The ramblings of a freelance writer, novelist and avid reader.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

HP Monday – Firebolt vs. Marauder’s Map

Wow, it’s a little difficult to come up with things to write about this week. Not because there isn’t a lot to discuss, but because I’m trying to be as non-biased as possible. I’m really not sure what it is about book 3 – it’s not THAT good, but I’m having issues being objective.

Alright, so Mara posted last week about feminism – which is a great big, huge, gigantic, enormous can of worms to open, but I have a can opener if we want to proceed. If only Ms. Rowling were a follower or reader of this blog; I’m guessing she could shed some light on her underwriting of the female role (still don’t know if I agree with that comment, but I see your point Mara).

Can we also discuss a little bit about the really cool magical items in book 3 – i.e. totally working Pocket Sneakoscope, a kick ass (fanny, sorry) Firebolt broomstick and the best (alas, also a little dangerous) map I’ve ever heard of. Yes, even my iPod Touch is a little jealous. And the Time-Turner too…

Well, now that you all know I at least read the chapter titles of book 3 – quick question for other writers out there (readers too who have an opinion: Yes or no to chapter titles? Do you find this more of a mid-grade thing, but once you move into YA, or other fiction genres they become obsolete? Or do you like them no matter what you are writing or reading? Sorry, I digressed a little. What’s your favorite magical object and why?

I really have to go with the Marauder’s Map, for a couple of reasons:

  1. It’s ingenious – and not just for causing mischief.

  2. Look at how much magic had to go into making it. You really get a feel for just how powerful of a wizard Harry’s dad had to be (Lupin, Sirius and even Pettigrew too).

  3. The pure fun of it!

  4. The way it brings Snape down to un-professor levels. I get a feeling Harry’s eyes about popped out of his head when he read the messages Moony, Prongs, Wormtail and Padfoot wrote back.

  5. The fact that it is my favorite magical thing, even though it is dangerous and in many ways similar to Riddle’s diary in book 2 (PS – as I digress again, that is some EXCELLENT foreshadowing that was not mentioned before in our posts!)

  6. I feel it draws another parallel between Harry and Voldemort, although I’m not sure why.

  7. The Weasleys. There are so many of them and we (maybe just me here, but play along) tend to always think of them as the sidekick characters. Even when Ginny becomes was the maiden in book 2 (and again with the foreshadowing) she’s still more of a sidekick at the end of the book (yeah, feel free to argue that if you want too). But they really are quite a powerful wizarding family. A couple of headboys, even more prefects, Quidditch players/athletes, smart, funny and all of them true to their friends and house. The map, like Riddle’s diary, came to Harry through a Weasley (Fred and George are like 1 Weasley, right? OK, not even I believe that – calm down). A Weasley who unlocked the very powerful magic in the object before it reached Harry. Wow, there is so much more to this family than sidekicks.

So any other thoughts out there about anything I’ve said or you’ve read? Favorite magical item? How do you feel about the Knightbus (which I didn’t mention as one of those fun magical items before)?

We can absolutely go down the feminist path next time, if that is where your mind is headed (if we do, I’d like to again ponder where Ginny is in this book and why Cho is only in a very small scene. Although Ms. Mara, she is a female Seeker on her house's Quidditch team, which we just don’t get that much, AND she’s good at it. I feel like I’ve provoked you to tell me all about how she’s such a flat character and NOT at all helping a feminist read of this series…and you’re right, but feel free to be provoked anyway).

Next week there may be some movie discussion and I’d really like to talk about Magical Creatures now that the creepy Dementors have been introduced onto the scene. What is their role in the Harry Potter universe?

Babble. Jabber. Write.


  1. Okay, so I've been keeping up on this blog, but I haven't been reading along since my mother loaned all my Harry Potter books out to one of her friends. I feel lame now, but I now feel compelled to comment.

    I am also of the "I love book 3" persuasion, and I can't exactly place why that is. I think it might be because it's the only one of the book in which Harry does not directly face Voldemort and something about that attracts me. That and Lupin is one of my favorite non-Weasley characters.

    Also, I'm going to come down on the side of chapter titles. I don't see them as necessary and I think they're super hard to come up with, just like book titles, but I feel like a chapter is a more complete entity when it has a title.

    And now I will awkwardly drift away and hope no one attacks me for not having recently read the books.

  2. I know it wasn't introduced in book 3, but the best magical object of all has to be the invisibility cloak. They get up to way more mischief with it than even the Marauder's Map-although I love that too. Watching one of the movies recently did get me thinking about how the map works, and how many people are at Hogwarts. All those names would be hard to read. But maybe it isn't that many people. I mean, there are supposedly only 5 boys in Griffindor in Harry's year. Say there are about as many girls, and four houses, so that's 40 per year times seven is 280 students. I guess that is not that many. (Yes, I admit to being an uber-math geek to figure that out). I guess it's just that I only recently realized that their class sizes are small- they do potions with another house, and that still probably brings the class to 20. I just think of a class as being so much larger, due to the crowding in my classroom. Now I am rambling exponentially, so I will stop.

  3. Leave it to a math teacher to bring up numerology in Harry Potter. Yes, the cloak is awesome and not just a great tool to advance the plot. I used to want to invent a fly-on-the-wall suit, but I can see how the invisibility cloak would work much better than that.

    And Anna, if you promise to keep posting, I won't make any comments about your lack of re-reading! Especially if you comment about the Weasleys some more.

  4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is quite possibly my favorite book in the series. Not necessarily due to its stellar writing, but more so because of the numerous memorable moments. I think Rowling did an incredible job of infusing the reader with the same sense of wonder that captured them in the first book. While each new book introduced new magical items, creatures, and spells, I think that the initial “oooh ahhh” factor from the first book was lost. At least for me it was. For some reason the concept of time travel in the third book really brought me back to that enchanted state of mind. I was totally expecting Marty McFly to show up at any given moment and deliver some crucial message to our gang of adolescent wizards.

    For me, chapter titles are indicators as to if I should read one more chapter before going to bed or not. If the chapter is titled something like “An Elf’s Grief” then maybe I should save it for another night. However, if it’s something like “Bubbles, Boggarts, and The Bat-Bogey Hex” then it may be worth while.

    One more thing – when I read this book initially, I literally yelped with joy when Hermione punched Draco. What a jackass.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Wow... All my formatting disappeared. Lets try this again, shall we?

    Ms Keirstead, I finished book three just this weekend, and I starting thinking of the numbers for the first time as well. I stopped reading for a little bit and did my own math and was really surprised at how few students there really are! Looking at the movie it feels like there are around 500 at least, but in reality the number is probably about half.

    As for Chapter titles, I personally feel like having chapter titles is nice at any age because "The Firbolt" is much easier to remember and means more than "Chapter 12." Though I would argue that having real chapter titles helps to make the book accessible to a larger number of people.

    Favorite magical item... I'm going to have to go with wizards chess sets here. They listen to you, they move themselves, and they attack each other! Wicked cool. Though for the record, it was a tough decision between the chess sets, the enchanted coins (Dumbledore's army's), the Weasley's merchandise, the invisibilty cloak, the sorting hat, and wands.

    Though while on the topic of magical items- After re-reading book 3, I wondered why Dumbledore didn't use the pensieve to show the minister and other such people Harry's (or Ron's, etc) of what happened in the shrieking shack. There were a number of other incidences in which just showing everyone someone's memory would clear up a lot of confusion.

    Finally, I agree with Michelle. Definitely one of the top in the series. Part of it I think was the portrayal of Lupin, part of it the introduction of patronuses (maybe the movie spurred that more though...).

  7. I spent the weekend at a writing conference and I found myself constantly thinking about chapter titles...thanks all for your input. I think I like them too, Bryan and Michelle both make some good points about naming each chapter - chapter 12 does sound boring and I really want to read "Bubbles, Bogarts and the Bat-Bogey Hex" right now. I love aliteration!

    All of the authors I listened too this weekend also discussed the importance of ending each (or most) chapters with a hook to progress the story. I like this idea but it is also cruel - I'd never get any sleep if all writers wrote this way; I couldn't put the book down at night!!