Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
by J.K Rowling

An 11-year-old orphan lives with his horrible aunt and uncle in England. He finds out that not only does a whole secret wizarding world exist around him, but he is a wizard too! From there we follow Harry off to school at Hogwarts as he takes classes, makes friends and eventually must face off with a villain.

The first book in the Harry Potter series starts off a bit slow, but once Hagrid bursts through the door on Harry's birthday the plot is full steam ahead. Every time I read this book (along with the rest of the series) I am completely swept away by Harry's world. Of course the book isn't perfect and many have criticized the writing style and plot points, but when a story is so engrossing that it makes me forget about everything else, I tend to be very forgiving about the small things.

One of the best things about the book is how real the characters feel. Harry's wonderful friends, Hermione, Ron and Hagrid are all flawed. Ron has no self-confidence and wants to surpass his brother's successes, but doubts he can. Hagrid has a blind spot when it comes to creatures of all kind, even though they might be dangerous. Hermione is a know-it-all and a goody-two-shoes. Yet we love all of them and they work together to bring out the best in each other. As Hermione pushes Ron and Harry to work harder, they help her to loosen up a bit.

The first book is not the best, but it is something special. It's the gateway to a world that has captivated millions in the last decade and will continue to do so in the future.

A few things I'd forgotten about the first book:

1) Dumbledore is in very few sections of the book. His only real interaction with Harry is during the final Mirror of Erised scene and in the hospital at the end. Yet even in this book he is a remarkable character with a perfect blend of odd humor and wisdom.

2) The awe you feel as you see the wizarding world (Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, etc.) through Harry's eyes for the first time. It's easy to forget how foreign it all was to him in the beginning.

3) How big a part of the book Neville Longbottom is. He's a blundering boy, always forgetting things and making mistakes, but he is so brave and loyal. I'd forgotten he played such a big part in this first book.

Read for the Harry Potter Challenge hosted here.


Anonymous said...

The things I had forgotten and was reminded of when I reread this last year were very similar to yours :) It is nice to be reminded of the awe when it comes to the magic world, as well as how funny Dumbledore can be, before the sad storyline.

Teacher/Learner said...

I was swept away by this book, but I agree that it's not the best of the series. I've only read the first 3 and I liked Chamber of Secrets the best. I should pull this off the shelf for the 1st in a Series challenge.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I think I love this book because it is the most magical (as seen through Harry's eye and through ours, as it is our introduction to this world) and the most innocent. Yeah sure we run face-to-face with evil, but it never feels oppressive. When you have a hankering for another re-read at some point, you must try the audios. They are simply the best the audio world has to offer.

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

I need to read them all over again. I read the books once then listen to the wonderful Stephen Fry read them, but I need another fix :)

Neville Longbottom forever! he's a true hero, isn't he? It's easy to be brave when you have no fear, but he did it anyway even scared and when no one believed him!

Enbrethiliel said...


Good point about Dumbledore! I hadn't realised that about him. We do get the sense that he is a very important character, despite his lack of "screen time." I'd say it has something to do with his being present at the very beginning--but so are Hagrid and Professor McGonagall. Is it the archetype of the Wise Old Man that appeals to us? He's definitely another sort of Merlin--and Harry later fits the bill as an Arthur. (Ooooh! There's an idea for a possible future post!)

I reread this book recently as well and really loved Neville in it. If I had been reading it for the first time, I would have been incredibly disappointed to find out in the second book that Neville doesn't become part of Harry's close circle. They would have, I think, been better off as a foursome--and get to be their own generation's answer to Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs--but Neville comes into his own in later books, anyway, so I guess it's all for the best. =)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Iris - I did miss the sweet, funny Dumbledore of the early books at the end of the series. His serious nature is essential to the story, but I missed his sense of humor.

Teacher - I saw that you decided to re-read them, I'm so glad!

Sandy - I completely agree with you. I read the actual book this time, but I've listened all 7 books on audio. Jim Dale is a genius.

Alexandra - I've heard Fry's version of the audio is brilliant and I love him, but I haven't listened to it yet. I'm worried I'll just compare it to Dale the whole time.

Enbrethiliel - I never thought about Neville being the honorary 4th in their group, but he really is. I feel like there's the core 3 and then a second tier of the group, which includes Neville, Luna and Ginny.

I love the Merlin/Arthur comparison!

Darlyn (Your Move, Dickens) said...

I first read this book when I was nine--I'm nineteen now--and, when I reread it last December, it was like looking back into my childhood. Unlike before, I saw some of the flaws for the first time, but I loved it nonetheless. Great review. :)

Captain Nick Sparrow said...

I <3 Harry Potter!

Carrie K. said...

I love the way you show different covers at the top of your reviews!

Enbrethiliel said...


The second tier of Neville, Luna and Ginny (Hmmmm. Do they get an honourary fourth?) is actually more interesting to me than the main group. Or am I just saying that because we get so much of Harry, Ron and Hermione? LOL!

But really, I love Neville and think Luna just sparkles. I'm not too crazy about Ginny, though.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Darlyn - 9 to 19, that really is growing up with Harry. Part of me wishes I'd been able to read the books when I was little. I'm sure it would have seemed even more magical.

Carrie K. - Thanks! I love seeing all the different covers and usually I just can't decide which one to use.

Enbrethiliel - I think that speaks to how great the books are that even the supporting characters are so wonderful. I always loved how secure Luna was in her uniqueness.