The Harry Potter Books: An Overview of Books 1-6 and Theories on the Final Installment

Who in this world hasn’t heard of Harry Potter. “The Boy Who Lived,” “The Chosen One,” “Dumbledore’s man through and through.” If you think watching the movies is just as good as reading the books, sorry to burst your bubble, but excellent as the movies are, there’s only so much they can fit into them without making them so long that you’ll miss a few US Presidential elections while watching them.

The Potter books hold so much more information, and you don’t have to pay $9 for a ticket and another $9 for a large popcorn and soda every time you read them. Most fans of J.K. Rowling’s epic seven part book series, about a seemingly normal British boy who is sent to live with his Aunt and Uncle at Number Four Privet Drive, after his parent’s died in a car accident, finds out that he’s a wizard and is invited to attend Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, have known Harry Potter for nearly a decade.

They’ve watched him grow from a neglected eleven year old orphan to a teenage hero who will stop at nothing to destroy the evil Lord Voldemort, the most powerful evil wizard of our time and the “person” who is really responsible for the deaths of the Potter’s and the real reason Harry’s sent to live with his muggle (which is a wizard term for non-magic people) Aunt and Uncle, Petunia and Vernon Dursley, who hate magic.

For those of you who haven’t read the Potter books or want to get some details on people and places in the Harry Potter Universe, here’s an overview of some of these gathered from the first six books, and a wish that the release of the seventh and final novel isn’t too far off, as well as some of the popular THEORIES about what will happen in said long awaited Holy Grail of Potterdom, uh…… I mean Potter book. After reading this article, you should have enough info on the Harry Potter world to hold your own in any conversation with Potter fans. But if you don’t, I didn’t say it was a guarantee.

I want to get this out of the way first, the titles of the books are waaaaay too long to type repeatedly so I will use the popular abbreviations for the titles which are as follows:

Book 1: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/ Philosopher’s (depending on where you live) Stone: SS/PS

Book 2: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: COS

Book 3: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: POA

Book 4: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: GOF

Book 5: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: OoTP

Book 6: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince: HBP

Book 7: Harry Potter and the ????????????????: ??? (I never took Divination so, until J.K. Rowling reveals the real title, we’ll have to make do with calling it Book Seven.)

The Characters

There are many other characters besides Harry Potter, Petunia Dursley and Vernon Dursley, here’s a list of some of them, each with a brief description, and when we meet them.

Ron Weasley– One of Harry Potter’s two best friend at Hogwarts. Ron comes from a large family and is afraid he won’t be able to live up to his older brother’s accomplishments. His family is very poor which means most of Ron’s things are second hand, including his pet rat Scabbers, which makes Ron very uncomfortable around Harry, whose parents left him a large sum of Wizard money. He’s loyal to his friends and always willing to help Harry fight the Dark Wizards. Harry Potter meets Ron on his first train ride to school in SS/PS.

Hermione Granger: Hermione (pronounced Her-my-oh-nee) is Harry Potter’s other best friend and Hogwarts’ resident brainiac. When we first meet her she comes off as a very snotty know-it-all and at first Harry and Ron can’t stand her constant presence in their lives. It takes something HUGE, to bring the three together. I wont tell you what it is, you’ll have to read book one to find out. Hermione is a muggle-born, which is a witch or wizard who is born into a family with absolutely no magical background (which is also the case with Harry’s mother Lilly Potter). Certain wizards who believe that anyone who is not a “pure-blood” namely Voldemort and his followers (known as Death-Eaters) prefer to call them mud-bloods, . Hermione is usually the top student in the class, and, though she’d never admit it out loud, she doesn’t like it when someone else is better at schoolwork than her. Just like Ron, she is loyal to Harry, but, in the beginning, she is more reluctant to break the rules to help the fight against evil, though as the fight intensifies she becomes more willing to help, even if it means a risk. Harry also meets Hermione on the first train ride to school.

Dudley Dursley: Vernon and Petunia Dursley’s son, Harry’s cousin and all-around bully. His parents pamper him and give into his every demand while ignoring Harry’s needs. Dudley loves to push his cousin around, that is until Harry starts developing his powers. Then the Dursley’s in general prefer to pretend Harry doesn’t exist. They tell the neighbors that Harry’s unstable and so they all tell their children to avoid “the Potter boy.” We meet all the Dursley’s in the first chapter of SS/PS, which takes place the day after the Potters died, when Harry and Dudley are only one year old.

Lord Voldemort: The most feared wizard of modern times. So evil, most people prefer to refer to him by the terms “You-Know-Who”, “The Dark Lord”, and “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”
He killed James and Lilly Potter and then attempted to kill their one-year-old son, Harry. For reasons unknown at the time, the curse rebounded upon Voldemort, he was not killed, however, but stripped of his powers and body, reduced to a mere ghostly entity, not dead, but not alive either. He went into hiding in a far off land and wasn’t seen or heard from for ten years, until Harry Potter arrived at Hogwarts. The rebounded curse left a lightning shaped scar on Harry Potter’s forehead, and left other nonphysical marks. We first see Voldemort, in person, at the end of SS/PS.

Draco Malfoy: A student in Harry Potter’s year at Hogwarts and his enemy, rival and pretty much everything bad you remember from High School. Draco hangs around with his two lackies, Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle. We first meet Draco in Madame Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions in SS/PS.

Albus Dumbledore: Headmaster of Hogwarts and the only one Voldemot ever feared. Very wise and usually right about everything. His relationship with Harry Potter is definitely closer than that of Headmaster/Student. I wont say much more on him here because he’s one of those characters whose too complicated to give more info on without going into a lengthy description. He’s first introduced in chapter one of SS/PS, when he delivers baby Harry to the Dursleys in the middle of the night.

Some other characters include:

Lucius Malfoy: Draco’s Father, a Death Eater. COS.

Luna Lovegood: A student a year behind Harry Potter at Hogwarts. Most call her Looney Lovegood because of her eccentric behavior. Father runs a wizard tabloid called “The Quibbler.” OoTP.

Argus Filch: Mean, cranky, and downright annoying caretaker of Hogwarts. Owns a cat named Mrs. Norris who spies on the castle for him. SS/PS

The DADA teachers: The teachers of Defense against the Dark arts at Hogwarts. No one lasts more then one year at the job, all losing their jobs in different ways. From first to sixth in the series they are: Prof. Quirrell, Gilderoy Lockhart, Remus Lupin, Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody, Dolores Jane Umbridge and Severus Snape.

Severus Snape: Potions Master at Hogwarts and Harry Potter’s least favorite teacher. In book six, “:Snively”, a name given to him by former Hogwarts classmate and rival, James Potter, achieves his goal of becoming DADA teacher and his Potions Master position is filled by a former holder of the position, Horace Slughorn. SS/PS.

There are many other characters in the Potter books (students, teachers, baddies and other assorted creatures). If I were to list them all here, by the time I finished writing this I’d be as old as Dumbledore, over one hundred and thirty I believe. To find out more about them, 1. Read the books. 2. Visit some of the many Harry Potter fansites, like http://www.mugglenet.com one of my personal favorites, it’s an excellent site for info on the books already published and for news on anything HP.

Places in the Harry Potter Universe

Here’s a brief description of some of the places in the Wizarding World that we see in the books.

Diagon Alley: The main shopping district for Britains Magical Community. Aside from the robe shop where we first meet Malfoy, there are wand shops, book shops, pet shops, and many other places for your basic magical needs, none of which are anything like you’d see in the muggle world.

Hogwarts: The school, the place where most of the action in the books takes place. Located in a castle in Scotland, protected from muggles by it’s far off location and special enchantments and the Dark Side by more special enchantments. Founded over 1,000 years ago by four friends, Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin. The four founders still remain part of the school in that the students arriving at Hogwarts for their first year are sorted into the four houses, each named for a founder. The sorting is decided by the qualities each founder sought in the students they taught and is decided these days by a hat that the four founders gave brains to so that it could sort the students long after they were gone. Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger are in Gryffindor, Draco Malfoy, Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle are in Slytherin. The students reach the school by a train called the Hogwarts Express which departs from platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross station in London each September First.

Hogsmede: The only all Magic community in Great Britain. Unlike Diagon Alley, which is only shops, Hogsmede has its own magical residents as well as shops, pubs, and about anything you can find in a muggle community, except Fast-Food Restaurants. It is right by Hogwarts and students in year three and above who have permission from their parents/guardians, can visit the village on certain weekends.

The Ministry of Magic: The Center of Britains Wizarding world is their, not all that competent, government. Headed by Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge and later by his replacement, Rufus Scrimgeour. The Ministry is where all the British Wizarding governing is done, from the Dark Wizard catchers, known as Aurors, to the Department of Mysteries, where some of the weirdest and scariest depths of the Universe are studied by expert Wizards in the field.

St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries: The Wizarding hospital where people known as Healers treat magical illnesses like Spatergroit, Dragon Pox, and damage caused by bad and poorly used magic. There is also an infirmary at Hogwarts, but when a student or teacher is seriously sick or injured they are sent to St. Mungo’s.

These are some of the places in the Harry Potter books. There is much more to them, but if I told you all of it here, it wouldn’t be a “brief” description, would it.

Books to Movies, why the film makers dropped some elements, and why we shouldn’t complain

As I said before, there are some things about the books that were dropped for the movie versions because if they hadn’t the movies would be longer than the test that you never studied for and wished so hard that school would be canceled so you could buy more time. Sure it would have been great to have the whole story word for word in the movie and still have a reasonable playing time, but to do that would mean they’d have to play them at superhigh speeds and the picture would be blurred and the audio would sound like gerbils on helium. I’ve heard many complaints about the movies excluding elements of the books. If you’re one of these people just keep thinking “Gerbils on helium.” As I’ve said before, I think the movies are great, but if you want the whole Harry Potter story read the books

Book Seven Theories

Now for the final part of this article, some of the popular theories on the final novel. I warn you now, if you haven’t read all of the books and hate spoilers, read no further adventurer.

1. Dumbledore is not dead: A popular theory from people who can’t believe our beloved headmaster has given us his last bit of sage advice. It’s very well thought out and involves stealing bodies, transfiguration and coverups. Whether or not it turns out to be true. There is still a way Albus can help our hero. I think that if Dumbledore is dead, his portrait in the heads office at Hogwarts can still give Harry advice just as the other portraits helped Dumbledore. In COS, Dumbledore says “I will only truly have left this school when none here are loyal to me… Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it. I know he meant it in a different way, but I still think that it could mean that Dumbledore would always be at Hogwarts and would always help those who ask him for it, even if it’s his portrait giving the help.

Update: I’ve just read that J.K. Rowling has confirmed that Dumbledore is dead and will not be pulling a Gandalf. He’s gone and we (and Harry Potter) will have to deal with it. I still think the portrait theory can work though.

2. Snape is really good: Some believe that Snape and Dumbledore had planned Dumbledore’s death so that Snape wouldn’t break the unbreakable vow and Voldemort wouldn’t kill Malfoy. This ties in with theory #1 in ways, except that Dumbledore would actually die in this one, where the first one involves Dumbledore surviving and transfiguring the already dead body of a Death Eater to look like himself. If either is true, I’d go with the first one (though not now that it’s been debunked). If Snape killed Dumbledore to protect him and Malfoy, Snape would still be a murderer on the run and the OoTP would still lose its leader.

3.R.A.B. is Regulus Black: I think it’s obvious that this is the best theory for who R.A.B. is. The locket in the old Black house, Jo’s replica of the Black family tree showing that Regulus’ middle name is Arcturus. Unless Jo’s really messing with our minds with all these hints, I think this one is pretty much true.

4. Harry Potter is a horcrux: Another one that’s pretty good, but which I don’t buy. When would Voldemort have had a chance to make him one? The night he killed Lilly and James, Voldemort was intent on killing Harry as well, in fact Dumbledore says that he believes Voldemort was intent on making the final horcrux with Harry Potter’s death. He probably went there with the object he intended on making a horcrux, but didn’t have a chance to do it because of the rebounding curse. He could have used James or Lilly’s deaths to turn Harry Potter into a horcrux, but then why try to kill his new horcrux? This could still be true but, for me, it’s not the strongest of the theories.

5. Book Seven will be released on July 7th, 2007: It sounds like a great theory. The seventh and final Harry Potter book being released on 7/7/07. Some say that since the fifth movie, Harry Potter and the OoTP, will be released in the US, UK and Canada on July 13th, 2007 that releasing the book so close would be a mistake because 1. People would be reading the book and not wanting to go to the movie and 2. They should stretch out the Potter series as long as possible.

I think that releasing them close wouldn’t be detrimental to the series, a lot of people are able to finish the books within a couple of days of release (it’s never taken me more than four days to complete a Potter book, of course that’s with sleep deprivation). No matter what, fans of the movies who are able to will go see the movie when it comes out even if they’re not finished with book seven, all you have to do is get a book mark or piece of paper, use it to mark your place, go see the movie, then come home and read again, every so often, take a break to eat, sleep, go to the bathroom. As for stretching out the Potter series, why would we want to wait? The series is going to end eventually and stretching it out is only delaying the inevitable.

So that’s pretty much all I have to say for now, so I might as well close this out. Besides, the baby dragon wants his teddy bear, the thestrals need their half a dead cow and my Polyjuice Potion is about ready. I’ll leave you with these words from Albus Dumbledore “Nitwit Blubber Oddment Tweak “

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