November 28, 2001 — Finished (7 days)
November 28, 2001 — Started: Chamber of Secrets
December 06, 2001 — Finished (8 days)
December 06, 2001 — Started: Prisoner of Azkaban
December 16, 2001 — Finished (11 days)
December 17, 2001 — Started: Goblet of Fire
December 29, 2001 — Finished (12 days)
June 22, 2003 — Started: Order of the Phoenix
June 27, 2003 — Finished (5 days)
16 years ago, in some divy pub, Sybil Trelawney (the Divination professor at Hogwarts) interviewed with Dumbledore for her position. She was the great-great granddaughter of A True Seer. But she, herself, was mostly just full of shit. Even so, it seems that she does have the ability to pick up and channel very specific things.
She told Dumbledore about a prophecy that was made. The prophecy goes that all hope in destroying Voldemort will lie in a boy that will be born at the end of July, to a set of parents who have escaped him three times (which he thought was James and Lily Potter). A Voldemort informant overheard but got kicked out about half way through, so he only got half of it.
The part Voldemort didn't hear is that he'd mark this boy as "his match" which is what happened when he tried to kill Harry as a baby; all he did was put a lightning bolt scar on his forehead but didn't kill him. Now, one of them has to kill the other — the exact wording is "... neither can live while the other survives". So, it's not that Harry is definitely going to destroy Voldemort, but that one of them has to kill the other, so there's hope that Voldemort will be the one destroyed.
Of course, Frank and Alice Longbottom, two of the top Aurors (sorta like FBI Agents of the Magic world) at the Ministry in their time, had also escaped him three times and were due to have Neville at about the same time. It's amazing how close it was to being "Neville Longbottom and the Philosopher's Stone".
The smart thing to do, of course, would have been for Voldemort to find out what the whole thing said first, sit on it and wait to see which kid would be easier to pick off. Had he have done that, Neville would have been so toast. But, as always, Evil is Retarded.
Dumbledore decides that Harry needs to be protected at all costs. He sends Harry to live with his Aunt Petunia because even though the Dursleys hate it all, Petunia is a blood relation of Lily (her sister) and therefore, Harry. As long as Harry can call Privet Drive "home", he is protected by ancient magic and nothing can happen to him while he's there. He wasn't treated well there, but he was taken care of, his basic needs were met and there was someone from The Dumbledore Posse undercover watching him the whole time — Arabella Figg (the crabby old neighbour lady who would look after Harry when the Dursleys went on vacations without him, showing Harry reels upon reels of slides of her pet goldfish).
This prophecy is recorded in a little green glass ball in the Hall of Prophecies in the Ministry of Magic, Department of Mysteries. When you break it open, a white smoky ghost thing appears and repeats the prophecy. No one can touch the prophecies unless it's about them. Voldemort couldn't be running around the Ministry, so he tries to get his little underlings (Lucius Malfoy, etc.) to get it somehow. While he's doing this, Harry gets these weird dreams where he's traipsing around the Department of Mysteries and gets really curious about it. He and Voldemort have something like a telepathic link. Voldemort discovers this too and uses it to lure him into the Ministry to get it.
All the while, The Powers That Be at the Ministry don't believe Dumbledore that Voldemort is actually gotten his body back and is alive. They install a Ministry Official, Dolores Umbridge, as a faculty member at Hogwarts and she causes all kinds of drama.
Voldemort is laying low until he can hear the entire thing, so he can figure out what to do next. He's apparently wondering why Harry didn't die when he blasted him 15 years ago with Avada Kedavara (the spell that is so super duper no good very bad murder-death-kill that it shoots green sparks out of your wand). He doesn't find out by the end of the book, so he still doesn't know, but I suspect it will get to him before the end of the series. And if not, it really doesn't matter because Harry's always in his way and foiling his Nefarious Plans, so even if he doesn't exactly figure out what the prophecy says, he's so pissed off at the kid, he'd be hellbent on killing Harry anyway.
The book was a colossal waste of time and a waste of words. It truly didn't need to be that long. The whole point of OotP was that Voldemort wanted to see the entire fricking prophecy about Harry and him. This plot would have been good for a novel the length of the first three books. As it is, the length was inappropriate for the magnitude.
J.K. Rowling said that when she writes the books, she has the entire series (all 7 books) in mind. She realized a gigantic hole in the entire plotline just after "Goblet of Fire" was published. I think her scramble to rewrite showed through — to be fair, she was also writing the screenplays to the movies; onhand for the filming of "Philosopher's Stone" and "Chamber of Secrets"; acting the part of a freaky-looking witch in Knockturn Alley; raising a teenage daughter; getting married; having a baby, etc.
The first half of the book was draggy, annoying and was going nowhere. I know it was supposed to be much darker in tone, it's not supposed to be all happyhappyjoyjoy like the other books, but it wasn't exciting, electric, profound or much of anything. She just barfed all her manuscript notes into Harry's meeting with Dumbledore at the end (all the stuff in my Synopsis).
All the important stuff (along with a recap of the entire series) is in Chapter 36 and 37, if you want to cut right to it.
The book really had nothing to with the Order of the Phoenix. What exactly the hell were they all doing the whole time? ... other than cleaning the Black's house. It was "Harry Potter and the Overwrought, Know-It-All, Self-Righteous, Tactless, Alternatively Overconfident Teenagers On The Verge Of [Yet Another] Nervous Breakdown And Maybe Something About A Prophecy Thingie Or Whatever".
If I really want to read angst-ridden teeny-bopper trash, I'd go to the LJ Random feature, yeah?
We start off with The Obligatory Dursleys Bullshit, followed by The Obligatory Whisking Harry Away Just Before School Starts, The Obligatory Searing Scar Pain, The Obligatory Quidditch Match Where Gryffindor Loses, The Obligatory Malfoy/Crabbe/Goyle/Slytherin Bullshit, The Obligatory Snape Bullshit, Some Other Obligatory Bullshit, The Obligatory Gryffindor House Points Deducted To Almost Zero, The Obligatory Flashbacks, The Obligatory Hagrid Thing That Leads To The Obligatory Useful But Dangerous Foray Into The Forbidden Forest Later On, The Obligatory Quidditch Match Where Gryffindor Wins Against All Odds, The Obligatory Final/Standardized Exams Stress, The Obligatory Big Spelljamming Fight, The Obligatory Near Death Experience Meeting With Voldemort, The Obligatory Long Talk With Dumbledore Where He Explains Everything (by which I mean, he explains a little bit more than the Obligatory Dumbledore Talk at the end of the last book), and The Obligatory Going Back To Privet Drive Ritual Wherein Nothing Happens On The Train Ride Home.
There's a fucking rut if I ever saw one.
Sirius Black was one of a number people I originally said could be tagged to die in Book 5. He died fighting for someone he loved and something he believed in, but the treatment of it was unceremonious and way underdone for the hype that it got. I guess this isn't so much JKR's fault as the media's and the fans' doing. Cedric Diggory's death affected me much more in Book 4. I cried at the Year End Feast when Dumbledore gave him a short "in memoriam".
I didn't feel very close to Sirius throughout this book. I felt more for him in Prisoner of Azkaban. If he had died then, I would have been more affected. Harry finally finds someone that's as close to family as he'll get. Someone who doesn't have to maintain a distance, as Dumbledore or any of the Hogwart's Faculty must. Someone who loves him unconditionally like family, is willing to take care of him and can finally rescue him from the grief the Dursleys put him through. At that point, if Sirius were taken away with no hope of returning, it would have been much more effective.
Umbridge was way out of hand. Her "detention" where they write lines and it cuts their hands crossed a line with me. Maybe I'm a bit more sensitive to this, having a friend who used to cut herself. Something that makes an open wound that leaves a physical scar is way too much, even for me. I was about to stop reading at that and swear off the rest of the book and the series. I kept going for the dissing rights.
Cho Chang annoyed me. I liked her better when she was just a background character and she could have easily stayed that way. At first, I was like, "Cool! A Chinese girl!" And I was very excited when JKR said she would have a bigger role in Book 5. I fantasized about Harry visiting her family and how the HP realm would incorporate Chinese culture. No, she's exactly the type of airhead I hated and avoided when I was in school. I like Harry, cry, I hate Harry, I like Harry, I hate Harry, cry some more, kiss Harry, I hate Harry... *YAAARGH* It's pretty obvious she didn't really liked him. He was just her connection to Cedric.
I want to shitbeat Hermione. Self-righteous, arrogant little fuck. Who the hell is she to force her own way of life onto others? Through deception, no less. It's obvious that the House Elves don't want freedom and don't want her help. She's NOT doing a good thing for them, Dobby was the only House Rat who was whining. YOU'D be pretty fucked up if you worked for the Malfoys too. She became a little more tolerable after she forgot about the House Elves. But she was still very aggravating.
I'm sure JKR's message was that "heroes are not perfect". Very often, they're human, just like you and me, not without their flaws and errors. I'm sure that was done on purpose... albeit, with about the subtlety of a jackhammer. I'm just not sure it was supposed to be done in a way that makes me dislike the book. Am I not supposed to want to read past the half-way point? Am I supposed to seriously questioning if I want to read Book 6 and 7? Am I supposed to feel like I should just go re-read "The Chronicles of Narnia" (C.S. Lewis) or pick up Madeleine L'Engle's "The Time Quartet"?
I knew that "family" had something to do with the reason Harry was sent back to Privet Drive every summer. But doesn't work the way I originally thought. I was speculating that Voldemort and Harry were actually blood relations, so he couldn't hurt Harry with regular magic.
And of course, we have to go into the Forbidden Forest (with different combinations of friends each time) because while it's a wealth of information and can be manipulated to help, it also poses one of the greatest risks to the protagonists' lives. The power of knowledge doesn't come without it's costs and risks. Yeahyeahyeah, very deep, we get it. Can we use a different device, sometimes, maybe?
I'm not sure if there's any point in reading Book 6 or 7 since we now know that the Evil side is just a bunch of inbred tard nuts running around.
I want to read about the Order and what they're doing. About the adventures of Wormtail, Moony, Padfoot and Prong when they were at Hogwarts. It should be entitled: "I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up To No Good" and come with a pull-out, poster-sized Marauder's Map. =)
I want to read about Hogwarts at around the time of Tom Riddle. I want to read about Alastor "Mad Eye" Moody and what Aurors do. I want to read more about Frank and Alice Longbottom. I feel so awful for them. Even though I usually think The Prequel Phenomenon is getting a bit bananas, I'd be interested in an HP prequel series. I'd like to read about The Old Crowd when they were together the first time.
On the whole, it's starting to remind me of the Star Trek franchise going downhill. The official stuff is crap, people are making "wishlists" of things they want to see in the next installments and internet is littered with bad fanfic.