Title: Harry Potter and the Order of the
Author: J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Listening Library (Audio)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the fifth book in the Harry Potter series, and for my money, the best. The characters start to get the most development, the world that Rowling has created finally starts to come into full view, and interesting things actually happen. The status quo gets disrupted. This, I like.
I also like the martial arts treatise contained in this book.
For all of you who think I’m on crack, follow me for a moment.
One of the big conflicts that occurs in this book occurs between Dolores Umbrage (the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher), and the rest of the class, lead principally by Harry and Hermione. The conflict centers around, among other things, Umbrage’s belief that Defense Against the Dark Arts can be learned simply by studying theory, without actually practicing the spells involved. In other words, that theoretical knowledge about combat is sufficient to prepare an individual for real combat.
Similarly, the martial arts today are filled with people who believe that by meditating and theorizing about what they “would” or “could” doing a fight is sufficient to prepare themselves for a real confrontation. They avoid any sort of drill or activity that would require them to demonstrate their abilities against a resistant opponent, choosing instead to spout off random theories and made up statistics that support their beliefs.
Harry (who has actually seen combat), and several other students, reject this notion on the grounds that theorizing about violence has never helped them survive anything.Which makes sense, in the real world, and in their own. Preparing for combat requires training where you actually get hit, actually hit something, and generally, well, experience conflict. If you've never,ever, tried to do something to a person who didn't want you to do it to them, you're in for a rude shock the first time it happens. In the end,Harry's method of actually training to fight seems to be born out as the better one, at least to me. Of course, I happen to agree with Harry's point of view, but I think it's significant that Umbrage seems largely incapable of defending herself when not backed up by a horde of flunkies and paperwork.
Other random thoughts:
The ending disappointed me a little bit. I liked things better with Dumbledore on the lam, and Harry stuck in a school turned against him. That, and the constant removal/offing of Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers is getting old. Personally, I’m starting to suspect that the series will end with Harry taking on that position, if he doesn’t actually kick it first. Either seems possible.
I get why people think some of the characters don’t have a lot of personality, though I think their being fleshed out better as the series goes on. What I don’t get is why people argue that Malfoy DOES have a fleshed out personality. He’s an evil jerk. He’s an evil jerk in book one, and he’s STILL an evil jerk in book five. Sure, he doesn’t like Harry & Co., but I don’t really see how that’s a more nuanced personality than Harry’s or Hermione’s.A cardboard villain isn’t somehow more “real” than a cardboard hero.