Okay, first of all, because I'm a big geek and I'd like to think my readers are as well, you much watch this Star Wars themed Improv Everywhere stunt if you haven't already, I'll wait.
*Dum Dum Dum Dum da-dum, da da-dum*
Done? On with the plot then.
Harry, Ron and Hermione spend a bunch of time discussing what Harry saw in the diary and end up deciding they'll ask Hagrid about it if there's another attack. Meanwhile they pick new classes for their 3rd year and Quiddich practice again picks up for Harry. Four months go by with no new attack and people start to feel safe again. Then, on the morning of the Gryffindor v. Hufflepuff game, Harry hears the murderous voice again. Hermione rushes off without much of an explanation, and the boys head down to the pitch. Before the game can get started though, Professor McGonagall shows up, cancelling the match and telling the students to return to their Houses. She then takes Harry and Ron to the hospital wing, where they discover Hermione and another girl have been petrified. Not knowing what else to do, the boys use Harry's invisibility cloak that night to go see Hagrid, intending to ask him about the monster, but before they can, Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge arrives to arrest Hagrid for no good reason and Lucious Malfoy tops off the best day ever by bringing by a suspension order for Dumbledore. Dumbledore leaves with a few enigmatic words surreptitiously directed toward where Harry and Ron stand hidden in the corner and Hagrid follows suit with a slightly more awkward, but equally enigmatic admonishment to follow the spiders...and feed Fang.
In this chapter we are introduced to another of Rowling's overall themes, politics and government. Let's face it, the politicians and many of the government officials we meet throughout the series are...well...jerks to put it mildly. In his very first introduction to us, Fudge is shown very clearly covering his own ass. He knows he doesn't have a leg to stand on when he comes to take Hagrid to Azkaban, but he "must be seen to be doing something". You can't get much more political than that can you? Rowling's opinion of politicians becomes more clear in future books, but we can already see that perhaps the Ministry of Magic isn't as amazing as it seemed when we first heard about it (remember how interested Harry was upon finding out there was such a thing on his boat trip with Hagrid?) I'm sure I'll have much more to say on this subject in future books. For now, tell me what you think about Fudge's introduction? Do you dislike him from the start, or are you willing to give him a chance at redemption?