BOOK REVIEW : Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone by J. K. Rowling


Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone is an acknowledged novel and one of the most demanded novels till date. It is written by J. K. Rowling. It revolves around a boy named Harry Potter who is blessed with magical heritage and goes to the the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He finds foes like Draco Malfoy as well as friends like Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger in his first year itself.

The book acted as Rowling's debut novel. It was published on 26 June 1997 by Bloomsbury in London. In 1998 Scholastic Corporation published an edition for the United States market under the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The novel winning most of the British book awards which were judged by children, and other awards in the US. The book reached the apex of the New York Times list of best-selling fiction in August 1999, and stayed near the top of that list for much of 1999 and 2000. Taking care of the demands of the readers, it has been translated into innumerous languages and has been even made into a feature-length film of the same name.

Most reviews regarding this book were very favourable. Rowling's imagination, humors, simple, direct style and witty plot construction. Though a few complained that the final chapters seemed rushed, these flaws seem to fade under the light of the positive aspects of the novel. The writing has been compared to that of Jane Austen, one of Rowling's favourite authors, or Roald Dahl, whose works dominated children's stories before the appearance of Harry Potter, and of the Ancient Greek story-teller Homer. While some commentators thought the book looked backwards to Victorian and Edwardian boarding school stories, others thought it placed the genre firmly in the modern world by featuring contemporary ethical and social issues.
Educators regard Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and its sequels as an important aid in improving literacy because of the books' popularity. The series has also been used as a source of object lessons in educational techniques, sociological analysis and marketing.
Taking a view from my perspective, I personally feel it was a phenomenal novel which had all the elements required as the reason of reading a book. Language, vocabulary, and what not can be enhanced by this novel. It was pleasure reading it! Everything seemed real. The characters were full of zeal and lived up to their expectations, or I could say even better than that.

                                                ABSTRACT OF THE NOVEL

The story starts on the note of Lord Voldemort, considered to be the most evil and powerful dark wizard in history, murdering married couple James and Lily Potter but bafflingly disappears after attempting to murder their toddler son, Harry. The wizarding world celebrates Voldemort's downfall, Professor Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall and half-giant, Rubeus Hagrid place the one year-old urchin in the care of his ill-natured Muggle (non-wizard) aunt and uncle: Vernon and Petunia Dursley. Harry grows up under the Dursleys' "care" with their spoiled and hounding son, Dudley.

For ten years, Harry is tormented by the Dursleys, being treated more as a slave than a member of the family. Shortly before his eleventh birthday, a series of letters addressed to Harry arrive but Vernon destroys them before Harry can read them, leading only to an incursion of more letters. Vernon, in order to face the threat, moves from hotel to islamd all his efforts go in vain. Finally on Harry's eleventh birthday at midnight, Hagrid confronts the family, tells Harry the things he was kept aloof all these years long. Hagrid  first takes Harry to Diagon Alley, a magically concealed shopping precinct in London, where Harry is bewildered to to come across the fact that how famous he was amongst the witches and wizards as "the boy who lived." He on discovering the wealth left for him by his parents feel he is quite wealthy. His parents had deposited great wealth at Gringotts Wizarding Bank. Guided by Hagrid, he buys the paraphernalia he needs for his first year at Hogwarts.

At the wand shop, the wand that suited him best is the twin of Voldemort's; both wands contain feathers from the same phoenix. Harry receives a birthday gift from Hagrid, an owl which he names Hedwig who is to become one of his most loyal companions and friends. Harry leaves the Dursleys' home to catch the Hogwarts Express from King's Cross railway station. There for the first time he meets the Weasley family, who show him how to pass through the magical wall to Platform 9¾, where the train that will take them to Hogwarts is waiting. While on the train, Harry quickly befriends Ron Weasley, who tells him that someone tried to rob a vault at Gringotts. During the ride, they meet Hermione Granger. She is later to become one of their best friends. Harry also makes an enemy on his trip; fellow first-year, Draco Malfoy, accompanied by his dim-witted companions Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle..

Before the term's first dinner in the school's Great Hall, the first-years are sorted to houses by the Sorting Hat. While Harry is being sorted, the Hat suggests that he be placed into Slytherin which is known to house potential dark witches and wizards, but when Harry objects, the Hat sends him to Gryffindor, Slytherin's rival house. Ron and Hermione are also sorted into Gryffindor. Draco is sorted into Slytherin house. During the meal, Harry catches Professor Severus Snape's eye and feels pain in the scar Voldemort left on his forehead.
After a terrible first Potions lesson with Snape, Harry and Ron visit Hagrid (groundskeeper of Hogwarts), who lives in a cabin on the edge of the Forbidden Forest. There they learn that the attempted robbery at Gringotts occurred the day Harry withdrew money from his vault. Harry remembers that Hagrid had removed a small package from the vault that had been broken into.

During the first years' first broom-flying lesson, fellow Gryffindor Neville Longbottom breaks his wrist and is rushed to the infirmary by their instructor. Draco takes advantage to throw the forgetful Neville's fragile Remembrall, which Neville dropped because of his accident, high in the air. Harry gives chase on his broomstick, catching the Remembrall inches from the ground. Unbeknownst to Harry, McGonagall, who is head of Gryffindor house, has witnessed his performance on his broom. She dashes out and appoints him as the new Seeker for the Gryffindor Quidditch team.
When Draco tricks Harry and Ron, who are accompanied by Neville and Hermione, into a midnight excursion, they accidentally enter a forbidden corridor and find a huge three-headed dog. The group hastily retreats, and Hermione notices that the dog is standing over a trap-door. Harry concludes that the monster is guarding the package Hagrid retrieved from Gringotts.

After Ron criticizes Hermione's brazen proficiency in Charms, she hides in the girls' toilet, crying. At the Halloween Feast, Professor Quintus Quirrell reports that a troll has entered the dungeons. While everyone returns to their dormitories, Harry and Ron rush to warn Hermione, who was not at the feast to hear the announcement. The troll corners Hermione in the toilet but Harry and Ron clumsily save her. Afterwards, Hermione takes the blame for the battle and becomes a firm friend of the two boys.
The evening before Harry's first Quidditch match, he sees Snape receiving medical attention from Filch for a bite on his leg caused by the three-headed dog. During the game, Harry's broomstick goes out of control, endangering his life, and Hermione notices that Snape is staring at Harry and muttering. Concluding that Snape is responsible for Harry's out of control broom, she dashes over to the Professors' stand, knocking over Quirrell in her haste, and sets fire to Snape's robe. Harry regains control of his broom and catches the Golden Snitch, winning the game for Gryffindor. Hagrid refuses to believe that Snape was responsible for putting Harry in danger, but lets slip that he bought the three-headed dog (named Fluffy) and that the monster is guarding a secret that belongs to Dumbledore and a wizard named Nicolas Flamel.

When Christmas break arrives, Harry and the Weasleys remain at Hogwarts, while Hermione goes back home. One of Harry's presents, from an anonymous donor, is an Invisibility Cloak that belonged to his father. Harry uses the Cloak to search the library's Restricted Section for information about the mysterious Flamel, and lands up finding a room containing the Mirror of Erised, which shows him his parents and several of their ancestors. Harry becomes addicted to the Mirror's visions, choosing to spend time with his 'family', rather than his friends at Hogwarts, until he is rescued by Professor Dumbledore, who explains that it only shows the viewer what he most desperately longs for.  Draco plays a prank on Neville, and Harry consoles Neville with a sweet. The collectible card wrapped with the sweet identifies Flamel as an alchemist. Hermione soon discovers that he is 665 years old and possesses the only known Philosopher's Stone, from which an elixir of life can be extracted. A few days later, Harry notices Snape sneaking towards the outskirts of the Forbidden Forest. There he half-hears a furtive conversation about the Philosopher's Stone between Snape and Quirrell. Harry concludes that Snape is trying to steal the Stone and Quirrell has helped prepare a series of defences for it, which was an almost fatal mistake.

The three friends discover that Hagrid is raising a baby dragon in violation of wizarding law, and arranges to smuggle it out of the country around midnight. Draco, hoping to get them into trouble, informs McGonagall. Although the dragon is safely sent away, they are caught outside of their dormitory. Harry, Hermione, Draco, and Neville are punished and assigned the task of assisting Hagrid with saving a badly injured unicorn in the Forbidden Forest. They split into two parties and venture off into the Forest where Harry and Draco come across a hooded figure drinking the blood of an injured unicorn. Aware of their presence, the figure approaches the boys but Harry is rescued by a centaur, named Firenze, who offers to give him a ride back to the school. The centaur tells Harry that drinking a unicorn's blood will save the life of a mortally injured individual, but at the price of having a cursed life from that moment on. Firenze suggests that it was Voldemort was the one who drank the unicorn's blood in order to gain enough strength to make the elixir of life from the Philosopher's Stone, and regain full health by drinking that.

A few weeks later, Harry learns from Hagrid that the dragon egg was given to him by a hooded stranger who had asked him how to get past Fluffy, which Hagrid had admitted was easy – music sends it to sleep. Realizing that one of the Philosopher's Stone's defenses is no longer secure, Harry goes to inform Dumbledore, only to find that the headmaster has just left for a meeting in London. Harry concludes that Snape faked the message that called Dumbledore away and will try to steal the Stone that night. Harry decides that they must protect the stone themselves in Dumbledore's absence. Covered by the Invisibility Cloak, the trio enter Fluffy's chamber, where Harry sends the beast to sleep by playing a flute. After lifting the trap-door, they encounter a series of obstacles, each of which requires special skills possessed by one of the three, and one of which requires Ron to sacrifice himself in a life-sized game of wizard's chess.
next, Hermione figures out the riddle provided, she instructs Harry on which potion to drink. Harry swallows the liquid, safely passes through the fire and enters the final room while Hermione returns to collect Ron and notify Dumbledore of the night's events.

In the final room Harry, now alone, finds Quirrell rather than Snape. Quirrell admits that he allowed the troll into the school and that he tried to kill Harry during the first Quidditch match. Snape had been trying to protect Harry all along. Quirrell serves Voldemort and, after failing to steal the Philosopher's Stone from Gringotts, allowed his master to possess him in order to improve their chances of success. This, however, proves a difficult task because the only other object in the room is the Mirror of Erised, which will not reveal to Quirrell where the Stone is. At Voldemort's bidding, Quirrell forces Harry to stand in front of the Mirror. The mirror shows Harry finding the stone. Harry feels the Stone drop into his pocket and tries to stall. Quirrell removes his turban, revealing the face of Voldemort on the back of his head. Voldemort/Quirrell tries to grab the Stone from Harry, but simply touching Harry causes Quirrell's flesh to burn.

After the struggle, Harry passes out. He awakes in the school hospital, where Dumbledore explains to him that he survived because his mother sacrificed her life to protect him, and neither Voldemort or Quirrel could understand the power of love. Voldemort left Quirrell to die and is likely to return by some other means. The Stone has now been destroyed. The school year ends at the final feast, during which Gryffindor wins the House Cup. Harry returns to the Dursley's for the summer holiday, but does not tell them that under-age wizards are forbidden to use magic outside of Hogwarts. 

 I rate this book  5 out of 5.As elements and the charecters are so well woven together that it just keeps the reader indulged in reading, yet the very minute descriptions mentioned makes it more enthusiastic and appreciable.



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