Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban [Re-Read]

The third book in this series turns out to be more mature and much darker than the two previous books. This is where we are introduced to the dementors, the dark signs (Trelawney’s prophecy and the Grimm superstitious), as well as the fear which was pervading in the wizarding and in muggle world from Sirius Black’s escape from Azkaban.

This book was opened, as usual, with Harry’s troubled relationship with the Dursleys, although this year was also his happiest birthday in his entire life; he got gifts from Ron, Hermione and Hagrid. His days in Diagon Alley—where Cornelius Fudge placed him after he had run away from the Dursleys—were perfect too. I am a fan of entertaining myself alone; the freedom of watching or shopping anywhere I like is very enjoyable; and that’s why I could appreciate Harry’s feeling at his last weeks of holidays there. Writing essays while enjoying the flowing ice-cream at Florian Fortesque, isn’t it the most awesome holiday in the world? :) And it was topped by the arrivals of the Weasleys and Hermione to join him before starting their third term in Hogwarts.

However, it is in this third series that my liking of Harry was slightly reduced. Here is the hint of his snobbery, because he was ‘the boy who lived’, because he has escaped Voldemort’s attack thrice before. “Did they think he (Harry) couldn’t look after himself? He’d escaped Lord Voldemort three times; he wasn’t completely useless…” Harry must have forgotten that in those three events, he was helped by others? Other might said he was a lucky boy, but I think it’s not merely lucky, but because he was destined to do big things for his world and humanity.

Obedience—or in this case, disobedience—was also Harry’s weakness. I know that as teenager, we don’t like to be told to do or not to do things, teenagers like to do things in their impulsive and foolish way. But I find that aspect is quite overdose in Harry. It’s not just bravery, but more than that. Harry felt that “I don’t go looking for trouble, trouble usually finds me”,  that might be true at first, Harry didn’t ask to be Voldemort’s sparing partner in the first place, but he was often carried away to meddle in other things that’s not his concerns. Maybe Harry inherited it from his father James—whom, I admit, was one I dislike most of all protagonists in the series. Harry has many great qualities, but those two—snobbery and disobedience—were not in it.

Among his great qualities, his loyalty in friendship is what I admire. But in that case, Ron and Hermione have their equal shares too. When the Hogsmeade’s weekends came, Ron and Hermione put off their quarrel because Harry was sad of not being able to enjoy Hogsmeade’s festivities. I was amazed when the three of them chased Scabbers—who was chased by Crookshanks—then the black dog attacked them, Ron put himself in Harry’s place by pushing Harry aside and let himself being exposed to the dog. It was an impulsive move, where you don’t have even a second to think, and by that, we know that Ron—despite of being always Harry’s shadow, and I know there’s a bit envy in him—cared so much for Harry, that he sacrificed himself to save his best friend. Isn’t amazing? And at the age of thirteen! Well that, I think, that made me liking Ron more than Harry from this series on…

But I think, the friendship of the ‘Moony-Wormtail-Padfoot-Prongs’ group is more distinguished in this series than of Harry-Ron-Hermione’s. It amazed me more how Sirius, James and Peter—when they knew that Lupin was a werewolf—instead of abandoning Lupin, they share Lupin’s unbearable moments by being Animagi. And they have put great efforts to secretly exercise to perform Animagus. Like Lupin said:

They couldn’t keep me company as humans, so they keep me company as animals.

What a huge sacrifice they had done for one friend! This was probably the most touching part for me in this book.

If there is one single thing that I can criticize from Prisoner of Azkaban, it is how quickly Harry put trust in Sirius Black. One moment he was so sure that Sirius has killed his parents, and just after Sirius told them the truth, Harry was suddenly trust him? While he was so difficult to trust Snape—it took years for him, till the end actually—despite the fact that Dumbledore trust him so much? Well…I think it’s rather too quick to believe. But apart from that, I love this book! Four stars for The Prisoner of Azkaban, which I must label as to be read for teenagers of 14 years above, and….can’t wait to get to number 4!

Favorite quotes or passages:

"You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don't recall them more clearly than ever in time of great trouble? Your father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him." ~Albus Dumbledore

"You know, Harry, in a way, you did see your father last night... You found him inside yourself." ~Albus Dumbledore


*I read ebook version for:*

3rd book for Hotter Potter

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

If Only I Could Meet A Phoenix: Hotter Potter March Meme

Harry Potter series have been introducing a lot of exotic magical creatures, either from myths or merely J.K. Rowling’s fantasy. This month Melisa, our host for Hotter Potter reading event asked us an intriguing question:

From all magical creatures/beasts in Harry Potter series, which one you want the most to meet in the real world? What’s the reason?

[Original version: Dari semua makhluk/hewan ajaib yang ada di buku Harry Potter, apa yang paling ingin kamu jumpai di dunia nyata? Jangan lupa alasannya!]

From all the series, I think Fawkes the phoenix has intrigued me the most. I was amazed by its ‘majestic’ manner when Fawkes appeared for the first time in The Chamber of the Secrets. Later on, I admire it more for what it represents. In Greek mythology, Phoenix is a long-lived bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn. Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor [from Wikipedia]. Fawkes was first introduced to us when Harry saw it suddenly burst into flames and burned down into a pile of ash in Dumbledore’s office, before being reborn from the ashes. What a lovely scene that would have been. It immediately reminds me of Christian’s resurrection!

Phoenix is representing loyalty and sacrifices. When Harry was facing danger from Tom Riddle and his basilisk, Fawkes came in from nowhere. Fawkes came to rescue because Harry—without realizing it—had summoned it by his brave declaration of loyalty to Dumbledore. When Tom Riddle boasted that he is the greatest sorcerer in the world, Harry snapped him, stated bravely that he’s not the greatest sorcerer in the world, but Dumbledore IS. Harry’s loyalty to Dumbledore summoned Fawkes to the Chamber of Secrets. And by immediately flying to Harry, it proved also the phoenix’s loyalty to Dumbledore, for it would unquestioningly help those who were loyal to its master.

And when Harry was injured from the basilisk attack, Fawkes shed its tears to cure it. As Dumbledore had said to Harry, phoenixes can carry immensely heavy loads and that their tears have healing powers. I am quite touched by this; and as tears representing grief, it’s as if Fawkes wants to show us that its grief and sorrows healed us. Does that sound like a sacrifice, like giving itself for other's sake?

This description, when Fawkes came to rescue Harry, seemed to be something unearthly, pure and even sacred…..

Music was coming from somewhere. It was eerie, spine-tingling, unearthly… Then, as the music reached such a pitch that harry felt it vibrating inside his own ribs, flames erupted at the top of the nearest pillar. A crimson bird the size of a swan had appeared, piping its weird music to the vaulted ceiling. It had a glittering golden talons...”

How wonderful it would be if I could meet a phoenix, listening to its eerie music, watching its red and golden colors, and touching its feather, oh….I believe there would be a wave of joy flowing from it into my soul. If only I could meet a phoenix in this real world, what a joy it would be....

Monday, March 4, 2013

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets [Re-Read]

Of the seven series of Harry Potter, this second series is probably the one I have forgotten the most. I did not remember anything about what is The Chamber of Secrets or what was inside it, so I entered this story quite like a total stranger. Flowing with the story, I began to remember why I loved this story when I first read it years ago, and why—unlike most of serial stories—I didn’t find this second series boring. From the early pages, important things have already emerged, one by one, while Rowling took us to remember few details from the first series.

In this second series, Dobby opened the whole story with his warning to Harry to not going back to Hogwarts, because something dangerous has already waited for him there. I don’t know why I’ve never liked Dobby from the beginning. I know, he ought to be cute and kind, but he annoys me often with his excessive adoration to Harry. Dobby seemed to think only of himself and his own kinds when he created dirty tricks to prevent Harry from going back to Hogwarts; tricks that in the end put Harry in dangers. He did it because the elfs were afraid of their future if Voldemort back to reign the wizardry world, and Harry was their only hope because he’s the only wizard survived from Voldi’s attack. Isn’t it very selfish and narrow minded?

Apart from that, everything goes quite enjoyable until the end—oh, except whenever the pathetic Gilderoy Lockhart appeared! The most amusing part of him was when he lost his memory in the Chamber of Secrets! LOL… Harry and Ron’s adventure with the flying car was my favorite, it showed how it’s only natural for them—as ordinary teenagers—to not wisely think of any other way to go to Hogwarts than flying the car. They didn’t think of consequences, they only enjoyed the freedom of taking their own control, the delight of new adventure, and the exciting chance to show off to the whole school; typical teenagers…

Rowling was quite witty too here, when she narrated Hermione—when teacher asking questions—as ‘sounding as usual as though she had swallowed the textbook’…. :P And of course, the early-term quiz in Defense Against Dark Arts class made me laugh heartily, when Lockhart’s questions were all about him; from his favorite color to ideal birthday gift for him, LOL!!

In this second series Rowling begin to talk about racism issue, by picturing that in wizardry world there are people who think they were the highest species in the world, and to get rid of others than their race would make the world better. The Pureblood, mudblood, and squibs issues dominated the whole story.

Here’s also where Rowling begin to introduce us to Voldemort; she takes us to understand Voldemort’s background that made him the darkest and cruelest cold-hearted wizard. Again Rowling reminds me that one’s character is partly built from his childhood—by education and circumstances—but what he would have become in the future, was also defined by his own choices and decisions. In the case of Tom Riddle, he was an orphan from a mudblood couple, raised in hatred surrounding (his father ignored him because his mother was a witch), and then lived bitterly in an orphan house, and became a solitary child who couldn’t love and—in consequence—didn’t find love in others. I think the ‘hatred’ aspect had made him evil. If we compared Riddle with Potter, Potter was an orphan too, but although he lived miserably with the Dursleys, he was loved by his parents and later on by his friends. And that created a big difference in how they became and how they chose their future. Both Riddle and Potter possessed qualities of being a Slytherin, but Riddle—with his hatred and bitterness—chose Slytherin and dark arts for his future, while Potter insisted to choose Griffindor when the Sorting Hat gave him the alternative of being in Slytherin.

And there are still few other things that caught my attention. First, how brave Harry was when he was face to face with Voldemort (in Riddle’s image) in Chamber of Secrets. He even insulted him when Voldi said that he had become the great sorcerer in the world. And when his life was in danger, Harry showed his loyalty to Dumbledore by defending him, which summoned Fawkes the Phoenix to the rescue.

I also admired the strong bound of Harry, Ron and Hermione’s friendship in their second year. When each of them faced difficulties, the others would stand by and supported their friend. When Ron and Hermione found out that Harry could speak Parsletounge—which was a terrifying fact—they did not accused him of being a Slytherin heir or stayed away from him like others; they trusted Harry of what he was, and concerned about that fact together. When Ron was belching slugs after using his repaired wand, Harry and Hermione did not laugh at him, they helped and took care of him. When Hermione accidentally turned to a cat after drinking Polyjuice, Harry and Ron did not laugh or tease her either. It is so comforting to have friends that always support us, in good or bad.

One thing I’m still wondering though, how do you think the Dursleys sent Harry his gift brought by the owl?

Four stars for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, a book which is, I think, suitable for 12 years and above teenagers and, of course, adults!

Lastly, I always love these wise quotes from Dumbeldore….

Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.


*I read ebook version*

*This book is counted as*

2nd book for Hotter Potter