It has been a long, lonely summer for Harry Potter as he awaits his fifth year of study at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It’s bad enough that he must endure living with the odious Dursleys, but he hasn’t received even a note from his classmates and closest friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. And there has not been any word from anyone in the aftermath of his confrontation with the evil Lord Voldemort. The letter that does arrive is not the kind for which he was hoping—pronouncing that Harry is about to be expelled from Hogwarts for illegally using magic outside of school and in the presence of a Muggle, namely his obnoxious cousin, Dudley. Never mind that it was in defense against an unprovoked and inexplicable attack by two Dementors.
Harry’s only hope is to defend himself at what amounts to hardly more than a kangaroo court orchestrated by the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, who has his own reasons for wanting the young wizard to be gone for good. Much to Fudge’s chagrin, Harry is acquitted—thanks largely to the intervention of Hogwarts’ venerable Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore—but his return to Hogwarts is, for the first time, apprehensive and uncomfortable. Harry has learned that much of the wizarding community has been led to believe that the story of the teenager’s recent encounter with Voldemort is an outright lie, putting Harry’s integrity in question.
Feeling ostracized and alone, Harry is beset by nightmares that seem to foretell sinister events. Worse, the one person whose counsel he needs most, Professor Dumbledore, is suddenly acting strangely distant from the confused and hurt young wizard.
Meanwhile, in an effort to keep an eye on Dumbledore and keep the Hogwarts students—especially Harry—in line, Fudge has appointed a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, the duplicitous Professor Dolores Umbridge. But Professor Umbridge’s “Ministry-approved” course of defensive magic leaves the young wizards woefully unprepared to defend themselves against the Dark Forces threatening them. So, at the prompting of Hermione and Ron, Harry is convinced to take matters into his own hands. Meeting secretly with a small group of students who name themselves “Dumbledore’s Army,” Harry teaches them how to defend themselves against the Dark Arts, preparing the courageous young wizards for the extraordinary battle that he knows lies ahead.