Three Broomsticks

The Revised Forty

By hpboy13 Let’s talk about one of my favorite things – the minutiae of canon! I’d like to start this essay by offering a bit of fandom history to those who were not in the fandom fifteen years ago – if you’re an old hag like me, please allow your attention to wander freely.  Way back in 2001, the BBC ran a special about J.K. Rowling called “Harry Potter and Me.”  To put it in context, the first movie had just come out, and Harry Potter was a very big deal, but had not become a world-altering phenomenon quite yet.  In this documentary, Jo showed the interviewer her scraps of notes, and at one point held up a piece of paper that had details about Harry’s entire year at Hogwarts – forty students. This was the last time Jo was ever so flippant about revealing her notes, because the Potter fandom (even in those days) showed its customary resourcefulness and determination, and we soon had screengrabs of the list.  While Jo’s thumb obscured most of the latter half of the alphabet, it was enough to set the fans to theorizing, analyzing, and peopling their fanfictions with list-compliant background characters.  The ... Read More »

Severus… Please…


"The Prince’s Tale" shows us the progression of the exceedingly complex relationship between Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape. However, there is a gap in "The Prince’s Tale"... Read More »

The Seven Battles


The "Potter" series is rife with sevens, and as I recently started exploring, many of those sevens fall into a 3-2-1-1 pattern dictated by the potions riddle in "Sorcerer’s Stone".... Read More »

The Potions Riddle

new covers 2014

The Potions Riddle By hpboy13   Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,  Two of us will help you, whichever you would find, One among us seven will let you move ahead, Another will transport the drinker back instead, Two among our number hold only nettle wine, Three of us are killers, waiting hidden in line.    While writing about the obstacles protecting the Sorcerer’s Stone, I brought up the incredible way Jo integrated all the elements of the potions riddle into Half-Blood Prince, in the correct order no less.  To recap, Snape’s potion riddle that Hermione solves (SS285) features three poisons (“killers, waiting hidden in line”), two bottles that “hold only nettle wine,” one potion to move forward towards danger, and one potion to move backwards to safety.  Prefect Marcus over at The HP Lexicon, among many others, figured out the two potential solutions to the riddle (  For my purposes, I assume the correct order is the following, because it fits with many of the parallels throughout the series: Poison, Wine, Forward, Poison, Poison, Wine, Back.   As long as there has been a Potter fandom, fans have noticed that there are an awful lot of sevens ... Read More »

The Three-Book-Long Chess Match

chess match

The Three-Book-Long Chess Match By hpboy13   Let us harken back to Sorcerer’s Stone, to a chess match that won Ron Weasley fifty points for Gryffindor, and ended up being one of the best scenes in the entire film series.  This chess match is one of The Analyzed Passages of the Pre-DH Era – those lines or paragraphs in the first five (later six) books that the fandom collectively agreed foreshadowed later books… if we could only understand how!  (see also: the prophecy, “in essence divided,” Dumbledore’s “gleam of triumph,” etc.)  One of the things that a majority of fans agreed on back in the day was that the chess match secretly foretold how the rest of the series would play out… if readers could only decipher which piece was which character! Well, now we have Deathly Hallows available to us.  Does the chess match indeed foretell how DH ends? Surprisingly, there is much less consensus now that we actually have the allegedly foretold ending, than there was while everyone was still guessing.  On the one hand, broad strokes of the chess match certainly seem applicable.  On the other hand, it’s not readily apparent as a perfect fit, and some ... Read More »

hpboy13 is back!


Head over to the "Quibbler" to check out hpboy13's most recent editorial, "Seven Obstacles for Seven Books"! Irvin's editorial looks at each obstacle the trio overcame in "Sorcerer's Stone" and how each obstacle the trio overcomes pairs with each of the books in what magic is involved and how the trio gets through it. Read More »

Seven Obstacles for Seven Books

new bloomsbury covers

Seven Obstacles for Seven Books By hpboy13 Over the years, many essayists have attempted to connect the seven protections of the Sorcerer’s Stone to the seven books of the Harry Potter series.  Such a premise, by necessity, includes a bit of stretching – connecting types of magic and elements and whatnot.  I always enjoyed these essays – if you care to look at some of my favorites, dig into the MuggleNet archive and read the Two-Way Mirror column by Daniela (editorials #2, 4, and 5) for some absolutely epic matrix-y analysis.   I want to take my own stab at it, because I have not really seen an updated version that takes the latter books into account.  (This theory was in its heyday shortly before Book 6 came out, once everyone was heartily sick of guessing who the Half-Blood Prince was and analyzing every word and every ellipse in the prophecy.  After Half-Blood Prince, everyone was far too concerned with RAB, Horcruxes, and Snape to return to this, especially since the sixth obstacle fit the sixth book like a glove and did not demand much further analysis.)   Knowing Jo, seven obstacles for seven books should have some connection.  After ... Read More »

The Minor Characters of “The Cuckoo’s Calling”

The Cuckoo's Calling

What do the characters of "The Cuckoo's Calling" have in common with the characters of "Goblet of Fire"? Click here to read hpboy13's new editorial and find out! Read More »

The Suspects of Cuckoo’s Calling

The Cuckoo's Calling

by hpboy13 One of the most impressive things about Rowling’s books is how cleverly she leaves clues throughout the text, which we then find on rereads and just think to ourselves, “Damn, she’s brilliant!”  You know the ones: Hermione knocking over Quirrell, Snape accusing Harry of stealing Polyjuice ingredients in Year 4, etc.  I love catching these things on rereads. But some of the things we sometimes forget to appreciate on our umpteenth reading is how carefully Jo lays red herrings and fake trails.  This struck me on a recent rereading of Goblet of Fire: how Jo pointed the finger of blame at Crouch Sr., Karkaroff, and Bagman.  Goblet of Fire has a striking resemblance to Cuckoo’s Calling – it’s a whodunit.  The “crime” is putting Harry’s name into the Goblet of Fire, and we spend the book trying to figure out who did and why. The first time I read GoF, I was nine years old, and powered through the book, so I don’t really remember any theories I may have had.  But I am now in my twenties and considerably more well-read, so my mind was whirring as I read Cuckoo’s Calling.  I’d like to share my observations.  ... Read More »

Review: The Silkworm


The Silkworm is Jo’s follow-up to The Cuckoo’s Calling, and while it’s a solid book, it’s not quite as good as its predecessor. This is my review of the second Cormoran Strike novel; I shall strive to keep it spoiler-free, but if you want to avoid even vague hints, click away now. Read More »

Headmasters in the Canon


by hpboy13 The recent news of a Fantastic Beasts film has gotten us all in a tizzy – when I saw the headline, I assumed it was an April Fool’s joke, before remembering it was September. Once the initial reactions of “!!!!!” were over, talk then turned to the Potter fandom’s favorite activity: theorizing. Except I think many in the community are a bit rusty, because in lieu of actually looking things up in well-worn copies of Fantastic Beasts, people turned to the Harry Potter Wiki . This led to quite a bit of confusion, which I will now be happy to clear up. Before we launch into any actual discussion of facts, we shall have to establish the foundation of all our theories: what exactly is canon? Canon is what we can take as fact in the world of Harry Potter, and sources of it come in three levels: canon, dubious canon, and fanon. Back in the day, there was a much clearer distinction among them: canon was the books that were published by Jo, dubious canon was her website, and fanon was what happened when one read too much fanfiction and had the lines blurred. However, things are ... Read More »

Three Broomsticks editorial: “Headmasters in the canon”


In this most recent editorial found within the comfortable confines of The Three Broomsticks, our favorite editorialist - affectionately known as hpboy13 - has come up with a clever discussion on the Headmasters of Hogwarts and what we should come to expect, or hope to see, within the new Fantastic Beasts film series. Read More »

The Psychopaths – Bristow, Riddle, and Crouch


by hpboy13 Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for The Cuckoo’s Calling!!! The end will be spoiled! The killer revealed! The mystery ruined! The climax quoted! In short, do not read on if you’ve not finished Cuckoo’s Calling. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!!! I was plugging along, writing my piece analyzing the characters of The Cuckoo’s Calling, when I noticed the section on John Bristow was getting rather long and unwieldy. And this isn’t surprising – Jo does not do one-dimensional villains who are evil “just because.” Rather, she delves deeper into their psyche. And John Bristow calls to mind some of the most terrible characters in Jo’s other books. So I’ve spun off the analysis of John Bristow into its own article. The character analysis of everyone else in the book is on its way! John Bristow & Tom Riddle John Bristow is quite the villain – he isn’t unpleasant like Tony Landry, but rather hides his evil very well. He appears almost cartoonish at first, crying and acting like a pushover. But this veneer hides a psychopathic killer. Jo has displayed an aptitude for writing about psychopaths in all three of her projects. The Casual Vacancy’s Fats has all the makings of one, ... Read More »

Rowling’s back!

Cuckoo's Calling

I’m somewhat ashamed, but I didn’t read The Cuckoo’s Calling as soon as it came out. I was wary of being disappointed as I had been by Casual Vacancy. But I am beyond thrilled to say that Cuckoo’s Calling is a return to form for Jo, a spectacularly written mystery that utterly engrossed me! Read More »

New Editorial in the Three Broomsticks: ‘Albus Dumbledore and the Sorcerer’s Stone’

The Trio

In this latest investigation, hpboy13 attempts to unearth the question of whether or not there were clear forms of aid along the way, helping the trio throughout Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Read More »

Albus Dumbledore and the Sorcerer’s Stone


By hpboy13 At the end of Sorcerer’s Stone, there is a brief exchange among the Trio that first introduces us to the idea of Dumbledore’s omniscience: “D’you think [Dumbledore] meant you to do it?” said Ron. “Sending you your father’s cloak and everything?” “Well,” Hermione exploded, “if he did — I mean to say — that’s terrible — you could have been killed.” “No it isn’t,” said Harry thoughtfully. “He’s a funny man, Dumbledore. I think he sort of wanted to give me a chance. I think he knows more or less everything that goes on here, you know. I reckon he had a pretty good idea we were going to try, and instead of stopping us, he just taught us enough to help. I don’t think it was an accident he let me find out how the mirror worked. It’s almost like he thought I had the right to face Voldemort if I could….”(SS302) Now, we could just take this at face value – Dumbledore knew everything and planned everything – and just leave it at that… but where would be the fun? So, upon my fourteenth reread of the series this summer (it’s an annual tradition going back ... Read More »

New editorial in the Three Broomsticks: “Is ‘Harry Potter’ a feminist text?”


Over the course of the Harry Potter series, author J.K. Rowling has created some iconic, and let's face it, kick-ass female characters like Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Molly Weasley, Nymphadora Tonks, Ginny Weasley, and Minerva McGonagall. But are these women the norm or the exception in the Wizarding world? Read More »

Is Harry Potter a Feminist Text?


By hpboy13 As a fandom, there are many things that we have come to agree on over the years. Neville is a BAMF. Voldemort is a Drama Queen. The Prince’s Tale makes us cry. The Epilogue kind of sucked. But there is one question that divides us to this day, one that I have long intended to address in an essay but kept putting off: is Harry Potter a feminist text? Every fan will have an opinion on this, and they are all different – I’ve heard the gamut of them, from “totally feminist” to “anti-feminist.” I will give my views on the matter, and beg everyone to keep the debate in the comments civil, since this is a touchier subject than most. The way I see it, whether HP is feminist or not depends on three factors: Are the female characters strong? Do they all sit around fussing about dresses and waiting to be rescued, or do they kick butt and take names all on their own? Are the women independent? Is the #1 goal to find a man to settle down with, or is it okay to not give two hoots about men? How are the women treated ... Read More »

What are the “12 Failsafe Ways to Charm Witches”?

ron hermione kiss

One of the more intriguing presents Harry receives on his seventeenth birthday is a book titled Twelve Failsafe Ways to Charm Witches. It's a present from Ron, who's gotten it from Fred and George for his own birthday five months earlier. He tells Harry, “Explains everything you need to know about girls. If only I'd had this last year I'd have known exactly how to get rid of Lavender and I would've known how to get going with...” (DH113) But what are these twelve mystery tips exactly? Read More »

The Three Broomsticks: Did Harry deserve sweet vengeance on Peter?


Concluding his three-part "Revenge" series, hpboy13's latest article discusses the one character that seems most justified in getting payback: Harry. After everything he has suffered, losing his parents, being condemned to the Dursleys, and growing up with no real family, how could he not want revenge on Wormtail, the man whose betrayal of Lily and James caused all this? Read More »