black Forest. And, we get to see Dumbledore and Voldemort fight. Sweet.

Here's some other random items of interest:

Several new character are introduced, the two most interesting being Luna Lovegood, a Ravenclaw fourth year, and Umbridge, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and the Ministry appointed High Inquisitor of Hogwarts. A truly evil woman.

Ginny Weasley and Neville Longbottom kick ass and take names in this book. Especially Ginny, she is so cool.

In a flashback, we see a professor's memory of being a student at Hogwarts.

Ron and Ginny both try out for Quidditch.

We see inside the Ministry of Magic for the first time.

And, of course, as any fan who browses the internet knows by now, a main character dies. This has been one of the best known and most exciting rumors about this book, and I believe is a big reason for the huge sales numbers.

I also think that because this information was so well known, Rowling let that knowledge color the way she wrote it. In a good way. This book is full of suspense. Every time someone points a wand at another, every time a threat is made, you couldn't help but wonder if someone was about to be toast. And, a lot of wands are pointed, a lot of threats are made. It made for a very exciting read. And Rowling doesn't cheat, a main character does indeed die.

A few months back, I reread the other four books, so they'd be fresh in my mind when The Order of the Phoenix came out. I've noticed that Rowling's writing gets better with every book. I can't wait for the next one. Especially if it's for another three years.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Published by: Scholastic; June 21, 2003
Author's Webpage: www.jkrowling.com

About Joe Murphy

Joe Murphy succumbed to leiomyosarcoma on April 1, 2007. The irony of this is not lost on any who knew him and laughed with him. He was the first “official” book reviewer for The Dragon Page Radio Talk Show, and after moving to Arizona, he became a frequent contributor to Cover to Cover, Wingin’ It, Slice of SciFi and co-host of Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas.

He will be missed.

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