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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 July 2007, 07:29 GMT 08:29 UK
Potted Harry for beginners
Children reading Harry Potter books

The eagerly anticipated seventh Harry Potter book is released on Saturday.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the final book in the wizarding saga by JK Rowling.

If you have not read books one to six, here are the main plot threads from the series.

Warning: this contains plot spoilers.

HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE

  • Harry Potter lives in the cupboard under the stairs of his awful aunt and uncle, the Dursleys. He receives a letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry telling him he is a wizard and inviting him to start school.

  • Harry learns that his dead parents - who he thought had been killed in a car accident when he was a baby - were killed by evil wizard Lord Voldemort. His father James was a wizard and his mother Lily was a witch. Harry survived with only a scar on his head and he weakened the dark wizard.

  • Harry catches the Hogwarts Express from platform 9, and first meets schoolmates Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, who are put with him into Gryffindor house.

  • Harry learns the sport of Quidditch, makes instant enemies of Professor Snape and Draco Malfoy, and learns about the Philosopher's Stone, which is guarded by a three-headed dog.

  • As Harry races to get to the stone before Voldemort uses it to restore his power, he discovers the dark wizard has taken over the body of Professor Quirrell.

  • He is helped by the Mirror of Erised, which reflects the onlookers' desire, and Harry is shown the image of his parents.

  • As Voldemort tries to take the stone to restore him to power he is thwarted by Harry and disappears.

    HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS

  • Back at his aunt and uncle's house Harry meets Dobby the house elf, who warns him not to return to Hogwarts because there is danger ahead. Harry awakes from a bad dream to feel his scar burning.

  • Harry is whisked back to the Weasleys' home in a flying Ford Anglia to escape the Dursleys before returning to Hogwarts.

  • Harry, Ron and Hermione learn about the Chamber of Secrets, but Harry is one of the only people who can gain access to it.

  • Hagrid is wrongly accused of opening the chamber, allowing a creature to terrorise the school.

  • The diary of Tom Riddle, a former Hogwarts pupil, is uncovered and Harry discovers that Riddle's thoughts are magically contained in it. It is later revealed that Riddle became Voldemort.

  • Harry and the others discover the secret of entering the Chamber of Secrets and he and Ron go to the rescue again.

  • As Harry is about to be attacked he is saved by Dumbledore's phoenix. By damaging the diary, Voldemort is defeated once again.

    HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN

  • Infamous convict Sirius Black escapes from Azkaban prison and is suspected of wanting to kill Harry in order to bring back Voldemort.

  • Dementor guards are brought into Hogwarts to protect Harry, but he feels peculiar in their presence.

  • Traitor Peter Pettigrew, who led Voldemort to Harry's parents' hiding place so they could be killed, is uncovered at Hogwarts. He is the one who really committed the crime for which Black, a schoolfriend of James Potter, was imprisoned.

  • Harry learns that when his parents were killed, his mother Lily sacrificed herself to save her young son, creating a protection which Voldemort could not break.

  • Black reveals he is Harry's godfather and has been trying to protect him. Pettigrew escapes before being exposed as a criminal, so Black is forced to go on the run.

    HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE

  • Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts sees him once again in danger as Voldemort teams up with Pettigrew to bring the evil wizard back to power, placing an insider in Hogwarts.

  • Harry attends the Quidditch World Cup finals with the Weasleys, but the Dark Mark that foretells of Voldemort's henchmen, the Death Eaters, appears.

  • Once back at Hogwarts the school hosts the dangerous Triwizard Tournament and Harry is called to take part.

  • Harry once again dreams about Voldemort and awakes screaming from the scar on his forehead.

  • Sirius Black writes to Harry to tell him he is returning. They meet to discuss Harry's problems.

  • Voldemort captures Harry and tries to kill him, but Voldemort's past victims are released, including Harry's parents, and they help the young wizard defeat the enemy.

  • Professor Dumbledore realises he must prepare for a battle with Voldemort, who now has restored power, as the pupils end the term at Hogwarts knowing there is more danger ahead.

    HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX

  • With Lord Voldemort risen to physical form once again, a secret society - known as the Order of the Phoenix - has reformed and is keeping an eye on Voldemort's followers. It includes the Weasley family and Harry's godfather, Sirius Black.

  • Harry goes to a hearing at the Ministry of Magic for a disciplinary hearing about using magic outside school. He is acquitted and allowed to return to school thanks to Professor Dumbledore, who speaks on his behalf.

  • During his fifth year at Hogwarts School, 15-year-old Harry is in full-blown adolescence, complete with teenage rage, a schoolboy crush and a growing sense of rebellion.

  • Dumbledore tells Harry to take lessons in Occlumency, the magical defence of the mind against external penetration, from Snape. During one of the lessons, Harry discovers his father was cruel and just as arrogant as Snape had always said.

  • Harry and Hermione discover Hagrid has a giant tied up at his hut. He is Hagrid's brother, Grawp, and he asks them to look after Grawp if something happens to him.

  • Ron is made keeper of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, but the team's triumph is not enough to take their minds off the looming Ordinary Wizarding Levels (OWL) exams.

  • Harry has a vision that Sirius is in trouble and goes to the Department of Mysteries, where he thinks he will find him - but it is a trap and the Death Eaters are waiting for them to arrive.

  • Sirius arrives with Lupin, Moody, Tonks, and Kingsley to save them, but Sirius is killed in the ensuing fight.

  • Professor Dumbledore tells Harry about a prophecy that could apply to him or his friend Neville Longbottom. This child must battle with Voldemort and either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives.

    HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE

  • Cornelius Fudge is fired as the Minister of Magic as Voldemort and his Death Eaters cause havoc across the UK.

  • Snape gets a visit from Draco Malfoy's mother, Narcissa, and her sister Bellatrix Lestrange. Narcissa swears Snape to an Unbreakable Vow, ensuring he will protect Draco and complete his mission for Voldemort, should her son fail.

  • Dumbledore takes Harry to meet retired professor Horace Slughorn. Dumbledore persuades Slughorn to resume his role as professor of potions. Snape, meanwhile, is announced as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.

  • After doing reasonably well in the OWL exams, Harry and Ron sign up for potion classes, and Slughorn lends Harry an old textbook marked as the property of "The Half-Blood Prince". Handwritten notes in the book help Harry do well, and Slughorn gives him a small vial of Felix Felicis - a good luck potion - as a reward.

  • Harry tells Dumbledore that he suspects Malfoy is a Death Eater.

  • Dumbledore gives Harry lessons in how to view collected memories from Voldemort's past from the Pensieve. Dumbledore believes Voldemort has split his soul into seven parts, storing six in Horcruxes to ensure immortality, while leaving the seventh in his body. Two Horcruxes have already been destroyed.

  • Harry - who is now in a relationship with Ron's sister Ginny - goes with Dumbledore to a secret cave to look for another Horcrux.

  • When they return to the castle, they find Lord Voldemort's Dark Mark hovering over Hogwarts, and are confronted by Draco.

  • The Death Eaters appear and urge Draco to kill Dumbledore - his mission - but when Draco hesitates, Snape arrives and casts the fatal Avada Kedavra curse on Dumbledore.

  • As the Death Eaters flee, Harry pursues Snape who admits he is the Half-Blood Prince. Snape and Harry duel, before he escapes with Draco in tow.

  • Harry retrieves the Horcrux from Dumbledore's body only to discover it is a fake.

  • Dumbledore's funeral brings the school year to a sad end, and Professor McGonagall is appointed Hogwarts' acting headmistress.

  • Harry leaves the school in search of the remaining Horcruxes, along with Ron and Hermione who have promised to help him.




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