Harry Potter is an orphan living with his only relatives, the Dursleys, who treat him miserably. But he is not just any ordinary boy; he is a wizard, as he finds out on his eleventh birthday. He gets an invitation to join Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry and a visit from it’s gamekeeper, Hagrid, a half-giant, who informs him about his past. He is told that his parents were killed by the Dark Lord Voldemort (known as You-Know-Who in the wizarding world, since people are afraid to even speak his name), when Harry was just one year old. Voldemort tried to kill Harry too, but his curse rebounded destroying his powers and Harry escaped with just a lightning-shaped scar on his head. Harry is famous in the magic world, but he doesn’t know it yet. Harry goes to Diagon Alley to buy all the magical things he needs and boards his train from Platform nine and three quarters, befriending Ron Weasley on the way. Ron, who is from a large but poor family, goes on to become his best friend. He reaches Hogwarts, a magnificent, magical castle and is sorted into Gryffindor House, the other three Houses being Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin. He starts learning all kinds of magical stuff (lessons, spells and charms) and instantly becomes enemies with fellow student Draco Malfoy and one of his professors, Severus Snape. He and Ron initially detest the domineering Hermione Granger, but become best friends after the trio come across a troll and knock it out together.
Harry also gets into the Gryffindor Quidditch (a game like football played on broomsticks) team as Seeker. They have many adventures in the castle and meet a three-headed dog guarding something in the school. They do a bit of sleuthing and discover that the dog is guarding the Philosopher’s stone, which turns any metal to gold and produces the Elixir of Life, which makes the drinker immortal. Voldemort is trying to steal the stone to get back to his former powerful self and attain immortality. How Harry and his friends get past various hurdles to thwart Voldemort’s efforts forms the culmination of this fascinating tale. Dumbledore, the great benevolent Headmaster, who is the only one Voldemort feared in his time, explains to Harry, that he has the power, which the Dark Lord doesn’t possess, the power of love, which his mother gave him when she died to protect him.
This book is the first in a series of seven. Rowling brews up an explosive mix of magic, adventure and humor. It’s a story liked by children and adults alike, fantasy at it’s best; simply unputdownable.