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on February 14, 2016
It's hard to write a review for a book in a series that you've read more times than you can remember, and seen the movie more times than you could count. From that statement alone it should be obvious that I'm a big fan of the Harry Potter series. Do I write my review based upon my first time reading it, or the everlasting impression this book has left me with? I think that fact that this book has made me think and ponder certain ideas over the years, I think the everlasting impression should be the topic of my review.

After encountering Dolores Umbridge, I was left pondering the question "What is evil?" Voldemort is obviously the Villian of the series, however I feel Umbridge is a much more sinister and evil Villian than even Voldemort. Voldemort's actions and evil deeds are really very simple to understand. What motivates him is power and greed and he is willing to go to any lengths to achieve those goals. While evil in itself, his motives and actions are very straight forward and easy to understand. It is easy to see Voldemort for the evil that he is, which therefore keeps him in hiding only surrounded by his Death Eaters. Dolores Umbridge is a very different type of evil. Dolores Umbridge is the type of evil that we, the muggles that we are, encounter on a daily basis. They are the people who enjoy the hurt, pain, chaos and distrust they cause through their manipulations and lies. The enjoy the devastation they cause in their wake. The fact that she can create the heartache she relishes so much with a false smile, sweet sanguine falsetto, and splashes of whimsy to give the impression of naïveté and an innocent childlike behavior which puts one off initially of comprehending the true evil she inflicts to hide the monster she is, and the fact that through these false tactics she has risen to a position of power to inflict heartache unto others, shows she is a master at hiding her true psychopathic personality. This sick personality trait is shown most clearly when she makes Harry write lines in detention. She knows Harry is telling the truth, yet she lies and manipulates him until she is in a position of power directly over him in detention at which point she not only continues her lies causing mental anguish to Harry, she continues her evil machinations by causing him physical pain by forcing him to use her quill which scratches and ultimately scars Harry for the rest of his life. Umbridge enjoys Harry's suffering. She even inspects his hand at the end of each detention to make sure he is being cut and that his hand is bleeding and then in a well satisfied way compliments Harry on completing his detention. Her only praise is when Harry does something to cause hurt and pain and twists what he knows is the truth into something false. This is standard textbook psychopathic behavior in domestic abusers.

The fact that Doloros Umbridge can navigate society in such a way as to gain a position if importance in the Minisrptry of Magic and flourish in normal wizarding society while hiding her insidious psychopathic tendencies leaves her in an excellent position of power to inflict hurt to others. Her brand if evil is subtle and is not so obvious at a first glance which gives her the ability to "blend in" with others and yet she victimizes many in her wake, as she navigates through life. In Voldemort's case, his brand of evil is so obvious to everyone that he is an outcast of the wizarding community, which ultimately lessens the number of his potential victims to those simply standing in his way of power, while in Umbridge's case her victim pool is limitless die to her access to the community and all those she comes across.

So here is the moral question I have pondered for many years since reading this book for the first time. "Which Behavior Is More Evil?" Personally, I feel Dolores Umbridge is the much more evil of the two characters based upon the reasons given in the prior paragraph. Whether you agree or disagree with me is not the point. The point is to make you think and ponder for yourself. The fact that this book makes you think long after you've turned the last page, is a mark of literacy success. Whiter you've read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix once, or a hundred times, it is always a great novel to read again and again, and question what constitutes as evil.
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on November 18, 2016
An unexpected outburst forces Harry into the night, fleeing the consequences of his actions. Fortunately he is quickly found and forgiven. He returns to Hogwarts to find it flanked by dementors, searching for Sirius Black, escaped prisoner and servant to Voldemort. But soon the dementors reveal themselves to be just as dangerous, particularly for Harry, who must master new magic in order to keep them at bay.

Eager to begin, the opening offers a concise summary of the series so far, along with vague allusions to the overarching conflict, the search for Sirius Black. Black is painted as the threat, but he’s soon overshadowed by the dementors who pursue him, and anyone else who attracts their attention.

The main plot quickly becomes subsumed by subplots. Audiences explore the daily life of Hogwarts in a flurry of scenes that focus on class and Quidditch, as Black and the dementors loom in the background, occasionally as a threat, but mostly a source of inconvenience for Harry, who endures increasing impositions in the name of safety. Harry struggles against these restrictions, earning him the ire of both teachers and friends.

Relationships dominate the story, as characters struggle to overcome their own intense emotions. The story culminates in a tragic revelation, casting new light on many of the year’s events, and reiterating the underlying ambiguity that runs throughout the story.

+Strong characters
+Strong descriptions
*Subplots dominate
*Ambiguous meaning
-Excessive summarization

3/5
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on September 4, 2016
With all of the reprints of the Harry Potter series (paperback, new cover art, movie pictures, etc), we were trying to complete our collection of the original hard back books. We didn't start buying these for our collection until book #5 when the series had gained such a huge following. We were so glad we could find these individually here on Amazon to get the missing ones.

The Prisoner of Azkaban continues a fascinating and engaging series. Book one of the series was very lighthearted as the world and characters were introduced. There was indeed a conflict and a villain, but the focus was on the world itself and the magic we could find in it. Book two continued in that world but had a noticeably darker tone (as did many of the later books). However, Book three returned us to a lighter tone while creating a self-encased conflict and villain with some really neat time-travelling plot twists (think of Bill and Ted or Back to the Future). The last four books tell more of a continuous narrative while I feel that each of the first three is more standalone. Yes, they end with an explanation of how the self-contained events fit into the overarching conflict of the series. But the individual plot elements of the books seem to lend themselves to the story at hand rather than the overall conflict. It seems that this changes with Book four when many parts of the book focus more on the overall plot rather than the individual book plot.

Even if you've seen the movies, the books are deserving of a read. The cliche that the books are always better than the movies holds very true here. We hope that JK Rowling continues to write for many years and that she can create other worlds that are equally as imaginative and engaging as this one. Thanks for a great ride!
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on June 29, 2014
Harry Potter Part II: The Good and the Not So Good

A good way to evaluate Harry Potter is to compare it to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Taking into account the facts that Tolkien’s masterpiece is the standard for fantasy literature and that Rowling is writing a slightly different genre and for a different audience, Harry Potter holds up fairly well. Nevertheless, Rowling falls short at a crucial point. That shortcoming, however, is one that much Christian thinking about God and evil shares. We desperately need to hear Tolkien in order to avoid the errors of moralism and a simplistic faith that cannot withstand the tidal waves of disappointment in the face of the hiddenness of God.
The similarities between Tolkien’s and Rowling’s works are obvious. They are both fantasy literature, have a deep concern with the dangers of power, and share a typically British appreciation for normal life.
The differences are just as important. Harry Potter is also a coming of age story and shows a marked preoccupation with death. The Lord of the Rings is an epic tale and so more in tune with the tragic dimension of life.
As a coming of age story, Harry Potter is necessarily geared to a younger audience than Tolkien, and, at least in the earlier volumes, is at the level of intelligent older children. As Harry, Ron, and Hermione grow up, the story becomes more appropriate for adolescents and young adults. I think this is why Rowling has so much more humor than does Tolkien. Her marvelous gift for invention is used to entertain children and teens. Howlers, disgusting jelly bean flavors, and quidditch are great fun. She also includes a wonderful collection of queer beasts and odd ball characters.
Tolkien is the better stylist. As an epic author his prose has a gravitas that is lacking in Rowling, and his landscape descriptions carry the reader into a world of sweeping grandeur. At times Rowling’s writing contains some painful lapses.
Rowling does avoid the trap of simplistic characterization, a failing of many children’s and cosmic conflict stories. Her characters are not mere cartoon figures of pure good and evil. There is internal conflict and failure by the good. Hermione can be a prig. In addition to Ron’s adolescent addiction to snogging (which is Rowling’s fault not his), he is subject to juvenile jealousy, and Harry can feel real hatred. Harry also has to come to grips with the fact that his father had mistreated Snape, and, as a young wizard, even Dumbledore had lusted for power.
Also, some of the bad characters are not purely evil. The Malfoy family is a case in point. Lucius Malfoy, a nasty bigoted man, in the end is a weak person. His wife Narcissa is too, but at the same time she is strongly devoted to her son Draco, a devotion that leads her to lie to Voldemort and save Harry Potter. Draco, the bad boy bully in all the earlier stories, still has enough decency not to want to kill Dumbledore and in the end, if not reconciled to Harry, at least has become a husband and a father who is no longer actively hostile to Potter.
Both Rowling and Tolkien finish their tales in the typically British fashion in which the great cosmic battle for evil results in the reestablishment of normal life. In Tolkien the Shire is restored, and Sam becomes happily married. In Harry Potter the main characters are married and send their children to Hogwarts.
Yet this return to the normal points to the most serious shortcoming of Harry Potter. Rowling’s portrayal of evil lacks the depth of Tolkien’s. Harry’s loss of his parents and friends poignantly portrays the human desire to escape the tragic consequences of death. Voldemort’s quest for immortality shows how that desire can be perverted to very evil ends. In the end, however, Harry can go on to live a normal life, having matured from his combat with evil but not being permanently marred by it. He can live a normal life even though he has a scar.
The effect of evil upon Frodo is lasting, symbolized by his loss of a finger and the injury received on Weathertop that never completely heals. Frodo does not just have battle wounds. He is a wounded person. He cannot return to a normal life in the Shire and is granted passage to Valinor where he will find peace.
As I watched Harry snap the Elder Wand and cast it into an abyss in the movie version of The Deathly Hallows (in the book he returns it to Dumbledore’s grave) so that it could never be used for evil purposes again, I couldn’t help but think of the contrast with Frodo and the ring of power. Harry, the true hero, resists the temptation to abuse power. In The Lord of the Rings Frodo fails. He cannot resist the temptation to keep the ring and use its power for himself. The ring is only destroyed because Gollum wants it for himself, takes it from Frodo, and then falls into the fires of Mount Doom.
In Tolkien evil is not defeated by the heroic efforts of an individual. Evil defeats itself in what he calls a “eucatastrophe” (See his “On Fairy-Stories” in Essays Presented to Charles Williams edited by C. S. Lewis.). Tolkien’s eucatastrophe is undoubtedly derived from the biblical notion of evil defeating itself, especially in the cross of Christ where the forces of evil do their worst and unwittingly trigger the means of saving the world.
The theme of evil defeating itself is present in Harry Potter. The killing curse that Voldemort uses upon Harry is his own undoing, but in the final analysis it is Harry’s heroic action that saves the day.
We Christians often present the Bible as a collection of tales about heroes from whom we can learn moral lessons and ways to live victoriously. We look for evident victories. Sadly our quest for evident victories means that we will seek power to win them. In so doing we walk by sight and thus succumb to power’s hidden capacity for evil.
We forget that God has chosen to reveal the biblical characters as sinners and frequently as failures. The hero of the biblical narrative is God, and his ways are not only higher than ours they are often hidden from us. In the darkest hour, at the moment of testing, the Christian will often fail. Yet even then the unseen hand of God’s providence is working to overcome evil. Indeed, the very victories of evil, such as the cross, are the moments of its greatest downfalls. By trusting in the hidden God, we learn to walk by faith and not by sight and overcome the temptations of power. As the Lord told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
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For Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger, Year Three at Hogwarts brings new adventures, new magic to learn, new creatures to contend with (boggarts, hippogriffs, dementors, and werewolves, anyone?), some exciting Quidditch matches, and a new danger, the fearsome wizard Sirius Black, just escaped from the Ministry of Magic Prison of Azkaban. The menace of the escaped wizard has all of Hogwarts on edge, and our three heroes will need every bit of magic they know to save themselves and overcome an unexpected opponent. Along the way, Harry learns more about his parents, Hermione learns to be in two places at once, and Ron discovers something rather terrifying about his pet rat. It's irresistible fun. Highly recommended in this nicely priced paperback edition.
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on August 16, 2007
A look at the Acknowledgment section reveals that this book is dedicated to us, the mudblood readers of Harry Potter, all 9 million of us, and to those "who have stuck with Harry until the very end." After reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, there can be no doubt this book, in J. K. Rowling's series of seven, covering the seven years Harry Potter has attended the Hogwarts School of Magic, is the last.

Hard to imagine why anyone would read this book without reading the other six first. The books do build naturally upon one another. Now that it's over, one could conceivably buy the seven volumes and set out to read them all straight through. That would be fun. On the other hand, I have enjoyed, as millions of readers have, anticipating the publishing of each volume, the lines at the bookstore, the hype. For me I've read, except for this one, the paperback edition. But now I find that no way am I waiting a year for this paperback to come out. Like Harry, I'm ready to finish this thing now.

I envy the reader who has just discovered Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Year One at Hogwarts. But now that I've read them all, I'm starting over. And I would recommend, start at the beginning of this journey. What can I say though to the reader who has read Book Six and like me, trying not to listen to the spoilers, waiting for the much more economical paperback to come out in a year's time? What if you can't wait another day, much less a year, to find out what really happened to Dumbledore? Can you wait to find out who wins, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named or Harry Potter? I didn't think so. The books are a circle and this one connects them all. And why wait when Amazon has the book on sale?
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on July 25, 2007
I think this final year really pulls off with a bang.

The story goes by fast just like any Potter book. It answers lots of questions left off from the previous books. Some people say that there are some loopholes throughout the story but I suppose, those should be left for the readers' imaginations.

The book isn't kidding about deaths. There will even be some unexpected deaths so I warn some of you who are very connected with certain characters to brace yourselves. You will also know the fate of Snape and the truth behind his actions.

The middle part of the story may feel a bit well, slow, but that is a very good part on Rowling's behalf. ^_^ It shows character growth among the characters and is essential to their relationship.

There will be parts that will make you laugh, make you insane, and other parts that might make you go "ah-ha! That person's theory is correct!" Depending on your guesses and speculations, I can only applaud a certain number of you for getting some things right. ^_0

The epilogue is probably, I have to agree, a little on the weak side. It's a bit cliched but that's alright. I'm grateful for the ending. J.K. Rowling gave life to all these characters and the magical world of Hogwarts. She's enchanted millions of readers across the world, young and old, with her very own magic as well.

Throughout the 10 years of adventure, Harry Potter has gotten what he always wanted. A family. Not just in the book but from the fans as well. :D

Thank you J.K. Rowling for all that you've done,
You've made Deathly Hallows number one on Amazon,
Watch as the good guys battle the Death Eaters' rule,
As Harry must come face to face with You-Know-Who....

Note: Since my last review was taken off probably due to a stated reference to a spoiler (in my comment), I apologize for that. ^__^ Although, it was just a gratuity poem which didn't really reveal much, I should've put a spoiler warning anyways.
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on August 31, 2007
It was with a poignant nostalgia that I received this book, the last of the Rowling's tremendous series. I remember clearly that first one that I opened. A little late to the game, I remember thinking I couldn't believe I was to read about wizards and fairies, a book obviously meant for sniveling 10-year-olds, but as I was under orders to read it from my wife (She Who Must Be Obeyed), I dove in, fully intending for the book to be the last of Rowling I ever read.

Now, years later, thinking back to every single book after that first one and the pleasure each brought during the glorious week (on average), it took to read, I can only say a heartfelt Thank You to J. K. Rowling.
The seventh does not disappoint. In some parts, the pace slows a bit and one wonders how it will all end, like the characters themselves, come to think of it. Not to worry, it's on again soon and the reader is treated to action, toil and trouble, heady stuff that through it all finds Harry hardening, becoming an adult and ready to handle the challenges thrown his way as The Boy Who Lived; to top it all off, there's an ending that is just delicious.

I felt like at the end of a bountiful, never-boring feast lasting years: utterly sated and strangely, ready for more!

By the way, as a Fred myself, I can't say I understand why my namesake had to be the one who went, when everyone knows George was the lesser twin! ;-)
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on August 19, 2016
Been a fan of Harry Potter since I first got my claws on the books and so I decided to start reading them to my daughter at bed time. Now while I had a few moments of where I thought that this book was a bit dark and scary for her, due to the dementors, overall I think that she really liked it. The thrill of Harry Potter returning to Hogwarts, continuing to learn and meeting new teachers and having to face that he is the focus of a "deadly" criminal's focus.
Harry has a lot of growing up to do and much to learn but it's always great to be able to follow along and experience it with hi.
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on July 4, 2011
This is my second time reading The Order of the Phoenix, I am re-reading the last 3 books in the Potter series, because there is so much going on, that one tends to miss alot, with the first reading. I start each of the books in Sept, just as Harry starts back to Hogwarts and read them through the cold Winter nights, rather than have the TV on.
The ONLY reason that I have not given the book 5 stars, is that I only to as high as 4, no matter what book it is.
Order of the Phoenix was the first time the series really started to get "dark", no more "kiddie" rides from here on out, as the evil side finally shows itself and comes out of the shadows.
In this book, the clear "battle lines" are drawn and both sides start to know that a final showdown, is the only way to end this conflict.
If you have already finished the series, as most Potter fans have, do yourself a favor and re-read the last 3 books, a second time and I bet you will enjoy them even more, than you did the first time around.
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