AUTHOR: J.K. Rowling
BESTSELLERS: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (well, all of them really.)
OTHER WORKS: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch through the Ages, Tales of Beedle the Bard.
Harry Potter is a young, orphaned boy who discovers at the age of eleven that he is a wizard. It’s a realization that changes his life forever, and gives him a chance to finally escape, if only temporarily, the brutal tyranny of the Dursleys- his relatives. This book takes us into a spellbinding world of magic and dragons, broomsticks and three headed dogs.
Harry comes to know at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry that there is “a lot more to magic than waving your wand and saying a few funny words.” Fascinating that his new lessons are, what is more important is the fact that Harry gets to learn more about his past and his lost family than he was ever allowed to know before.
Little Harry finds out that his parents had not died in a car crash, as he had been told repeatedly all these years by his mother’s sister, but that they had been murdered in their struggle to protect their only son. Lord Voldemort, the greatest dark wizard of all time, had tried to kill Harry as a child- for reasons no one seemed to be able to explain. And Harry happened to be the only living person to have ever survived the Killing Curse, which was why he found himself unbelievably famous in the wizarding world.
The story of the seven fantasy books in this series revolves around Harry’s quest to vanquish the Dark Lord who strives to conquer the wizarding world and to rule over the ‘Muggles’ or non-magic people. In The Philosopher’s Stone, Harry tries to thwart Voldemort in his attempt to possess this Stone, a legendary substance with astonishing powers which can transform any metal into gold- and can produce the Elixir of Life, which can make the drinker immortal.
With the help of his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, Harry Potter tries to overcome a series of very difficult obstacles to reach the Stone before Voldemort does. This plot clearly foreshadows the events in the sequels- we witness duels and battles far worse in the future and the little kids, who became friends ever since they managed to unite and defeat a large mountain troll all on their own, turn out to be adults who truly understand the value of friendship, humanity and the need to work for the greater good. Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts are delightful, but more significantly, what is most heartwarming is seeing him find a place he can call home.
The room was empty. Breathing very fast he turned slowly back to the mirror. A woman standing right behind his reflection was smiling at him and waving. He reached out a hand and felt the air behind him. If she was really there, he’d touch her, their reflections were so close together, but he felt only air- she and the others existed only in the mirror.
She was a very pretty woman. She had dark red hair and her eyes- her eyes are just like mine, Harry thought, edging a little closer to the glass. Bright green- exactly the same shape, but then he noticed that she was crying; smiling but crying at the same time. The tall, thin, black haired man standing next to her put his arm around her. He wore glasses, and his hair was very untidy. It stuck up at the back, just like Harry’s did.
‘Mum?’ he whispered. ‘Dad?’
The Potters smiled and waved at Harry and he stared hungrily back at them, his hands pressed flat against the glass as though he was hoping to fall right through it and reach them. He had a powerful kind of ache inside him, half joy, half terrible sadness. He looked and looked until a distant noise brought him to his senses. He tore his eyes from his mother’s face, whispered, ‘I’ll come back,” and hurried from the room.
This is the stuff that legends are made of, it’s the book that made history- it’s Harry Potter. The first installment in the series marks the beginning of an era. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone took the world by storm. It revolutionized the pass time of reading, and got millions of people across several continents to read with a new, almost worshipful, fervor. The children loved the boy wizard, who has a habit of sneaking around the castle in the dead of the night in his Cloak of Invisibility, and the older readers could connect to the little boy who has to shoulder the burdens of a grown man.
The Harry Potter books are intimately associated with my childhood memories as well as those of my teenage and, now, adulthood. I clearly remember the rainy nights and early winter mornings when I used to snuggle in bed and lose myself in a Harry Potter book. These seven gems in my treasure trove are probably my most prized possessions.
I am going to miss the excitement that a new Harry Potter book or movie brings every year, but I would still not like to call it the end of an era- I guess my Harry Potter bubble hasn’t burst as yet. I am more proud than I can ever explain to be a part of the “Harry Potter generation”. And for me, Harry WILL always be “The Boy Who Lived”.