Whenever you ask someone what the best Harry Potter book is, it’s usually Prisoner Of Azkaban. Now, I’m not saying it’s a terrible book - I can see why some deem it the most significant. It’s a lot darker compared to the first two Harry Potter books, the characters come into their own, whereas in the previous two they are still finding themselves and their way around the wizarding world, and we meet Sirius Black, Harry’s godfather and a key character in the series.
But, Order Of The Phoenix speaks more volumes for me. While many say that it’s a challenging read - I mean it is 766 pages, a vast amount compared to Philosopher’s Stone (223 pages) - and that it’s not as fun as the previous installments in the series, I personally liked it because of those reasons. Order Of The Phoenix is a major turning point for Harry and his friends, so it only fits for the book to carry a different tone.
So, here are just some of the many, many reasons why Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix is the best book in the Harry Potter series.
It contains one of the most significant moments in the series
Think back to the prophecy made by Professor Trelawny to Dumbledore:
This quote is spoken during Trelawny’s interview for the position of Divination teacher at Hogwarts, and while Dumbledore was giving the interview, Snape overheard the first part of the prophecy which he then reported to Voldemort. This resulted in James and Lily Potter going into hiding once Dumbledore warned them, but, after trusting Peter Pettigrew with their location, Voldemort killed them while trying to kill Harry. After this, one of Voldemort’s aims was to find out the end of the prophecy.
He believed that the last part of the prophecy would tell him how to kill Harry, and so a large part of the Order’s work was to prevent this from happening. In the end, Voldemort never got to hear the rest of the prophecy, but Harry did, which also led to Dumbledore’s explanation of why Voldemort is so obsessed with him. This conversation was one of the big moments that we had been waiting for - after reading the first four books and waiting for the reason to be revealed, it finally happened, setting up the premise for the last two installments of this series. The Harry Potter franchise rests on that explanation.
The Breaking Down Of Harry Potter
Ok, I’m not saying that Harry’s meltdowns are a good thing because they’re not. However, it makes him a more relatable character and gives him depth.
There are many darker themes throughout this novel, and truths are revealed about a handful of characters which shows them in a new light. And one example of this is James Potter.
During Harry’s Occlumency lessons, he watched James act like an arrogant bully towards Snape when they were at Hogwarts, a glass-shattering illusion for Harry, and readers everywhere, as a character who we thought was a hero wasn’t all that we thought he was.
This can even be said for Dumbledore. As Harry grows throughout the series, his relationship with Dumbledore becomes slightly strained and frustrating, especially in this book when he abandons Harry during one of the worst years of his life. Because of this, he then feels more alone than ever and is thus vulnerable to Voldemort.
These revelations throughout the book, mourning for Cedric, the pressure of leading Dumbledore’s Army, the death of Sirius and that fact that, at the end of the novel, Voldemort is still alive and well, all add up to this feeling of hatred in Harry. It all comes together as a weight that makes him feel alone and like nothing more than a pawn in an extremely dark game.
We’ve all experienced these feelings (obviously we’re not being hunted by the darkest wizard of all time, but you get what I mean), so to see our hero break down, constantly feeling tired and broken, can kind of create a somewhat reassuring feeling inside us readers. Like Harry comes to realise at the end of the novel, we are not alone, even though it feels that way sometimes.
Yes, this is a book set in a wizarding world, but several themes are incredibly relevant right now.
One of the most central themes is the abuse of power, as illustrated best by the most hated character in the wizarding world: Professor Umbridge.
It is clear to see that Dolores Umbridge loves power more than anything else. As she rises from the Defence Against The Dark Arts professor to a leading role in Hogwarts, she continues to exert her authority in cruel ways, even going as far as firing Trelawny (until Albus Dumbledore intervenes).
She, along with the Ministry, uses Voldemort’s return as a campaign for continuous political power, worrying that if everyone sides with Harry and Dumbledore, people will attempt to overthrow the Ministry. The fact that Fudge has that much control that he succeeds in creating an active campaign against Harry that detriments the public’s safety without anyone realising, apart from the few people who do, is terrifying, and shows the extent leaders will go through to maintain their power.
Another theme that features strongly in Order Of The Phoenix is the rise of youth activism. Right now, our generation is protesting against global warming, unequal rights, causes that will significantly affect our future. In the book, Dumbledore’s Army rises against the restrictions that the Ministry imposes by practicing defensive spells and learning to defend themselves against the dark forces that roam free. It was a protest against Umbridge and her tight reign throughout Hogwarts. They fight for what is right.
Through this, J.K Rowling is teaching her readers to not settle for injustice. And, going by the movements that our generations have created such as #metoo and Black Lives Matter, her readers are listening.
It Shows That J.K Rowling Stopped Messing Around
The first three Harry Potter books were fun and light-hearted, full of wizarding delights, owls and Quidditch games. The way that death is treated in these books prove this; Quill’s death was nowhere near as saddening as Cedric’s death in The Goblet Of Fire, as Quill was a villain. We all loved Cedric. It broke us, as it suddenly took away the belief that the good characters will survive.
Rowling then decided to really rub it in by killing Sirius.
Harry had only just found the family that he had wanted all his life. His father figure, someone to look up to. He was Harry’s chance to escape the Dursley’s home. So Rowling decides to rip all of that to shreds.
The fact that she does this just as a small glimmer of happiness is entering Harry’s life tells us that no one is safe, evil, or not. It is from this point that we started to worry about our favourite characters.
Secondary characters come into their own
As mentioned earlier, in Prisoner of Azkaban, we see Harry, Ron and Hermione come into their own after spending the first two books sussing out the wizarding world.
Well, in Order Of The Phoenix, more of our favourite characters came into the spotlight. Moody, Tonks, Lupin, Fred, and George (to name a few), all become prominent characters. We learn more about Ron’s parents and how they’ve previously battled Death Eaters and are ready to do it again. We get an insight into Snape’s life, turning him into more of a three-dimensional character. Harry’s relationship grows with these characters, which they all benefit from.
What is your favourite Harry Potter book?