on 14 November 2005
I think that this book is the best written of the series. What I loved most about it was the development of Harry through this book. I think this book was very much a character development novel. I’ve loved many fictional characters over the years, but none quite as much as Harry. Because we’ve been with him from the start, we’ve been allowed to see every side of him, the bad and the good. JK Rowling has created a complex, and deeply human character who isn’t perfect and makes mistakes, and is the better hero for it. I’ll even go so far as to say that I think he’s the best hero ever created. I think we see Harry at his most vulnerable in this book. Still deeply disturbed by his frightful ordeal of the previous term, Harry is not helped by the fact that no one in authority will believe his story and seeks to silence him in any way they can. Harry’s frustration often gets the better of him in this book, and a devastating loss brings him close to despair.
Stephen Fry captures Harry’s moods brilliantly. The scene in Dumbledore’s office is powerful as much for Stephen Fry’s incredibly moving performance as for JK Rowling’s beautiful and sensitive prose. I really was moved to tears, and my heart ached for Harry.
Other characters were also developed in this book. Neville and Ginny really came in to their own. In fact, the theme of friendship was very strong throughout this book. We also learned much more about Snape, who I’ve always felt was Rowling’s most interesting character. I really felt for him in this book. I do think Order of The Phoenix is one of the best books I’ve ever read.
on 21 June 2003
At fifteen years old Harry Potter is no longer the bespectacled moppet of the earlier books. He is a stroppy, angsty teenager forced by circumstances to grow up just a bit too fast. However the book retains the same magic as the others - a magic that kept me reading for about thirteen hours more or less solidly, in fact. For make no mistake, this is a big and complex book. Not too complex - people underestimate kids - but certainly challenging, especially for younger readers.
The book starts with a bang and grows dark in the middle as injustice, indignities and failures are heaped upon Harry without any apparent redress, (I had to break here for a while, and found it hard to start reading again) but events lighten up as he responds and adapts to his circumstances and finds new inner strength and new resources among his friends and allies.
A familiar message from Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings - the important of acknowledging and conquering your inner rage and hatred - is becoming a central theme. The themes of courage and tolerance are, as always, absolutely core, but the theme of resistance and even rebellion against authority, albeit corrupt, unfair and cowardly, sounds a new and more adult note.
A number of new characters include one of the most unpleasant and least redeemable personages ever to grace the pages of a children's book. No spoilers, but perhaps this character is a little too close to home and a little too unpleasant. The button of the reader's righteous indignation is pushed just once or twice too often, I think.
The book does have flaws, the greatest of which is that there is just too much going on. Some characters are underused and some subplots could just as easily have been left out. Those who have read previous Harry Potter books may well find themselves suspecting absolutely everyone's motives and analysing every throwaway line in an attempt to second guess the author. In the end, however, this is a deeply readable and very powerful book which I would highly recommend both for children and adults.
on 10 August 2005
Many people deem this, the fifth book in the Harry Potter series, to be the worst of the six published so far, criticising it for being too long-winded, drawn out and not exciting enough. However I feel inclined to argue that this is one of Harry's finest, most magical and indeed most emotional adventures yet - and I feel every page is crammed with detail and that this (somewhat epic) novel is a tightly plotted masterpiece that manages to capture traits and trends of the people in our world and meld them spectacularly with Rowlings' fully formed wizarding world, which is just a joy to behold.
Admittedly the tone of this book is somewhat different from the previous four, and Harry takes on a rather grumpy persona throughout, but I found his teenage/adolescent tantrums totally in-character and definitely very true to life. I think by introducing such anger and angst into Harry's character, the book elevates in reality and the writing becomes more mature and character based. As the fifth book begins you feel you can't blame Harry for his constant bad mood, because a chain of disastrous events including the return of the evil Azkaban guards, the ever-mean Dursley family, horrible rumours in the wizarding press, girl trouble, a truly terrible new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, and of course the rise to power of the murderous Lord Voldermort follow him.
As always though Rowling manages to fill the story with red herrings, riddles, plot twists and surprises that keep you guessing to the end. Add a tragic death and Dumbledore revealing the truth behind the relationship with Harry, his scar and Lord Voldermort and this book is just as exciting as ever before. A brilliant book, that will keep you captivated throughout the entire 766 pages. If you like it, I would also suggest buying the audio edition, which is read brilliantly by Stephen Fry and makes the book even better. Highly recommended.
on 3 May 2005
At this time, you'll find exactly what J.K. Rowling has been doing: darkening and
maturing her books as her audience matures and grows older. This book, so far, is the darkest, saddest, and most emotional in the Harry Potter series. When you compare this to the first book, you'll find Harry's mind and feelings could never be more different, while in the first book, he is just 11 years old, and later, he's finding his emotions, and in each book he finds out a little bit more of what's going on in the world. If you thought the threat of Voldemort returning in the previous book (The Goblet Of Fire) was already bad, things get a little bit worse in this.
Besides the many more serious events in the book, there are some funny moments to help you get along a bit. Gilderoy Lockhart makes a hilarious re-appearance (assuming you remember his memory misfortune in The Chamber Of Secrets). At this point, his personality hasn't changed one bit. The only difference, really, is that he doesn't remember any of the people he met before his memory was damaged. He only has a moment's re-appearance, so he's not in for very long.
Remus Lupin (who first came into the story in The Prisoner Of Azkaban) makes a very good return. I was glad for the stories to have him back! In The Prisoner Of Azkaban, he is the new Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher, but left quickly for his own reason. Every year, there has been a different teacher for that subject. I do wish Lupin could have stayed!
This is certainly the best book so far, but The Goblet Of Fire is easier to read if you want a story that has more fun and action.
on 25 April 2004
This is without a doubt JK Rowling's finest piece of writing yet and ifanyone wants an example of why Adults are embracing her work then I urgeyou to look no further. This book is crammed full of possibilities,history and hope. It twists and turns while never letting up on anythingobvious. It opens door ways to new hero's and ideas.
This is the book in which the kids begin to grow up, the way the dilemmasthat they face have been wrote is extremely true to life. I wasparticularly happy to see how much Harry's character is progressing interms of facing the usual problems that come to light like any otherteenager. His existence is not limited to the fact he happens to be awizard, he also happens to be a normal boy too and this book is keen tostress this. Too many authors fall into the trap of not letting theircharacters grow up but JK is not afraid of letting them go.
I think the largest change is probably that the story is no longer reallyfocused around just Harry. The other characters, plus a handful of newones, are now given the chance to be read about. While it does mean 'Orderof Phoenix' is longer than previous books it also means that beneath thelonger pages there is much more depth regarding the world that Harry isgrowing up in and the actions of those around him. It allows for a muchmore involved and explained piece of storytelling. Once you let yourselfbecome lost in the engrossing pages it is incredibly hard to put the bookdown.
There are so many fine points about the story but I do not wish to go intogreat detail as it will spoil it for those who have not read ityet.
When I finished it I really did feel as though it was just thebeginning. A truly amazing read.
on 15 January 2010
I have to confess that, on my first reading of the Order of the Phoenix, I was disappointed but, on reflection, I think that this might be because of the excitement on the lead-up to the book's release. Certainly on this read I found the book extremely gripping and exciting, with a great deal of plot progression.
Here Harry is dealing with the aftermath of the return of Lord Voldemort, and coping with the fact that he is kept very much in the dark about what is happening. While at the Dursley's over the summer, he has been relying on the Muggle news to see whether Voldemort has started the expected killing spree and reign of terror. When Harry and his cousin Dudley are attacked by Dementors, Harry is forced to do magic outside of Hogwarts - something expressly forbidden - and is summoned to a hearing. This is where he begins to learn that times are changing - his relationship with Dumbledore is strained and distant; the Minister of Magic refuses to believe that Voldemort is back and a truly chilling new character (Delores Umbridge) takes on the role of Defence of the Dark Arts professor.
Harry's fifth year at Hogwarts is dark, dark, DARK! He is reviled by many of his previously friendly classmates for telling stories to gain attention; he starts having dreams that leads him to believe that he is starting to feel what Voldemort is feeling (including his glee as he commits murder); and he suffers a massive setback in his Quidditch career.
A lot of characters really develop through this book and it is fantastic to read more indepth plotlines for Ron, Fred and George, Ginny and Snape amongst others. Here we have, for example, an extremely illuminating glimpse into one of the reasons why Snape hates Harry so intensely. Ginny becomes a feisty and very effective witch, while the Weasley boys provide much of the comic relief. I was rather pleased to see Ron, in particular, step out of Harry's shadow in a subplot about him joining the Quidditch team. Neville Longbottom, also, is treated well in this book and we finally learn more about him.
Two new characters really steal the show though. One of these is the dreamy Luna Lovegood - piercingly honest at times, but also believes in fairytale creatures and gossipy stories from the wizarding world. The other is the aforementioned Umbridge - for once Harry is struggling against a person who is not part of Voldemort's group of Death Eaters. Umbridge is cruel, vindictive, truly repulsive to read about. You feel like cheering when George and Fred take her on! There are some sickening moments in the story where Harry and Umbridge have quiet scenes together, such as his string of detentions at the start of the school year - these made me shudder.
Obviously there are faults with the book. This is the one where Harry develops teenage angst. For a long period at the beginning of the book he is sulky, sullen and often shouts in CAPITALS to make his point - I guess he is quite accurately written in terms of becoming a teenage, but it becomes tiresome very quickly.
The subplot with Harry and Cho's 'romance' goes nowhere fast, and fizzles out rapidly when Rowling decides who she would most like to see Harry with - a relationship that has been signposted since the second book, but is none the less welcome for starting to take shape.
The beginning of the book is slow and dragging, up to and including where Harry meets the Order in Sirius' house. Lots of names are thrown in quickly and some of the characters suffer from not being fleshed out at all.
Unlike the fourth book in the series, these are really minor quibbles. Considering that Rowling is now dealing with a large ensemble cast, each of them seemed to get enough 'screentime' in this book. It was an extremely long book to read, but here I savoured each page rather than skipping through filler as I did with Goblet of Fire. Even the owls Hedwig and Pigwidgeon are given enough character for us to grow ever-more fond of them.
The DA lessons were incredibly funny and heartening to read about in the midst of all the gloom. Rowling also writes very effectively about the heavy workload of the students as they study for their OWLs (I love that OWLs and NEWTs correspond to our GCSEs and A Levels). It is also fun watching the three leads start to think about life after Hogwarts.
I think the real high point of this book is the fact that Rowling no longer feels the need to explain every little detail of the past four books - it is as though she now assumes that those picking up the book have already devoured her previous novels in the HP series, and so she steams straight into the plot. And the plot leads us on a rollarcoaster ride that culminates in the most dramatic climax yet (although Rowling still can't resist the big reveal between Harry and Dumbledore - however, here I can forgive her much since Dumbledore's quiet and dignified explanation had me close to tears).
As I have commented on in prior reviews it is the little details of the wizarding world that, I believe, makes these books so beloved. I shall pull out here the example of the students having to write a certain amount of feet or inches of parchment for essays rather than using a page or word count.
Finally, I leave you with a quote that had me giggling from Ron's description of his practical Divination examination: "He (Ron) had just made Harry feel rather better by telling him how he had told the examiner in detail about the ugly man with a wart on his nose in his crystal ball, only to look up and realise he had been describing his examiner's reflection."
A great addition to the Harry Potter series.
on 16 July 2007
What can be said about the Order Of The Phoenix that has not been said by every other reviewer? Not much really. yes, its very long; and no, it doesn't have as strong a plot as the previous books.
But, part of the reason why its so long is because the world of Harry Potter and Hogwarts are so well realised. There is at least one book-length subplot to get through before Harry even returns to Hogwarts (the introduction of the Order and the interview with the Ministry). And we see a return to the pensieve and an insight into why Snape doesn't much like Harry. Oh yes,and Hagrid's half brother.
The chapters are fairly solid for a children's book (about 20 pages each), but they are clearly written and entertaining. Its not long and dull, its long and enjoyable. And its these 'unimportant details' that people will miss when they see the film.
The individual plot is not as strong as the previous books, because Voldemort is back and the story proper has kicked off. The first four books were treading water waiting for Voldemort's return and needed a specific book-length plot to justify their existence. This is really the first third of the final story. The plot is basically about Harry and his friends preparing to fight Voldemort in the face of Ministry denial and opposition. And that really is it. Its all the stuff mentioned earlier that goes on around it and the portrayal of life at Hogwarts.
If you are looking for a simple plot to read in an afternoon, look elsewhere. But if you want to spend a few days (or more) immersed in a brilliantly realised fantasy world, this is the one for you.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the fifth book in the Harry Potter saga and is also probably the most important.
Following straight on from the events at the end of The Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermoine Granger begin their fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Most of the wizarding community doesn't believe Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore's news that Lord Volemort has returned and has been restored to full power along with his army of Death Eaters. The news is seen as a lie due to The Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge who doesn't want to believe it as he is comfortable with how he has made the Ministry of Magic. Fudge feeds false information about Harry and Dumbledore to the Daily Prophet, the main newspaper that is read by most wizarding folk, which makes them believe that Harry and Dumbledore are crazy and their stories cannot be trusted.
Fudge also appoints a new Hogwarts Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher, Delores Umbridge, who steadily begins to take over Hogwarts through the support of the Ministry. Harry, Ron and Hermione immediately dislike Umbridge as she refuses to allow them to discuss the return of Lord Voldemort, and teaches them with no practical lessons. In rebellion of this, and for personal safety against Lord Voldermort and his Death Eaters, Harry begins his own, secret Defense Against the Dark Arts lessons with other Hogwarts students, calling themselves Dumbledore's Army.
There's the return of some of the characters from the previous books, like Remus Lupin, Mad-Eye Moody, Sirius Black and Cornelius Fudge as well as some great new characters like Professor Umbridge, Kreacher, Tonks, Bellatrix Lestrange and Luna Lovegood.
The Order of the Phoenix is a lot more serious and darker than the previous four books, concentrating a lot more on building up the main story that covers all seven books, rather than having one specific story that finishes in the book. That doesn't stop it from being another masterpiece from JK Rowling, giving her usual prefect descriptions and dialogue that gives you a truly magical read.
This is one helluva big book though, covering nearly 950 pages, so it's best to clear a few days and sit down and get engrossed (again) by one of the best books in the series.
on 9 July 2003
I am still blown away by this book after finishing it four days ago. The beginning was better formed than in the other books (straight into action) and although I kept waiting for the Dumbledore-Harry-tell-all throughout the book, I didn't get tired of waiting. The Weasley twins doing what they do best, the DA, the real Neville starting to shine through, Ron finally getting the rep he deserves, Ron-Hermione-thing developing...an action-packed book throughout. And Harry's troubles just added to the way his character has been developing in the books. The fight at the Ministry of Magic was a good plot-twist, although ****'s death was just too sudden and simple. Like Harry, I just couldn't believe it had happened. Well, I wouldn't rule this character out of the books just yet, but we'll see...
All in all, I really loved this book. The first two books in the series were quite superficial (compared to the rest, but excellent reads nonetheless), but from the third one onwards there has been so much character development and in general a more serious note that the books really affect the reader. The fourth one still is my favourite after reading this fifth, but that may change after I've had more time to digest it.
I recommend this book to anyone who is even mildly interested in Harry Potter and his magical world, but if you're new to the series, start at the beginning with the first book. Or at least from book three, because with HP books some plot-lines started in previous books culminate in the next books or the ones after that.
All the hard-core HP fans have already read it so there's no point in recommending it to them. Hem,hem...
Once again, JK Rowling has delivered a masterpiece, Kudos to her!
on 1 July 2003
I found this book much more weighty than the previous ones - not just physically !!. At the beginning when we meet Harry again, he is much changed. No longer a tentative boy, he is an angry 15 year old young man, feeling isolated and misunderstood. Although the plot is slow moving to start with it enables you to see the changes in Harry's personality and how he is trying to deal with things. His strength of character is growing and throughout most of the book his relationships with those closest to him are put to the test. He is beginning to understand exactly what it means to be the only person to have survived a Voldemort attack - Hermione and Ron could never appreciate how difficult it is. Of course no matter how many times Harry tests their friendship the dramatic climax when he must confront Voldemort and the Death Eaters once more, displays Hermione and Ron's loyalty yet again. In fact, such are Harry's leadership powers now that he has his own devoted army who are there when he needs them. His confidence only falters when it comes to his new girlfriend, fighting the Dark Lord seems much easier than understanding girls. As has been reported, a main character dies, and how Harry handles this and deals with his grief and also with the truth about why Voldemort wants to kill him, paves the way for a very exciting 6th book. I found that I really liked the new Harry. I don't want to give too much of the story away but this is definitely a 'coming of age' time for Harry and now I've finished I can't wait to start it again. Once again not just for the kids.