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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the fifth instalment in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling. The novel features Harry Potter's struggles through his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, including the surreptitious return of Harry's nemesis Lord Voldemort, O.W.L. exams, and an obstructive Ministry of Magic.

It is the longest book in the series, and was published on 21 June 2003 by Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom, Scholasticmarker in the United States, and Raincoast in Canada. The book has been made into a film, which was released in 2007, and has also been made into several video games by Electronic Arts. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has won several awards, including being named an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults in 2003.


Plot introduction

Throughout the four previous novels in the Harry Potter series, the main character, Harry Potter, has struggled with the difficulties that come with growing up and the added challenge of being a famous wizard. When Harry was a baby, Voldemort, the most powerful evil wizard in living memory, killed Harry's parents but mysteriously vanished after trying to kill Harry. This results in Harry's immediate fame, and his being placed in the care of his muggle, or non-magical, relatives Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon.

Harry enters the wizarding world at the age of 11, enrolling in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He makes friends with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, and is confronted by Lord Voldemort trying to regain power. After returning to the school after summer break, several attacks on students take place at Hogwarts after the legendary "Chamber of Secrets" is opened. Harry ends the attacks by killing a Basilisk and defeating another attempt by Lord Voldemort to return to full strength. The following year, Harry hears that he has been targeted by escaped murderer Sirius Black. Despite stringent security measures at Hogwarts, Harry is confronted by Black at the end of his third year of schooling and Harry learns that Black was framed and is actually Harry's godfather. Harry's fourth year of school sees him entered in a dangerous magical competition called the Triwizard Tournament. At the conclusion of the Tournament, Harry witnesses the return of Lord Voldemort to full strength.

Plot summary

This novel begins when Harry and his cousin, Dudley, are attacked by dementors. Harry uses magic to fight them off, and must attend a disciplinary hearing for it. It quickly becomes apparent that the hearing is a show trial, and despite the best attempts of the Ministry of Magic, he is cleared of all charges. In response to Voldemort's reappearance, Dumbledore re-activates the Order of the Phoenix, a secret society which works to defeat Voldemort's minions and protect Voldemort's targets, including Harry. Despite Harry's description of Voldemort's recent activities, the Ministry of Magic and many others in the magical world refuse to believe that Voldemort has returned.

In an attempt to enforce its version of school curriculum, the Ministry appoints Dolores Umbridge as the new High Inquisitor of Hogwarts. She transforms the school into a quasi-dictatorial regime and refuses to allow the students to learn ways to defend themselves against dark magic. Harry forms a secret study group and begins to teach his classmates the higher-level skills he has learned. The novel introduces Harry to Luna Lovegood, an airy young witch with a tendency to believe in oddball conspiracy theories. Moreover, it reveals an important prophecy concerning Harry and Voldemort. Harry also discovers that he and Voldemort have a telepathic connection, allowing Harry to view some of Voldemort's actions. In the novel's climax, Harry and his school friends face off against Voldemort's Death Eaters. The timely arrival of members of the Order of the Phoenix saves the children's lives, but Sirius Black, Harry's godfather, is murdered by Bellatrix Lestrange. Many Death Eaters are captured and, most importantly, the return of Voldemort is confirmed within the magical world.

Development, publication, and reception


In an interview with BBC News, Rowling suggested the death of a principal character which made her sad. She added that although her husband suggested she undo the character's death to stop her sadness, she needed to be "a ruthless killer." However, Rowling revealed in a 2007 interview that she had originally planned to kill off Arthur Weasley in this book, but ultimately could not bear to do it. In another interview, when asked if there was anything she would go back and change about the seven novels, Rowling replied that she would have edited Phoenix more, as she feels it is too long.

Publication and release

Potter fans waited three years between the releases of the fourth and fifth books.

Before the release of the fifth book, 200 million copies of the first four books had already been sold and translated into 55 languages in 200 countries. As the series was already a global phenomenon, the book forged new pre-order records, with thousands of people queuing outside book stores on 20 June 2003 to secure their copy at midnight. Despite the security, thousands of copies were stolen from an Earlestownmarker, Merseyside warehouse on 15 June 2003.

Critical response

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was met with generally good reviews, and received several awards. The book was named as a Best Book for Young Adults and as a Notable Book by the American Library Association in 2004. It also received the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio 2004 Gold Medal along with several other awards.

The novel was also received generally well by critics. Rowling was praised for her imagination by USA Today writer Deirdre Donahue. Most of the negative reviewers were concerned with the violence contained in the novel and with morality issues occurring throughout the book. There has also been a strong religious response to the publishing of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

New York Times writer John Leonard praised the novel, saying "The Order of the Phoenix starts slow, gathers speed and then skateboards, with somersaults, to its furious conclusion....As Harry gets older, Rowling gets better." However, he also criticizes "the one-note Draco Malfoy" and the predictable Lord Voldemort. Another review by Julie Smithouser, of the Christian-right group Focus on the Family, said the book was, "Likely to be considered the weakest book in the series, Phoenix does feel less oppressive than the two most previous novels." Smithouser's main criticism was that the book was not moral. Harry lies to authority to escape punishment, and that, at times, the violence is too "gruesome and graphic."

Several Christian groups have expressed concerns that the book, and the rest of the Harry Potter series, contain references to witchcraft or occultism. Despite these negative views, several religious groups have also expressed their support for the series. Christianity Today published an editorial in favor of the books in January 2000, calling the series a "Book of Virtues" and averring that although "modern witchcraft is indeed an ensnaring, seductive false religion that we must protect our children from", this does not represent the Potter books, which have "wonderful examples of compassion, loyalty, courage, friendship, and even self-sacrifice".

Prequels and sequels

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the fifth book in the Harry Potter Series. The first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first published by Bloomsbury in 1997 with an initial print-run of 500 copies in hardback, three hundred of which were distributed to libraries. By the end of 1997 the UK edition won a National Book Award and a gold medal in the 9 to 11 year-olds category of the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize. The second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was originally published in the UK on 2 July 1998 and in the US on 2 June 1999. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was published a year later in the UK on 8 July 1999 and in the US on 8 September 1999. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was published on 8 July 2000  simultaneously by Bloomsburymarker and Scholasticmarker.

After the publishing of Order of the Phoenix, the sixth book of the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was published on 16 July 2005, and sold 11 million copies in the first 24 hours of its worldwide release. The seventh and final novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was published 21 July 2007. The book sold 11 million copies within 24 hours of its release: 2.7 million copies in the UK and 8.3 million in the US.



In 2007, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released in film version directed by David Yates, produced by David Heyman's company Heyday Films, and written by Michael Goldenberg. The film's budget was reportedly between £75 and 100 million ($150–200 million), and it became the unadjusted seventh-highest grossing film of all time, and a critical and commercial success. The film opened to a worldwide 5-day opening of $333 million, third all-time, and grossed $939 million total, the second to Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End for the greatest total of 2007.

Video games

A video game adaptation of the book and film versions of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was made for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PSP, Nintendo DS, Wii, Game Boy Advance and Mac OS X. It was released on 25 June 2007 in the U.S.marker, 28 June 2007 in Australia and 29 June 2007 in the UKmarker and Europe for PlayStation 3, PSP, PlayStation 2, Windows and the 3 July 2007 for most other platforms. The games were published by Electronic Arts.

Religious response

Religious controversy surrounding Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and the other books in the Harry Potter series mainly deal with the claims that novel contains occult or Satanic subtexts. Religious response to the series has not been exclusively negative. "At least as much as they've been attacked from a theological point of view", notes Rowling, "[the books] have been lauded and taken into pulpit, and most interesting and satisfying for me, it's been by several different faiths".

Opposition to the series

In the United States, calls for the book to be banned from schools have led occasionally to widely publicised legal challenges, usually on the grounds that witchcraft is a government-recognised religion and that to allow the novels to be held in public schools violates the separation of church and state. The series was at the top of the American Library Association's "most challenged books" list for 1999–2001.

Religious opposition to the series has also occurred in other nations. The Orthodox churches of Greece and Bulgariamarker have campaigned against the series. The books have been banned from private schools in the United Arab Emiratesmarker and criticised in the Iranianmarker state-run press.

Roman Catholic opinion over the series was divided. In 2003 Catholic World Report criticised Harry's disrespect for rules and authority, and regarded the series' mixing of the magical and mundane worlds as "a fundamental rejection of the divine order in creation." In 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope later that year but was at the time Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, described the series as "subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul before it can grow properly," and gave permission for publication of the letter that expressed this opinion. A spokesman for the Archbishop of Westminster said that Cardinal Ratzinger's words were not binding as they were not an official pronouncement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In 2003, Monsignor Peter Fleetwood, a member of a Church working party on New Age phenomena, said that the Harry Potter stories "are not bad or a banner for anti-Christian theology. They help children understand the difference between good and evil," that Rowling's approach was Christian, and that the stories illustrated the need to make sacrifices to defeat evil.

Positive response

Some religious responses have been positive. Emily Griesinger wrote that fantasy literature helps children to survive reality for long enough to learn how to deal with it, described Harry's first passage through to Platform 9¾ as an application of faith and hope, and his encounter with the Sorting Hat as the first of many in which Harry is shaped by the choices he makes. She noted that the self-sacrifice of Harry's mother, which protected the boy in the first book and throughout the series, was the most powerful of the "deeper magics" that transcend the magical "technology" of the wizards, and one which the power-hungry Voldemort fails to understand.


The first official foreign translation of the book appeared in Vietnamese on 21 July 2003, when the first of twenty-two installments was released. The first official European translation appeared in Serbia and Montenegro in Serbian, by the official publisher Narodna Knjiga, in early September 2003. Other translations appeared later, e.g. in November 2003 in Dutch and German. The English language version has topped the best seller list in Francemarker, while in Germanymarker and The Netherlandsmarker an unofficial distributed translation process has been started on the internet.

In the Czech Republicmarker, several young children translated half of the book in two weeks after its English release, long before its intended Czech release date. This led the official Czech publisher Albatros to sue the children for copyright infringement.


  1. "Rowling's tears at Potter book death", BBC News, 2003-06-18. Retrieved on 2007-07-24.
  2. Editorial (January 10, 2000). "Why We Like Harry Potter". Christianity Today.

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