From: "Jeremy Robinson" <jrobinson@...
> First thoughts on 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix'.
Let's put in some spoiler space, shall we?
> The book seemed to slow down too much in the Grimmauld Place chapters. Mrs
> Weasley got incredibly tiresome with her continual shouting and screaming.
Tiresome, maybe, but I think it highlighted just how stressed out and on
edge she was. At the beginning, she seems to be the only one who truly
knows how painful another wizards' war will be. And it foreshadowed the
attack on her husband.
> Harry's restless anger was became tedious. Rowling seemed to be trying for
> 'darker', more 'rebellious' Harry, a misunderstood, hormonal teenager, but
> repetitive outbursts of rage didn't build up to something greater.
It's like Harry has really become a teenager with all the worst excesses of
moodiness. I call this a transitional book largely because of this.
Harry's not a cute, precocious kid any more. He's an adolescent going
through hard times. Some of the hardest for him in this book is seeing his
father slip off his white horse. Harry's view of many of the adults around
him is changing. His father not only wasn't perfect, a gracious hero, but
he was the arrogant show-off Snape said he was. Sirius, instead of
providing a good example as a responsible adult, is trying to relive his
youth through Harry and his friends.
> Neville's insane parents in the hospital were, in a way, the most
> image in the book (the narrator underlines this: 'Neville looked around at
> others, his expression defiant, as though daring them to laugh, but Harry
> not think he'd ever found anything less funny in his life').
> The idea of Harry teaching a Dark Arts club was genius.
Yes, especially in the difference it made in his fellow students. Neville
is going to impress his grandmother one of these days. He made enormous
strides in competance and self-confidence in this book. I predict he will
have a major role in the last book.
> But a close second to Umbridge as a loathsome villain is
> the psychopathic witch Bellatrix.
She was too much of a cartoon for me, but again, she tortured Neville (as
she did his parents) and the two of them may well have a major role in the
> Rowling didn't seem to know exactly what to do with Sirius (or Lupin).
I was sorry not to see more of Lupin. I like his character a lot, and he
was definitely the best Defense of the Dark Arts instructors the kids had.
> Black could've been more than just a link
> with Harry's past, and his father. Somehow, one thought that Black would
> more than another distant father figure for Harry.
I can't help but wonder -- can Harry still go to Hogsmeade now that his
godfather, who had given him permission, is dead?
> Trelawney playing such a prominent role in the central plot (with her
> about Harry and Voldemort) was a surprise - especially after Rowling had
> ruthlessly satirized Trelawney, astrology and divination in earlier books.
Yes, and Rowling says that Dumbledore didn't really want to keep the
divination classes going anyway. I think he likes to keep people like
Trelawney close at hand both for kindness/charity's sake and on the
off-chance that they might be useful in the future (another true prediction
in Trelawney's case).
> The cute Cho and Harry scenes (the first kiss, the Valentine's Day date)
> great. Just as amusing were the debriefings afterwards, with Hermione
> pointing out everything Harry did wrong.
I was surprised at how well Hermione was able to steer Harry on this.
Usually girls as wrapped up in their schoolwork as Hermione aren't as
socially ept and are as clueless as harry.
> Hagrid's story of meeting the giants.
I thought the giant business, both the meeting and Grawp, was too drawn out.
I would have cut this, but perhaps the giants play a part in the final
> Ron at the quidditch match.
> Ron's outbursts over Ginny's boyfriends.
Hey, Ginny herself, both at quidditch and in general. She's one cool little
cookie. The twins make a comment, early in the book, that she packs a lot
of power. She has the makings to be another McGonagall, I think.
> The twins' triumphant broomstick exit from Hogwarts ('I think we've
> full-time education'). That scene's a powerful wish-fulfilment fantasy for
> kids who want to escape the deadening authoritarian regime of school.
I thought this was well done and the twins opening their joke shop also gave
you an idea that there was some other way for wizards to make money. You
get the impression that everyone works for the Ministry of Magic, the bank,
or at Hogwarts (and now, the hospital has been added, too).
> The new characters, particularly Tonks, Umbridge and Lovegood.
I loved Tonks. Luna is good -- I could see her as a potential girlfriend
for Harry. She's not impressed by his reputation and she makes up her own
mind about things while being very loyal to her friends and family.
> The confrontation between Harry and Snape during the Occulumency lessons
> wonderful, some of Rowling's best dialogue (Rowling always writes great
> when they feature Snape). And Snape still remained a darkly ambiguous
> with all sorts of hints at his role in the final books.
Yes. I kept wishing that Harry would swallow his pride, apologize to Snape
after snooping in the pensieve, and have a long talk with him about Harry's
father. I also wish Snape would get over his obvious favoritism of the
Slytherins and dislike of the Gryffindors. He obviously is a first-class
wizard and would be a fabulous potions teacher if he were not so blinded by
his own emotions.
> The introduction of Neville as a major character was marvellous, including
> tragic past and parents which mirror Harry's experience. And taking
> right to the end of the climax at the Ministry of Magic, beyond the points
> where Hermione and Ron were involved, was another welcome surprise.
> the new hero of the 'Harry Potter' books, especially in the final scenes.
> Since the first book, though (where Neville played a larger part than in
> film), Neville's been a significant character: in Harry's very first
> on a broomstick, in 'Philosopher's Stone', he saves Neville's remembrall
> Malfoy - a seemingly trivial act which embodies many of the confrontations
> the 'Harry Potter' series (good vs. evil, Gryffindor vs. Syltherin, a
> over a magical object, Harry vs. the son of a Death-eater and follower of
> Voldemort). Four books later, Harry and Neville are pitted against another
> Malfoy - Lucius - who, at the end of 'The Order of the Phoenix', leads an
> attack of Death-eaters on the group.
> Neville also ties in with Dumbledore's pronouncement to Voldemort, a few
> minutes after that chase and attack: the Dark Lord's convinced there's
> 'nothing worse than death', but Dumbledore replies there is. In Rowling's
> universe, one thing worse than death would be living without love (love
> the one thing Voldemort keeps under-estimating). But another thing worse
> death would be having both your parents turned insane, which happens to
> Neville's folks. In a way, the living death Neville's parents endure is
> worse a fate than that of Harry's parents. At least the Potters died
> instantly, but Neville's parents are faced with forty years of mental
Yes. Neville is definitely a character to keep your eye on. I could see
him playing a pivotal role in the final battle, maybe losing his life saving
Harry (who then vanquishes Voldemort).
Neville's grandmother said that he's talked a lot about Harry. I imagine
that he sees Harry as a sort of personal savior. Not in a magical (or
mystical) sense as much as in a social one. Neville is the kind of kid who
unless someone makes a conscious effort to draw him out, will spend all his
time in the background without any friends or doing more than marginal work
in school. He's become a real person to Harry (despite Harry's reluctance
at times) and hence a real person to himself. He's just going to keep on
> There're lots of cool bits in every 'Harry Potter' book that haven't made
> to the screen yet.
<snort> We borrowed my sister's copy of the second movie. They spent so
much time on stuff with the flying car, what with getting to school and the
whomping willow and all that, that things much more vital to the plot --
like the diary and Ginny's involvement -- were really treated as peripheral.
They did do a good job with Moaning Myrtle and the girls's bathroom being
the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets.