Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone: Retrospective

William Leach, Writer

We’ve all heard of the Harry Potter series, be it from the books, the movies, or from seeing the crazed, some would say obsessed, fandom. The influence that Harry Potter has had on pop culture cannot go unnoticed. J. K Rowling’s debut book, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone introduced thousands of people to an expansive world of witchcraft and wizardry. From her charming characters to the imaginative setting and mythos, she has set the bar for young adult literature. It’s been over 20 years since she made a name for herself with “The Sorcerer’s Stone”, and I’m here to ask the question, how does it hold up today? Years of praise can obviously affect someone’s opinion of a book but, what if we take away the nostalgia, is the story really as good as we remember?

Now, speaking of the story, how it is exactly? To put it short, it deserves all the praise it gets. It’s incredibly easy to follow and understand but it introduces so much in such little time. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone begins with what would seem like a normal day for a normal family, the Dursleys. You follow Mr. Dursley through a day in his life and watch as he experiences strange things throughout town. The Dursleys consist of Mr. and Mrs. Dursley and their son, Dudley Dursley. They are known to hate anything unusual or out of place, especially wizards and witches. Around this time we meet our protagonist Harry Potter. Harry is known across the wizarding world as the boy who lived. He is oblivious to his fame and the fact that his mother and father were some of the most extraordinary wizards ever known. Harry is surprised to be accepted into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry on his 11th birthday. He is taken to a train stop with his school supplies and a ticket that says “Platform 9 ¾”.

We see Harry and his new friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger during their first year of Hogwarts. All three are assigned to Gryffindor house. Hogwarts has four main houses, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Harry then meets Draco Malfoy, a Slytherin, bitter rivals of Gryffindor. They practically hate one another from the start and Draco doesn’t make the year any easier for Harry. The trio suspects Hogwarts to be in danger by their potions teacher Severus Snape, head of Slytherin house, who allegedly wants to obtain the Sorcerer’s Stone with the help from Voldemort.  We watch Harry and the others as go through the school year piecing together a plan to save Hogwarts and possibly the wizarding world itself. With creatures like trolls, a magical, giant chess board, and a forbidden forest with hidden secrets, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be easy.

In my opinion, J. K. Rowling made an amazingly crafted story with such an immersive setting as Hogwarts. It obviously holds up to today’s standards. This is coming from someone who just started reading the story in August of last year. When I started to look back at the first book I thought I would find more critical things to say but surprisingly, I found it more enjoyable the second time around. If I had to give one criticism it would be the pacing. The pacing at times is way too slow and drags on when other times it seems like months go by in a few pages. I can say though, practically everything else is perfect. Harry Potter is a likable and relatable character with an irritative but friendly personality towards others in the books. He’s written extremely well and shows lots of emotion with the little time spent on him. Ron and Hermione are great side-characters and are basically inseparable from Harry. They complement Harry’s bottled up but emotional personality very well. The main conflict of the story is naturally and slowly brought into the story. Even with so much going on in the main story, we still have time to flesh out the world with quidditch matches and all the types of magic and spells. J. K. Rowling put a lot of love and hard work into these books and it shows. Honestly, it’s definitely worth your time. This is still the great book series that everyone talks about, I’d recommend it to anyone of any age group.