Category Archives: Pottercast

Harry Potter Monopoly Game?

Can't wait?
…to get your hands on the custom made Harry Potter Monopoly Game? CLICK HERE 
wizard's monopoly
harry potterr board game

This custom-made set, by Etsy seller CustomLumos, caught our eye recently. “Wizard’s Monopoly” comes in a lovely wooden trunk, with a board made up of locations from throughout the wizarding world. It’s a beautiful presentation, though the $1000 asking price is ridiculous, even if you take into account the necessary legal fees the creator will need when the combined forces of J.K. Rowling and Parker Brothers come down on them (you can buy PDFs of the board and wizard-branded play money to print at home for much less exorbitant amounts).

And because it’s Etsy, the listed materials also of course include “charms, spells, and some Dark Magic.” So if you end up bashing your friend over the head with the trunk when he grabs 12 Grimmauld Place out from under you, you can always blame evil wizards for your murderous impulses.

the-silkworm-jk-rowling review

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith: Review

Consider the strange and remarkable case of JK Rowling. Her first book, for children, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was rejected by at least 12 publishers. It was bought for £2,500 and published, in 1997, in an edition of about 1,000 copies.rowling

Rowling’s storytelling struck an immediate chord with juvenile readers. Within a year, she was winning all the children’s book prizes. By the time two Harry Potter sequels – The Chamber of Secrets (1998) and The Prisoner of Azkaban (1999) – had been launched, Rowling was a pawn turned queen, and her work a global cult.

Not since Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories had a writer of Scots ancestry – indeed, any writer – achieved such an astounding audience. Subsequent Harry Potter adventures smashed all known sales records. In 2004, Forbes magazine named Rowling the first person to become a billion-dollar author.

Just as remarkable, in 2007, Rowling completed her seven-volume Harry Potter sequence, withThe Deathly Hallows, nailing down almost every last detail of a mind-bendingly intricate plot, and bringing an elephantine narrative to a satisfying and possibly open-ended conclusion. In the annals of British literature, Rowling’s Harry Potter series is an unprecedented achievement.

Inevitably, there was a reckoning. In 2011, after a troubled hiatus, Rowling fired her agent and the following year published The Casual Vacancy, a novel for adults, under her own name. The reviews were mixed, but she still sold more than a million copies worldwide, while clearly relishing this second act in her literary career.

Meanwhile, like Conan Doyle, who followed Holmes and Watson with his Professor Challenger novels, Rowling hankered for another series. Unlike him, she wanted to write and publish without the hype or expectation surrounding her literary life. Secretly, she adopted a pseudonym and forged a new protagonist. Once again, the author of Harry Potter was in the business of creating an alternative world for herself. She almost got away with it.

Almost, but not quite. When, in April 2013, Little Brown published a debut crime novel by a certain Robert Galbraith, described as “a former plainclothes Royal Military Police investigator”, there was a smattering of excellent reviews, the usual modest sales (some 1,500 copies) and then… Hey presto! Rowling’s secret was out. She was “Robert Galbraith”.

Sure enough, The Cuckoo’s Calling became a No 1 bestseller. Whatever Rowling’s aspirations to control the execution and reception of her mid-career progress after Harry Potter, the awkward truth is that she is now the rich-and-famous victim of her celebrity, with all the consequent stresses of such a fate. Intriguingly, her second Robert Galbraith novel is a playful, obsessive yarn about the ironies of the literary life.

Novelist Owen Quine goes missing having just completed a manuscript replete with vicious pen-portraits of his nearest and dearest. In the works of Conan Doyle’s contemporary, PG Wodehouse, such a premise is the basis for farce. Not here. Tellingly, for Rowling, Quine’s literary evisceration of his agent, his editor, and his publisher forms the basis for a detective story that does not merely suspend disbelief but hoists it like an escape artist over an abyss of improbabilities.

Private detective Cormoran Strike (named after a mythological Cornish giant) is commissioned by Quine’s wife to track him down and bring him home. After 123 pages of teasing stuff about literary London, revenge tragedy and the Latin for silkworm (Bombyx Mori), Strike finds Quine horribly murdered (trussed, eviscerated, and putrid) in an empty house, 179 Talgarth Road, W14. There is no shortage of nasty suspects with creepy hidden drives, ample opportunity and oodles of motive.

The book isn’t perfect. It’s a tad too long, and the suspect interrogations grow repetitive. Sometimes the reader feels Rowling may be trying too hard to move away from Hogwarts. The fair amount of swearing reminds one of a rebellious teenager set free.

Some will also argue that while Harry Potter altered the landscape in a way no children’s novel ever has, here Rowling does the opposite: She plays to form. “The Silkworm” is a very well-written, wonderfully entertaining take on the traditional British crime novel, but it breaks no new ground, and Rowling seems to know that. Robert Galbraith may proudly join the ranks of English, Scottish and Irish crime writers such as Tana French, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, John Connolly, Kate Atkinson and Peter Robinson, but she wouldn’t overshadow them. Still, to put any author on that list is very high praise.

The upside of being as well known as Rowling is obvious — sales, money, attention. That’s not what she’s after here. The downside — and her reason for using the pseudonym — is that telling a story needs a little bit of anonymity. Rowling deserves that chance, even if she can’t entirely have it. We can’t unring that bell, but in a larger sense, we readers get more. We get the wry observations when we can’t ignore the author’s identity and we get the escapist mystery when we can. In the end, the fictional publisher Daniel Chard got it right: “Content is king,” and on that score, both J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith triumph.

 Want to buy the Silkworm? We have links to relevant online shops in: USA, UK, India 

JK Rowling

Harry Potter Returns In New J.K. Rowling Story

JK Rowling, writing as gossip columnist ‘Rita Skeeter’ for the Pottermore site, exposes his first grey hairs and Ron Weasley’s now-thinning thatch.

Harry Potter is back — mysterious, married, and going gray.

JK RowlingJ.K. Rowling has given fans a glimpse of the grown-up boy wizard in a new story posted Tuesday on her Pottermore website.

It’s the first update since “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” was published in 2007, but Rowling spokesman Mark Hutchinson said there are “no plans” for a new Potter novel.

The 1,500-word story describes Harry, about to turn 34, attending the final of the Quidditch World Cup with his family and old friends Ron and Hermione.

Harry now has “threads of silver” in his hair and a mysterious cut on his cheekbone, related to his “top secret” work as an evil-battling Auror.

The story is written in the style of a gossip column for the Daily Prophet by reporter Rita Skeeter, a minor character in the novels.

ThRita Skeeter Harry Pottere style allows Rowling to poke fun at the tabloid press, a real-life bugbear that she has accused of invading her privacy and that of her family.

Skeeter observes that Harry and friends are “no longer the fresh-faced teenagers they were in their heyday” and speculates about the state of Harry’s marriage to Ginny Weasley.

She says Ron Weasley’s red hair “appears to be thinning slightly,” and notes witheringly that Harry still wears “the distinctive round glasses that some might say are better suited to a style-deficient 12-year-old.”

The story discloses that Ron now runs the family joke shop, while Hermione is a — literally — high-flying civil servant, Deputy Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

Skeeter also writes sniffily about a “prolonged period of what, in my young day, was called ‘snogging'” between two younger members of the party.

The article is part of a series of pieces written by Rowling about the 2014 Quidditch Cup for Pottermore. The final article will be published on 11 July, and will see Ginny Potter, now a journalist, cover the cup final, between Brazil and Bulgaria.

There are also updates on other characters, including Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood, as well as glimpses of a new generation of teenage wizards.

Rowling has long said that “Deathly Hallows,” would be the last Potter novel, but has produced other Potter-related material, including spin-off story collection, “The Tales of Beedle the Bard.”

Rowling has also published a novel for adults, “The Casual Vacancy,” and two detective thrillers under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

Gringotts Comes Alive at Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley opens to the public July 8 at Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Fla. Diagon Alley expands the park’s original Harry Potter attraction, which was modeled after Hogsmeade Village and opened in 2010.

gringgots-diagonalley

Guests at the new attraction will have the opportunity to experience the sights and sounds made famous in the Harry Potter franchise including, a trip through Gringotts Wizarding Bank (complete with firing breathing dragon), Knockturn Alley, Ollivanders, the Leaky Cauldron and more.

Check out the Behind the Scenes video:

Emma Watson graduation ceremony

Emma Watson Graduates From Brown University

It wasn’t a Hogwarts-style ceremony, but a degree from a top Ivy League university is just as good, right?

Emma Watson walked across the stage at Brown University on Sunday in Providence, R.I., where she graduated with a degree in English literature.

The renowned actress, who is most well known for her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter franchise, has been enrolled at the institution since 2009.

Since beginning her studies at the highly venerated university, the 24-year-old Brit has also starred in five major Hollywood films.

Harry Potter christmas gift

Fan-Made Harry Potter MOOC Does Hogwarts Better Than Pottermore

A group of intrepid Harry Potter fans have made your childhood wish come true, creating a website called Hogwarts Is Here, where you can take free, online classes in the same subjects studied by Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

HiH (as the site refers to itself) has turned Hogwarts into a series of Massive Open Online Courses, letting users “enroll” in the wizarding school. Nobody tell J.K. Rowling, though, because this site does the interactive Hogwarts experience better than the author-sanctioned Pottermore

Hogwarts castle replica
Hogwarts Castle Replica

Hogwarts Is Here is essentially what it sounds like: an online university. It has all of the classic Potter classes, like potions and transfiguration. And the curriculum is impressively thorough. The textbooks you can purchase from Diagon Alley (after you set up your Gringotts bank account, of course) are nothing for a muggle to scoff at. The HiH version of A History of Magic “written” by Bathilda Bagshot has 17 chapters, covering topics like “Magic’s Beginnings” and “Major Religions and Magic: Judaism”. Most “chapters” are only a few paragraphs long, but according to the site’s FAQ all content was created and written (and some are still being written) by “volunteer fans” – that is some serious HP dedication and knowledge.

So how do you take a real wizarding course? On Slate, Alex Heimbach wrote about her time as a HiH student: you sort yourself into a House, pick a dorm, and then sign up for classes, which are composed of nine lessons with assignments. That’s right, there’s classwork for this online Hogwarts that is actually graded (you can still explore the site without doing any work, but you’ll forever be a first-year). Heimbach explains:

One assignment for Transfiguration asked for 300 words exploring possible loopholes in one of the exceptions to Gamp’s Law—an expansion on a comment Hermione makes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows about the five things that cannot be created with magic. My essay, which discussed how you might circumvent the law against creating money by transforming less valuable items into more valuable ones, received a C, thus proving wrong the kids who teased me for being such a Hermione.

Hogwarts Is Here is quick to point out that it has no affiliation with J.K. Rowling or Warner Bros., and is an independently created fan site. It doesn’t charge any money, but it is accepting donations. The fact that it uses HP material could pose a problem though, especially when it starts to get more attention, considering it’s giving the licensed Pottermore a serious run for its money.

Pottermore came out with huge hype, but scored mixed reviews (“More like PotterSNORE” is our personal favorite). HiH is a welcome supplement. With HiH and a trip to Universal’s expanding Potter theme park, we can all pretend our 11th birthdays didn’t come and go without an owl dropping a Hogwarts letter on our doorstep.

quidditch

J.K. Rowling writes history of Quidditch World Cup for Potter Fans

The website Pottermore recently posted the first part of an essay by Rowling on the history of the Quidditch World Cup, the championship of the popular sport in the ‘Potter’ world. It’s only the newest original material from Rowling revealed on Pottermore.

rowling

Matches marred by violence and fan protest, bitter feuds in the governing body and a “logistical nightmare” for the host nation.

This may sound like a worst-case scenario for the upcoming football World Cup in Brazil but it actually describes the previously unknown history of its Quidditch equivalent.

To the delight of Harry Potter fans, J K Rowling Friday published the first of a two-part history of the Quidditch World Cup on the Pottermore website she set up to expand the magical “universe” of her boy wizard novels.

Although Quidditch the sport – in which players flying on broomsticks propel balls into ring-shaped goals – owes more to rugby, Rowling’s World Cup history seems to have taken inspiration from the petty squabbles surrounding football.

quidditch

“A source of vehement disagreements, a security risk for all who attend it and a frequent focus for unrest and protest, the Quidditch World Cup is simultaneously the most exhilarating sporting event on earth and a logistical nightmare for the host nation,” Rowling writes.

One Romanian player in the 1809 tournament had to be stopped from strangling two referees, she writes, and when the final between his nation and New Spain (Mexico) didn’t go to plan he jinxed an entire forest, resulting in a seven-hour battle between trees and wizards.

Violence also marred the 1994 Quidditch World Cup in the UK, when supporters of Lord Voldemort caused mayhem on Dartmoor.

Quidditch through the agesJK Rowling has been seemingly inspired by the petty squabbles of professional football.
Just like Sepp Blatter – the colourful president of football’s world governing body Fifa – the head of the International Confederation of Wizards Quidditch Committee has not governed without controversy.

In 1971, Rowling writes, Australian Royston Idlewind was contentiously appointed international director of the ICWQC and caused outrage when he tried to ban wands from matches.

A boycott by threatened fans followed. In the end, supporters took in their wands disguised as a “new style of musical instrument” which emitted loud raspberries (sounding similar to the vuvuzela that caused so much irritation during the 2010 South African football world cup), forcing Idlewind’s resignation.

A spokesman for Pottermore said that the first instalment of the history had already proved one of the most popular posts on the site, and the second will be published next Friday, featuring “amusing recaps of some notable recent matches that have been held every four years since 1990”.

Susan Jurevics, Pottermore’s chief executive officer, said: “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to publish such an imaginative and engaging story from J K Rowling about the history of the wizarding world’s most exciting sport.”

Rowling is, however, more of a rugby fan and on Friday urged her three million Twitter followers to support Scotland in the Six Nations championship – promising the History of the Quidditch World Cup as a reward.

She has even claimed Scottish rugby is appreciated in the secret magical world, with wizards admiring “the strength and courage of Muggles prepared to engage in sport so brutal” but supporting only Scotland – going as far as to establish the Wizarding Supporters of Scottish Rugby Union: “Discussing Scottish rugby has become one of several covert identifiers for wizards meeting in front of Muggles and seeking to establish each other’s credentials.”

Related Product: Quidditch through the Ages – Get in US | UK|India

diagon alley google street view

Harry Potter Alliance brings together fans to affect social change

The Harry Potter Alliance is a nonprofit coalition whose work so far has included creating a YouTube video titled ‘The Hunger Games Are Real’ which aims to raise awareness of poverty and hunger in the US.

Thought “Harry Potter” and “Hunger Games” were just fun and games?

Think again.

Today the series’ famously cult-like fans are using these popular fiction books as a means to affect social change.

The Harry Potter Alliance, a nonprofit coalition of fans who use “the power of story to inspire and affect social change,” is launching a campaign inspired by Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” trilogy to fight social injustice in the US.

The nonprofit Alliance has created a “The Hunger Games are Real” YouTube video and a social media campaign called “The Odds Are in Our Favor” which shares statistics about poverty, hunger, and income inequality in the US with fans.

In an LA Times op-ed, Harry Potter Alliance executive director Andrew Slack writes, “If the books are supposed to function as a cautionary tale against the real class divide in the U.S., we need not look far for evidence. The future of Panem is upon us: More than 20 million Americans can’t find full-time jobs, 22% of children live in poverty and middle-class wages have been largely stagnant since 1974. Meanwhile, corporate profits are at an all-time high.

“If the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist, the same can be said of systemic economic inequality. The pull of the American dream is still so strong that many believe the only reasonable explanation for poverty is that it’s poor people’s fault.”

The “Hunger Games are Real” campaign is using excitement behind “The Hunger Games,” a story about inequality, to attract interest. “The Hunger Games” is a story about economic inequality, Slack argues, in which the fictitious country of Panem is actually the United States some decades in the future, where a fraction of people control almost all of the wealth and starvation is a daily experience.

According to the UK’s Guardian, actor Donald Sutherland, who plays President Coriolanus Snow, the archvillain of the Hunger Games series in the latest film, said in a Guardian interview that “I hope that they [young people] will take action because it’s getting drastic in this country.”

The campaign hopes to spread its message through its YouTube video, social media, and a three-fingered salute used in the “Hunger Games” as a symbol of solidarity against corruption and inequality.

In the Times op-ed, Slack writes, “Perhaps Lionsgate will embrace the simple but radical message of its blockbuster films: No one should have to go hungry in a nation of plenty. After all, fantasy is not an escape from our world but an invitation to go deeper into it. And we will keep going deeper until the odds are in everyone’s favor.”

Using popular fiction to inspire social change – what do you think of this trend?

Originally posted at Christian Science Monitor 

voldy_grave

Harry Potter fans flock to real life grave of Lord Voldemort

HARRY Potter fans are flocking to an Edinburgh grave – because they believe it is the last resting place of evil wizard Lord Voldermort.

HarryPotter_Voldemort_grave

Harry Potter fans have been visiting a grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard and leaving dozens of tributes. The 19th-century grave belongs to Thomas Riddell, who died in 1806 aged 72.

Fans believe it is the inspiration behind the name of Voldemort from the JK Rowling books, whose real name was Tom Marvolo Riddle. The author was said to have taken much inspiration for names in the novel from graves and texts around the city of Edinburgh.

Riddell died in 1806 aged 72, but his name is believed to have inspired Harry Potter author J K Rowling, who picked up identities for a string of characters from Edinburgh’s streets, landmarks and graveyards. Voldemort – played by Ralph Fiennes in the Harry Potter series – was born Tom Marvolo Riddle.

voldy_grave
Thomas Riddle’s grave in Edinburgh has become a shrine for Harry Potter fans

The grave bearing his name is now a magnet for follwers of the Potter books and films, with dozens leaving notes next to the headstone. But Edinburgh University students, Richard Duffy and Will Naameh, who run The Potter Trail through city spots connected to the texts, say people may be getting in a “muggle” between fact and fiction.

Will, 21, said: “This recent trend to leave notes and such has been building up over the past month.

The fact and the fiction have become a little blurred – on the tour we do state that ‘This is Voldemort’s grave’ but most people understand he is just an inspiration.”

gravestone

Thomas Riddle’s grave states that he was from Befsborough in Berwick and died in Edinburgh on 24 November 1806, aged 72. It also commemorates his son, also Thomas, who was Captain of the 14th Regiment and died at Trinidad in the West Indies on 12 September 1802, aged just 26; and his daughters Christian and Maira Jane who died aged 31 and 47.

jk-rowling-220x256J K Rowling has previously said that the tombstone of Thomas Riddell Esquire in the famous Kirkyard may have subconsciously been the inspiration for Voldemort’s true name.

The nearby gravestone of poet William ‘Topaz’ McGonagall is also said to have offered inspiration for the name of Professor McGonagall, the head of Gryffindor house at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry.

One note on the grave says: “RIP Tom, thank you for making us all believe in magic. You are an inspiration.”

But another sneers: “Dear idiots, you know there’s a difference between fiction and reality, right?”

cuckoo's calling

How JK Rowling Was Really Unmasked

A London lawyer has admitted inadvertently outing J K Rowling as a crime author, after confiding her secret identity to his wife’s best friend.

Chris Gossage, who works for law firm Russells, insisted the “leak” was not “part of any marketing plan” as J K Rowling issued a statement saying she was “disappointed” and “very angry”.

The author, best known for her Harry Potter series, was this week unmasked as the author of The Cuckoo’s Calling, writing behind the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

The revelation has been the subject of global speculation this week, with some noting the book had received positive reviews but mediocre sales of just 1,500 copies.

After it was identified as being written by J K Rowling, sales rocketed as publishers commissioned another 300,000 copies to keep up with demand.

Russells yesterday apologised “unreservedly” for the disclosure, which occurred after partner Chris Gossage shared the information with his wife’s best friend Judith Callegari during a private conversation. A Twitter user under the name @judecallegari later appears to have sent a public message to a Sunday Times journalist.

Rowling has now issued a statement saying she was “very angry” that her trust was “misplaced”.

“A tiny number of people knew my pseudonym and it has not been pleasant to wonder for days how a woman whom I had never heard of prior to Sunday night could have found out something that many of my oldest friends did not know,” she said.

“To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. I had assumed that I could expect total confidentiality from Russells, a reputable professional firm, and I feel very angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced.”

A spokesman for Russells added: “”Whilst accepting his own culpability, the disclosure was made in confidence to someone he trusted implicitly. On becoming aware of the circumstances, we immediately notified JK Rowling’s agent.

“We can confirm that this leak was not part of any marketing plan and that neither JK Rowling, her agent nor publishers were in any way involved.”

A spokesman confirmed that Gossage was still a partner but declined to comment on Rowling’s relationship with the firm.

Rowling, 47, has previously said it had been “wonderful” to publish without hype or expectation, after posing as a retired military policeman to write her debut crime novel.

The Cuckoo’s Calling remained at the top of Amazon.co.uk’s bestselling list on Thursday for the fourth consecutive day.

The novel had only sold 1,500 hardback copies since being published in April but on Monday raced to the top of bestseller list, leaving high street and online book merchants unable to meet demand.

Publisher Little, Brown, which last year published Rowling’s first adult novel The Casual Vacancy, said it was immediately reprinting The Cuckoo’s Calling – about war veteran turned private eye Cormoran Strike investigating the death of a model.

Buy The Cuckoo’s Calling in – US | UK | India