My lovely fiancé gave me this set of Hogwarts Classics, Quidditch Through the Ages and The Tales of Beedle the Bard, because he knows that I have a slight (OK, major..) Harry Potter obsession and he thought this would be a nice addition. I admit I was slightly sceptical, because as much as I love Harry Potter, I feel as if anything outside the actual Harry Potter books will ultimately not be the same and end up being disappointing. But I gave it a go.
Even though both the books are really short – 100-odd pages, I must confess I decided to give up on Quidditch Through the Ages somewhere around the 60 page mark, as I felt too much as if I were studying for a test in high school on a really boring subject and my mind just kept glazing over. Then I realised I don’t actually have to read this, I don’t have a test on Quidditch coming up… The thing is, while there were a few amusing bits in the first couple of chapters, and while I do give kudos to Rowling for creating such an elaborate history and background to a fictional sport, it still is exactly that: the history of a fictional sport. I wouldn’t want to read the history of any real sports, so why would this be any different just because people are on brooms? It also, at least until the point I read – which did include a section on the addition of the golden snitch to the game, and its history – didn’t address the IMO main problem of Quidditch: anyone who’s not a seeker doesn’t really need to bother doing anything because in almost every case, whichever team catches the snitch wins. I mean yes technically you could have a 150 points difference in the score, but the number of points you get for catching the snitch is quite frankly ridiculous.
Anyway, on to the book I did actually read:
The Tales of Beedle the Bard was actually a pleasant surprise. It’s a new translation from the original runes by Hermoine Granger (wink, wink), with notes on each tale by Dumbledore (published posthumously). It was a light and fun read, and the fairy tales themselves are decent and pretty much follow the traditional fairytale structure and morality. It just has the added spice of being about witches and wizards. The notes to each story by Dumbledore are also fun and interesting and provide some background on how the stories and wizard culture have evolved throughout the years.
It wasn’t Harry Potter, but it was close enough and clearly within the universe. And of course it does include The Tale of the Three Brothers, which also features in The Deathly Hallows, so that links it closer to the books.
I think my favourite was The Fountain of Fair Fortune, just because it was very sweet (and well structured). Though all the stories had entertainment value and a clear moral. And The Warlock’s Hairy Heart was just bizarre and grotesque, which some human fairy tales definitely also are in their original (non-Disney..) versions.
If you enjoy the HP universe and fairy tales it’s definitely worth a read.
And can we just take a minute and talk about how pretty these books are?? They’re worth having just for that, really. Though the paper is a little see-through, but you get used to that.
Plus the proceeds go to charity, which also makes it a worthwhile purchase. To Comic Relief for Quidditch… and to Lumos for The Tales…. Lumos is a charitable foundation started by Rowling herself (no surprise perhaps, given the name), to aid children that for whatever reason need to live in institutions/away from their family.