harry potter and the sorcerer’s stone by jk rowlings

Posted on November 15, 2010


Overall, a charming debut about a boy wizard. But I’m glad it’s out of the way so I can move on the progressively darker sequels. And see more of  sulky Snape and gay Hagrid :P.

harry_potter_and_the_sorcerers_stone by jk rowlingDo I have to summarize the story of Harry Potter? Doesn’t everyone know about his story by now? The Boy who Survived and You-Know-Who hunting him. I’ve seen the movies, liked them increasingly by each sequel, and stopped short of being a fan. The movies were brilliant and I liked seeing the characters and actors mature, and the plot thicken, moving from the babyish fantasy of Sorcerer’s Stone to the chilling rebirth of Voldemort. I found the absolute loyalty of the evil sorcerer’s minions sick and depraved, bordering on the sexual (has anyone else noticed this?). And that stopped me yawning because seeing that in a children’s series was funny. Published in 1997, I’m only now reading the Sorcerer’s Stone, and only because I felt I had to, acquiring the book in a book swap three years ago, having promised the previous owner I’ll get back to her about my impressions of the book, and caving in from the pressure of being maybe the only one in my circle or reader-friends not to have read the book. So I added it to my TBR challenge.

And regretted it for a week, which was how long before I managed to get past page 100, finding the account of Harry’s early years, about how incredibly boring Muggles were, incredibly boring. Come to think about it, I also never did manage to finish watching the first movie, no matter how many times I’ve caught it running on cable. This was good as it turned out as I was surprised by the revelation of whodunit later in the book.

I’ve read fantasy fiction by other British authors before, such as Margaret Storey (A War of Wizards), Edith Nesbit (Psammead Series), and Tanith Lee (Unicorn series) . Their stories were extraordinary and I loved them. Until now I have a crush on Hilarion, the wizard who can’t stand to be seen. My favorite of their ilk will be forevermore Dianna Wynne Jones, who penned Howl’s Moving Castle and creator of unforgettable characters like Sophie Farthing, Wizard Howl, and the fire demon Calcifer. Having partaken of their literary feasts since high school I was not that excited over the news of a new Fantasy author and her debut work about a boy wizard.

My reading taste lately has also shifted from pure fantasy to urban fantasy, and not just because of the kick-ass heroines, but also because I prefer if the story treats magic as part of the world, not separate but one and the same, with people just experiencing different things. One reason I got bored with the first part of Sorcerer’s Stone was the strong sense of insularity it conveyed of the magic world from Muggle world.

Nevertheless, I did get past the first 100 pages and was engaged finally as Harry learned about potions, spells, and the soccer-like game Quidditch. The mystery of the Sorcerer’s Stone was interesting. I liked how the author dropped hints here and there as well, not just about the current mystery but also about the overarching mystery of Voldemort and Harry’s role in his downfall. I can imagine how like a game it is for readers spotting references and clues, connecting the dots from book 1 to book 3 or somewhere else. That was very clever of the author.

Her imaginative details were also impressive. She invented Platform 9 ¾,  Every Flavor Beans, messenger owls, and the magic puzzle game in the Sorcerer’s Stone Chamber, hearth-hatching of a dragon egg and  Quidditch. I liked how she used elements of the British school system to define Hogwarts School. The rivalry and other relationship dynamics between students and eccentric faculty were well thought out. Even if I had not seen the movies, I can easily visualize Harry, Ron, Hermione, and all the others. The writing was fluid, easily keeping pace with human and magical nuances. Spooky also had a special place; if I were 11 years old I imagined I would be terrified out of my wits upon realizing what lay under the turban.

Overall, a charming debut about a boy wizard. But I’m glad it’s out of the way so I can move on the progressively darker sequels. And see more of  sulky Snape and gay Hagrid :P.

Posted in: fantastic