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Daily Power Rankings: The Harry Potter Series

All 7 of the books in J.K. Rowling’s iconic series, ranked

Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood
Los Angeles - Hogwarts is seen in the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” themepark at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles on April 6, 2016.
Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

It’s Day 3 of our new Daily Power Rankings series, and sports still have yet to start up again. We’re officially out of sports-related ideas for content.

Really, we aren’t, and will have plenty coming your way during this pandemic-induced second offseason, but we all could use a bit of fun, so we’re stepping away from sports for a day for something even less grounded in reality.

Enter the Harry Potter series.

You wouldn’t still be reading if you didn’t love the seven-book (I don’t count the other stuff) series, too – but if you haven’t read them, this is your spoiler warning. I have dutifully taken on the responsibility of ranking the books according to their quality, and now present the results.

I’m no literary expert – I write sports stories, not fantasy – so this won’t be a fancy literary analysis... I’ll keep it brief. Tell me where I went wrong on Twitter or in the comments below.

The 7 Harry Potter Books, Ranked

No. 7: The Order of the Phoenix

Good golly, this is a painful book to read – not for its quality, but for its nails-on-the-chalkboard feeling plot. There are happy moments, like the formation of Dumbledore’s Army and Harry’s relationship with Cho Chang, but the mere presence of Dolores Umbridge nullifies any warm fuzzies.

Most characters are frustratingly, incessantly ignorant, plus Sirius Black’s death rips at readers’ hearts, so this book feels like a marathon at times.

No. 6: The Chamber of Secrets

Another frustrating book. The plot, which centers around what the basilisk is, is entertaining, but not as deep or layered as others in the series. I’ve heard people say this book could be eliminated and the series would lose little. They’re probably right.

That said, the climax with Tom Riddle is entertaining.

No. 5: The Sorcerer’s Stone

It’s easy to love this book on first consideration. It introduced us to the wizarding world, after all. But on a re-read, it can feel more like a children’s book than we’d like to think it is. There are some holes to the plot, like Dumbledore’s rather immediate trusting of Harry’s abilities, but it also feels a bit short. Considering the detail that goes into some of the later years, more would be nice here.

But we all read six more of these, so something worked, yeah?

No. 4: The Half-Blood Prince

Look, the ending is as sad as the series gets. That’s why this book isn’t higher. It does a great job setting up the series’ finale by delving further into backstories (more on that quite soon). Most of the book is fairly heart-warming too, especially following the Order of the Phoenix’s rather stark conclusion.

No. 3: The Deathly Hallows

The series concludes in great fashion with the Deathly Hallows. Epilogue aside, the ending is tremendous. The battle of Hogwarts, Harry and Voldemort’s face-off... yes please. The way backstories are woven into the progression of the plot makes the seventh book one of the best.

The complaints: Ron is annoying and there’s a prominent lull in the middle of this one.

No. 2: The Prisoner of Azkaban

Ahh, yes – the top two. This book, to me, is where the series really gets going. Readers are no longer being introduced to the world of Harry Potter – now, they’re diving deeper. The world Harry and company find isn’t all peachy, and that’s something that appears throughout the rest of the series. To continue the storytelling tactic we’ve just discussed, the Prisoner of Azkaban showcases more of the looking-backward-to-move-forward path that appears in the latter parts of the series.

Oh, and hippogriffs.

No. 1: The Goblet of Fire

Sure, quidditch (and Dean Thomas’ love of West Ham) is what we get for sports in Harry Potter, but the Triwizard Tournament is where it’s really at. I’ve heard about the plot holes in this one – how obvious the results of Harry’s inclusion are and nobody noticing something’s off with Mad-Eye Moody – but I think there’s enough to outweigh any gaps.

The Quidditch World Cup is one of the most fun sections of the series to read. The foreign expansion of the series’ universe may not do a ton for the overarching plot, but it makes the Goblet of Fire different. The fourth book is also the first chunky one, which is an important check in the “pro” column.

Have a different take on the series? Let us hear it in the comments! We’ll be back with another set of power rankings on yet another topic tomorrow morning.