The first novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher`s Stone, begins near Harry`s 11th birthday. Half-giant Rubeus Hagrid reveals Harry`s history and introduces him to the wizarding world. The world J. K. Rowling created is both completely separate from and yet intimately connected to the real world. While the fantasy world of Narnia is an alternative universe and the Lord of the Rings Middle-earth a mythic past, the Wizarding world of Harry Potter exists alongside that of the real world and contains magical elements similar to things in the non-magical world. Many of its institutions and locations are in places that are recognizable in the real world, such as London. It comprises a fragmented collection of hidden streets, overlooked and ancient pubs, lonely country manors and secluded castles that remain invisible to the non-magical population of Muggles.
With Hagrid`s help, Harry prepares for and undertakes his first year of study at Hogwarts. As Harry begins to explore the magical world, the reader is introduced to many of the primary locations used throughout the series. Harry meets most of the main characters and gains his two closest friends: Ron Weasley, a fun-loving member of an ancient, large, happy, but hard-up wizarding family, and Hermione Granger, an obsessively bookish witch of non-magical parentage. Harry also encounters the school`s potions master, Severus Snape, who displays a deep and abiding dislike for him. The plot concludes with Harry`s second confrontation with Lord Voldemort, who in his quest for immortality, yearns to gain the power of the Philosopher`s Stone.