New Revelations From a Long-Loved Story

Anybody who knows me knows I love Harry Potter. I wouldn’t say I’m a crazy Potterhead like this guy, but I may or may not have a Ravenclaw scarf and car decal, get a Pavlovian craving for Butterbeer when I hear the theme music thanks to all my visits to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, and read through the series at least once a year.

I didn’t get into Harry Potter until a few months before the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix movie came out in 2007, but since the last book came out shortly afterward, that does mean I’ve read the series all the way through seven times, seen the movies several times, and I’m on my second way through listening to the audiobooks. (For the record: Stephen Fry > Jim Dale.) Which is what makes it interesting that I’ve been noticing new things – things which further indicate the Tolkien-like dedication with which Rowling wove the wizarding world.

I realize that many others had these realizations long ago; they are new to me, however, and are indicative of how one can notice new things even when they know a book well. Here are my new revelations:

  • When the D.A. meets for the first time, they do so in the Hog’s Head bar. While giving the description, Rowling says the barman is “vaguely familiar” and that the Hog’s Head “smelled strongly of something that may have been goats”. Do you remember who the barman is? Do you remember how people keep saying someone had a thing for goats? After looking this up I read that apparently there’s a goat in the bar when they go there in the fifth movie. I totally missed it!
  • After Bill gets hurt by Greyback in book 6, Rowling describes him as not looking too bad, and if anything now having a resemblance to Mad-Eye Moody. In the movies Bill Weasley is played by Domnhall Gleeson, the real-life son of Brendan Gleeson, who plays Mad-Eye Moody!
  • At one point in book 6, Slughorn calls Ron “Rupert” – which is, of course, the name of the actor who played Ron in the movies. Granted, Slughorn calls him a variety of names throughout the book, but I’m still betting this was intentional on Rowling’s end.
  • In the last battle of Hogwarts, in book 7, Oliver Wood comes back to fight. It never hit me before that that’s actually a big deal because my brain was rather used to him being there from the early books. But no – Oliver Wood left his job playing professional quidditch to come back and fight evil. It makes me think of Pat Tillman, the NFL player who quit football and joined the Army after 9/11. Obviously, his sacrifice was real and Oliver is fictional, but it does teach kids – and probably adults – that some things are more important than others.

I don’t care what anyone says; J.K. Rowling is a genius storyteller and maker of a world as rich as any created in any other fictional works.

Now – off to finish listening to the rest of book six. Thankfully the worst of that – most of the last chapters are truly brutal – is behind me.

What are some new revelations you’ve had about books you’ve read a million times?


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