Well, folks, we’re counting down to the start of the Harry Potter re-read. To get us all in the mood, I’m going to be writing about Pottermore. For those of you who’ve never heard of it, it’s a site that was set up a few years ago by Rowling and her team. It’s quite hard to explain, but they’re basically creating semi-interactive versions of the books, you’re presented with a scene from each chapter that has animations and sounds, little things you can collect, and sometimes weird little mini-games. Each update normally covers half a dozen chapters or so, roughly speaking, and there’s always extra previously unknown (suddenly made up/retconned) information about a couple of subjects. Some of it’s pretty interesting; a lot of it contradicts itself; and some of it is terrible. You’re Sorted into Houses and there are things you can do to earn points and compete for the House Cup during the downtime between updates (I don’t bother because I’m lazy and it’s not that fun).
Mitchell doesn’t have a Pottermore account, so I summarise all the fail for him each time there’s an update, then we rant to each other about it. I started doing this somewhere near the beginning of Prisoner of Azkaban, so we don’t have anything from previous updates; at some point I might go back and cover them, but I probably won’t. These Pottermore posts are going to be transcripts of our dialogue when we discussed each update at the time it was released. New updates are few and far between, it’s currently stalled about half way through Goblet of Fire, but you can enjoy what we have so far and there will be new posts each time it does update.
These posts aren’t formal sporks/reviews/re-reads. We’re not trying to be reasonable or balanced, we’re not trying to be fair, we’re just laughing and/or ranting. For proper sensible comments, you’ll have to wait for the re-read.
The first transcript covers chapters 8-15 of Prisoner of Azkaban. Enjoy.
Firstly the Marauders’ Map – turns out it was keyed specifically and eternally to Snape so if he spoke his name near it at any point EVER it would spew insults. Who the hell sets up something like that? (Not to mention that it still doesn’t explain how the map knew he was a professor…) And apparently the only reason the Marauders made it was to help Lupin. This isn’t explained at all; it says they started exploring the grounds to help Lupin, and the interior of the castle was mapped with the help of the invisibility cloak. These points don’t seem to be connected, since the grounds don’t appear on the map and mapping the castle wouldn’t help the werewolf. No further explanation given. Also this gem from JK herself:
“The Marauder’s Map subsequently became something of a bane to its true originator (me), because it allowed Harry a little too much freedom of information. I never showed Harry taking the map back from the empty office of (the supposed) Mad-Eye Moody, and I sometimes regretted that I had not capitalised on this mistake to leave it there. However, I like the moment when Harry watches Ginny’s dot moving around the school in Deathly Hallows, so on balance I am glad I let Harry reclaim his rightful property.”
Translation: I deliberately wrote myself into a corner purely so there could be romantic creepy stalking later on! Why yes, I do enjoy Twilight, why do you ask?
Some stuff on portraits, too: apparently the level of sentience and awareness depends on how magically powerful the subject was in life and has nothing to do with how the painting is done, which makes no sense at all. Also this fucked-up paragraph:
“Traditionally, a headmaster or headmistress is painted before their death. Once the portrait is completed, the headmaster or headmistress in question keeps it under lock and key, regularly visiting it in its cupboard (if so desired) to teach it to act and behave exactly like themselves, and imparting all kinds of useful memories and pieces of knowledge that may then be shared through the centuries with their successors in office.”
What the fuck. No seriously what the actual fuck. Not only does this contradict what JK wrote in canon with Dumbles’ portrait and what she confirmed later with Harry getting a portrait done of Snape, but it makes no bloody sense and is just plain daft. I can see Twinkles being loopy enough to lock a painting of himself in a cupboard and talk to it every day, maybe, but seriously what the fuck.
Oh, and apparently the reason the Firebolt is so omgsuperamazing is that the stand, the foot rest thingies (the ones that aren’t even in the fucking books and were invented for the films… headdesk) and the band that holds the twigs around the handle are all goblin-made ironwork. No explanation of why this matters. But it’s so expensive and rare because the goblin workers keep going on strike or walking out over ‘the smallest matters’ – translation, get fed up with wizards. Can’t imagine why.
I don’t understand the helping Lupin thing at all. The only thing I can think of there is that maybe she’s trying to say he needed it to be able to sneak back undetected after he transformed back or something, but then wasn’t Pomfrey supposed to deal with that anyway? The Snape thing just goes to demonstrate what utter moral exemplars the Marauders were, although as you say it still doesn’t explain the “Professor” thing – he did call himself “Professor Snape” when he was inspecting it, but if the map is just triggered by a keyword it (a) wouldn’t be able to take in that information and (b) wouldn’t be able to update its insults using any further information (doesn’t it say something about his age too? It can’t have known that).
As for her approving of the creepy stalking; par for the course, really. Do not want. I can kind of see what she was trying to do, honestly (people do fawn over mementos, and it does at least show him she’s still alive and ambulatory, but it’s still rather creepy)… the biggest problem is that Harry keeps the map for that entirely sentimental purpose instead of giving it to somebody who could actually use it to much better effect. I think this might be another case where we see the narcissistic selfishness coming out, really.
I seriously have no idea what to say about the portrait thing though. What the fuck. That is simply incredible (in the old sense of that word). You’re quite right it contradicts everything else she gave us on the subject, too. It’s almost a shame you finished writing my one-shot already, because I’m sure you could have worked some mockery of that in there.
Wait, so the best thing about the Firebolt is that you don’t actually get to own it because goblins made it? (I know she probably just forgot about that, lol worldbuilding consistency what is that?) It’s kind of hilarious to see her confusing the films with the books though. And of course she never explains why those things make any kind of difference whatsoever, because she never does that with anything about the goddamn brooms, she has no idea how they work in the first place after all…
Yeah, Pomfrey went and fetched Lupin every morning after his transformations. JK just wants to pretend the map was for a reason other than burgling places and stalking victims. Keying it to insult Snape is actually out of character for them; they were such arrogant little bastards they should have assumed there’s no way he’d ever get hold of it. I don’t remember it mentioning his age, just his looks and the fact that he was apparently too much of an idiot to be a professor (as if that would have disqualified him even if it was true!).
I could forgive Harry for checking it briefly every now and then to see that Ginny was still there and alive and moving around, but not spending hours tracking her around the building, that’s just weird. Plus as you say she could have used the map herself so she and Neville and Luna and the other people Saint Harry doesn’t give a shit about could have avoided the only two Death Eaters apparently behaving like actual villains and doing actual evil things.
The portrait thing is just deranged, although it’s an oddly hilarious mental image to picture Dumbles crouching in a cupboard teaching a painting how to twinkle properly: “No no no, more patronising than that!”
Haha, I’d forgotten that wizards can’t truly own goblin-made stuff! Okay, that’s totally hilarious. Harry doesn’t even own half his super-broom. I almost wish I wrote more about flying and Quidditch and stuff just so I could work some of this crap in – only almost, though. At least that explains why the goblins are willing to make broom parts – they’re doing it for the lulz. I can imagine them interrupting the World Cup final; a goblin walks onto the pitch and snaps its fingers, and half the brooms fall to pieces…