The Harry Potter Books Ranked!
By: Preston Simmons | Written: December 28, 2021
Harry Potter and the Order of The Books
The Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling is one of the most influential literary series in modern history. As of the end of 2021, each of the books appears in the most sold books of all time list, so it’s not a stretch to say that the name Harry Potter is known throughout the world in some way, shape, or form.
As you know, the Harry Potter series comprises seven books in total (sorry, Cursed Child, but you don’t make the cut). The series in order is comprised of these books:
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Each of these books is beloved by many, and if you go to any Harry Potter Trivia night or Fanclub, it probably won’t take long to overhear an argument about which of these seven books is the best in the series or which is the worst.
Arguments could be made for each book regarding which one deserves the spot as the best of the bunch. However, just like the end of the House Cup, there can be only one winner.
So, which one is the best? Let’s find out.
RELATED: Do you consider yourself a Harry Potter superfan? Test your magical knowledge with the Harry Potter Trivia Quiz covering all seven books! Do you think you can get a perfect score?
*Caution: some spoilers for series ahead*
#7 – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Number 7 in the Harry Potter Books Ranked is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which started it all. By far, book one in the series is the most different of all the books. From J.K Rowling’s prose to the characters and the world-building, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the most child-friendly book in the series. That makes sense, considering that the main protagonists are eleven-year-olds in this book. Although the book is the shortest in the series, it is also the hardest to get through during multiple re-reads.
The problem with Philosopher’s Stone compared to the other books in the series is that it verges too much in the middle-grade genre and is just too simple. As a stand-alone, this book is excellent in establishing the wizarding world, which is the entire point of the novel. It’s not meant to be complicated, it’s meant to be simple enough that a nine-year-old could understand it and one day hope to receive their Letter of Acceptance to Hogwarts on their eleventh birthday.
I would compare this book to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or James and the Giant Peach (both by Roald Dahl) in that Philosopher’s Stone works as a great book to read to your kids at bedtime. It’s an incredibly creative book, but it cannot really generate in-depth discussion or analysis.
For some, that might be what they like the most about the book. It’s an easy read, perfect for starting and finishing in a single afternoon. For me, though, it’s a book that I just try and get through as quickly as possible so that I can make it to the longer, darker ones in the series.
#6 – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Number 6 in the Harry Potter books ranked is Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second book in the series. The problems that I brought up with Philosopher’s Stone persist in Chamber of Secrets, albeit lesser. The book is still clearly intended for children and not quite in the young adult genre. Again, this was intended as Rowling wanted to write the books in the style meant to be accessible, this time, for twelve-year-olds, as that’s how old Harry was in his second year.
My main problem with Chamber of Secrets is Gilderoy Lockhart, the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher of the year. In each novel, a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is introduced (excluding Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows for plot-related reasons). It is, therefore, the DADA professor that is given the most attention of the teachers in the story.
Of the DADA teachers, Professor Lockhart is the least interesting of the bunch. Throughout the novel, he acts more as comedic relief than a character meant to teach Harry, and in turn, the reader, anything that we hadn’t already known with prior knowledge given to us in Philosopher’s Stone.
Besides Lockhart, of the first two books, Chamber of Secrets is the more enjoyable read, especially regarding re-reads. Elements first introduced in this book like Parseltongue, Horcruxes, and Pensieves are used throughout the series, even if we don’t get the complete picture of what they are until books six and seven.
#5 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Number 5 on the Harry Potter books ranked is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, book 3 in the series. By now, you might think to yourself that you see a pattern; the worst three books are the first three books. I don’t look at it that way at all. Instead, I like to think that the series continues to get better as the books progress. I’m firmly in the camp that books 4-7 are better than books 1-3. However, of the first three, Prisoner of Azkaban is the best.
From this point on in the series, the books can officially be categorized as Young Adult. Of the first three, Prisoner of Azkaban is the darkest. Dementors are introduced, and so is one of my favorite charms in the entire series, the Patronus.
PoA finally gives the reader some background information on Harry’s parents and introduces us to two of the best characters in the series, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin. Both of these characters are excellent in this book. Lupin is, in my opinion, the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Harry has during his time at Hogwarts. Though Harry doesn’t get much time to interact with Sirius in the book, the short moments they get to talk to one another in PoA are some of the most heartwarming in the series.
My biggest gripe with Prisoner of Azkaban is the Time-Turner. Time magic is a powerful form of magic that probably should not have been introduced in the series. Though Hermione used it throughout the entire book, it was never mentioned again in the rest of the series. Time magic verges too much in Deus Ex Machina territory, even if the series is full of magical things occurring.
#4 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Number 4 on the list for the Harry Potter books Ranked is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth book. The Order of the Phoenix is perhaps the darkest book in the series, with arguably one the single greatest villains in Young Adult literature, Dolores Umbridge.
Order of the Phoenix occurs in Harry’s fifth year after Voldemort returns to power. Unfortunately for Harry, the Ministry of Magic is out to make Harry appear like a lunatic and a deranged attention seeker who didn’t actually witness Voldemort come back and is instead lying about what he saw. Half of Hogwarts refuses to believe Harry, and to make matters worse; Dumbledore is seemingly ignoring all of his attempts to talk to him. This, in turn, makes for a highly agitated and angry Harry.
An angry and quick to outburst version of Harry is the theme of this book, and it leads to some intense moments for both him and his friends.
A few chapters in this book make it stand out from the rest of the series. The first I’d like to cover is Dumbledore and Voldemort’s duel at the ministry, and the second is Harry and Dumbledore’s confrontation in Dumbledore’s office immediately after the ministry duel. Both of these chapters showcase the darkness within Harry the best and accumulate the struggles he faced in the previous books.
The confrontation chapter highlights that above all else, at this point in the story, Harry is just a fifteen-year-old teen who is way over his head. The anger and frustration of his circumstances come to a head, and it is here that the prophecy is revealed by Dumbledore, which ultimately is the central conflict for the following two books.
Overall, Order of the Phoenix is a great book that showcases Harry at his lowest point in the series and is also filled with some of the most memorable moments in the entire series.
#3 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Number 3 on the Harry Potter books ranked is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, book seven in the series. The epic conclusion to the series, the Deathly Hallows, is almost everything I could have hoped for in a finale.
The stakes had never been higher. The sense of dread and the massive uphill battle Harry was tasked with from chapter one was evident. How could Harry, Hermione, and Ron successfully find the remaining Horcruxes without Dumbledore? How could Harry possibly defeat Voldemort when he now controls the Ministry of Magic? For sure, there is no way he could have done it alone.
The one major flaw I had with Deathly Hallows is that pretty much the entire book, Harry and Ron were thoroughly carried by Hermione throughout their Horcrux hunt. Without Hermione, Harry would have failed on the first day. Sure, Harry and Ron had their moments of glory, but in reality, Hermione was by far the essential member of the group in every other way. If Harry and Ron were equally as helpful to the group as Hermione was, I think the book would have placed higher on the list. Though Harry and Ron proved themselves in critical moments, Hermione was the MVP of the book.
I loved this book because never once did any (side) character feel like they were protected by plot armor, save for Harry because, in a way, he literally was saved by plot armor. Maybe I should say if a character wasn’t part of the main trio, it felt like they could die at any moment. Because of that, I always felt on edge while reading the book, which was great.
Another thing that made this book great was the actual Horcruxes. Each was unique, and the moments where Harry, Ron, and Hermione had to destroy them made for intense sequences.
The Battle of Hogwarts was also everything I could have hoped for. Each character had their moments to shine, and it never felt overly convoluted or confusing. The final battle between Harry and Voldemort was satisfying, and the result did not feel cheaply earned.
Finally, the chapter revealing Snape’s memories was heartbreaking. It didn’t redeem Snape for his abusiveness throughout the series (he’s still a terrible teacher, in my opinion), but it did bring his character into a new light.
Overall, Deathly Hallows was an incredible ending to an amazing series.
#2 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Number two in the Harry Potter books Ranked is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, book four in the series. For many reasons, Goblet of Fire deserves to be in the top three books in the series.
The first reason why Goblet of Fire is number two in the Harry Potter books ranked list is because out of all the books (besides Philosopher’s Stone), this book expands upon the wizarding world the most. Here, we are introduced to the Quidditch World Cup, Durmstrang, and Beauxbatons; in other words, wizard culture around the world. The beauty of the wizarding world is that, just like in real life, each geographical location has its own unique wizarding culture vastly different from the English one we had been accustomed to in the previous books.
The second reason Goblet of Fire is second in the Harry Potter books Ranked list is that this one was the most fun out of all the books. Tournaments are always enjoyable events to read about, and the Tri-Wizard Tournament is no exception. Each of the different challenges Harry had to face proved unique and entertaining. What could be more fun than fighting a dragon, exploring a mermaid city, and fighting for your life in an ever-changing maze?
I also loved Mad Eyed Moody as the Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher and his reveal at the end of the book. Learning about the Unforgivable Curses was the first time the series truly felt like the books were heading in a darker direction than the previous three.
What sets this book apart from the rest, though, is the Graveyard chapter. This is probably one of the top five chapters in the entire series. Voldemort has finally returned to power, and the threat he brings to the wizarding world is shown to its fullest. Before this point, as book readers, we had only heard about how powerful of a wizard Voldemort was. We knew people referred to him as “He who must not be named” but never really understood why so many feared him.
The Graveyard chapter showed that Voldemort is as threatening as everyone said. Not only that, in this chapter, Harry is entirely alone. Yet, despite all of that, his bravery in the face of insurmountable evil showcased how amazing of a protagonist he is.
#1 – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Number one in the Harry Potter books ranked is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, book six. This is, in my opinion, the best Harry Potter book. This book focuses entirely on the best aspects of the series; Harry and Dumbledore’s relationship, Voldemort, and character relationships.
Harry and Dumbledore are the two central pillars for the faction of good in the Potterverse. Harry represents youth and the best of the newest generation of wizards. Dumbledore represents the best that the old wizarding world has to offer. Throughout the series, the relationship between Harry and Dumbledore has always been one of the best aspects of the series.
Dumbledore had always been the father figure that Harry missed in his life. He was the one that always helped Harry when he needed guidance or someone to believe in him. On the other hand, Harry was like the son Dumbledore never had. Dumbledore viewed Harry as the son he never had. He loved Harry in a way he didn’t think was possible.
Though JK Rowling built their relationship from book one, it was only in this book where Dumbledore and Harry truly worked with one another. It was beautiful how JK Rowling brought their relationship to a peak in the Horcrux Cave, showing that finally, Dumbledore and Harry accomplished something extraordinary together. The mentor and student finally worked together as equals, and that maybe, together, defeating Voldemort could be possible. Then, it all comes crashing down for Harry in one of the greatest and iconic chapters in history.
The following reason why this takes the top spot in the Harry Potter books ranked is that we finally learn the story of one of the most interesting villains in literature, Voldemort. We are given pieces of Voldemort’s history in chapters spread throughout the book instead of all at once. Each piece is part of a greater puzzle, and with Harry, we are posed with the question of how did an orphan boy end up the most feared wizard of all time? Was it nature or nurture?
Then the parallels between Harry’s own life and Voldemort’s begin to show. Both were orphans, unaware of their magical heritage. Both were incredibly talented wizards for their young age, and both spoke Parseltongue. And yet, there was one key difference in the pair of them that Voldemort lacked that Harry had.
Finally, this book was the best when it came to the relationships between the characters. Harry and Ginny become a couple, Hermione admitting to being in love with Ron, and Fleur and Bill’s love, to name a few.
The most important reason this book deserves the number one spot is that in Half-Blood Prince, so many questions are answered, and so many plots are resolved. It’s the perfect set-up for the final book, and for that, it is the number one book in the Harry Potter books ranked.
Final Thoughts on the Harry Potter Books Ranked
The Harry Potter series is a masterpiece, and in my opinion, the best young adult fantasy series ever written. Each of the books is incredible in its way and together form the complete story. These books are timeless and will forever hold a special place in millions of readers’ hearts.
If you haven’t had a chance to read the books yet, or have only seen the movies, now is a perfect time to bring some magic into your life.
If you’d like to find all the books in one place, you can find all the Harry Potter books on Amazon by clicking here!