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The story so far — Harry Potter 1 through 6

By Deepti Hajela
Associated Press Writer

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (September 1998)

This is our introduction to the young Harry Potter. He’s an orphan who looks just like his father except he has his mother’s bright green eyes. He also has an odd scar on his forehead shaped like a lightning bolt.

Harry became an orphan at 1, when the evil Lord Voldemort killed James and Lily Potter and gave Harry his scar while trying to kill him, too. He was raised by the nonmagical Dursleys — his aunt Petunia, her horrible husband Vernon and their rotten son Dudley. They treat Harry in the most wicked ways.

Our young English friend learns the truth about his background on his 11th birthday, when Hagrid, groundskeeper at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, pays him a visit and tells him who he really is.

Hogwarts becomes Harry’s new school, where he meets friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger and gets a mentor in headmaster Albus Dumbledore. He makes some enemies, too: Draco Malfoy and Professor Severus Snape.

He discovers some talents, like flying. He also learns that Voldemort is still around in spirit and trying to get back his physical form. Voldemort is after the Sorcerer’s Stone, for its life-enhancing properties, but Harry thwarts him.

“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (June 1999)

The second book starts with 12-year-old Harry wondering why none of his friends have been in touch during the summer. He finds out when he gets a visit from Dobby, a magical house elf owned by the Malfoy family.

At risk to himself, Dobby has sneaked out to warn Harry he is in danger and can’t go back to Hogwarts. Harry, of course, doesn’t listen, and finds a way to get back to school that involves Ron and the magical Weasley car.

But his return to Hogwarts doesn’t go smoothly. And weird things are going on — voices that only Harry can hear, people turning up petrified! The Chamber of Secrets, thought a myth, has been opened, and a monster is attacking students who come from nonmagical families.

Ginny Weasley, Ron’s younger sister, disappears, and Harry finds the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets and goes to look for her. He comes across the spirit of Tom Riddle, a former Hogwarts student who turns out to be behind all the trouble. It’s Riddle who later becomes Lord Voldemort.

Harry defeats Riddle. And before returning home, he gets Dobby free of the evil Malfoys.

“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (September 1999)

Now a teen, Harry wants desperately for the Dursleys to sign a permission slip that would let him go on field trips to a magical village. But he’s thwarted when Uncle Vernon’s horrible sister is too much to bear, and decides to flee after performing some magic he shouldn’t have.

Thinking he’ll be punished by the magical powers that be, Harry is shocked when instead he’s treated like nothing happened and is sent to a magic inn to wait out the rest of his vacation. The night before he returns to Hogwarts, he finds out why: Sirius Black, a feared Voldemort supporter, has escaped from Azkaban, a prison for wizards and witches. Could he be looking for Harry at Hogwarts?

At school, a tense year is capped when Black shows up. But he isn’t looking for Harry, after all. He wants Scabbers, Ron’s pet rat, and it turns out that the animal is a transfigured Peter Pettigrew, a Voldemort follower who committed the crime for which Black was wrongly imprisoned and betrayed Harry’s parents.

Black hopes he will finally be exonerated, and as Harry’s godfather, offers him a home. But Pettigrew escapes, and it’s back to life on the lam for Black.

“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (July 2000)

In a change from the first three books, this one doesn’t open with Harry. It starts with the story of how the horrible Riddle family died. It then shifts to the present, where we discover that Pettigrew has been busy. He met up with Voldemort, who is still trying to give himself a physical human body. Voldemort’s got a plan, one that requires the presence, and blood, of Harry Potter. And he has help, a loyal servant who can get to 14-year-old Harry when the time is right.

When we meet Harry, he joins Ron and his family at the Quidditch World Cup finals, where things go badly. They don’t get better when he returns to Hogwarts, where he is entered into a dangerous magical competition. Voldemort’s plan works for a while, giving him back his body, but not long enough to kill Harry. At Hogwarts, Voldemort’s servant is discovered, but the authorities dispatch him and think he was just nuts and not part of Voldemort’s schemes. Harry and his friends know the truth — Voldemort is back.

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (June 2003)

After a three-year wait, Rowling returns with an absolutely huge book. Not much time has passed since the end of the last book. Harry is with the Dursleys, increasingly angry that his friends in the wizarding world aren’t telling him what’s going on. Now 15, Harry is really a teenager — moody, angry, yelling a lot. After a shocking attack, Harry is reunited with his friends and finds out that the Order of the Phoenix, a secret society, has been gathered to fight Voldemort. But the Ministry of Magic still wants to believe there’s no threat, and comes down on anyone who even suggests that You-Know-Who might be back. Hogwarts is not the refuge it usually is — the Ministry of Magic has decided to interfere to make sure nothing is said about Voldemort, and sends a particularly odious instructor to keep Harry and the others in line. And Dumbledore, usually Harry’s biggest ally, is strangely removed from him. Harry and friends try to prepare anyway, and he starts teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts to a group of students in secret. But the book ends tragically — tricked by Voldemort, Harry and friends visit the Ministry of Magic and run into Voldemort’s servants. The Order of the Phoenix comes to help, but member Sirius Black is killed along the way. The rest of the wizarding world realizes that Voldemort has indeed returned.

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (July 2005)

Dumbledore himself comes to get Harry when it’s time for him to return to the wizarding world, the first clue that this year is going to be different. Still struggling with Sirius’ death, Harry jumps at the chance that Dumbledore offers to find out more about Voldemort and how to defeat him. Life at Hogwarts is hectic as well — Harry is captain of his Quidditch team, and finds himself with strong romantic feelings for Ginny, Ron’s younger sister.

He’s got suspicions of some of the people around him, suspicions he can’t really get anyone else to share, even after a couple of near-deaths. Finally, he and Dumbledore figure out that Voldemort has split his soul into pieces, and the only way to kill him is to destroy those pieces. They go after one of the pieces, a trip that severely weakens Dumbledore, and return to find the school under attack.

During the attack, Dumbledore is killed, and the book ends with Harry and friends wondering if Hogwarts can even go on without him. Harry is determined to carry on the work that he and Dumbledore started.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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