New Review of Harry Potter and the Art of Spying

This review was posted by Indie Mine, a website dedicated to reviewing books and movies that are not typically covered by mainstream media. Read, enjoy, and check out their other reviews!

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In light of recent events regarding the release of the “Torture Report” by America’s Central Intelligence Agency, I find myself in the difficult position of having to keep an objective viewpoint on the narratives given by everyone within the political sphere. It goes without saying that the contents of this latest report provide a shocking glimpse at the lack of transparency and corruption within our own system. To put it in the simplest of terms, the trust of the people is at a rather low point. Fortunately, I am not alone in working to answer the tough questions, such as “What if Harry Potter were in the CIA?” To give you an idea, we examine the work of spy novelist Lynn Boughey, and Peter Earnest, thirty-six-year CIA veteran and executive director of the International Spy Museum, in their companion guide, Harry Potter and the Art of Spying.

Due to their extensive backgrounds in the world of spycraft, it should come as no surprise that this is a subject they hold in high regard. Harry Potter and the Art of Spying examines our hero’s growth as a young recruit to a top secret covert operative from his tenure at Hogwarts. It is apparent that the writers are experts on the subject, and the extensive contributions of Courtney Klein and Nichole Ellis certainly help make the case that Harry is a damn good secret agent. The Art of Spying begins with a chapter-by-chapter analysis of Harry Potter and the Order Of The Phoenix, the fifth book in J.K. Rowling’s seven book saga. This essentially means that the reader is expected to know all the major plot points of the series beforehand. While it may seem odd to immediately jump right in to book five without first examining the previous four entries, the concept works rather well. It is explained that Harry’s true talents as a spy don’t really hold much weight until Dumbledore’s Army and the Ministry of Magic enter the fray. The first 38 chapters (yes, 38) are littered with footnotes and endnotes, as well as personal quips from the authors; in many ways it reads more like a fun lecture than an actual textbook.

This does not necessarily mean that everything from Sorcerer’s Stone to Goblet of Fire received the axe, however. Notes are scattered throughout the text that provide insight, direct quotes, and even sourced page numbers for reference. In the early chapters we are told that Harry’s skills at reading facial expressions are an absolute necessity in the world of spying, and his interactions with the looming shadow that is the Ministry of Magic paint a pretty clear picture of how interactions between agencies in the wizarding world accurately reflect our own. The real star of the show is Professor Snape, however. Fans of the series are well aware that our grumpy Master of Potions turned out to be one of the greatest Double Agents in the genre. Without getting into the hows and whys, I can say that Boughey and Earnest’s explanations are certainly worth considering the next time you reread… Or re-reread, or re-re-reread the series. Seriously, I can’t tell you why. That’s classified information. (Get it? Classified? That’s a CIA joke.)

The Art of Spying explores more than just the characters, too. What really makes this worth reading is the detail into the actual world of Harry Potter. The Aurors, the Dementors, the Ministry itself, etc. all have a role to play. Each agency has its own rich history, and it is certainly refreshing to see a companion book that delves deeper into the witching well. Another interesting aspect to consider is that the authors are well aware that J.K. Rowling probably didn’t intend for Harry and the gang to become spies. There is a sort of mentality that “If you search hard enough, you can find anything” prevalent from start to finish and the honesty is quite welcome. Included in the pages are expansive glossaries, annotations, and appendixes that are worth looking to for further information. The text itself is very easy to read and it is written in a clear, concise manner.

Guest Post: JK Rowling’s Christmas Codes and New Content

Today’s post comes to us from Aimee Krenz, a Source Editor from Mugglenet, the world’s #1 Harry Potter site. We thought her expertise would come in handy given JK Rowling’s fantastic new codes and short stories.

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Like many fans who follow all things Harry Potter, I was excited by the Pottermore announcement that Jo Rowling would be providing us new information on the site this December. Pottermore cleverly came up with a way for fans to “earn” the goods using riddles – and for those of you who have found the Art of Spying a thrilling new way to look at the Harry Potter series, you can appreciate this approach more than most. It’s time to deploy your inner spy and see what you can learn from Jo’s riddles!

In the first riddle, seen below, we’re taken to a Moment in The Half-Blood Prince:

If you recall, Spinner’s End is the home of Professor Severus Snape (a double agent), and also the place where Narcissa Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange meet in secret with Snape regarding Draco and the secret mission assigned to him by Lord Voldemort. What is revealed after solving the riddle is where Spinner’s End is actually located and how it relates not only to Snape, but to Harry and Lily as well. Cokesworth, the town where Lily and Petunia Evans and Severus Snape grew up, also happens to be one of the places Harry’s uncle Vernon takes them to in The Sorcerer’s Stone to avoid the Owl Post that invites Harry to attend Hogwarts as a First Year student.

Pottermore’s second riddle puts the spotlight on the Weasleys’ joke shop – for those of you spies just starting out, this clue is fairly simple.

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Fans of the series love the idea of Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes and should know exactly where the shop is located. What Jo gives us with the solving of this riddle is the backstory on the location itself: a history of Diagon Alley via The Leaky Cauldron.

The Leaky Cauldron is a place where Harry has gathered a lot of his information about where he comes from and his ongoing battle with Voldemort. This crossroads into the wizarding world is more than just a gateway – wizards and witches from all over Great Britain pass through its doors daily and bring with them important information that Harry and his friends use to help them on their quest to defeat Voldemort.

In the answer to this riddle, Jo provides us the reason why other wizarding villages and magical locations were unseen to the Muggle eye while The Leaky Cauldron was not – the pub was built long before the International Statute of Secrecy was put into effect and was allowed to remain in the same location, with a few concealment charms after the Statute was put into place.

Jo also revealed an almost-key player in Harry’s journey – Florean Fortescue. Florean, the owner of Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour, was intended to provide Harry with information that ultimately ended up being given by the portrait-dwelling Phineas Nigellus Black (another double agent that we never saw coming!) both inside Grimmauld Place and Hogwarts castle. Florean was unfortunately, a victim of Voldemort during the series, kidnapped and killed off by Death Eaters.

Our third clue, seen below, talks of another Potions master, although not Severus Snape. This time, the riddle hints to another professor closer to Voldemort’s past.

Once this riddle has been solved by answering Professor Slughorn, we are treated to a few more bits of history. First, Jo addresses potions – who can create them and who can’t. Turns out, no matter if a Muggle happened to come across a copy of Moste Potente Potions, they would not be able to create anything even if they had the ingredients. You must be a witch or wizard (and a patient one, at that!) to create a real magic potion. She also tells us that she was rubbish at chemistry in school and this became the subject that her adversary Snape would teach Harry and his friends.

Second, we learn a little about cauldrons. I’d always wondered about the weight of the cauldrons as they are listed as pewter, copper, brass, silver, iron, and gold. It’s like Jo has spies of her own and decided to answer this question for us! The cauldrons have been enchanted to make them lighter for the witch or wizard who has to carry them and include versions that collapse for easy storage.

Clues four and five seemed a bit of a let-down in regards to new information, but did provide us two more Moments in Half-Blood Prince – Katie Bell and the cursed necklace, handed to her in the girls bathroom by Voldemort’s secret agent Draco Malfoy, as well as Dumbledore’s visit to young Tom Riddle at the orphanage.

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Our sixth clue focused on one of my favorite quirky characters, but once solved, led us again to our favorite and most successful double agent, Professor Snape:

Jo clears up yet another swirling bit of misinformation that has made the rounds in the fandom regarding who or what Snape is – a vampire. She tells us that vampires do exist in the Potter universe, but that other than a brief mention of one at Slughorn’s Christmas party, no one else of mention was in fact a vampire. Jo briefly had a professor at Hogwarts whose name could have led her in that direction, but says she felt she had nothing to add to vampire lore, so left it alone.

That’s it for this week’s blog! I had a tremendous amount of fun exploring Pottermore’s special Christmas riddles and learning more behind the scenes story information from Jo. Check back next week when we discuss the final 6 Pottermore clues!

War’s Moral Quandary – Harry Potter and the Deathly Lesson

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Today’s post comes to us from Spencer Fannon, a Harry Potter fan and writer whose responses to our questions and comments on Twitter caught our eye. Spencer is an aspiring ESPN reporter with his own website: jspencerfannon.wordpress.com. Check it out to see his Harry Potter fanfiction and his sports commentary! Follow him on Twitter, too: @spencerfannon.

In the Harry Potter universe, we see a very sharp and concise divide between good and evil, Light and Dark, one that is much clearer than in the real world. In the real world, the lines between good and evil are very much blurred. To one person, an act could be considered good while the same act could be considered evil to someone else. This case is no more evident than in war. War is evil, it is something that must be avoided as much as possible but when you are in the midst of war, one cannot afford to hold back.

In final three Harry Potter novels, the Second Voldemort War is raging. In Order of the Phoenix, it is a war fought in the shadows as both Voldemort and his Death Eaters attempt to recover the prophecy from the Department of Mysteries, while Dumbledore’s Order of the Phoenix attempt to stop him. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we are shown what war is in the magical world. However, the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore’s Army hamper themselves during this war by limiting themselves to trying to subdue their enemies, the same enemies that would kill them and their families without a second thought.

The Death Eaters are much like Hitler’s Nazis, they are waging a genocidal war against their enemies, seeking to wipe them from the face of the earth. So why do Harry and his allies not fight back against a fanatical enemy by using all means at their disposal? We see Harry use two of the three Unforgivables in the later books, the Cruciatus Curse against Bellatrix Lestrange (Rowling, “Order of the Phoenix” 810) and the Imperius Curse against the goblin Bogrod and Travers (Rowling, “Deathly Hallows” 533), but why doesn’t he use the Killing Curse?

The Death Eaters have no qualms about using all three Unforgivables during both Wars, and we are led to believe that the only time that the Ministry is effective in forcing back the Death Eaters is during the First War, when Barty Crouch Sr. allows the Aurors to use the Unforgivables to fight back.

The moral quandary of fighting a war is — do you fight using all means at your disposal, fighting to end the war as quickly as possible to try and save lives on your own side, or do you attempt to keep your morality and fight using only certain means? I believe an excellent example of this is using another famous Harry, Harry S. Truman at the end of World War II. Truman becomes President in 1945 after FDR dies, and is faced with the dilemma of this moral choice, to end the War in the Pacific as quickly as possible by using the atomic bombs, or by trying to invade Japan and end the war using more conventional means. We know what happens, the two bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed around 200,000 Japanese, and the World War II ended less than two weeks later. An invasion of Japan could have cost the US well over a million lives, not counting the Japanese lives lost as well (H. Miller, “The Nuking of Japan” 8/1/2012).

In the end, the good guys won the day but we are left with the thoughts of who could have survived if Harry, Dumbledore and the good guys were willing to kill to defend themselves, their friends, family and their way of life.

Do you agree? Should the “good guys” in Harry Potter have used Unforgiveable Curses? Would doing so have changed their characters or the series as a whole?

Answers: Harry Potter’s Christmas

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In the spirit of the holidays, we created a Christmas-themed Harry Potter quiz! Check your answers now!

1. What color sweater did Mrs. Weasley knit Harry in book 1?

Green/Emerald

2. Harry has his first kiss with whom under the mistletoe?

Cho Chang

3. How many Christmas trees does Hagrid put up in the Great Hall?

12

4. What vegetable did the Weasley children throw at Percy when he brought the minister to Weasley family Christmas in book 6?

Parsnips

5. Where did Harry and Hermione spend Christmas in Book 7?

The Forest of Dean

6. Who did Harry, Ron, and Hermione run into on Christmas Day at St. Mungo’s in Book 5?

Neville Longbottom

7. What disguise does Harry adopt on Christmas Day in book 2?

He uses Polyjuice potion to become Vincent Crabbe

8. What did Harry receive from the Dursleys for Christmas in book 2?

A toothpick

9. Which St. Mungo’s patient received a disguised Devil’s Snare as a Christmas present?

Broderick Bode

10. What special event was held on Christmas day in Harry’s fourth year?

The Yule Ball

How did you do? Do you incorporate any Harry Potter-related traditions in YOUR Christmas festivities? 

Quiz: Harry Potter’s Christmas

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We’ve created a Harry Potter Christmas quiz! Can you celebrate the holidays like a true wizard?

1. What color sweater did Mrs. Weasley knit Harry in book 1?

2. Harry has his first kiss with whom under the mistletoe?

3. How many Christmas trees does Hagrid put up in the Great Hall?

4. What vegetable did the Weasley children throw at Percy when he brought the minister to Weasley family Christmas in book 6?

5. Where did Harry and Hermione spend Christmas in Book 7?

6. Who did Harry, Ron, and Hermione run into on Christmas Day at St. Mungo’s in Book 5?

7. What disguise does Harry adopt on Christmas Day in book 2?

8. What did Harry receive from the Dursleys for Christmas in book 2?

9. Which St. Mungo’s patient received a disguised Devil’s Snare as a Christmas present?

10. What special event was held on Christmas day in Harry’s fourth year?

Stop back tomorrow for the answers!

The Possessed Spy: Ginny Weasley

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Another type of spy unique to the Harry Potter series is one who is possessed, such as Ginny Weasley in book 2, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Ginny Weasley is possessed by Lord Voldemort— or, more precisely, by Tom Riddle through the diary—but she does not remember what she did at Tom Riddle’s behest. As such, Ginny should not be held accountable for painting warnings on the walls or her other actions while under the diary’s influence.

Ginny Weasley Analysis

Recruitment by: Tom Riddle’s diary, via the part of Voldemort’s soul contained therein

Incentive Used: Initially curiosity; then possession, with no choice given

Handler: Tom Riddle

Method of Communication: The diary

Memorable Quotes:

Tom Riddle: “Yes, of course, she didn’t know what she was doing at first. It was very amusing. I wish you could have seen her new diary entries . . . far more interesting, they became. . . . Dear Tom, I think I’m losing my memory. There are rooster feathers all over my robes and I don’t know how they got there. DearTom, I can’t remember what I did on the night of Halloween, but a cat was attacked and I’ve got paint all down my front. Dear Tom, Percy keeps telling me I’m pale and I’m not myself. I think he suspects me. . . . There was another attack today and I don’t know where I was. Tom, what am I going to do? I think I’m going mad. . . . I think I’m the one attacking everyone, Tom!” (CS 310–11).

Ginny: “Well, that was a bit stupid of you,” said Ginny angrily, “seeing as you don’t know anyone but me who’s been possessed by You-Know-Who, and I can tell you how it feels. . . . Well, can you remember everything you’ve been doing?” Ginny asked. “Are there big blank periods where you don’t know what you’ve been up to? . . . When he did it to me, I couldn’t remember what I’d been doing for hours at a time. I’d find myself somewhere and not know how I got there” (499–500).

Although magical possession isn’t possible in the muggle world, other forms of mind control happen every day. Peer pressure and “group think,” for example, can convince whole crowds of people to do things they wouldn’t normally do. Have you ever been in a situation when your actions were not quite your own? How did you get away from the influence of your “possessor”?

Answers: Real Life Wizard Spy Gadgets!

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Think you guessed which wizard spy gadgets are available for muggle use? Read on for the right answers!

1. The Invisibility Cloak Fact

On September 25th, University of Rochester physics professor John Howell and graduate student Joseph Choi announced a real-life, affordable invisibility “cloak.” However, the muggle version of Harry’s famous cloak is not quite wearable since it’s made out of a series of lenses. Read more here! 

Researchers at Duke University have made a wearable cloak that only has a few minor flaws. Check out this demonstration video!

2. Hermione’s DA Coins FACT

People have used coins to pass covert messages for years! The International Spy Museum has an American nickel on display with a hollow core in which to hide a message and the Polish spy Colonel Kuklinski communicated by a Discus, a small electronic device that sent out a burst of encrypted information to a Warsaw station.

3. Sneakoscope FICTION

Unfortunately, even with all of our spy technology, there is no one device that can alert its owner to dishonesty or “sneakiness” nearby!

4. Veritaserum FACT – Sort of

Although declassified documents have revealed that the CIA used chemicals to convince people to reveal the “truth.” However, it’s not clear whether truth serums always convince people to reveal their secrets. Anything “discovered” using muggle veritaserum must be validated by other sources.

5. Owl post FACT

Muggles have not necessarily used owls to send their most important notes, but they have used pigeons! The Pigeon Post was an essential communication method throughout World Wars I and II. JK Rowling was spot on with her owl post!