A Very Potter Christmas – Part 2

We certainly don’t want the holiday season to be over, so here’s Part 2 of the #APottermoreChristmas blog from @AimeeMarieK from MuggleNet!

Harry Potter Christmas

In the final week of #APottermoreChristmas, Jo Rowling provides more Moments in Half-Blood Prince for us to explore. Let’s once more put our spy suits on to discover what Jo has in store for us!

The clue for day 7 brings us to one of the most familiar places in the books and films – The Great Hall. Take a look at the clue below:

pottermore-day-7

No new information was provided with this clue, but it does bring to the forefront one of the wizarding world’s means of travel: Apparition. As any spy will tell you, getting from one place to another undetected is key. You may recall that in the books, apparition is a great means of magical transportation, but it is accompanied by a loud cracking sound. In the films, the sound is a bit less jarring, but still not entirely on the level with what a spy would need to remain undetected.

This brings us to the clue for day 8, seen below:

Pottermore Gold and Emerald Locket

The answer to this riddle leads us to one of the Hogwarts founders and opens up a key Moment for Harry as Dumbledore takes him into the memory of a House-Elf in the employ of a witch who was trying to sell some of her heirlooms to a young Tom Riddle. Riddle was employed with Borgin and Burkes, a shop in Diagon Alley that sold many items that were imbued with dark magic or had a sinister history and purpose. In this memory, Harry watches as Riddle flatters the witch in order to gain access to an item that ultimately becomes one of the horcruxes that Harry must find and destroy.

For Dumbledore’s Army, the clue for day 9 is very important. See below:
Pottermore Day

If you guessed the answer was the Room of Requirement, you’re correct! This room provided a secret place (rather like James Bond’s MI-6) that Harry and his friends could congregate without being seen and where they could practice their Defense Against the Dark Arts. The room provided whatever the students required, including sleeping quarters, food, and all manner of training objects and materials for them to learn to defend themselves. It was here that Dumbledore’s Army prepared for the great Battle of Hogwarts seen in book 7.

The next clue brings us to one of the most frightening moments in the series – beyond Voldemort and his followers willing to kill anyone for any reason (or none at all), the employ of Inferi in the cave where Harry and Dumbledore find the hidden locket is a disturbing moment in the films. Take a look at day ten’s clue below:

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After a few days of no new information, Jo provides us with specific information on the Inferi, the reanimated corpses that Voldemort uses to guard the locket. Rowling tells us that the Inferi can be cursed to respond if disturbed (as they did when Harry and Dumbledore touched the lake water surrounding the locket), to kill without discrimination, and to take on jobs that the witch or wizard who cursed them did not want to do (either from the threat of danger or discovery – the possibilities are endless when it comes to the reasons for dark magic such as this!). Jo also reveals where Voldemort obtained the seemingly endless amount of Inferi that tried to kill all those who made it into the cave – they were, for the most part, Muggles killed specifically for this purpose, but others were those in the magical community who had “disappeared”, which leads me to believe that they were either killed by Voldemort or his followers. The final bit that Jo gave us about these undead creatures is that the only way to kill them is by fire, which explains why Dumbledore employed the use of flame to distract and kill them while he and Harry escaped the cave.

What I love most about Pottermore and the new information that Jo provides fans is that we often are treated to background information on characters in the series. In the clue for day eleven, see if you can guess which character Jo is about to shed some light on:

Pottermore Day 12

Perhaps one of the most hated characters of the series (besides Voldemort, Snape, and Lucias Malfoy) is the featured character in day eleven – another double agent, Draco Malfoy. Jo writes about this character in depth, both her thoughts on him as a character and also the history of the character growing up and a glimpse into his life after the Battle at Hogwarts. While he definitely is a character that we love to hate, there are things revealed in this Moment that help readers understand the reasons why Draco acted the way he did throughout the series and why and how he changed after the battle was over and Voldemort had been defeated.

Jo also addresses her thoughts on why on earth girls who read the books or watched the film series would “fall” for Draco, considering there wasn’t any redeeming quality in this character, apart from the fact that Tom Felton brought the character to life and was in fact very charming and a great actor. In my opinion, there wasn’t necessarily anything redeemable in Draco’s character, but as a writer, I can see where knowing his background and seeing the choices he made in the end made me feel for him. It can’t have been easy to work as an agent for Voldemort when he didn’t really want to – he was forced to in order to save himself and his family. I would think that to be a spy, you must have such a firm and strong belief in what you are doing. Draco, in the end, didn’t fight for Voldemort because he believed in Voldemort’s new regime 100%. He fought on the Dark Lord’s side out of fear, which doesn’t really make one the best spy on the planet.

The final clue appropriately brings us to the end of the Half-Blood Prince. See the clue below:

Pottermore Day 12

So much of the Half-Blood Prince is focused on Harry trying to determine who the Prince is and learning as much as he can about Riddle’s past, that sometimes we don’t see what is right in front of us. The clue for the final day of #APottermoreChristmas leads us to Albus Dumbledore and his Order of Merlin. We see a representation of his funeral in this Moment, which we did not get to see in the films. We also learn more about the Order of Merlin and information on Merlin himself, who it turns out, is a Slytherin! In addition we learn about the various classes of the Order of Merlin and what they are awarded for.

 

I hope that you enjoyed solving the Pottermore riddles as much as I did! Jo gave us more insider information on Harry’s world and the characters that reside there, which for fans, is a very good Christmas present indeed!

 

Don’t forget to check out Pottermore for yourself – there are many Moments to be explored through the entire book series, which is currently only up to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. You can create your own Pottermore profile, get sorted, get a wand, brew some potions, and even duel with housemates. All that and more is yours for the exploring – only at Pottermore!

 

 

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.

Day 2 Pottermore

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.

Pottermore Day 4 Pottermore Day 5

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

Harry Potter war

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?

Guest Post: Changed by J.K. Rowling

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Harry Potter isn’t just a boy nor is it just a story. J.K. Rowling has created a world that continues to shock me. Her wizarding world has brought people of every age, point in life, and from all different counties together! She has united the world! I don’t believe we give enough thought to this amazing fact.

The fandom of Harry Potter is so unique and unlike anything that this world has ever seen. Its members are kind and supportive which I believe is due to all the life lessons in the books.

I have made lasting friendship with people from all over the world due to the imagination of one woman. It’s amazing to think about how much Ms. Rowling has changed the world simply by words. The impact she has had will never be forgotten nor will it fade but continue to grow with each day. I know I am not alone in saying that Harry and Jo have made a true difference in my life. Harry taught me the true meaning of friendship between the pages of the books to my real life friends who were forged over our shared love for Harry. I’m shaking as I write this. This has been in the back of my head for a while now but writing it down makes me think of how words cannot even begin to describe what J.K. Rowling has done for the world.

Ask yourself of how much of an impact Harry and Jo has had on you. I’m betting you can create a list!

As I thought about how many people (basically all of us Potterheads) have been changed by Harry and Jo, I decided to create a site to share your messages to J.K. Rowling on how she has affected you. I didn’t just want to have a whole bunch of messages though. I wanted to continue the line of impact by having fans donate to The Anne Rowling Clinic if they wish to have their message be placed on the top of the list of messages, so that J.K. Rowling herself might just read it! The Anne Rowling Clinic is one of Jo’s personal charities. The clinic provides out-patient care for patients with Neurodegenerative diseases as well as cutting edge research and clinical trials. Anyone who donates will also be entered into a contest with prizes such as a signed ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ movie script signed by J.K. Rowling, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, and Tom Felton. Plus, much more! Tis the season for spreading change! For more information, please visit Change.AlwaysJKRowling.com.

Michaella

Co-Founder of AlwaysJKRowling.com

Lynn and Peter, the authors of Art of Spying, certainly agree that Harry Potter changes lives — because it has certainly changed theirs! Our friends at AlwaysJKRowling.com are doing amazing work, and we encourage you to check them out!