Reading Harry Potter for the first time: Part 2 (Chamber of Secrets)

Part 1 – Philosopher’s Stone

Warning: Spoilers for all 7 books throughout! Long post! Much snark!

Chapters 1–5: Dobby and the return to Hogwart’s

So Harry’s had a predictably shit summer holidays because his extended family are awful and Dobby the house elf has been keeping his letters from him because he doesn’t want Harry to go back to Hogwart’s. Apparently the somewhat convoluted plan is to make Harry think he doesn’t have friends so he doesn’t want to go back.

Dobby also does some magic, which not only causes Harry to be punished significantly by the Dursleys, but also gets him a stern letter from the rather Big Brother-esque Ministry of Magic. I would ask “How are they possibly monitoring all the magic use in the world?” but it’s obviously magic, duh.

But if we assume they can monitor all the magic, how can they be so ineffective against dark magic? Unless, of course, they ARE the dark magic…

Oh yeah, I’ve just remembered that character that Imelda Staunton plays was from the MoM! And she was bad, right? Or was she just an annoying bureaucrat? Can’t remember.

No, she must have been evil.

joeytribbiani

So is Dobby meant to be incredibly annoying? Or is that just me? I dunno why, but I feel like house elves would probably be female. So far it seems like all the magical characters are default-male.

Now Ron and his brothers have appeared with his brothers to jailbreak Harry. Wooo action scene.

The moving photos and book covers in the wizard world are pretty cool and I think we’re moving towards this as a society with our love of animated gifs. It would be cool if eBooks had animated covers.

Even the nice wizards are really dismissive of the human world, talking about “Muggle rubbish”. I feel like Muggle is supposed to be a really derogative term, but it’s bandied about by everyone. Sounds like a massive racial slur to me.

“The new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher must be a fan – bet it’s a witch”

What’s with the casual sexism?

So the Weasleys seem to be a really awesome family (it’s these kinds of literary families that make me want lots of kids) but concerned – quite rightly – about putting their 6 (?) kids through a massively expensive private school. Even a wealthy family would struggle with this, so why are the Weasleys painted as being so poor? Second-hand books aren’t exactly a sign of an impoverished life, especially in the wizarding world, where old books are commonplace, surely? [Edit: OK, they are probably poor because they have spent all their money on putting their kids through private school. Which leads me to wonder, are there other wizarding schools? Are they cheaper? Or free? You’d think if there were you would see some sort of inter-school Quidditch tournament.]

Ginny’s crush on Harry is adorkable.

So owls are used as the postal service. But if Ron has a rat how does he get letters delivered anywhere during term time? Surely then everyone should have their own owl PLUS a familiar? That’s like saying you may have an e-mail address OR a personal journal.

Harry has a bank vault filled with wizard gold. But he’s all like “oh, I don’t have any money in the Muggle world”. Like there wouldn’t be a money exchange somewhere. There seem to be way too many mixed families for this to make any sense. Also, where did his parents get all that money?

Floo powder seems like a horrible, horrible way to get around. Not only that but Harry is terrible at following basic instructions like “wait until you see Fred and George”.

We learn from Malfoy Sr that the Ministry are conducting raids. Raids? Seems like this Ministry of Magic are a rather authoritarian government. Were they even elected? Or did they all come of out Slytherin too? But Malfoy Sr does seem to have lots of potions for poisoning Muggles, so maybe they are trying to do good after all.

They refer to Hermione as “a girl of no wizard family” and lament that “wizard blood is counting for less everywhere”. So she has no wizard blood but is still a witch? I really hope this is explained.

Hermione’s Muggle parents are exchanging money! So that means Harry is rich in both worlds. Unless the exchange rate is really bad.

Gilderoy Lockhart sounds like the Lord Flashhart of the wizarding world.

Malfoy Sr is a nasty piece of work, which does make me feel bad for Draco. It’s not like he really had any better examples to follow. I’m kind of surprised that Mr Weasley and Mr Malfoy resorted to physical violence, but I supposed if there had been magic involved the MoM would have been round immediately.

Harry and Ron steal the magic car, leaving Ron’s parents presumably stranded on platform 9 ¾ indefinitely. How are they going to get the car back from Hogwarts? Can you just tell magic cars where to go? They say they need to worry about aeroplanes, but isn’t the train to Hogwarts in another dimension? I assumed Hogwarts was in the wizarding world, far removed from Muggles.

They’ve been heading North from London for several hours so can we assume that Hogwart’s is in Scotland?

Violent tree attacks them in their car, conveniently empties luggage and gives Harry, Ron, Hedwig and Scabbers the chance to get away first.

“Why didn’t you send us a letter by owl? I believe you have an owl?”

Because Ron and Harry aren’t exactly street smart, Professor McGonagall. Also, as much as everyone is dissing Muggles, you’d think they would have co-opted the telephone system by now.

Punishment feasts at Hogwart’s consist of sandwiches, pumpkin juice and silver goblets.

You can have your golden goblet back when you’ve learned to behave, Harry!

Chapters 6–10

Jesus, these howlers. Is public shaming really an acceptable form of discipline in this world?

Aaaaand the messed up points system is back. Hermione gets 10 points for answering a question correctly in class. Does that mean that answering 6 questions correctly would have earned her as many points as Harry got for saving the school/world in the previous book? If so, how could anyone be so upset with them when they got 150 points docked for wandering around at night? Just answer 15 questions in class! And if Ravenclaw is supposed to be full of smart students, how are they not winning every term?

Lockhart is insufferable. I think he’s meant to be though. How did he even get this job?

“My name was down for Eton, you know, I can’t tell you how glad I am I came here instead”

Hahahaha

Why has no teacher helped Ron fix his wand yet? Surely they wouldn’t be punishing him by denying him an important piece of equipment he needs for his studies? Maybe you can’t fix wands. Seems pretty dangerous having a clumsy second year roaming around with a broken wand, that’s all.

Quidditch practice at dawn and they make Harry feel guilty for the fact they lost the Quidditch Cup last year because Harry was UNCONSCOUS IN HOSPITAL. Aren’t Gryffindors supposed to be kind and understanding?

[Boring sports interlude with everyone getting really worked up about sharing pitches and comparing dicks brooms]

Oh, so it’s Mudblood that’s the awful racial slur and Muggle seems to be fine. The whole pure-blood thing is supposed to be a Nazi reference/metaphor, right?

But if there’s nothing wrong with being a Muggle, why is it such an offensive term? Offensive terms are normally offensive when a group of people has been historically repressed and dehumanised. Has something like this happened with Muggles? Did they have to fight for Muggle rights?

“Most wizards these days are half-blood anyway. If we hadn’t married Muggles we’d’ve died out”

How strange. Is the wizard birthrate abnormally low? OR were *they* the persecuted ones?

So someone born to a wizarding family with no powers is called a Squib. That’s nice. I’m really starting to think that wizards are just assholes.

“Have you got anything to tell me Harry?”

This is the point I lose all sympathy for Harry (and teenagers in general).  Dumbledore is a kind, gentle man, who can help you with your problem, but he chooses to stay silent out of a kind of misplaced loyalty to his peers.

Chapters 11-15: Sleuthing around

The terrible trio have based their entire plan on successfully concocting this Polyjuice Potion based on the assumption that Draco is behind it all. They don’t seem to have stopped to think “hey, what if it’s not him?”

We find out during a wizard duel that Harry can talk to snakes – or rather, everyone else finds out. Of course, this looks super dodgy, and now everyone is kind of suspicious and terrified of Harry. Wizards seemed pretty scared in general, with all the “you-know-who” stuff, and being afraid of a young wizard because he has the same talents as another wizard who was a bad wizard. Some very superstitious people, it seems. But then again, as Hermione pointed out in the first book, wizards aren’t terribly logical.

People are being petrified left, right and centre. And even though Harry doesn’t have anything to do with it, he’s being all like “should I have been in Slytherin?”.

“Snap out of it Harry! In five years’ time no one will give a shit about your petty little life at school, especially what boarding house you were placed in!” is what everyone should be saying. The whole school seems to have a really insular, co-dependent vibe though.

Our trio spends Christmas day dicking about turning themselves into Crabbe, Goyle and an accidental cat. The Slytherin password is “pure blood” – gee, how original guys. You might as well have made the password “we are evil, tee hee hee”. But seriously, are we to assume that everyone in Slytherin is a pure blood? If so, then the school/sorting hat really bears some responsibility for putting all the pure bloods in one house together. I mean, what sort of segregation is this? If the hat is merely sorting people into Slytherin based on how cunning they are, then are pure blood wizards simply more cunning than half-blood/muggle-born wizards? Is the wizarding gene inherently evil?

Also, if Voldemort was a half-blood, why are all the Slytherins obsessed with purity of ancestry? Do they only make concessions for Voldemort because he’s the most formidable wizard of the last hundred years?

Wait a minute, Hermione turned herself into a cat. HOW CAN SHE NOT TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HUMAN AND CAT HAIR?

Speaking of weird, why did they cast a 37 year old in the role of Moaning Myrtle in the movie?

So Draco is not the heir of Slytherin, and he’s also really dumb about bragging about his dad’s underground vaults hidden with illegal Muggle items.

Harry finds Tom Riddle’s blank diary and starts writing in it, as you do. Tom Riddle is just like Harry! What a coincidink! He shows him a memory that is almost definitely fake, and Harry is all like “Hmm, ok, seems legit”. He goes as far as to ask “Do you really think Hagrid did it?”, showing just the slightest bit of doubt but not a morsel of scepticism. Even asking questions like “Who is this dude talking to me from a diary and what does he want with me?” is too much for Harry. HE KNOWS WHAT HE SAW!

Meanwhile, everyone is agonising over which subjects to choose for next year and Harry chooses the same subjects as Ron just in case he is rubbish at them and needs help. Great life choices, Harry.

Seriously, this school needs some sort of guidance counsellor. Especially as Harry keeps hearing voices telling him to kill/rip/tear.

Hermione has been petrified, but she still manages to be the only useful sleuth in the school. I’ve lost count of the number of petrified students, but it must be 6 or 7? Plus the cat/ghost? Either way, Hogwart’s is now starting to panic.

Harry and Ron go to see/confront Hagrid but have to hide when Dumbledore and Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, come to arrest Hagrid instead.

I really think one of Rowling’s absolute greatest strengths is in the naming of her characters. The names she chose for even the smaller characters just manage to describe them all so well. I wonder whether she has synaesthesia? The names seem to bring the whole Harry Potter universe to life.

Anyhoos, now Dumbledore has been suspended by Lucius Malfoy and the Board! I mean, I assume that Malfoy somehow forced them into this, but what exactly is their plan for running Hogwart’s without a headmaster and with basically no staff other than McGonagall and Snape?

Even in the face of being absolutely furious at Malfoy, Dumbledore remains calm:

“You will find that I will only truly have left this school when none here are loyal to me. You will also find that help will always be given at Hogwart’s to those who ask for it”

See, Harry, stop trying to solve everything by yourself and just ask for help once in a while.

Hagrid is taken to an excessively high-security prison but manages to tell Ron and Harry to follow the spiders.

Now there’s a massive interlude with lots of little spiders in the forest and then more giant spiders. They find Ron’s parents’ car (“the forest’s turned it wild…”) which then helps to save them from the spiders who are loyal to Hagrid, but less loyal to his friends.

It took that whole ordeal for them to realise Hagrid is in fact innocent, and yet they still don’t think “hey, maybe that Tom Riddle guy is dodgy after all”. Because after all, Tom is just like Harry, and you never suspect that people who are like you could do awful things.

Chapter 16–18: The Chamber of Secrets

They are finally able to de-petrify the students, but Harry still wants to go and talk to Moaning Myrtle. Despite the fact that teachers are now chaperoning students everywhere, when Harry and Ron sneak away from Lockhart, McGonagall is right there.

As usual, Hermione has all the answers. She figured out the entire thing, the basilisk, the reflections, the pipes. But since Harry and Ron were busy dicking about instead of checking Hermione’s hands for clues, it’s too late and now Ginny Weasley has been taken by the monster.

LOLS @ Lockhart being “volunteered” to go into the Chamber of Secrets. But why do Harry and Ron need to force him to come with them when he seems intent on running away?

Can wizards do any magic without wands?

Their plan for avoiding death against the basilisk is to close their eyes.

Sounds like they need the Sensory Deprivator 5000.

sensory_deprivator

Ermahgerd Tom Riddle is the bad guy! Luckily he is a fictitious bad guy which means he only almost kills his victims. But Harry’s still pretty dense and doesn’t get that TOM RIDDLE IS THE BAD GUY.

This is like the “HE’S BEHIND YOU” of the book world.

“Harry stared at him. There was something very funny going on here.”

He has to literally spell out the entire thing before Harry even twigs that something isn’t right:

Riddle: I’ve been stealing bits of Ginny’s soul and replacing them with my evilness for like, 6 months.

Harry: Tom, stop kidding around here. We gotta go!

Riddle: Yeah, because of me Ginny committed all these atrocities and then blamed herself and thought she was going mad.

Harry: The basilisk is going to eat us if we don’t hurry! Wait… what?

harrypotter huh

So Riddle leaves himself behind in memory form to one day lead another person to open the Chamber of Secrets. This is an excessively complicated and involved plan.

And now since Harry still hasn’t got a clue what is going on, Riddle has to literally spell out his name in the air and rearrange the letters to read “I AM LORD VOLDEMORT”.

obviously

So Voldemort/Riddle had a Muggle father but descends from Salazar Slytherin on his mother’s side. That’s almost as bad as being an Aryan Jew. But his Muggle father abandoned him, so basically the reason he turned evil is because he has unresolved Daddy issues? But what about his Mother? Surely the love of a pure-blood is enough to… oh, I don’t know. Do something magical? Even if she died when he was young?

Conveniently, Dumbledore’s phoenix and the sorting hat come to Harry’s rescue just in time, because he’s going to get himself killed sass-talking Riddle/Voldemort the way he’s doing.

“But I know why you couldn’t kill me. Because my mother died to save me. My common, Muggle-born mother”

So he’s taunting him because his mother loved him enough to die for him. Classy move, Potter.

Is calling someone Muggle-born a bit like accusing someone of being nouveau riche?

Fawkes the Phoenix does most of the difficult work by stabbing the Basilisk in the eyes. Then the Basilisk sweeps the sorting hat into Harry’s arms and he pulls out the Sword of Convenient Plot Points. This silver sword has rubies “the size of eggs” but Harry can somehow lift it. He stabs the snake but gets bitten anyway, but don’t worry because the Phoenix is crying on him and that will heal him.

And then all that remains is to stabby stab the diary with the fang and the big fight is over. Ginny’s alive! Lockhart has lost his memory. Hooray!

And even Dobby gets set free!

Happy endings all round! The good guys win and the bad guys lose.

And – most importantly – Dumbledore awards some extra points right at the end so Gryffindor win the House Cup! Again!

Which is important because Harry is a True Gryffindor as it turns out it was Godric Gryffindor’s sword he pulled out of the Sorting Hat.

So Harry is a hero now, and probably going to get significantly more insufferable as the books go on.

Sam’s verdict

By the end of this book I found myself actually looking forward to future books when good characters die and suffer and bad characters win (at least temporarily). To me, this read more like a kids book than the Philosopher’s Stone, and it was a bit less enjoyable, simply because Harry and Ron were so useless throughout, and the plot twists were so predictable.

And I missed Hermione’s character while she was in a wizard-coma. Without her, there was very little sense from any of the characters. It just seemed like most of this book was Ron and Harry bumbling around, trying not to get caught/expelled.

Still, it’s a rather addictive series and I’ve already made it a third of the way through Prisoner of Azkaban…

 

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Reading Harry Potter for the first time: Part 1 (Philosopher’s Stone)

Warning: Spoilers for all 7 books throughout! Long post! Much snark!

After finishing a massive dense non-fiction book about nutrition, I was in desperate need of something light-hearted and fun to read next. I’d been thinking about finally reading the Harry Potter series for a while, and it seemed like the best time to start: winter is still here, and I want to sit inside and read, but nothing too strenuous. So I decided to take the plunge.

I’ve seen the movies except the last, and pretty much know all the spoilers by now. But I was still curious to read the books after seeing passages and quotes from the books and finding them a great deal more substantial than the movies. Rowling has a reputation for being a master storyteller, so I thought it was about time I read them.

I also thought it was about time I let go my original reasons for avoiding the books; that Rowling shamelessly ripped off – I mean borrowed – elements from my favourite childhood book, The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson. Ibbotson may want to forgive her and shake her hand or whatever, but it took me a while before I could. (I will say I think Platform 13 will always be the superior book simply because of the mistmakers and the Margaret Thatcher harpies)

mistmaker

When they are happy they go “aaaaah” and create mist. Put THAT in your pipe and smoke it, Rowling.

But, OK, I realise it’s been almost two decades and I am a grown-ass woman and I need to let it go and just read the Harry Potter Books with an open mind. Lots of people I love and respect absolutely adore them, so there must be some value I can find in them to warrant getting through all 7 books.

Note: I have a feeling I did read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone a while ago, but I think I was jet lagged at the time and have very little recollection.

Chapters 1 – 5: Yer a wizard Harry!

Setting up a series of books like this must be quite some task, and I’m impressed at how many characters are woven into the story so early on. Hey, Hagrid mentioned Sirius Black! Wasn’t he a wolf? And all the Weasley family – she must have really known where she was going with this from the beginning.

I’m a bit confused about the concept of Muggles though. How can there be mixed families? Is it genetic? Can two wizards produce a Muggle offspring? That would be really shitty if your whole family has super powers and you don’t. And how can Hermione come from a family of non-Muggles? Was she adopted? Or do wizards get chosen, like the Slayer?

There’s clearly some muggle/wizard tension which I totally understand, having wanted to be a witch throughout my childhood, I would be really jealous of anyone who actually was a witch. And I guess if you have superpowers you would look down on those who don’t. It’s human nature. Or wizard nature.

Harry isn’t half so annoying as I had expected. He’s actually quite a sweet boy. I like the descriptions of Diagon Alley. I like that you have loads of different shops for different things. That’s what I like about Haarlem actually. You can go to the cheese shop, and the fish monger and it’s all nice and old-timey feeling. Imagine if Diagon Alley was Diagon Superstore, where you could get all your wizarding goods under one roof.

Good choice, Rowling.

Chapters 6 – 10 Off to Hogwarts

Obviously, Harry meets Ron on the train and they become BFFs immediately. I feel like there should be a note at this point: “This does not happen in real life. Remember this when you start your first term at uni”. I like that Hermione is weird and bossy. Maybe I could have played her part in an alternate reality where I wasn’t too old to audition.

It’s nice that Harry is so excited about going to boarding school. I’m glad he finally gets money and nice things and an owl. I wonder why boarding schools use trunks though? We had them at school (at least in the early years). Is the advantage that they are more easily stackable compared to suitcases?

Sorting incoming first years into houses based on their characteristics at 11 years old seems like a really bad idea and a great way to perpetuate the terrible people coming out of Slytherin. Can the school really hold no responsibility for creating these evil wizards?

Also, is Hufflepuff really ever going to win the House Cup when all the clever and sporty and ruthless ones go to the other houses? There is NO WAY Hermione is a Gryffindor and not a Ravenclaw. I really hope this is explained later on, and not just because she is slightly more brave than she is smart. Because she’s a massive nerd.

What are the fees like for this school?? Golden plates and goblets? I went to a British boarding school and we had to drink out of plastic cups. And… these 11 year old kids get four-poster beds with velvet curtains!!! Way to make the rest of us feel bad about our lives, Rowling! #lifegoals

There’s a lot of very British slang in here. Was this changed for the US versions? I remember reading that the title was changed from Philosopher’s Stone to Sorcerer’s Stone because American audiences didn’t know what a philosopher was. So was this referred to as the Sorcerer’s Stone throughout?

So apparently lots of Harry’s classmates had come from Muggle families and had had no idea that they were witches and wizards. Is a witch just a female wizard? There’s definitely a kind of patriarchy in this world.

Why is there no sort of Witchcraft & Wizardry elementary school? Why do they need to wait until they are 11? Might make the whole process much less stressful if they could have built up some knowledge from a young age. They seem to get a lot of homework. Or maybe they just like to complain about it?

Oh Snape. I can’t imagine Snape as anyone other than Alan Rickman. 😦

Snape is really mean though. I’m sure he has his reasons, but bullying a little kid isn’t cool. Meanness aside, that potions class sounds excellent. Unlike Quidditch, which sounds boring and reminds me of people at school who went on and on about lacrosse like it was the most important thing in the world. If I could ride brooms, I would have invented more than one sodding sport – like broom racing, synchronised brooming, broom acrobatics, underwater brooming, and gladiator style broom fighting.

So Harry’s a natural at Quidditch. Snooze. I hate sports. And now Draco’s challenging him to a wizard’s duel. Ffs boys, calm down. Do we ever find out why Draco is such an unnecessarily massive dick to Harry? Other than he and his family are supposed to be the bad guys?

Bludgers. BLUDGERS. Quidditch sounds violent and dangerous. But I guess if you can magically heal broken bones, that must take some of the danger away. Did someone really create magical balls that only serve to hit people in the face though? I bet they were in Slytherin.

Seekers and the Golden Snitch seem to have nothing to do with the actual game of Quidditch. And yet the game only finishes when one of the seekers catches it? Are we supposed to believe that this world of magic is just so wacky that people are ok with Quidditch matches lasting months?

Awarding points to houses seems rather arbitrary and at the whim of the teachers. How do they keep track of it all? Do they have little slips they fill in? And do your house points count towards a personal total at the end of the year? If not, seems a bit pointless to take 5 points off Hermione for going after the troll but 10 points to Ron and Harry for saving her. Also, it must have been so obvious that Hermione was covering their asses. McGonagall isn’t an idiot.

“But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them”.

TRUE FACT.

Chapters 11 – 15 Sleuthing around

Oh god, this chapter is titled Quidditch. Kill me now.

Hermione keeps being painted as a bossy know-it-all who hates to break the rules, but it seems to me that it’s a relatively dangerous school to attend and these rules might actually be a good idea? I know she’s a bit naive in putting her trust in somewhat sketchy authority figures, but why are Harry and Ron’s characters flaws not brought up constantly? Can’t tell if it’s sexist, or pointing out sexism. The ratio of male to female characters also seems strikingly off right now. I don’t think this book has even passed the Bechdel test yet.

“Wood cleared his throat for silence.
‘OK men,’ he said.
‘And women,’ said Chaser Angelina Johnson”

Fine, maybe Rowling is aware of it.

The Christmas holidays at Hogwarts sounds totally delightful. I hope there’s a Hogwart’s themed hotel somewhere.

There IS! Well kinda.

I love how the teachers get drunk and merry too. I wish I’d gone to Hogwart’s.

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that”

Good advice from Dumbledore. I think there’ll be more of this to come.

The three of them are running around like the Famous Five but accomplishing absolutely nothing, instead of studying. Listen to Hermione! You do actually need to pass the exams. And now the dragon has bitten Ron on his quill-holding hand.

So Draco gets 20 points taken off him for being out of bed, but Harry, Ron, and Hermione get 50 points each for the same crime? This points system, man. So unfair. Seems like Hogwart’s has a bit of a toxic culture amongst the staff, lots of power tripping going on. And then they get ostracised by the whole school for all the points they lost. This is a pretty barbaric system. Detention taking place at 11 o’clock at night in a dangerous forest? BARBARIC.

Are there actually any pastoral staff in this entire school? Aside from Dumbledore, all the professors seem to exist just to dole out punishments, rather than doing any teaching, or acting in loco parentis. When they are out of class they seem to just be left to their own devices to manage their own time, and punished if they leave certain areas. Why not give these 11-12 year olds some help or guidance with their revision? Or some after school activities to stop them wandering off?

Chapters 16 – 17 Exciting climax

Wherever Hogwart’s is, it seems to have a lovely climate with snowy winters and properly hot summers. I miss that. Summers and winters here seem to blend right into each other.

These three kids have an overinflated sense of their own importance and seemingly a very poor understanding of the Philosopher’s Stone situation. Good job they’re so plucky.

But why aren’t the grown ups doing anything???

Oh right, it’s a kids book.

“It’s only dying a bit later than I would have done, because I’m never going over to the Dark Side!”

Wait, the Dark Side? Isn’t that Star Wars? Who said anything about Harry going over to the Dark Side? Harry sounds like he’s having a bit of a meltdown.

“Voldemort killed my parents, remember?”

Yes, we remember. It’s literally the point of the entire book series.

Since when is booby-trapping the place with a series of cute tests the best way to protect a valuable and dangerous object? I mean, chess, really? If three little kids who have been studying wizardry for less than a year can get past it, perhaps they need to re evaluate their security strategy. Oh wait, I forgot, Harry is the Chosen One.

Having said that, Hogwart’s doesn’t seem to teach conventional subjects at all, so maybe Hermione’s right about the logic puzzle preventing some of the greatest wizards from getting past, although it does seem absurdly easy.

OMG it’s Quirrell! He’s the bad guy! And he’s doing the Bond villain thing where he explains the situation to the hero… “and I’d have gotten away with it if it weren’t for you meddling kids”.

And now Quirrell is gloating before he’s actually won. This is why you gloat after you’ve killed your nemesis, people.

Voldemort has got to be under that turban. I think I remember that from the movies.

Why did mirror Harry put the Stone in real Harry’s pocket when he’s standing right by Quirrell/Voldemort? That seems… risky?

Oh right, having the Stone in your pocket burns human flesh. Neato.

So the Stone’s been destroyed and Harry’s woken up with a shit load of presents. And questions for Dumbledore. But Dumbledore’s not telling us why Voldemort wanted to kill Harry in the first place. My money’s on a prophecy of some sort that Harry would overthrow him.

“to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection for ever”

Right in the feels!

So let me get this straight – Dumbledore kind of figured they were going to go after Quirrell, so left them a bunch of cryptics clues in the hopes that they would do so, and hope that they would just be lucky enough not to get killed? That sounds like a very responsible headmaster. Using little kids to fight your battles for you when you’re one of the more powerful wizards AND Voldemort is actually afraid of you. Dick move, Dumbledore.

And then he cheats with some “last minute” points so that Gryffindor win the House Cup. Not only that, but Harry only gets 60 points for literally saving the whole school?

If everyone hates Slytherin so much – even the headmaster, why do they let them in to Hogwart’s? And why do they put them in a house together?

Sam’s verdict

All in all, a really fun read, and I’m definitely excited to read the Chamber of Secrets. I think that the books are going to get more complex and more grown-up as the story progresses. But a solid start for sure.

Finnish book cover

Creepy Finnish book cover

Up next: Part 2 – The Chamber of Secrets