So, what’s the best way to commemorate this month? Or to be precise, this week? If you don’t know what I am talking about, this post (and the coming ones) are definitely for you…So, to mark this “Harry Potter Week”, and since I didn’t really review the book series in my “review” last time, I will be reviewing each book in the series every day of the book. Which should put me in position to tell you about Book 7 on Sunday (what? The book comes out on Saturday).
So, let’s start with Year 1, Book 1, The First One, the one where it all started… “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” by J. K. Rowling…
The Dursleys are your average, down the road normal British family, with a small kid, the dad in a big position in a company and mother a housewife. Of course, in their quest for “normality”, they do their best to forget that Mrs. Dursley has a sister who is “abnormal”, even “weird”. What they can’t ignore is that somebody leaves their orphaned nephew on their doorstep in the night. Of course, what they can do is to treat the kid as an unwanted slave, treating him as something the cat dragged him (which is pretty much close to the truth, considering).
So, when Harry Potter reaches age of 11, he is very surprised to know that he is a wizard, his parents were magical, he has a place in the most prestigious magical school the moment he was born, and above all, he is one of those people wizard kids grow up hearing about. Going to Hogwarts, he meets his first friend (later friends), nice teachers, strict teachers, teachers who hate him, Hagrid the gamekeeper who loves him as a little brother, if not a beloved nephew, and a Headmaster who is the most powerful wizard of all times, yet likes his jokes like everybody else.
But then, there’s a secret in Hogwarts (well, a specific secret) and somebody is trying to steal it. The dark wizard who killed Harry’s parents (and “died” trying to kill Harry) is not exactly dead, and is just waiting to come back. Now, it’s up to Harry, Ron and Hermione to stop Lord Voldemort from coming back again.
The main thing the book does is to set the tone for the entire series. We meet Harry, a young man orphaned at the age of 1, living with his aunt’s family who treat him worse than a slave, and hence when he hears that he is a wizard, and a very famous one at that (Hermione claims to know all about him, which is more that he can say), his first reaction is, “Who? Me?”. And he spends a lot of time wondering about whether they are mistaken in him, how he will fare in the school with all wizards… all in all, a very normal, polite, if slightly less confident kid.
Which is diametrically opposite from how his spoiled-beyond-words cousin Dudley, or his arch-enemy in the school, Draco Malfoy (who is not less spoiled than Dudley) would have reacted.
Harry’s best friend, Ron Weasley is second-youngest kid in a wizarding family with 7 kids. With a head boy, a Quiddich captain, a prefect and the Troblemakers-at-Chief of Hogwarts in the family, it is a lot to live up to for him. But he comes really into his “inheritance” by living the adventures with Harry, least of which is winning “the best Chess game in Hogwart’s history”.
The last member of the trio, Hermione Granger is a muggle-born bookworm who has read all the study books (and then some) before school year starts, and takes out pavement-slab-sized books as “light reading”. So, it is not a surprise that at first she vexes everybody and anybody with her “know-it-all” attitude. But of course, doing some things makes you best of friends, and “defeating a mountain troll” is easily one of them.
We of course meet the teachers, who have a lot of role to play, with the sinister Prof. Snape as the guy who hates Harry (because Harry’s dad once saved his life), the stuttering Prof. Quirrell who is hiding a big secret under his turban, and the strict Prof. McGonagall, whom we meet right at the start. Last but not the least, is Prof. Dumbledore, the most powerful wizard of the times, and the “coolest” one at that.
We also hear from or meet characters like Ginny Weasley, Sirius Black and Firenze the centaur who play a lot more role in the series later, along with hints spread thoughout the book whose real meaning we know in later books. Like Harry talking to a boa constrictor in the zoo, or Harry’s mother dying to save him, giving him a protection.
I have omitted a lot of characters, plot points and jokes from here. But at the end of it all, the book is really about a young boy finding his own place in the world of his own, a world he never knew existed, and about love, sacrifice, friendship and standing up for your friends and your beliefs.
Quote of The Day:
That is one of my more brilliant ideas. And between you and me, that is saying something.
– Prof. Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore