J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix {Audio Book}

09Jan10

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the fifth book in the popular Harry Potter series. I’ve read the book thrice: when it first came out, before the release of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Price, and of course, prior to the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, hitting the stores. One of my friends insisted I hadn’t lived until I heard the Harry Potter audio books, and she proceeded to lend me six of the seven.

Needless to say, I was a tad bemused when I imported this to iTunes, and saw that the audio spanned twenty-eight hours. Reading the book took about seven hours. Four times more for the audiobook? However, I did finish it in five days, and, I enjoyed every second of it.

Stephen Fry narrated the story, and he did a marvellous job! He handled the emotions, the voices and the arias scenes incredibly, and actually brought J.K. Rowling’s book to life. My imagination was running wild with his narration, and I was totally floored. What made the experience even better was, a couple of hours into the book, and I could actually pinpoint the voices, without having to wait for the “Hermione said quietly“, or “Harry groaned” which ends most of Rowling’s dialogues. Maybe reading the book helped with that, but, I was still impressed.

Order of the Phoenix takes off where Goblet of Fire ended, and the content of the book is much more mature, and significantly darker. At the end of Goblet of Fire, The Dark Lord rises again, and his followers, the Death Eaters rush to serve him again. Harry battles him, and somehow manages to survive – again! He returns to Hogwarts, and breaks the news to everyone, before school ends for the summer holidays.

In Order of the Phoenix, Harry is stuck with his Muggle family, with no word from the wizarding world whatsoever. He subscribes to the newspaper, Daily Prophet, but the front page is always bland and doesn’t mention the return of Lord Voldemort at all. Even worse, the letters he’s sent by his friends are superficial, with no real news about what’s going on. And then – one night, his cousin and he are attacked by Dementors, who he manages to drive away, using an advanced spell. What follows is a note from the Ministry of Magic, saying Harry has been expelled from school, due to practicing magic outside school premises. Soonafter, this is rescinded, and instead, Harry has to appear for a hearing, which will deem whether he’s expelled or not.

Within a few days, some Aurors (wizards who fight dark arts) come to pick up Harry and take him to his godfather’s place, which is also the headquarters for The Order Of The Phoenix – a secret organisation that fights the Dark Arts, and protects the innocent who might be the target of the Dark Lord. When Harry arrives there, he is informed that the Ministry is turning a blind eye to the return of You-Know-Who, and instead, trying to undermine the efforts of Dumbledore – the only wizard that Voldemort has ever feared – as well as discredit Harry.

Despite the Ministry’s best efforts, Harry is cleared of all charges, and returns to Hogwarts, to find that the Ministry has decided to impose its authority on the school as well – employing Dolores Umbridge as the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. In my opinion, Umbridge might be one of the most villainous characters in the Harry Potter series (and, in fact, in children’s literature). In fact, she makes Miss Trunchbull from Matilda seem angelic!

Not only is Umbridge the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, but she is also the High Inquisitor, and with help from the Ministry, passes new rules and regulations, which essentially gives her supreme dictatorial power over every teacher and student at Hogwarts bar Dumbledore.

Harry is miserable back at school, due to the new changes, and tries to find happiness in the smallest things – which, Umbridge revokes one by one. Being the year of their OWL examinations, academic pressure is high as well, and of course, there is the small matter of Harry’s scar hurting, and the teenager feeling the same emotions as Voldemort – and, even seeing some of the things that Voldemort does. As per every Harry Potter book, a battle scene is mandatory at the end, and Harry and his friends are forced to take on the Death Eaters and Voldemort once more… with the added pleasure of dealing with Professor Umbridge.

As I’ve said before, this book is far darker than any of its predecessors. Not only in terms of the magical world, but, also, in terms of the dictatorial regime that seems to be cast over the whole wizarding world. When Harry gives an interview to a newspaper, recounting the events of the previous year, he is handed with a week’s worth of detention. Free speech isn’t allowed, apparently. Not only that, but, the newspaper is banned from the school premises and, Umbridge has threatened severe action if she sees anyone with the newspaper. All societies, teams, groups, and organisations that have more than three students needs to be signed off by Umbridge – including the Gryffindor quidditch team. And, when Harry gets into a spat with Malfoy, who insults the Weasleys as well as his dead mother, Harry is the one who bears the brunt of the punishment, while Malfoy walks away scot-free.

The fear of losing power (to Dumbledore) is what keeps the Ministry going – not the welfare and safety of the “subjects” of their kingdom. Spies are everywhere, and, no one knows who to is trustworthy, and who will turn out to be a sneak. It looks like Voldemort has successfully managed dividing the wizarding community, without even trying, and at the end of the day, that’s the kind of thing he does best : divide, conquer, rule.

Rating : A+ {for Stephen Fry’s narration}

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16 Responses to “J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix {Audio Book}”

  1. It’s news to me that there is another narrator of the Harry Potter audiobooks. I thought Jim Dale was the only one. I guess his is the US version of the books?

    • It’s news to me that Jim Dale narrated them as well! Just looked it up. You’re right. Dale did the US one, and Fry the UK one. That seems to be a bit of a waste, but, there you have it…

  2. I haven’t got on well with the Harry Potter series, but you do convey a depth I never perceived. Perhaps I should invest in the set… for my girls! And Stephen Fry is the best, without doubt.

    • The first two books of the series aren’t great – they are quite childish. Azkaban, the third book, remains my favourite (although that might have something to do with it being the first one I read). I think with each book, Rowling makes the content darker as well as more mature, leading to more depth. Some of the writing is stiff, but, it’s still an interesting story.

      Main problem with the series is (my opinion anyway), Harry Potter himself is a bit of a blah (for lack of better words) character. It’s the other characters that make the books.

  3. I have never read, or listened to, any of the Harry Potter books. I try and avoid books that are very hyped in case I am disappointed, but also, after a while I realised that if waited until they had all been published, if I really loved the first one I could read them all in quick succession without the agonising wait for the next one to published. Perhaps that takes all the fun out of it though!

    • I’m with you on reading all of them in one go. I was fifteen when I read the first four – but, I was stuck in a hospital, and then bedridden for about 3 months, so, I just read whatever my parents got their hands on! Harry Potter was the big thing at the time, so…

      It’s hit and miss with Harry Potter. I don’t really know many people who think it’s “okay”. Either they rave and rant about it, or they think it’s childish/commercial. I enjoyed the books, and I re-read the entire thing in sequence prior to the release of each of three subsequent books.

  4. I have yet to venture into the world of audiobooks, but Stephen Fry seems like good motivation!
    P.S My name now has a link (but not sure if it’s allowed if it links to something other than books?)

    • Cool, your flickr account. Some of the pics look nice. I’m going to have a proper look tomorrow!!

      It’s the first audiobook I read, and despite being over 24 hours long, I enjoyed it tremendously. Yay for Stephen Fry.

  5. 9 Jo

    I’ve never listened to audio books, it’s something that really doesn’t appeal. But I could imagine that Stephen Fry does a good job with Harry Potter.In fact, I think he’d probably do a good job with almost anything!

    • I share similar sentiments as you on audiobooks. Why would anyone want to listen to a book, when one can READ it? Yet, somehow, I felt like a child again, with Stephen Fry reading this one out loud. Maybe it works because it’s a children’s book, essentially. Not sure I’d want to do any proper “adult” reading via audiobooks.

  6. I loved this series and read it twice. I havent listened to a book on audio before.

    • The audio books are fantastic. Well, this one is at least. I’ll be “hearing” one of the Harry Potter audiobooks every month, ’til I’m done, and I hope I get on with the others as well as I did with this one.

  7. I had no idea that Stephen Fry narrated the Harry Potter audiobooks but I can’t think of a more perfect person for the job!

  8. 15 Shambhavi

    Heyy..!!

    Can you tell me where I can download these audibooks from..??
    Or do I have to like necessarily buy it from iTunes..because right now..theres some problem in my iTunes store..it just doesn’t work!!

    Pleasee reply soon..I am dying for the audiobooks..!!!!! ;)

    Though I didn’t read the whole post..cause I just finished Goblet of Fire (I know..I am still cursing myself all the time..HOW in the hell could I ignore such awesomeness personified..booknified..whatever..for so long??) and I didn’t wanna spoil the whole thing for myself u know.!! :)

    But do lemme knoww!!

  9. A short while ago I opened my door to find a large package from Amazon: I could not believe it was actually my copy of The Collectors Edition of the Tales of Beedle the Bard! While I first ordered this a while ago, there was a problem with my credit card and I had to reorder, so I did not think I would get this book at all, much less on the relealse date! Thank you Amazon, I don’t know how you do it!

    The book is an absolutely must have for every Harry Potter fan. I had already read the tales themselves when I opened this volume, and they are truly delightful and full of wonderful messages for our children (and for all the magic lovers among us). The stories aside, this edition is truly beautiful and a pleasure to hold in one’s hand. There are some wonderful and unique features to it — the set of reprints is just beautiful; the small book inside the velvet bag inside the larger volume makes you feel like you are opening a treasure and indeed you are!

    I bought this volume for my son for a Christmas present, but now I’m thinking, maybe I will need another one! It is well worth the money to own such a special item, and it makes it that much greater that a portion of the proceeds goes to Ms. Rowling’s incredible charity. I know the holidays are going to be very special in my house. Thank you Ms. Rowling, for yet another gift to your legions of fans.


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