Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
You don't have to be a 14-year-old with a spare set of round glasses to know and love Harry Potter, but keeping up with six thick J.K. Rowling books and over 10 hours of movies is hard on any Muggle. And unlike Harry's fellow wizard Hermione, you can't just pull out a handy "time turner" and take all the time you need. As <I>Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1</I> hits theaters on Nov. 19, catch up with our "Cliffs Notes" version of the entire saga. But beware -- it includes more spoilers than you can shake a wand at!
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
While living with his despicable uncle’s mean family, 11-year-old Harry Potter (played by Daniel Radcliffe) is shockingly visited by a half-giant named Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) and offered attendance to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Once there, Harry befriends classmates Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), and is often tested by a secretive Professor Snape, who has his own reasons for disliking Harry. The evil and once-powerful Lord Voldemort, whom Harry played a part in vanquishing when Harry was a baby, plots his return to power with the help of a special stone, but Harry bravely gets to the stone himself and, with help from benevolent headmaster Albus Dumbledore, destroys it. All seems well in Potter's world again… but not for long.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Shortly after arriving at school, the students learn that the "Chamber of Secrets" -- the lair of a feared creature -- has been opened. Soon, several Hogwarts students – including Hermione -- are found "petrified", and Ron’s sister Ginny has been kidnapped. Meanwhile, Harry discovers a magic diary that holds clues to the mystery. It's up to Harry and Ron to find the Chamber, uncover its secrets -– which involve Voldemort, naturally -– and save the students. Whew! Just another year in the life of the world's most famous wizard.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Get Sirius! Upon returning to school for his third year, Harry learns that Sirius Black, a suspected ally of Voldemort and accused murderer, has escaped a famous prison called Azkaban and is targeting Harry. But in truth, Black is a good guy who was not only friends with Harry's parents, but is also Harry’s godfather. When intimidating ghost-like caretakers of Azkaban called Dementors find and recapture Sirius. Harry sets out to free him with the help of Hermione and a magical winged beast. Harry also learns much more about his parents and his pivotal role in wizarding history.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
In Harry's fourth year, Hogwarts hosts the famous Triwizard Tournament, featuring competitors from each of three wizard schools selected by a mysterious Goblet of Fire. But the Goblet surprisingly picks Harry as well. When both Harry and Cedric Diggory (played by none other than Twilight’s Robert Pattinson!), win and touch the championship trophy simultaneously, they are transported right into Voldemort's hands at a remote location. It turns out that an ally of Voldemort used a spell to control the Goblet. Voldemort kills Cedric almost immediately, but the Dark Lord underestimates Harry's power, and the boy escapes once again, holding the body of Cedric upon his return to Hogwarts
Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter learns of an alliance of wizards founded by Dumbledore to stop Lord Voldemort called "The Order of the Phoenix". But few in the wizard world believe Voldemort has actually returned. Determined to defend themselves, Ron, Hermione, and Harry form a secret offensive team called "Dumbledore’s Army." After several of Voldemort's allies -- called Death Eaters -- escape from prison, the young wizards are lured into a confrontation with them. Voldemort attempts to possess Harry, but Harry fights him off, focusing on his love for his friends and for Sirius. The Ministry of Magic officials arrive just in time to see Voldemort leave, obliterating any doubt about The Dark Lord's ominous return.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Hormones take over Hogwarts in Harry's fifth year as Hermione pines for Ron, and Harry and Ginny slowly fall for one another. But there are bigger issues: Harry and Dumbledore learn that Voldemort has been creating "Horcuxes," objects that store parts of their creator's soul. Voldemort can never be stopped unless all the Horcuxes are destroyed. Dumbledore and Harry go to retrieve one of them in a faraway cave, and almost lose their lives in the process. When they return, the Death Eaters confront Dumbledore, who is killed by Professor Snape. With Dumbledore gone and Voldemort stronger than ever, this brings the latest Harry Potter chapter to one of its saddest conclusions.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
(Made into two films: Part 1 in theaters Nov. 19; Part 2 out July 15, 2011)
Harry, Ron, and Hermione drop out of Hogwarts to find the Horcruxes. They destroy all but one, which turns out to be inside Harry himself. In a final battle at Hogwarts, the students join forces to fight Voldemort and the Death Eaters. Knowing he'd have to die to destroy Voldermort, Harry surrenders himself, and Voldemort kills him... for the moment. Enter Dumbledore's spirit, who explains to Harry that, because Voldemort used Harry's blood to return to full strength, Harry is protected from Voldemort and allowed to return to his body. With the Horcux inside him now destroyed, Harry is able to defeat Voldemort once and for all. And this time we mean, FOR ALL... Right, J.K.?