Orphan Harry Potter is rescued from his aunt and uncle by the half-giant Hagrid and taken to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he is placed in Gryffindor House along with his soon-to-be best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. In the end, Harry has his first encounter with Lord Voldemort, who has demonically possessed a Hogwarts professor. Headmaster Albus Dumbledore later reveals to Harry that he survived thanks to an ancient magical protection granted by his mother. She had sacrificed herself to save him.
Bestiary: Harry and pals encounter Hagrid's Cerberus watchdog, Ron and Harry save Hermione from a troll in the girl's lavatory, Hagrid hatches a baby dragon and the gang meets the centaur Firenze in the Forbidden Forest.
Magical Artifacts: Harry finds the cloak of invisibility, formerly owned by his father. The cloak is used in almost all the skulduggery Harry and his friends engage in, in this and future books.
Defense Against the Dark Arts professor and reason for dismissal: Quirinus Quirrel, for succumbing to possession, two-facedness, and touching a student inappropriately.
The Chamber of Secrets
Harry meets Dobby the house-elf and has his first unpleasant run-in with the Ministry of Magic. Ginny Weasley discovers Voldemort's old diary, which allows him to take possession of her soul. (It is discovered in the sixth book that the diary is part of Voldemort's soul.) The Dark Lord terrorizes Hogwarts by unleashing a giant snake. Harry is able to defeat both the snake and Voldemort's living memory, saving Ginny and the school. Lucius Malfoy, father of Harry's contemporary nemesis Draco, is revealed to be a follower of Voldemort, as well as a pompous ass.
Bestiary: A Basilisk petrifies students with its gaze until Dumbledore's phoenix Fawkes scratches its eyes out and Harry stabs it in the head. Also, Ron and Harry meet a Shelob-sized spider named Aragog and a crying ghost named Myrtle.
Artifacts: Harry acquires the Marauder's Map, which shows the location of everyone on the Hogwarts grounds and which was also previously used by Harry's father. The transformative powers of the polyjuice potion are employed for the first time.
D.A.D.A. professor and dismissal: Gilderoy Lockhart, for fraud, grandstanding and a case of amnesia.
The Prisoner of Azkaban
This year, Harry gets a break from any incarnation of Voldemort, instead contending with the Dark Lord's servants. He also learns more about his parents and how they died, and about the existence of their friend Sirius Black, who was framed for their murder and has recently escaped from the wizard prison Azkaban. With the help of Ron, Hermione, Professor Lupin the werewolf, and Hagrid's hippogriff Buckbeak, Harry is able to save Black from the Azkaban guards, though Voldemort's rat-like agent escapes.
Bestiary: Harry, Ron and Hermione save Hagrid's hippogriff Buckbeak from being put down and in the process discover that one of their professors is a werewolf. The wraith-like floating Dementors make their first appearance. They suck... souls.
Artifacts: Harry learns the Patronus charm to protect himself from Dementors. The Patronus is sort of a magic animal avatar that wizards or witches shoot out of their wands for defensive purposes.
D.A.D.A. professor and dismissal: Remus Lupin, for werewolfery.
The Goblet of Fire
Things come to a head in the beginning of the fourth book, when Voldemort's Death Eaters make a display of power at the Quidditch World Cup. Then Dumbledore announces that Hogwarts will be hosting a Triwizard Tournament. Thanks to the chicanery of evil insiders, Harry is entered into the tournament and wins, but ends up being transported to a cemetery where he encounters Lord Voldemort, now fully resurrected in the flesh. Harry is only able to escape due to some convoluted magic and a wand malfunction.
Bestiary: The first phase of the Triwizard tournament has contenders stealing eggs from dragons. The second phase has them diving into the lake to face the sometimes menacing, more often singing merpeople.
Artifacts: For the first time, Harry uses Dumbledore's Pensieve -- dunk your head into this bowl, and you'll relive your memories, complete with physical manifestations.
D.A.D.A. professor and dismissal: Mad-Eye Moody, for actually being Barty Crouch on polyjuice.
The Order of the Phoenix
The Ministry of Magic attempts to discredit Harry and Dumbledore and deny the fact of Voldemort's return. Harry and his friends organize a group of students calling themselves Dumbledore's Army to practice Defense Against the Dark Arts. Sirius Black and others reinstate the Order of the Phoenix to once again combat the Dark Lord. The Ministry's Hogwarts coup is thwarted when the Minister himself witnesses Voldemort dueling with Dumbledore in the Department of Mysteries. Sirius Black is killed, and the wizard war begins.
Bestiary: Harry sees thestrals, which look like reptilian horses with wings and can only be seen by people who've witnessed death. As Buckbeak was before, the thestrals become a convenient mode of transport. Hagrid's fully giant brother Grawp also makes an appearance.
Artifacts: The finale of Order of the Phoenix centers around a prophecy made by Professor Trelawney concerning Harry and Lord Voldemort, which is contained in a crystal ball: "neither can live while the other survives."
D.A.D.A. professor and dismissal: Dolores Umbridge, ass kicked by centaurs.
The Half-Blood Prince
With war looming, Dumbledore and Harry investigate Voldemort's past in an effort to learn how to defeat him. The plan they eventually hatch involves locating six fragments of the Dark Lord's soul and destroying them. (Oddly enough, this is also the plot of Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest.) The Death Eaters move on Hogwarts, and Dumbledore is killed by Professor Snape, who escapes with Draco Malfoy.
Bestiary: J.K. Rowling calls zombies Inferi, but we know what she means.
Artifacts: Harry and Dumbledore's Pensieve investigation leads them to the conclusion that Voldemort has fragmented his soul and placed the pieces in six hidden objects, called Horcruxes. Until all the fragments are destroyed, Voldemort will remain immortal.
D.A.D.A. professor and dismissal: Severus Snape, for murdering his boss.
The Sorcerer's Stone
movie VS. book: To all those poor children who live in the visual age and survived four years without a movie to back up the story: at least Chris Columbus made it worth your while. The first year was like a wardrobe into Narnia. Everything about the movie was new and entrancing. The children were cute, the movie was magical (ha!) and the overall theme of discovery was brought about well.
Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll: Not much here -- the kids are eleven. There is mention of butterbeer, but the most wild the kids get is eating booger-flavored jellybeans.
The Chamber of Secrets
movie VS. book: Though the story was well put together, the acting made Ron and Harry seem too old and young (respectively). There was no chemistry between the actors, and Hermione's story was cut most of the time. The CGI/automated basilisk worked well, as did most everything except Tom Riddle. Too much talk, not as much swagger as the book portrayed.
Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll: Still too young for most of the worldly pleasures. Some of the girls have crushes on Harry because of his "star quality." Most girls in class are infatuated with Gilderoy Lockhart. There's also mention of firewhiskey. Polyjuice potion changes the body from one person's to another.
The Prisoner of Azkaban
movie VS. book: Rupert, Daniel and Emma finally bridged the gap of puberty and began working well as a troupe. Give props to the filming crew for capturing good landscapes and bringing the grounds and forest into play. Covered most important plot elements and, with the addition of Gary Oldman and Daniel Thewlis, brought together a more mature, yet at the same time loveable Harry Potter.
Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll: Hermione matured between films, and the boys lost the cracks in their voices. Dementor's kiss = not sexy.
The Goblet of Fire
movie VS. book: The dragons and merepeople were fantastic, the CGI was clean and the makeup decent. The prepubescent incidental comedy was as much fun as detention with Snape and didn't capture minor plot elements that would have been more fun than an over-arching theme. Plus, Moody's eye was not robotic in the book (come on Mike Newell). I loved the Christmas ball though, perfectly awkward.
Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll: Finally Cho Chang steps into the picture. Harry has a crush, but there is no snogging yet. A reporter tries to catch Harry doing dirty deeds for the local gossip column. Fleur Delacour is a veela and French, thus automatically beautiful. The Weird Sisters is the first rock band on the scene.
The Order of the Phoenix
movie VS. book: It was apparent when scenes were hurried or changed for the time constraint, but it still turned out great as a screen version of an 896-page book. It hinted to issues such as Ginny's rising number of boyfriends and Snape's past, but not too much. This allowed for almost every event to be captured in some light or another. The fight scenes were astonishingly creative with lighting effects, and Imelda Staunton (Umbridge) walked away with the gold, no competition. Superb squeaks.
Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll: Harry kisses Cho and describes it as "wet." There is a lot of tension building between Ron and Hermione. Fred and George Weasley's candies make you sick, get rid of your acne (for 10 seconds) or allow you to become infatuated with someone... oh, the sweet temporary satisfaction of wizard drugs.
The Deathly Hallows
This Spotters' Guide for The Deathly Hallows might not be for everyone, and it's worth remembering that Prof. Trelawney's subject, Divination, elicits skepticism from Hermione and Prof. McGonagall, among other serious-minded people. You've been warned -- watch out for spoilers.
No divination necessary for things confirmed by J.K. Rowling's Website. Victor Krum and Dolores Umbridge will return. Harry will go back to the Dursley's and back to Godric's Row. There won't be any Quidditch but there will be a metaphysical explanation of why only certain people become ghosts. We'll learn more about Albus Dumbledore and Lily Potter, and also about Lily Potter's sister, Petunia Dursley.
Harry will attempt to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes and will have a climactic confrontation with Voldemort. Rowling continues her tradition of issuing warnings that at least one character will die. Frankly, if a lot of people don't die, I'm going to feel ripped off. After seven books, I'll be wanting some finality.
I thought the question of where Snape's allegiance lies was settled when he killed Dumbledore, but since "Snape: Friend or Foe?" is a big part of the Deathly Hallows advertising campaign this is apparently an open issue. I'm hoping Snape turns out to be a good guy because I like the idea of a good guy who is also an unapologetic creep.
Moving on to speculation, presumably we'll find out if Ron and Hermione hook up. And by "hook up" I mean snog, of course. We'll also see whether Neville turns into a stone-cold killing machine, raining Rutger Hauer-style vengeance down on the Death Eaters' Klan hats. I hope so. I want a lot of action in Deathly Hallows. J.K. Rowling has slowly ratcheted up the tension throughout the series to the point where I don't think I can be satisfied with another year of school hijinks interspersed with serious trouble.
Rowling also revealed that a character will manage, in desperate circumstances, to do magic quite late in life. That's all she said, but I know who it is. I'll tell you. It's only a guess, but it's a really good one. Only if you want it spoiled for you. OK? It's ARGUS FILCH, the CRUSTY OLD JANITOR.
-- BEN KROMER
Big Harry Deal
Power Rangers and Pok & eacute;mon were big with kids before Harry Potter, so I didn't have much interest until I heard Roger Ebert and Stephen King admired the books. Also my little sister had been reading and rereading them obsessively. So I gave the first four books a shot. Given that I don't particularly value maturity in my life or in the media I use to supplement my life, I had no difficulty embracing a series of books written for children; and they absolutely are children's books. That isn't any kind of reflection of their quality, it just means they're light on swearing, sex and explicit violence, and maybe a little didactic when the young characters are slow on the uptake.
Speaking of kids, every time there's a news report or a poll or a study about American students the conclusion is always the same: They be dumb. Therefore the fact that the little cretins had actually taken an interest in some pretty heavy (in poundage) books would seem to be cause for celebration, or relief. Warner Brothers celebrated by producing movies based on the books, potentially saving millions of children from the horrors of literacy. It didn't quite turn out that way, though; I believe instead a lot of young people got their first lessons about the limitations of book-to-film adaptations.
The appeal of the Harry Potter franchise is easy to nail down. It combines a not-quite-nostalgic reminiscence of going to school with a hefty amount of magical escapism and wish fulfillment in a fully realized fantasy world full of characters who can be depended on to act like themselves, be they likable or despicable. All of these things are what you might call "simple pleasures," and I'm fine with that, and not in a condescending way, either. I've got the rest of my life to read difficult novels by Russians, and I'm not in a hurry.
Looking back, what I miss most about school is the routine, though of course I hated it at the time. J.K. Rowling captured this perhaps subconscious desire for order by using sequential school years as the framework for her series; the routines established in the first book are still going in the sixth. I found out this genre is called the bildungsroman -- a "novel of personal development." And at first glance it seemed odd to me that the protagonists frequently stop speaking to each other due to stupid arguments or misunderstandings throughout the course of the series. Thinking back, however, that's exactly what my friends did and still do. Those are the more nuanced parts of school life from the books. There's also the fretting over tests, belligerent teachers, sports, gossip and rumors, public displays of affection and so on.
So, facets of Hogwarts School are immediately recognizable to anyone who went to or is going to school, and the Witchcraft and Wizardry parts provide the escapism. What kid wouldn't be thrilled to have a kindly old wizard save them from a dreary suburban existence by whisking them away to a literal world of magic? Not only that, but a world of magic where they're famous, the Chosen One. What person wouldn't want that? Parts of Harry Potter seem tailor-made to get kids turning towels into capes and brandishing sticks at each other, pretending to cast spells. That sort of thing is -- I think -- not something that fades with age but something we replace with more mundane fantasies of what we'd do if we won the lottery.
Having two younger sisters has made me aware that there aren't any good role models for teenage girls in pop culture, with one exception. I'll skip to the end of Rowling's rags-to-riches story -- to the part where she's the richest woman in Britain. If for some reason money doesn't impress you, it's worth noting that right now she's one of the most powerful people in the entertainment industry. The fact that she got where she is without showing any cleavage -- with sheer imaginative power, in fact -- makes J.K. Rowling superior to any potential role model on TV or in the music industry.
After people read and reread the last Harry Potter book, they'll be looking for something new to fill that hole. Since many of those people will be kids and since I don't want them turning to drugs, I've made a short list of Harry Potter substitutes, and my list assumes everyone on earth has already heard of The Lord of the Rings and Lost. Clive Barker is writing and painting some fantasy books called Abarat. His fantasy world covers some of the same territory as Potter, but Barker's imagination is considerably more expansive. Mike Mignola's Hellboy and B.P.R.D. comics broadly sample world mythology, have at least one monster in every story, and sport a nice team dynamic. Being horror comics, they might be too intense for young kids, so young kids should love them. Modern console role-playing games leave me cold with their polygons and CGI, but I can wholeheartedly recommend the holy trinity of Super Nintendo role-playing games: Final Fantasy 6, Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana. Learning spells, finding ancient artifacts, forming a team, being the Chosen One -- these elements can be found in most RPGs, but these three are the best.
-- BEN KROMER
Love in the Potter
Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour:
One of the more beautiful women in the world is marrying Ron's older brother - a half-werewolf. Sounds like Beauty and the Beast to me. The wedding is sometime this summer, but I'm guessing someone will be objecting to this union (*cough* Voldemort).
Will It Last? They'll be fine, as long as Bill lives out in the woods every full moon...
Ron and Hermione:
Finally. After all the quibbling and the numb lips from hours upon hours of snogging, Harry's counterparts are finally together. I hope that when Harry starts his adventure to find the Horcruxes, he brings an extra tent.
Will It Last? Yes, until one of them jumps in front of an Avada Kedavra to save Harry.
Harry and Ginny:
Item One: Ginny is a former stalker and can now claim the title of Gryffindor hottie.
Item Two: Harry is a hero going into a dangerous situation (where he might die) and has been so noble (not to mention smart) to leave the woman he loves behind. But you know that as soon as Harry leaves, there will be a redhead following close behind.
Will It Last? If there were no Voldemort, then yes.
-- KELLY McCRILLIS
Barnes & amp; Noble
Beginning at 9 pm (though you can show up whenever you want), the Midnight Magic Costume Party will begin at both the NorthTown and Valley locations. Events will include costume contests and other fun-filled activities, including photo-ops with your favorite characters. (Dressing up is encouraged but not necessary.)
If you want to win the contest (or be on the wrong end of a newly appointed lynching squad)... go as Snape.
Northtown Mall & middot; 482-4235 & middot; 15310 E. Indiana Ave. & middot; 922-4104 & middot; 9 pm - after midnight & middot; Free
Borders and Waldenbooks
The Grand Hallows Ball sounds more fun than a cage full of Cornish pixies. This party is unique, in that the events are coordinated by a Headmaster or Headmistress. The entire store will be dressed in full-wizarding world d & eacute;cor, and each visitor will leave with (unnamed) original souvenirs commemorating this special evening.
Events will include a Harry Potter spelling bee and the crowning of the king and queen of the ball. One of the highlights of the evening will be a "Great Snape Debate '07" discussing the nature of character Severus Snape.
Borders & middot; 9980 N. Newport HWY & middot; 466-2231 & middot; Waldenbooks & middot;
14700 E. Indiana ave & middot; 892-3907 & middot; 9:30 - after midnight & middot; Free
Looking for a luxurious getaway, but don't want to have to hear others tell you what happens in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? The Davenport Hotel is providing you with the solution.
A one-night package is available to the public that includes complimentary parking, a copy of the book available at midnight placed on the hotel's fireplace, a bag full of Bertie Bott's jelly beans in your room, and unlimited hot chocolate and coffee for late night reading. Not with all the gold in Gringotts could you find another opportunity this nice in Spokane. Check out our cover to see how it would look in the Presidential Suite...
The Davenport Hotel & middot; 10 S. Post St. (800) 899-1482 & middot; Rates start at $199 per room, based on solo occupancy; Add $35 for each additional person
Hastings is putting all its nargles into this year's Harry Potter Midnight Release Party. There will be games and prizes, of course, but the winner of the costume contest receives a free copy of The Deathly Hallows. Other such games: a raffle to become the first person in line to get into the store, a Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans guessing game, and a N.E.W.T. level trivia game. All four Hastings locations will be hosting the event.
1704 W. Wellesley Ave & middot; 327-6008 & middot; 2512 E. 29th Ave. & middot; 535-4342 & middot; 15312 E. Sprague Ave. & middot;
924-0667 & middot; 7706 N. Division St. & middot; 483-2154 & middot;
9 pm - after midnight & middot; Free
For adults - at least those who can admit loving the Harry Potter series - the Tinman Gallery is opening its doors for a more artistic approach to the release of the final book. Opening at 10 pm and lasting through 1 am, the gallery will be featuring an array of fan art including wall art, fan films, a Harry Potter tribute band, food direct from the books, and even a Veela dancer. Women, watch your men!
811 W. Garland Ave & middot; 325-1500 & middot; 10 pm - 1 am & middot;
Pre-order tickets: $5
Grab your broom and fly (avoid the skywalks) down to Auntie's for the "Harry Potter Flies Again" party at 9 pm. A cauldron full of games, prizes and many other magical treats will be available to costumed and uncostumed fans alike.
402 W. Main Ave. & middot;
9 pm - after midnight & middot; Tickets: $10; $5 for those who have pre-ordered the book
-- KELLY McCRILLIS
What Are the Odds?
Witch main character will Rowling kill off?
"And either must die at the hand of the other..."
The best-friend complex may be Ron's downfall.
Guilt gets to everyone -- even you, Severus.
Not dramatic enough, plus she's the smartest character.
No way. Harry needs someone to save.