Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, 766pp, NIS 198.
The fifth book in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series went on sale on Friday - June 21, not by chance the longest day of the year - at 12.01 A.M. England time. I received my copy, purchased at Steimatzky for NIS 198, on Saturday morning, at 8:20 A.M. Fourteen hours, 10 minutes and 766 pages later, I knew which character dies (on page 711), and what happens to the 15-year-old wizard in his fifth year at Hogwarts. Truth be told, it's an easy read.
The book begins, like its four predecessors, with Harry spending his summer holiday with his aunt, who had no choice but to adopt him after his parents were killed in a struggle with the evil wizard, Voldemort. Those who read the fourth book already know that "he who must not be named" has returned to take on a human form, following another round in which Harry emerged victorious.
As per usual, Harry's aunt and her husband and son are intolerable of their tenant. Nevertheless, when the dark forces arrive at their home, Harry uses his magical powers to save his cousin. And this is were his troubles begin in this book.
Young wizards on holiday are not allowed to use magic, and the Ministry of Magic decides to expel Harry from Hogwarts. However, the school's principal, Albus Dumbledore intervenes. Harry and his friends - Ron Weasley, his sister, Ginny, his two twin brothers, Fred and George, and Hermione Granger - return for another year of studies.
Rowling provides her readers with a diverse plot, fascinating characters, strange animals, and that same mixture of an English boarding school story with fantasy and imagination. But as in the previous books, beneath the plot, lies a deeper message - Rowling teaches again and again that there is no good without evil.
In other words, Voldemort and his servants may be the concrete evil that comes from the outside; but Harry Potter, in both flesh and spirit, learns the hard way that he too has that same component that creates an inalienable link with the evil. This is the scar on his forehead, left there by Voldemort's attempt to kill him as a child because of a prophesy, as it was with Herod, Jesus and Oedipus.
As in the previous books, Harry once again reveals that the conflict between good and evil is within himself. And this is what it means to be human, and to sometimes suffer a pain worse than death - so much so that Harry himself is willing to die.
I won't reveal who dies in the book, but I will say that the character who doesn't make it through to the end is very important to Harry. Through his death, he reveals the meaning of death to those who survive - to learn how to grieve, to lose the physical closeness, but to preserve the relationship with the soul.
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