Review: The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter

Review: The Magical Worlds of Harry PotterMagical Worlds of Harry Potter by David Colbert
Released by Berkley Books on 4 May 2004
Genres: Non-Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780425198919
Source: Purchased

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J.K. Rowling fills her books with references to history, myths, legends and literature. The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter reveals the stories behind the stories.

All the questions you ever wanted to ask about the fantastical world in which Harry lives are answered here. Discover the astonishing origins of magical creatures, the clues to hidden meanings in names, and amazing facts about real-life wizards and ancient magical spells. From Alchemists to Unicorns, Basilisks to Veela, this fascinating compendium brings another dimension to Harry's adventures.

I really like non-fiction books about my favourite stories; like a Lexicon about Harry Potter, and the 3-Minute J.R.R. Tolkien biography that I read a couple of days ago. I don’t really remember how I found out about this book, but I bought it immediately because it interested me a lot.

This book answers a lot of questions that you might have asked yourself while reading Harry Potter.

Though personally I didn’t really feel like all the questions had been answered in my opinion, I liked it very much. All the questions were explained and ‘answered’ as good as they could, but I guess sometimes you just can’t give a good answer to a question. It might have also been that I read over the actual answer because there was just so much text and so much to learn, that I was eager to move on and read the next ‘chapter’.

This writer also refers a lot to other works, I have seen a lot of references to the Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis), the Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien) and His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman), but that’s probably because this author has written similar books on those three works (and I am very curious about his Tolkien book). I also liked reading how J.K. Rowling was inspired by mythology (Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Norse); for example, there is a goblin called Ragnok in Order of the Phoenix who was named after Ragnarok, the Norse apocalypse.

This book answers questions like: “Why is the number seven considered a magical number?”, “Who were the first British wizards?”, “Why would Sirius Black become a black dog?”, and all kinds of questions like that. This book was published long before the series was finished, and has been edited and republished a lot since. I read the complete version, the one that was published in 2007 after Deathly Hallows was published.

I did have the feeling a lot was missing though, the majority of the book only refered to the first five books (and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, and Quidditch Through the Ages), but then I found out why. The questions about Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows were in a special section of the book, about forty pages before the book ends. There was a warning before it, in case someone hadn’t read the last two books in the series.

Though I like that warning, I did found it a bit of a shame that the last two books weren’t added to the rest of the book. That is also probably why some questions felt incomplete/unanswered.