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Harry Potter Book Reviews:


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
by Martina

"I wouldn't be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter day in the future - there will be books written about Harry - every child in our world will know his name."
Professor McGonagall, in the first chapter titled "The Boy Who Lived"

By now there's not much that can be said about the Harry Potter phenomenon  that hasn't been said already. Worshipped by kids, enjoyed by adults, this modern myth has become an accepted classic worldwide. Pull any copy of the series off a shelf anywhere in the world and you're holding magic.

It's not hard to see why. Right from the first page of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (or "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" for those reading in the UK) Rowling proves that she knows a thing or two about the kind of magic that brings stories to life.

The book starts with Harry as an infant, the child of a wizard and witch. He is suddenly left orphaned after an attack by the evil and powerful wizard Voldemort, a villain so dastardly that most wizards and witches refer to him as "You-Know-Who". Mysteriously, Harry survives and Voldemort, his power apparently broken in his attempt to kill the child, disappears leaving many to think he's gone for good. Codex Alera spreads fast and Harry is hailed as a hero. Even though he's just a baby his victory over Voldemort makes him an overnight celebrity among magic users the world over.

As a result, the Headmaster and Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry step in to decide Harry's future. They decide to take the child out of the spotlight and allow him to live a normal life with his only remaining relations, a Muggle family named Dursley, until he is of age to attend the Hogwarts school. They leave Harry on the doorstep of the Dursley's home, with no more than a letter of explanation.

The story truly begins nearly ten years later, after Harry has endured a childhood of constant scorn and hatred at the hands of his new family. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia are embarrassed by the fact that Harry's mother considered herself a witch and married a man who claimed to be a wizard. The Dursley's simply don't hold with such nonsense. They consider themselves respectable.

As Muggles go, the Dursley's may not be prime examples of the worst of their kind, but they rank pretty high. They force Harry to sleep in a cupboard under the stairs and to wear their spoiled son's damaged cast-offs. Harry is little more than a servant and a punching bag to his cousin Dudley. But worst of all, Mr. Dursley has not read Dumbledore's letter to Harry, leaving the boy unaware of such things as his heritage, the truth about his parents death and his emerging powers.

Then everything changes with the delivery of a letter in a very unusual fashion. From that point on, Harry's life is never the same again. The letter is actually an acceptance letter, a notification to Harry that he has a place at Hogwart's school. Literally rescued from the Dursley's and taken under the wing of Hagrid, the school's lovable giant of a groundskeeper, Harry embarks on the adventure of a lifetime in the hallowed halls of Hogwarts where in addition to his studies he makes close friends and a lifelong enemy, discovers a talent for a very unusual sport called Quidditch and solves a mystery that threatens the world, not to mention his very existence.

The magic potion Rowling herself concocts starts solidly with Harry, a remarkably unassuming kid who's got "hero of mythical proportions" written all over him. He's courageous, clever and resourceful. He's got a special talent in the form of magical powers, and a noble and mysterious birth. He's wounded - a big one in myths - not just physically as evidenced by the scar on his forehead, but emotionally as well due to the death of his parents, not to mention a tortured upbringing by uncaring relations that rivals Cinderella's. But most of all, as was hinted right from the start, he's got one heck of a destiny.  All this comes together to introduce a character the reader immediately bonds with. You *really* want to be this kid's friend and hang out with him to see what happens.

Next into the potion goes a heavy dose of down-to-earth realism - the kind of everyday stuff recognized by almost every kid in the world... but WAIT! You, gentle reader, are never allowed to get comfortable in the world of the often stupid, ever boring Muggles, because you're not one of them, are you? Of course not. You know better, because Rowling blends in the essence of magic fantasy with such skill that Harry's world literally shimmers with it. Because you're not a Muggle, you can see it all around you as you read.

The rest of the ingredients are just as high in quality, from the magical, mysterious yet somehow familiar Hogwarts School to the friends that help Harry get through it all, to the exciting conclusion. Rowling serves it all up with a deceptively simple and straight forward writing style that sparks
a response deep in the subconscious, drawing the reader in and holding on tight. The fact is, this story is not just read, it's experienced and that's the magic right there.

Of course, adults have to fight their Muggle tendencies and indulge in a little suspension of disbelief to get full enjoyment of the story. For example, those of you who read a lot of Tom Clancy might have trouble getting past the fact that such occurrences as motorcycles flying over London and entire groups of people who vanish into thin air at train stations, go virtually unnoticed. The exact purpose of the wizards trained at Hogwarts in relation to the world is never really explained, except in some vague reference to the further study and possible control of the other preternatural type creatures such as dragons, zombies and vampires who also go unnoticed by the Muggle world. Apparently, when it comes to Muggle mind control, it's everyone's game. Those readers with sci-fi leanings might start picturing Hogwarts as existing in an alternate dimension of sorts but that's not the point. The point is suspension of disbelief. It just all happens because it does and no one in the real world knows about it but those involved... and that's that.

Though I thoroughly loved this book, my only off moment came near the end, where I began to wonder exactly how suitable the images depicted were for the impressionable minds of Rowling's younger readers. Still, at the ripe old age of 32, I might just be over-reacting.

"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" is a fantastic book, well plotted with strong characters that not only talk and act like real kids, but are also great role models as well. These kids do their homework, brush their teeth, study for exams and still have time to get into trouble in the name of a good cause. There is one excellent and well spelled out moral in the story that doesn't detract from the plot and if the reason why Harry survived Voldemort's attack doesn't leave you with a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye, I suggest you read it again.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn't read it yet, kid or adult. Let it carry you away with the knowledge that you're reading a classic that will be read and loved by generations to come, just like the fairy-tales of old.

Harry Potter a general review.
 by Tom Cordeaux

I succumbed to the lure of Harry Potter when a friend offered to let me read the series, this was   before Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was published. I was somewhat apprehensive as the majority of the publicity was aimed at the younger readers but so many people had said they were a 'great read'. Anyway I started on the first book Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and was hooked from almost the first page.

The characters though children were never treated as extraordinary, magic was normal. They were also still children not adult characters in a children'senvironment. The plot was clever and eminently gripping. Harry had many characteristics that most men would recognise from their own childhood and the story never fell into ridding the story of nasty characters, Harry's' 'foster' family are still there and you end up feeling sorry that they cannot see beyond their own noses.

The first book Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone introduced Harry to a new world where children were still children even though their world involved flying on broom sticks, learing and making potions and casting spells. Around all this was Harrys' extordinary history as the one who survived and somehow defeated "the one who must not be named" Voldemort. Even in this new place there are children and teachers who either do dislike Harry or appear to do so.Harry makes friends and helps prevent a disaster all in his first year and with all this he finds a love of Quidditch - go for it Harry!

Book two Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, back to school and another adventure. Second year students have more to learn and it appears more to be afraid of.

Book three Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, another year at Hogwarts and Harry meets his uncle the only other living relative. How do you save someone who everyone thinks is a murderer. Harry and friends succeed and reveal more secrets at the school.

There is so much of the world that has not been revealed that each new book is able to explore the myths of our world and lay it next door to the mundane universe. The latest book Goblet of Fire was devoured withexcessive greed.

Though I loved it, the story continually grows and fits with the way the others have written,but I was slightly disappointed. I expected something more, I do not know exactly what but it was missing something, maybe the heavy emphasis on the "bad guy" Voldemort, who though was the main thread through all the books I was hoping it would explore other areas in more detail. This may just be an opinion from an adult reader, but all the same I still await the next instalment-is there a university for wizards! I need to apply

Harry Potter Overview
by J.R. Fedynich

When Harry Potter began to be the daily word in our household I decided, as a parent, I needed to read the series to see what all the excitement was about. I was pleased and excited to find that HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERRERS STONE by J.K. Rowlings was one of the best books I had read in years. The plot is complex enough to hold the interest of an adult and fanciful enough to grab the interest of any child.

The bad guys are really bad with no redeeming qualities whatsoever.  The good guys are just that. It is a pleasure for me to read a series that I have no reservations about letting my children read. The moral lessons in the story are cloaked in magic with mystery enough to instill them into the heads and hearts of young readers.

I would urge all those who are cautious about letting their children read the books to read them for themselves. There is content that promotes good, moral, behavior.  There is excitement enough to hold the attention of non-readers.  And most important, this book series makes reading fun!

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Richard Royce, reviewer.
Origionally printed in   THE BOOK DRAGON REVIEW

Harry's back, and things are much the same as usual. Harry is spending another dreadful summer with his muggle Aunt and Uncle Dursley. For those who have managed to avoid all of the Harry-hoopla, a muggle is a person without magic, as opposed to a wizard. Wizards are a race apart from muggles, and they strive to keep themselves secret. Harry is a wizard, and as such goes to a private school called Hogworts.

Luckily, the family of his best friend Ron rescues Harry from his prison. They whisk him off to the World Cup Quiddich tournament (a sort of broom-borne soccer game to those muggle readers out there). Then, it's off to school for another exciting term of learning about potions, magical creatures, and foretelling the future. Except this year is different. The Triwizard Tournament will be held for the first time in over 200 years, and the hosting school is Hogworts. A magical, flaming goblet will select a champion from each of the three wizard schools in Europe. The champions will then face three
great challenges to battle for the coveted trophy. However, the goblet has a mind of its own and adds a fourth champion: Harry.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the latest in a series of books that have captured imaginations worldwide with good reason. Rowling has created a loveable, likeable cast of characters with the requisite villains the reader just loves to hate. Harry and his friends also find themselves in predicaments many children face: Unpleasant adults who seem to wish them nothing but trouble; mysterious actions of adults who do things without explanation; and the sense of learning to use your own abilities to succeed in life. "Take what you have and make something of yourself" is a strong theme throughout all of the Harry Potter books.

It's not hard to see why kids enjoy these books. Children can easily identify with the characters, and the plots capture their imagination. Yet, though Rowling has managed to create a hero and friends who will endure, she has not fallen into a trap many authors of children's books face: Harry is not eternally young, but is growing and learning. He even is learning of the perils and mysteries of socializing with girls when he needs an escort for the Yule Ball. Wonder what else Rowling has in store for our plucky hero....

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