The first book of the Harry Potter series, written by J. K Rowling was my first read of Medievalathon, and it covered the prompt for a book which has yellowed over time. This book is practically a classic for those who read young adult books, and there is an entire generation including me who read it as they grew up.
This book is the introduction not only to the wizarding world but the characters that a number of people not only grew up with but fell in love with. The Dursleys who are disliked by the vast majority of people because of the way they treat Harry, the Weasley’s who adopt Harry almost immediately, from helping him to get onto the Platform to giving him a Christmas present and inviting him to stay for the summer. And out leading man, Harry Potter.
In this book the characters have a very black and white view this reflects the youth and understanding of the characters. This is seen in Hermione’s view that everyone should follow every rule in the book, until she realises that sometimes breaking the rules can be a good thing, such as her rescue from the Troll.
Ron and Harry both demonstrate that they are willing to break the rules to either help a friend or for the greater good. Ron is also seen to trust his family despite his jealousy according to the mirror of erised. When he knows he can rely on his family which is something that Harry has never really experienced.
The book is well written and the way the magical elements of the world are revealed is like soaking in a lovely warm bath. Seeing Vernon Dursley reacting to the people wearing cloaks, to Diagon Alley, we are taken on a tour of the magical world a little at a time, much like when you are exploring a new area that you have moved to.
There are a number of themes explored in the book loyalty being a key component. Hagrid’s loyalty to Dumbledore by keeping Fluffy’s weakness a secret, the loyalty to one’s house, loyalty to your friends, and for Neville choosing your loyalty between your friend and your house. Each of these show that the bonds that bind friendships are complex but if you can trust someone to be loyal then you can face anything.
Another theme of this book is bravery, though this probably isn’t a shock given what the Gryffindor house stands for. There is the bravery that Neville shows when facing insurmountable odds fighting with Goyle and Crabbe despite knowing that he would very clearly loose, or Harry and Ron’s bravery to face the Mountain Troll which could have killed them rather than leaving Hermione to face it alone.
Reading this book made me feel nostalgic. This series is one of the reasons I fell in love with reading. I was younger and much more innocent to the world the first time I read this book. I thought that school was one of the only things that mattered. Everyone grows up and takes on new responsibilities but while reading this I remembered what it felt like to have a black and white view on the world. To think that every problem had a simple solution.
I am giving this 5 stars. While the book is not the masterpiece that the series became you can see the broad brushstrokes being laid for the later intricacies which created the characters and series that an entire generation came to love.