Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In recent days I’ve spent a significant amount of time in my car. I have, accordingly, finished this fifth volume in the Harry Potter series slightly earlier than I expected to. The last few chapters, however, saw me unable to ‘turn off’ the audio version. We watch in this volume Harry Potter complete his fifth year of schooling at Hogwarts, navigate the turmoil associated with the mid-teenage years, and confront both evil and death once more.

This volume is significant for many reasons. Firstly, we finally hear some of the missing yet substantial parts of Harry’s back story. In doing so, we come to realise the unavoidable connection that he has with Lord Voldemort, the Dark Lord who has returned to challenge the equilibrium of the magical world.

Secondly, we come to know that pretending something you wish to avoid hasn’t taken place, only leads to the entrenchment of greater fear. When frightened, it is effortless to convince people that the source of their concern is not there.

Thirdly, to be genuinely human means that it is never possible to avoid the pain of losing someone you love. To be human means always being open to the both-and of life rather than the either-or.

And lastly, true friendship – real friendship – requires not only loyalty to the other but also the preparedness to challenge the other.

Like all the books in the Harry Potter series, this book is first and foremost not about magic. It is about humanity and society. It is about how human beings react to and treat other human beings. It is about life in all its many varied and delicious shades of grey.

Rowling continues to weave a narrative that is both enjoyable and engaging. This fifth volume not only contributes to the greater metanarrative but has completeness and complexity within itself that keeps the reader’s attention from beginning to end. The audio narration by Stephen Fry continues to bring Rowling’s work alive in ways which are unique and stunningly superb. It was a joy to revisit this book with the voice of Fry echoing gently in my ears.

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