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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The fifth novel in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.

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Wizards and Witches and Other Magical Crap... Oh My!

  • Jul 13, 2003
Pros: None of those annoying house elves!

Cons: Well... Almost none

The Bottom Line: Yet another touch of magic.

Well, it certainly took JK Rowling long enough, but the long-awaited fifth installment of her moola-grabbing Harry Potter series finally hit the shelves. Just one glance at the thing, and you’ll see just why it took so long. The last book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, broke scales with a length of over 700 pages. It’s almost ironic that Ms. Rowling said the last one would be the longest - the new one, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, will break clumsy peoples’ feet at a fatty 870 pages. You’ll need a jack to be able to lift this volume!

Fortunately, those 870 pages are quite rich in plot, adventures, and of course enough magical kablinki to make you sprout antlers (which one character actually does, at one point.) In other words, it’s a typical Harry Potter volume. But the plentiful magical imagery, endearing characters, rich plot, and laugh-out-loud scenes make this the best book in the series since my own personal favorite, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Now it’s time to interrupt this regular Baron Samedi review for one of the Baron’s patented Historical Explanations for Martians and People Living on Mars. First, I don’t know exactly when Harry Potter took the world by storm, because I decided not to buy into the hype. So for years I knew nothing about the series, except that it was about a young wizard going to wizard school, and that most conservative Christians had something against it. But no one’s perfect, and the hype snatched me just in time for the release of Goblet of Fire. Besides, conservative Christians have never steered me wrong. I loved the Kevin Smith movie Dogma, after all, and they were out protesting it. My best friend was also raving about them, saying I’d enjoy them. Well, the pressure became too much, and I cracked.

The series is about a young boy named Harry Potter (well, DUH!), the wizard offspring to a pair of wizard parents who were killed when he was very young. The murderer, the evil Lord Voldemort, tried to kill Harry, but the kill curse bounced off Harry’s head, whacked him, and depleted him of his power, causing him to disappear. Harry becomes an instant celebrity as the wizarding world celebrates the end of Lord Voldemort’s reign of terror. But he’s also an instant orphan, and is therefore sent off to live with his aunt and uncle. This is not good for poor Harry, as Petunia and Vernon Dursley steadfastfully refuse to acknowledge the existance of the magical world. Knowing Harry is wizard offspring, they treat him like he’s one level below dog droppings with the belief that this will reduce his power. They also refuse to tell him he’s a wizard, so they make up a story about his parents dying in a car crash. Meanwhile, the two of them are practically enslaved trying to spoil their son Dudley. But on his 11th birthday, Harry recieves a surprise visit from Hagrid, an employee of the Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry. Off he goes to the school, and he makes friends, enemies, and the school sports team while inadvertently delaying Voldemort’s impending return.

End Potter historical explanation. And forget the last sentence of the last paragraph, too. If you’ve been following the series, you know Harry wasn’t able to delay You-know-who’s (that’s what wizarding folk call Voldemort, because he was so evil they’re still afraid to use his name) return to his body in Goblet of Fire. Order of the Phoenix picks up again at Harry’s unhappy home on Privet Drive,where Harry is anxiously keeping up with both wizard and muggle news, hoping to find traces of Lord Voldemort’s evil deeds. But all has been surprisingly quiet on both fronts. Since Ron, Hermione, and Sirius have all been keen to keep away from him, poor Harry is left in the dark. When he goes out one night, he sees a pair of Dementors attack Dudley, and the Patronus he uses to scare them off is just what the Ministry of Magic needs to charge him with illegal magic use and kick him out of Hogwarts. The Ministry, you see, didn’t believe him when he said Voldemort was back, and they started making up stories about how he’s insane.

The Order of the Phoenix has nothing to do with Dumbledore’s pet Phoenix, Fawkes. While Fawkes plays a small but pivotal role, the Order of the Phoenix is basically an organization of wizards dedicated to fighting Voldemort. They also spend a good chunk of time helping Harry, from getting him back into Hogwarts to saving his sorry butt in the climax of the book.

While Hogwarts has always been something of an escape for Harry, it’s much less of an escape for him in his fifth year than it was in the past. Since Cornelius Fudge, the Ministry of Magic head, thinks Dumbledore is training an army to use to overthrow him and take control of the Ministry, he comes up with ways to keep tabs on the goings-on there. The most obvious way comes in the form of Delores Umbridge, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Professor Umbridge has a downright venomous personality, which she disguises with one of those too-sweet-to-be-true attitudes. Her preferred method of teaching her subject is to have the students sit quietly in their seats, just reading. With the OWL (ordinary wizarding level) exams looming at the end of the year, even bookworm Hermione is up in arms against Umbridge’s methods.

Eventually, the Ministry grants Umbridge a position called High Inquisitor, which gives her all but complete control over the school. She naturally uses this position to oppress the students, and the teachers don’t like the way she meddles, either. So soon the students and staff find ways to basically wage a massive war against her. They find some very creative ways of doing this, and they do it both secretly and openly.

Harry is 15 years old now, so his hormones are kicking it up a notch. So Harry spends a bit of time nursing his crush on Cho Chang, the attractive and newly available seeker from the Ravenclaw house. But the situation which made her single is really hampering things. Hogwarts champion Cedric Diggory was her boyfriend, after all, and Harry did bear witness to his murder at Voldemort’s hands. Cho seems to spend a lot of her time thinking about Cedric, while Harry’s been having nightmares about the incident and just wants to set it behind him.

While Order of the Phoenix is significantly longer than Goblet of Fire, the unbearable house elf antics which really tried my patience in it are mostly gone. Dobby, who became a Hogwarts employee in the last book, has just two scenes, and he doesn’t inadvertently annoy his readers in either of them. Winky’s role has been mercifully reduced to just a single mention from Dobby. The reduced roles of the Hogwarts elves have made Hermione’s SPEW promotions useless, so they don’t exist, either. However, Order of the Phoenix does introduce us to one new house elf, an old thing named Kreacher, who lives to serve the Black family. But Kreacher isn’t remotely as annoying as Winky. He doesn’t have any respect for his current master, Sirius, and he seems to be missing a couple of screws. So he comes off as funny, although not necessarily likable, as he wanders around the house of Black, muttering insults at Sirius and everyone else under his breath.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is, like all of its predecessors, plot driven. While Hogwarts is again portrayed in detail which would makes us want to sell our left nuts or breasts in order to get there, JK Rowling most describes the bare bones of everything, and so no scenes will makes your head swim as you try to weed out any information buried in rhetoric. You like everyone you’re supposed to like, and hate everyone you’re supposed to hate. Except for Draco Malfoy, who really seems to have softened up his bully routine.

It’s a well-known fact that JK Rowling is British. So while the book’s original language is English, you still have to get used to seeing a few things differently. For example, the students at Hogwarts refer to their mothers as “mum,” not “mom.” Ron, who’s had a falling out with his snooty older brother Percy, calls him a “git.” Fortunately, it’s easy to get the gist of most of the slang - from my last sentence, we can easily see that a git is a rather disrespectful name. Harry often talks about how he’s gotten into a “row” with someone or another, which seems to mean he’s not getting along with that particular character at the moment. A year of hard dieting has made Dudley a boxing champion, and true to his form, Harry describes how Dudley is always banging on about his title. It also seems the characters have begun to discover curse words. There are a few people who say “damn,” and a scene in which Fred and George release fireworks says some of the sparklers were spelling out curse words. Even so, there are no curses in the book outside of “damn.”

Well, fellow muggles, its been a good long wait for this installment of the Harry Potter series. It seems the wait was worth it. Now we just gotta kick back and probably wait for Ms. Rowling to overcome another case of writers block. Let’s hope it doesn’t take so long this time - despite the length, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is an easy, fun read, and you’ll be through it in a week. Then it’s back to wait and wait and wait...


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review by . January 26, 2010
I titled my review of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4) "Harry Potter grows up" because J. K. Rowling had done a masterful job of bringing Harry from a little boy to a strong young man over the course of the four books of the series. I titled this review as I did because in the Phoenix J. K. Rowling herself shows her maturing skill as a writer in penning the longest of the seven books of the series. This is the point at which I stopped admiring the framework of the story, and fell into …
review by . July 10, 2010
i may spoil some parts of the book for those of you who have not read it yet. that being said lets get on with it=).      Harry Potter is not your normal kid now is he? if youve read the first couple, or now, seen the movies, you will know that hes always had wierd things happen to him, and that now he attends hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry. in the fifth year, everything starts to change. the order of the phoenix has there own headquarters at sirius blacks house, …
Quick Tip by . October 14, 2010
There's a lot of exciting stuff that happens in this book. However, there's also a lot of political stuff. The book is an interesting hodge-podge of exciting action/adventure/thriller story and a political treatise of the World of Magic.
Quick Tip by . September 29, 2010
Another classic--dark and strong, like good coffee and rich chocolate.
Quick Tip by . September 04, 2010
There's a lot of politics in this book. I like the plot, but the political motivations and goings-ons of the magical world dragged the story down for me.
Quick Tip by . July 19, 2010
Loved this book. I read it before Harry Potter even became popular.
review by . July 15, 2010
Brilliant Book And Movie!!!!
Harry potters name is filled with magic..I was sooooo happy when i read this book..Theres soo much and soo muny great things go on these books..I am very happy and proud to have such great authors around..and i love these books...I loved to meet the cast and the author really bad...Herminey is really gorgeous...I wish i  could be one of the wizards in the movie too...LOL..They are really great actors specially harry...I liked the part where harry is sitting on the swing..i am soo crazy abouttt …
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
Read this entire series. Great take on the magic world.
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
the longest and most drawn out harry potter book known to man, almost, i repeat, almost as bad as eragon. but that didnt change how anyone felt about hp as a whole. i literally stayed up all night reading about harrys "possesion" by voldemort when they cover all that in five minutes in the movie.
Quick Tip by . July 03, 2010
you cant help but hurt with harry when his godfather dies. its a good book but has a sad ending.
About the reviewer
Nicholas Croston ()
Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial.      Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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As his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry approaches, 15-year-old Harry Potter is in full-blown adolescence, complete with regular outbursts of rage, a nearly debilitating crush, and the blooming of a powerful sense of rebellion. It's been yet another infuriating and boring summer with the despicable Dursleys, this time with minimal contact from our hero's non-Muggle friends from school. Harry is feeling especially edgy at the lack of news from the magic world, wondering when the freshly revived evil Lord Voldemort will strike. Returning to Hogwarts will be a relief... or will it?

The fifth book in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series follows the darkest year yet for our young wizard, who finds himself knocked down a peg or three after the events of last year. Somehow, over the summer, gossip (usually traced back to the magic world's newspaper, the Daily Prophet) has turned Harry's tragic and heroic encounter with Voldemort at the Triwizard Tournament into an excuse to ridicule and discount the teen. Even Professor Dumbledore, headmaster of the school, has come under scrutiny by the Ministry of Magic, which refuses to officially acknowledge the terrifying truth that Voldemort is back. Enter a particularly loathsome new character: the toadlike and simpering ("hem, hem") Dolores Umbridge, senior undersecretary to the Minister of Magic, who takes over the vacant position of Defense Against Dark Arts teacher--and in no time...

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ISBN-13: 978-0613999168
Author: J. K. Rowling
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic
Date Published: August 10, 2004
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