Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix  - Stephen Fry, J.K. Rowling So, by the time I finished listening to Stephen Fry's narration of this extraordinarily long episode in the life of Harry Potter, I felt that I had run a marathon. Or had read the teenage angst version of War and Peace.

This episode in the saga has its limitations. One is the length. I have no problem with big, fat novels. However, I do have a problem with padding. And I couldn't help but feel that this tome would have been better with some trimming. Rowling got carried away with describing the world and its details and in the process sacrificed the force and movement of the narrative. Descriptions of the OWL examinations, for example: just too long. Likewise, in my view, the climactic battle scene. It was tense and exciting, sure, but it just went on and on and on. Consequently, the emotional impact of the most devastating event of that battle was diminished. At other times, I felt the writing was less about advancing the narrative and more about describing a scene in the film which Rowling knew very well was to come.

However, for all my reservations, this novel has some superb moments. At times I laughed out loud and other moments brought tears to my eyes. Harry's teenage angst is annoying, but believable. His tentative movements towards a relationship with Cho, with all of its inevitable misunderstandings, are pitch-perfect. Luna is superb. Neville is amazing. The antics of Fred and George are priceless. And the post-climax big reveal from Dumbledore is extremely moving. It is also a relief to have the big reveal NOT done by the villain of the piece, James Bond movie-style!

I'm really looking forward to #6.