Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix or “Why sometimes, maybe, you should tell children things instead of just staying quiet and hoping they don’t get involved”
Perhaps I’m listening to these too close together but I’ve got a few bones to pick. First of all, Wizarding community, have you ever heard of a Diet Coke? A healthy percentage of the Hogwarts population are either Muggle born or have one Muggle parent. Are you telling me, everyone got together and decided they were just going to drink pumpkin juice from now on? Also, where the hell are Hermione’s parents? She spends more of her summer break with the Weasleys than Harry does! Okay, I can buy that they want her to spend time with other wizards and she doesn’t want to scare them with the knowledge of Voldemort’s return but come on! “Oh, I was supposed to go skiing with my parents but I told them I’d rather study?” Girl, please! Also, how long can we keep saying “No one wants the DADA position” while also saying “Snape is pissy because he wants the DADA position.” Lastly, why do all of Voldemort and the Death Eater’s plans coincide with the school year? “Okay guys, it’s the end of July time to start ramping up our plans… Yikes, it’s almost May we better do our big thing now!” Again, I may be on Harry overload and, unfortunately, I’ve already received my copy of Half Blood Prince so I’m diving back in and hoping to come out a bit less jaded.
This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy Order of the Phoenix; while it is incredibly long and detailed it really goes a long way in to putting the puzzle pieces of the impending war together. It’s a well done story and JK Rowling’s genius continues to impress, I’m just nitpicking because that’s who I am as a person.
So we open our story with Harry being depressed about his shitty summer, hoping to hear news about Voldemort’s return while also being ignored by his friends and Sirius. Harry ends up going for a walk where he runs in to Dudley and they’re attacked by Dementors. Harry fends them off with his Patronus which lands him into trouble with the Ministry of Magic. He is rescued from the Durlsey’s house by several wizards including Lupin, the real Mad-Eye Moody and Tonks where he is taken to the Black family home to await his trial and be moderately clued in on the past few months. Essentially, the Order of the Phoenix , who are also staying at the Black family home, are an anti-Voldemort group who are guarding a weapon (and have been secretly guarding Harry) against the Death Eaters. So obviously, Harry isn’t expelled but returns to Hogwarts as planned.
We arrive back in Hogawarts and are properly introduced to Dolores Umbridge, the scariest villain in the Potter universe, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. She is there under Ministry orders because Fudge, who has been spreading misinformation about Voldemort’s return, is concerned that Dumbledore is out to get him. She is even more terrifying in novel form; Harry’s detentions with her, the teacher inspections and her constant misuse of her authority in creating new, awful rules are even more fleshed out in novel form.
“I know [Umbridge] by reputation and I’m sure she’s no Death Eater-”
“She’s foul enough to be one…”
“Yes, but the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters.”
So despite being the DADA teacher Umbridge is against children learning proper defenses so Hermione and Ron convince Harry to teach a group of interested students. Together they form Dumbledore’s Army in the Room of Requirement (thanks to Dobby!) and begin training in proper Defense Against the Dark Arts. Unity is a big theme in this book; the Sorting Hat mentions it at the beginning of term and the DA unites Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws with the same goal of taking their education back from Umbridge. Cho is a bit of a sobbing idiot in this one but Ginny and Neville get moments to shine throughout the DA meetings. Jim Dale does an awful “dreamy” voice and therefore I could not get behind most of Luna’s dialog.
Throughout the school year Harry receives flashes of information through dreams, one of which is a vision of him attacking Arthur Weasley. This naturally alarms Harry who alerts Dumbledore, despite their cooled relationship this school year Dumbledore sends Harry and the Weasley children to the Phoenix hideout to await information. The attack on Arthur Weasley is a bit more involved in the novel, as most things are, and we are properly introduced to St. Mungo’s hospital as well as the differences between wizard healing and muggle doctoring. At St. Mungo’s we get more background on poor Neville’s family; the trio, who are chatting with a deluded Gilderoy Lockhart, run in to him visiting his crucio cursed parents. Overall the books to a better job in fleshing out Neville’s character arc; he is a complicated character who, as explained in the end of the book, could have very easily been our hero instead of Mr. Potter.
After Potter’s vision of Mr. Weasley’s attack he is instructed to take Occlumency with Snape to block his mind from more Voldemort intrusions. Of course, this is Harry and Snape so they go about as well a you’d expect. This is an instance of knowing is half the battle and Harry knows zilch as to why he should give a damn about these lessons. Seriously, you’re given a C+ student more homework and expecting him to do it?
Anyway, after winter break it’s Cho’s friend who rats the group out to Umbridge, leading to its destruction. While Harry is caught and blamed, Dumbledore falls on his sword and leave Hogwarts. This of course leads to
I will say, for all the terror Umbridge puts Hogwarts and the reader through it is enjoyable to hear all the fantastic ways the Weasley twins terrorized her and the lack of fucks Flitwick and McGonagall give in assisting their new boss. McGonagall, in general, is a bad-ass in this book. Her dedication to Dumbledore and her attempts to protect Hagrid really aren’t given their proper due in the movies.
Anyway, during their O.W.L exams Harry receives another vision and fears Sirius is in danger. Umbridge catches him trying to communicate with Sirius (he had that damn two way mirror why the hell is he breaking in to her office?) and demands he tells her where Dumbledore is. Hermione, the most intelligent person in the Potter universe, convinces Umbridge that they don’t know where Dumbledore is but that she will take them to his weapon. They trick Umbridge into being taken captive by centaurs, who then turn on the students, who are then rescued by Hagrid’s half-brother a giant.
That’s some whiplash isn’t it?
So the Trio, Neville, Luna and Ginny make their way to the department of mysteries where they are attacked by Death Eaters who are trying to retrieve a prophecy for Voldemort. The Order of the Pheonix rescue the group but Sirius is killed. Voldemort shows up but so does Dumbledore and in the end good triumphs over evil. The Minister of Magic and some aurors arrive at the last minute giving them no more excuses for denying Voldemort’s return.
“I cared about you too much,” said Dumbledore simply. “I cared more for your happiness than your knowing the truth, more for your peace of mind than my plan, more for your life than the lives that might be lost if the plan failed. In other words, I acted exactly as Voldemort expects we fools who love to act.
Dumbledore is reinstated at Hogwarts and he sends Harry back to his office for a chat. This is a chat that, perhaps, should have happened 8 months ago. Essentially a lot of the novel’s plot could have been avoided if the adults would be honest with Harry.
Dumbledore explains further about the prophecy and the blood magic that has protected Harry since birth as long as he can continue to call 4 Privet Drive home. Between all the foreshadowing and flashbacks you know big things will continue to happen. This is an excellent segue from the Childhood to Adulthood and while I’m missing a million things, because this installment is jam-packed with plot, Rowling continues to tie her threads together leading up to her final two installments.
“He chose the boy he thought most likely to be a danger to him,” said Dumbledore. And notice this, Harry. He chose, not the pureblood (which, according to his creed, is the only kind of wizard worth being or knowing), but the half-blood, like himself. He saw himself in you before he had ever seen you, and in marking you with that scar, he did not kill you, as he intended, but gave you powers, and a future, which have fitted you to escape him not once, but four times so far — something that neither your parents, nor Neville’s parents, ever achieved.”
And so the wheels are turning in the Potter universe… next up The Half Blood Prince!