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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - Full Review

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

by JK Rowling

Read brilliantly by Stephen Fry, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is one of those books that demonstrates the ability of a talented actor to transform the written into a tremendously satisfying listening experience.

The character’s, and their moods are reflected in Fry’s choice of voice, accent and tone, and the narrative is given shape and texture by an emphasis on this word here or a subtle sliding of a carefully selected ‘s’ into a sibilant hiss or some other apt effect.

And Rowling’s language is rich in fascinating and unusual words and her dialogue is fairly realistic and entertaining.

The Philosopher’s Stone is of course a book about magic and adventure, but even the title begins to suggest a theme of the quest for immortality that is a constant feature of the Potter series.

If the narrative and dialogue are thoroughly well written, then the plot and its various subplots are even more expertly put together.

The sense of a scarcely explained but profoundly important background to the events related in the story is evident from the very first. And the slow, stuttering and incomplete revelation of that background produces some of the best dialogue in the story.

The characters are basically a real delight to know – Harry Potter who is hardly an academic overachiever, is however, quick-witted, resolute, brave – very brave, and sometimes not a little hot-headed and impetuous. Hermione Granger is a fellow student who is intelligent, impertinent, bossy and courageous when the moment calls for it. Ron Weasley is entertaining, insecure at times, and up-for-it at other times, but largely down-to-earth and full of humour and not a little commonsense.

The adults in the story are no less engaging. Even the harsh, hateful, arrogant and self-important Potions Master, Severus Snape adds plenty of interest to the story.

But above-all the most fascinating invention of the Harry Potter series is probably Hagrid - a sort of giant who gives the impression of having an anger management problem, but who is at heart, loyal, kind, and loveably daft.

It is Hagrid who plays the important role of rescuing Potter from the ruins of his family house after an attack by the evil Dark Lord, Lord Voldermort and who breaks the shattering news to Harry Potter on his eleventh birthday that his contemptuous adoptive parents have told him substantial lies about his true parents and their demise.

Hagrid plays a surprisingly important role at various points in Potter’s life from that point on as do his friends and as does the famous Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Albus Dumbledore, who even at this early stage in the series seems intent on assisting Harry Potter in a special task – that of stopping the return and rise of the Dark Lord, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named – Lord Voldermort.

To be sure the Philosopher’s Stone is a good book which can be readily enjoyed by it’s core readership of young children and young wizards, but in the hands of Mr Fry it will probably prove quite satisfying entertainment even for the adult reader.

Cover to Cover

Unabridged Audio CD Edition – 2002

Read by Stephen Fry

Litrev Rating

Overall 5______

Suspense 5______
Characters 5______
Plot 5______
Audio 5______
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

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