Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Yeeeah, so it only occurred to me yesterday that I hadn't actually gotten around to blogging about this instalment, which I finished several days ago, so you'll be getting two posts tonight instead of one. Unless I get a better offer before I finish the second one.
Again, I have surprisingly few comments to make about this book, which I think is a sign of how much I've been enjoying re-reading them.
1 - Tonks does magic in Privet Drive. A small thing, I know, but it's a covert operation and as we discover (later in this book, I think it is) the Ministry can't tell who performed spells, just where they were performed. They would have known about the magic and done something, just as they did when Dobby performed the Hover Charm, when Harry blew up Aunt Marge, and when he produced a Patronus in front of Dudley. In this book, Harry goes to a full trial for that last one, and so why is the fact that Tonks does magic in Privet Drive between these two events never mentioned?
2 - This book is really important because [SPOILER ALERT] Sirius dies. This is the first time a major character has died. Despite a lot of jeopardy in the books, up until this point, we've only seen Quirrel, Frank Bryce and Cedric Diggory die. And actually, I think Quirrel's death is made really quite ambiguous, it's not until much later that anyone actually says Quirrel was killed (I think, I could be wrong about this, and don't hesitate to shout out with page numbers if I am). So to kill a major character really ups the stakes, for the first time, you realise that actually, your favourite characters might not make it to the end of the series, let alone beyond it. And that's not only quite a brave thing for J.K. Rowling to have done with what is, essentially, a children's book, but it's so important for the readers.
3 - How Harry feels about Dumbledore after Sirius dies - hating his calm knowledge and understanding - is how I feel about him most of the time. I would say all, but there are a couple of specific moments when I feel differently. He just makes me want to throw things. He thinks he knows everything, and maybe he does, but there's a quiet smugness to him. Why should he get to decide when people are ready to know things? This bit of his speech says it all really: "...you are not nearly as angry with me as you ought to be. If you are to attack me, as I know you are close to doing, I would like to have thoroughly earned it." I want to attack him and he didn't even get my godfather killed. I'm amazed Harry didn't leap across the desk and flatten him. I just think that Dumbledore fulfils the role of the Wise Old Wizard - literally, in fact - and that's a character I've always found irritating. I had the same problem with Macon Ravenwood in the Beautiful Creatures series, though I didn't care anywhere as deeply for those books as I do for these, and so it didn't matter so much that one of the characters was such a constant cause of irritation.
Ending on a brighter note - Dumbledore dies at the end of the next book, so he didn't get to irritate me for too much longer.