Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a 2003 book, the fifth book in the Harry Potter series of children's books by J. K. Rowling. The book was published on 21 June 2003 in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, and several other countries. It sold almost seven million copies in the United States and the United Kingdom combined on that day. It has 38 chapters, and is about 255,000 words long [1].

The Canadian version of the book is made from recycled paper and saved 29,640 trees in the initial print run of 1 million books.

The first official foreign translation of the book appeared in Vietnamese on 28 July, 2003 in 15 parts [1]. Other translations will appear later, e.g. in November 2003 in Dutch and German, though many are impatient for the official release. The English language version has topped the best seller list in France; while in Germany an unofficial distributed translation process has been started on the net [1], and in the Czech Republic schoolboys who posted their own Czech translation are being sued by Albatross, the publisher of the official translation [1]. Meanwhile, in Britain, the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, has complained about the delay of the cassette version of the book, as well as its projected price [1].

Table of contents
1 Early Releases
2 Plot Synopsis
3 Film
4 Points to Consider
5 Reference

Early Releases

Due to both J. K. Rowling's desire for utmost secrecy with regards to the contents of the book prior to release and the immense popularity of the series, the sporadic early releases of the book have received attention from the press.

In May 2003, approximately six weeks before the book's publication date, two advance copies were discovered in a field in England. Three men were questioned by police concerning the incident.

Subsequently, just several days before official release, a lorryload of the books (more than 7,000) was stolen from outside a warehouse in northern England.

However, the only books to actually escape into the wild before the official release were a few copies put on sale 'accidentally' by small individual stores in the United States, the Athlone, Ireland branch of Tesco plc, and a Canadian branch of Wal-Mart. also shipped some of their copies of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix quite early, in boxes with green stripes labelled "Do not deliver before June 21st!" Some individuals received their copies before the official release date, possibly due to the United States Postal Service's underwhelming desire to keep packages in stations for longer than absolutely necessary.

Numerous publications spread rumors of pirated copies circulating online prior to the release date, but none of the real text was found online by any reliable source until after the official release, though at least one complete fan fiction book was released online under the same title in the Adobe PDF format. However, unauthorised versions were available within hours of the release [1].

Plot Synopsis

Harry has once again been forced to spend the summer at the Dursleys. He has attempted to keep up with the news, sure that mysterious deaths and strange happenings would signify Lord Voldemort's return. The Dursleys suspect that he is up to something, however, and keep him from watching television to keep up with current events; he is forced to patrol the neighbourhood, collecting newspapers.

Harry has also been communicating with his best friends, Ron and Hermione, via Hedwig the owl; they, along with his godfather Sirius, seem to be up to something, but their letters are vague at best. Harry's frustration builds; he finds it unfair that he must stay with a Muggle family like the Dursleys while his friends and family get to "do something big."

One night, after being blamed for making a loud noise outside of the Dursley's window--Harry suspects someone Disapparating--the young wizard storms off. His much-loathed cousin, Dudley Dursley, is now the head of a local street gang, and Harry keeps himself from provoking a fight with them. As Dudley heads home, Harry trails and finally catches up with the boy. As they duck through a shortcut alley, Harry and Dudley get into a fight. Harry brandishes his wand, half-intent on using it, when the world around him shifts.

Two dementors attempt to suck the souls from Harry and Dudley. Harry manages, after two unsuccessful attempts, to perform a Patronus charm, which produces a silver stag that forces the dementors to retreat. This is very advanced magic and therefore uncommon for a young wizard, although Harry has done several times before, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Dudley, of course, is in shock, but another surprise comes to Harry when his batty neighbour, Mrs Figg, appears, grumbling about a wizard who was supposed to be keeping watch on Harry.

It turns out that Arabella Figg is in fact a Squib, and therefore connected to the Wizarding world that Harry loves so much. She, along with others, have been keeping a close watch on Harry under the orders of Albus Dumbledore. Harry's use of a Patronus, however, has violated the Ministry of Magic's Decree Against Underage Magic, and when he returns home (with Dudley, who of course blames it all on Harry) an owl arrives informing Harry that he is expelled from Hogwarts and his wand is to be broken. Another letter quickly arrives, saying that Dumbledore was attempting to work things out, and to not under any circumstances leave the house. Nonetheless, Uncle Vernon tries to kick Harry out, but surprisingly his Aunt Petunia receives a Howler stating:


Aunt Petunia won't tell Harry who sent it, but says that he must stay.

Soon after this, a large menagerie of wizards and witches appear to rescue Harry. They take him to a hidden location in London, where the Order of the Phoenix is stationed. This is the home of Sirius Black's parents, who used various techniques to hide the building, making it ideal for the Order. The Weasleys, Hermione, and Sirius are all living there. Sirius has been ordered not to leave the house because of the Ministry's continued search for him (see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for details). Harry is angry about being kept in the dark, and also perturbed by the fact that Ron and Hermione were made prefects while he was not. Everyone explains that the secrecy was under Dumbledore's orders; Harry also manages to learn quite a bit about what has transpired since the summer began.

Although both Harry and Dumbledore have told the world that Lord Voldemort is back, no one believes them. Indeed, the Ministry of Magic has made it their job to discredit them both, using the wizarding newspaper The Daily Prophet to slander the duo. Those in the know, however, have resurrected the Order of the Phoenix, which existed the last time that Lord Voldemort threatened the world. A number of new members are in the Order as well, and it is dedicated to saving everyone from the resurgence of Death Eaters and Voldemort.

Harry's hearing for his possible expulsion from Hogwarts and loss of his wizarding status finally arrives. It fills much of the household with trepidation, but they are fairly confident that he will come out okay--he used the magic strictly in self-defense. However, upon arrival at the Ministry of Magic, Harry and Mr. Weasley find out that the time of the "hearing" has been changed to take place earlier, and its location moved to deep down in the basement, near the Department of Mysteries--and when Harry arrives, he realises that it is, in fact, where he had witnessed at least one other trial through Dumbledore's Pensieve. And, in fact, a full trial has been called, with the entire Wizengamot assembled. Although this appears to be an attempt to both intimidate Harry and keep Dumbledore from showing up as Harry's defense, the ancient wizard and headmaster of Hogwarts appears nonetheless; with Mrs. Figg as a witness, testifying that the Dementors were real, not mere figments of Harry's imagination or lies, Harry manages to be exonerated. However, something seems strange--Dumbledore scarcely pays any attention to Harry, and as the young boy leaves, he sees Lucius Malfoy conferring with Cornelius Fudge. This shocks Harry, as Malfoy is a known Death Eater, though Arthur Weasley alludes to bribery.

Eventually, of course, Harry and the other kids must go back to school. On the Hogwarts Express they met a girl named Luna Lovegood, who has prominate role later in the book. At Hogwarts they discover two shocking bits of news--Hagrid has still not returned from whatever task Dumbledore sent him on at the end of last term, and their new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher (Dolores Umbridge) not only does not want to use actual spells, but in fact works for the Ministry of Magic and seems to be pushing their agenda on the school. Harry recognizes her as the woman sitting next to Fudge at his "hearing."

Once school starts, things happen at a rapid pace. The fifth year is the year in which the O.W.L.s are given, and the teachers push hard for the students to do well on those. Professor Umbridge gains more and more influence on the school, through a succession of new laws passed by the Ministry of Magic, until she actually becomes the Hogwarts High-Inquisitor, and begins to poll both students and teachers about their abilities. Ron is made the new Keeper for the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Harry's continuing attraction to the Ravenclaw Quidditch player Cho Chang further complicates the situation; he is awkward and confused in close situations with her, an accurate enough representation of most fifteen-year-old boys. A particularly clumsy experience in the wizarding town of Hogsmeade appears to destroy what little foundation the two had built for their relationship; Cho's jealousy of Harry's relationship with Hermione appears to be the key factor.

Meanwhile, Hermione convinces Harry to give lessons to a number of students who want to learn how Defense Against the Dark Arts really works; reluctantly, he agrees, and they all sign a paper stating their intent to not squeal on the group to Umbridge.

Hagrid has returned as well, looking much the worse for wear. Although he eventually divulges his recent whereabouts, he is much more reluctant to come clean about the cause of his injuries. Both he and Professor Trelawney are under heavy observation by Umbridge, as she seems to suspect both of being incompetent; Umbridge also dislikes "half-breeds," and Hagrid is half-human, half-giant.

As Umbridge convinces Fudge to pass more and more edicts, however, activities in the school become more and more curtailed. All student groups are banned; the Slytherin Quidditch team is almost immediately reactivated--to no one's great surprise--but the Gryffindor team is held up until Minerva McGonagall goes over Umbridge's head and has Dumbledore reinstate it. The Slytherins compose a ditty entitled "Weasley is Our King" in an attempt to make him extremely uncomfortable and therefore a poor player. It works, but Harry captures the Golden Snitch in the first game to clench victory. However, a fight afterwards prompted by Draco causes Harry and the Weasley twins, Fred and George, to be permanently banned from playing the game by Umbridge.

Secretly, however, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classes led by Harry go on. They now call themselves "D.A.", initially for Defense Association but settling on Dumbledore's Army, as many believe Fudge's recent actions against Hogwarts are to keep Dumbledore from creating an army of his own to use against the Ministry of Magic.

All along, Harry has had a number of strange dreams, mostly about running down a hallway and attempting to open a door. Eventually, however, he has a dream from the point of a snake, where he poisons Ron's father, Arthur Weasley. Waking up, he immediately tells everyone, and Arthur is indeed discovered with poisonous snake bites. Harry begins to wonder if he is being possessed and transported by Voldemort to do his bidding; others reassure him that this is not so. Soon, however, Harry is placed under Severus Snape's tutelage in the art of Occlumency, the ability to block one's mind from being manipulated.

Hermione arranged for Harry to interviewed by Rita Skeeter (though Rita only agrees because otherwise Hermione would reveal she's an unregistered animajus to the authorities. Luna Lovegood's father happens to be the editor of The Quibbler, and her father agrees to take Rita's article. Umbridge was furious and forbade Harry from Hogsmeade weekends and bans The Quibbler. Fortunately for Harry, this merely gives the newspaper the lure of the forbidden and soon the publication spreads like wildfire throughout the school despite Umbridge's frantic efforts to stop it.

Umbridge attempts to throw Trelawney out, but Dumbledore allows her to stay at the castle; in her place, a centaur named Firenze, who Harry met in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, becomes the new teacher. This irritates Umbridge greatly; Dumbledore did not consult her, and she dislikes "half-breeds" like centaurs and Hagrid.

Things begin to come to a head when someone eventually does tell Umbridge about Dumbledore's Army; Dumbledore actually tells Fudge that it was all his idea, and that it is indeed a plan to depose Fudge as the head of Ministry of Magic. He goes on the run, and Umbridge installs herself as the new Headmaster. All of the teachers dislike her intensely, and when the Weasley twins start causing her trouble, they give her as much trouble as they possibly can.

The Weasley twins set off one last conflagration so that Harry can talk to Sirius via the fireplace in Umbridge's office--the rest are under watch after Sirius used them once too many times to talk to Harry--and are caught; they decide to leave school, using the winnings from the Triwizard Tournament that Harry had given them to finally start their Joke Shop.

During the O.W.L.s, Harry and others witness a group of people attempting to capture Hagrid to expel him. Professor McGonagall tries to stop them, and is hit with a large number of Stun Charms, which requires her to be hospitalized. Soon after, Harry has a dream which seems to complete the journey down the hallway--as Voldemort, he has Sirius captured in the Department of Mysteries, and is torturing him slowly.

Harry and his crew make a desperate attempt to contact Sirius via the fireplace in Umbridge's office, but the Black family's house-elf tells Harry that Voldemort has indeed taken his godfather, and Umbridge and her minions--students, all Slytherin--capture Harry's gang. She attempts to get Snape to give her some Veritaserum, but he says he has none left; little does she know that he is also a member of the Order of the Phoenix. She also tells Harry that it was her who ordered the dementors on him during the summer. Thinking fast, Hermione makes up a story about who they were trying to contact, and says that they were protecting a weapon, and the she and Harry would take her to the weapon.

There is, in fact, no weapon in the woods, but they entice Umbrage into the woods knowing that the centaurs, very angry that one of their brethren now works for humans, are disposed in hatred against adult wizards. The centaurs take Umbridge away, and are about to do the same to Harry and Hermione, when Hagrid's half-brother--a "small" giant named Grawp, whom Hagrid had brought back with him from his quest over the summer--appears and distracts the centaurs. The rest of the gang appear, and they all decide to go to the Ministry of Magic to rescue Sirius, riding on thestrals, horse-like creatures which only people who have seen death can see.

Upon arriving at the Department of Mysteries, and after a number of false turns, they arrive at the location in Harry's dream, to find not Voldemort and Sirius but a bunch of Death Eaters [including- among others- Draco's father Lucius Malfoy, McNair the executioner in the employ of the Ministry, Azkaban escapee and former Department of Mysteries/Ministry employee Rockwood and Azkaban escapee couple the Lestranges- including Bellatrix Lestrange- cousin of Sirius Black and torturer of the Longbottoms]. The vision of Sirius's torture at the Department of Mysteries was a trap--Voldemort realised that Harry could see his actions, and therefore planted fake ones--and the Death Eaters are there to force Harry to retrieve a prophecy. Only the people involved in the prophecy itself about are able to retrieve it (the prophecy is "kept" in a glass jar- the dusty glass jars Harry sees in his dreams). As Voldemort does not want to risk being found out, he lures Harry into retrieving it for him. The prophecy, made before Harry's birth, is about Voldemort and Harry Potter. As an initial partial understanding of that prophecy was directly linked to Voldemort's initial downfall (when he tried to kill Harry as a baby), Voldemort is determined to hear the full prophecy.

A great skirmish begins, with the students versus the Death Eaters. Most are injured, and as they near defeat, many of the adult wizards from the Order of the Phoenix appear to help them--including Sirius. During the ensuing battle, the glass sphere which holds the prophecy is shattered, a ghostly image pronounces the prophecy but no one can hear it. Also, tragically, Sirius is fatally struck by a curse from the wand of his cousin and Deatheater Bellatrix Lestrange. He falls through a veil held inside of an arch in the Department of Mysteries, which literally and figuratively marks his end. Dumbledore shows up and ropes off most of the Death Eaters, but one escapes.

Harry, blindly, chases after Bellatrix, intent to avenge Sirius' death, and as he is catching up with her in the main atrium of the Ministry of Magic, Lord Voldemort himself appears inside the atrium. He and Dumbledore duel, and after a dramatic fight and a brief episode where Voldemort actually manages to possess Harry, tempting Dumbledore to kill him in the body of Harry, Voldemort eventually retreats via disapparating and takes Bellatrix with him. Summoned via fireplace/ floo system (summoned by whom is unclear but we must assume Dumbledore) many people witness this fight- most importantly Cornelius Fudge, who finally accepts Voldemort's return and believes what Dumbledore and Harry have been saying. In turn, the Daily Prophet reversed its hostile stand on the pair and restored and guilded their reputations.

As the story draws to a close, Dumbledore explains much to Harry. He did not wish to be close to him during the year, as he could sense Voldemort's growing power over the boy--indeed, on more than one occasion, Harry was filled with a desire to strike down Dumbledore. He regretted not helping Harry with learning Occlumency, and also tells him the prophecy; the copy in the Department of Mysteries was just that, a copy. It turns out that at her initial Hogwarts interview sixteen years ago (held in a room at the Hog's Head in in Hogsmeade) Trelawney predicted that either Voldemort would kill Harry or Neville Longbottom, or Harry or Neville would kill Voldemort. Which of Harry or Neville was concerned by the prophecy was not clear at the time of utterance, but Harry's close links to Voldemort imply he should be the one. (As a sidebar, the existence of this prophecy brings clarity to Dumbledore's response to Harry when Harry recounts Trelawney's eerie prediction in The Prisoner of Azkaban about Voldemorts impending return- to this news from Harry, Dumbledore says something like, "This may bring her [Trelawney's] number of actual predictions to two... I should give her a raise." The first "real" prediction was about the Harry/Voldemort prophecy). Dumbledore also elaborates on the reason why Harry has to stay at the Dursley's; as Harry's mother died for him, imparting him with magical protection through her sacrifice, he is safe in the Dursley's home as Aunt Petunia shares Lily Potter's blood, therefore the protection extends to the Dursley home and Voldemort cannot hurt him there.

In the end, Harry goes back to the Dursley's, but not without Vernon and Petunia getting a stern talking-to by a number of wizards in the Order (including a menacing Mad Eye). Changes are brewing in the wizarding world; indeed, the last chapter of the book is entitled "The Second War Begins."

The synopsis is now mostly complete. It needs editing--I wrote it basically stream of consciousness, and things should be moved around, and things below this comment need to be incorporated, but it's a decent first cut.


If produced, the film for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will most likely be released in 2007, but 2006 is also a possibility. Warner Bros has not stated that they will make the film yet. Some fans have suggested actress Patricia Routledge for the role of Dolores Umbridge, due to her portrayal of a similar character in the British sitcom, Keeping Up Appearances.

Points to Consider


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Rowling, J. K.
Hardback (British edition, 'child' dust-jacket/printed board): ISBN 0747551006
Hardback (British edition, 'adult' dust-jacket/cloth-covered board): ISBN 0747569401
Hardback (US edition, 'child' dust-jacket/printed board): ISBN 043935806X
Hardback (US edition, 'adult' dust-jacket/cloth-covered board): ISBN 0747569401

Preceded by:
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter The sixth book is in the works