We are over half way through the wonderfully amazing Harry Potter series, and from this point onwards every book is almost universally great. The war is brewing and Harry is getting ready for Voldemort. But only if he can survive his supposed allies tormenting him. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling steps firmly and forevermore into adulthood for our friends.
J.K. goes for the jugular right off the top, with Harry being understandably annoyed at the lack of communication directed at him. The whole world is happening around his life, and the dullards of the Dursley’s are still being abusive pests. Their dimwitted bullying is just a taste of the psychological attacks Harry will have to endure. Which is why part of me wanted Dudley to be left to his own devices when the Dementors attacked. Shortly after this, J.K. gives us another brilliant chapter with the masterful mixture of humour and tension, all featuring a whackload of owls. She juggles so many styles while imparting so much information, and subtly giving us a hint of who one of the villains will be in Order. Loved this chapter.
When J.K. finally brings Harry in on the action, lets him vent abit, and then reveals the first obstacle in this war, The Ministry of Magic itself, you can see the wheels turning of the story. Which suits me just fine. Harry’s healthy distrust of this corrupt administration explodes into outright hatred of their wanton disregard for human life. The criminal charges, mixed with a vile kangaroo court, makes the legitimacy of this government questionable. Seeing bullies turning on an innocent is bad, and something we have all encountered. Fudge and Umbridge are all to real unfortunately.
The haven of Hogwarts is shattered in Order as well with the presence of Ministry stooges. Umbridge very quickly becomes one of the top villains in the series, an unrepentant racist, bully, child abuser, paranoid, unstable psychopath. Her behaviour in class is bad enough (and I have experienced teachers like this), but her punishments are stomach turning and illegal (also experienced teachers like this). Their justifications for these actions are reprehensible and should not be tolerated, but they are not and are officially sanctioned. These parts of the story are not a high point for me, nor something I savour. But I give J.K. enormous credit for tackling this terrible issue. And I give her even more credit for what comes next.
Harry fights back. With prodding from Hermione, who it should be noted is always right, he forms Dumbledore’s Army. Umbridge they realize is simply a hindrance to their greater goal. She considers herself a player in this grand drama, but Harry and the DA know the truth, that she is a fly to be swatted. Like all bullies really are. Harry is coming into his own as a true hero, doing what has to be done, and ignoring the nuisances. Life is like that, a real goal to be achieved, and someone petty standing in the way.
All this training with the DA culminates in a battle spanning the deepest recesses of the Ministry of Magic. Falling into a trap, the DA become embroiled in, and do a very good job at, a fight with Death Eaters. J.K. shows how these pitched affairs are messy and not always go as planned, which makes for a realistic magic clash. Casualties mount and Harry’s saviors from the Order do their amazing thing. Which makes the climax of Sirius’s death hurt all the more. The DA and the Order were winning. The Death Eaters were losing. And Harry suffers another crushing loss. Another parental figure gone. So much pain he has to suffer, all because war equals death.
We grieve for Sirius because he felt so real to us. J.K. does an amazing job throughout the series building these people up, who are now soldiers, and making them all count. Order brings even more onto the canvas, which suits my sensibilities just fine. From the quirky excitement of Tonks to the quirky intelligence of Luna, these two have entered my heart as favourites. And bringing the much needed cheer is of course the Weasley Twins. Best Exit Ever. Meanwhile new sides are shown of older players, with the obvious revelation of Snape’s abusive father, to the more shocking behaviour of the young James Potter. All making for more nuisances and backstory to shape this universe even more into a whole tapestry.
The crux of the ending with the Dumbledore versus Voldemort battle made this old time Star Wars fan fondly remembering Obi Wan taking on Darth Vader. While the outcome was markedly different, it proves an old adage many have said about Harry Potter. It is the Star Wars for this generation. Explains so much of my love for this epic series. And rightly so.
P.S. Harry Potter is copyright 2012 to J.K. Rowling. Her newest book, The Casual Vacancy, is due out on Thursday, September 27th, 2012.