Pottermore; introduction and PoA chapters 8-15

06 Jun

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…


Posted by on June 6, 2014 in loten, mitchell


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13 responses to “Pottermore; introduction and PoA chapters 8-15

  1. booksfirst

    June 6, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    This is what I’ve been waiting for. I am actually a huge fan of the Harry Potter series (warts and all). I’m not a ‘critical reader’ either – as I think someone else said. The thing is I’ve also spotted plenty of bits and bobs and heard this and that, but the idea of one of my favourite HP fanfiction writers and her partner going through them all is very exciting. I don’t expect it to detract from my love for the books. In all honesty I love them beyond the content; I grew up with Harry. Waiting with baited breath for the next update!

    • Loten

      June 6, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      I know the feeling; by now I hate most of the characters and most of the plots and frankly I’m not fond of the author either, but somehow I still love the series. We’re hoping to start it in a month or so, probably. It’s going to be fun!

      • mcbender

        June 6, 2014 at 9:11 pm

        I’ve recently become fond of saying I/we are in an abusive relationship with the Harry Potter series… that about sums it up, I think. Or Stockholm Syndrome, maybe. No matter how badly it hurts us we keep coming back for more.

        I could’ve sworn we started discussing Pottermore earlier than this, and also that there were more replies in this chain (unless you intentionally left those out because they were redundant?); are you sure you got them all? 😛 I don’t have the time to go searching while I’m at the conference but I can do later, if you want.

  2. Loten

    June 7, 2014 at 6:49 am

    I left out any replies that were just us agreeing with each other. I thought we’d started earlier than this too but this is the earliest text I could find – don’t forget some of the stuff e.g. Lockhart was added randomly in later updates though.

  3. Gowan

    June 7, 2014 at 9:48 am

    “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…”

    Can they do that? I thought the problem was that the wizards steal from them all the time and they can’t do anything about it?

    Also, if I remember correctly, the person who buys goblin-made stuff can use it all their life, and only then it goes back to the goblin who made it?
    With something so often replaced as brooms (they seem to be like computers in that respect, or mobile phones) does that really matter?

    (I guess it does for families like the Weasleys, but for professional Quidditch players, I imagine it doesn’t matter that much)

    I never really thought about the portraits, but you’re right, it doesn’t work. You never actually know when a Harry Potter – witch or wizard will die, so the only sensible thing would be to start with the painting as soon as they become headmaster.
    (Discworld witches and wizards do know when they’ll die, so they could actually wait until their death is near to get a portrait.)

    Also, “apparently the level of sentience and awareness depends on how magically powerful the subject was in life ” … wouldn’t that mean that the caricature Malfoy made of Harry (it was Harry, was it? Not Hermione or Ron?), would be very sentient, as Harry is very powerful.
    And that’s … horrible.

    My headcanon is that painting magical, sentient paintings is very difficult, which is why it is done by professional artists who charge a lot of money for doing it, and it absolutely does depend on the artist how sentient the painting is. (I mean – if it was so easy, Harry could have gotten sentient paintings of his parents. What we see in the books implies that it’s very costly to get such a portrait, as the only one we see outside Hogwarts belongs to the stinking rich Black-family. Oh, and Ariana Dumbledore, but I don’t remember from when it is – her doting parents or brothers could have invested the money to have a portrait in wich their little girl is happy and healthy, I guess?)

    • Loten

      June 7, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      I can’t remember how the goblin lore works, honestly – as I said in the post, we’re not trying to be reasonable here, just laughing. That was an amusing mental image so I’m sticking with it until the serious posts when we’ll actually discuss it 😛

      As for the portraits, as far as canon goes they’re not even painted at all, they just appear. Dumbles’ portrait appeared on his office wall within an hour of him dying. That doesn’t make any sense, of course, but that’s all we learn in canon and none of the other portraits get any sort of explanation. Later in an interview Rowling said vaguely that she’s sure Harry would have commissioned a portrait of Snape, but according to canon rules it should already have appeared immediately after he died. (Which is one reason why I prefer to think he’s not dead!)

      Bonus points for the Discworld comment though 🙂

    • mcbender

      June 8, 2014 at 3:47 am

      You may be right about the brooms, but even if so, there’s still a very similar problem – under the goblins’ views, ownership reverts to them immediately upon the death of the purchaser, and goblin products are not meant to be transferred between wizarding owners. If the supply of parts are purchased by Firebolt, Inc or whatever the company would be called that manufactures these things, that ownership (under the terms of the original sale) could not possibly be passed on to whoever buys the broom from them.

      So all we have to do is postpone the inevitable reckoning until some arbitrary point after the decease of whoever makes Firebolts, and the goblins would have every right to reclaim their property.

  4. depizan

    June 8, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Is there a literary equivalent to the First Law of Holes? Rowling seems to be falling afoul of something similar here. She’s adding things that contradict the books, or raise even more questions about things in the books, and generally making the Wizarding World even more messed up than it already was. And it was well beyond messed up enough.

    • Loten

      June 8, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      That’s a perfect summary of Pottermore, yes. It’s good fun to pull it all to pieces though.

      • depizan

        June 8, 2014 at 10:39 pm

        I can’t wait until you get to the books themselves. They were epic fail by the end, and I’m pretty sure there were all kinds of problems I didn’t pay attention to early on. (The more serious the books became, the more critical of them I became.)

  5. Number27

    June 9, 2014 at 6:50 am

    The line about the Heads training their portraits and giving them memories… portraits are not impressions of the consciousness of the person in question but independent beings in their own right?

    So, that makes painting and keeping a portrait of a person horrifyingly creepy, then? Since you’re exploiting and denying the agency of another consciousness which is not and never was the person you are treating it as…

    First rule of holes, indeed.

    • mcbender

      June 10, 2014 at 10:53 pm

      Wow, I hadn’t even thought of that. That really is terrifying.

  6. Theresa Cullen

    November 25, 2015 at 6:36 am

    “…could have avoided the only two Death Eaters apparently behaving like actual villains and doing actual evil things…” Ahahahahaahahaaaaa
    It has always bothered me that the Death Eaters don’t really do much and the Order does even less.


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