Bring on the Potterverse

This past week JK Rowling announced that the film series Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them would be extended to a five film series, rather than the trilogy as it was originally announced.

News Source: CBC News Entertainment

fantastic-beastsI could not be more excited. The first film looks amazing, and I’m elated that we get a chance to explore more of the Harry Potter universe. I love that we can visit different characters in different settings and even different time periods. I personally think that getting away from Hogwarts will do wonders for expanding this fictional landscape.

But the news of more films has not been met with uniform enthusiasm. I’ve seen several blog posts about JK Rowling that suggest she’s just milking the HP world for more money. And if you search for ‘Fantastic Beasts’ on Twitter you can find many negative reactions to the news. The first movie hasn’t even come out yet and the series is facing some deep criticism.

I have to admit: I’m confused.

There are many authors who continuously return to the same universe to explore it with different characters. Names like Brian Jacques, David Eddings, Terry Pratchett, and Mercedes Lackey jump to mind. But the author I keep coming back to is Tamora Pierce.

Tamora Pierce created the Tortall universe. It is composed of a total 21 books, which are organized into smaller series featuring different main characters. The first book in this universe, Alanna: The First Adventure, was published in 1983. This series featured four books of the universe.

song-of-the-lioness

The multiple series following these books contained characters mentioned or featured in Alanna’s story, yet had their own adventures and their own stories to tell. In 2003 she published the book that I fell in love with, Trickster’s Choice, which featured Alanna’s daughter.

daughter-of-the-lioness
When I first read the Tortall books as a child, I was absolutely delighted to discover how each book related to another in the universe. One of the first things I would do when opening a new book was draw lines to previous characters, establish how they were related and what roles they had in previous stories. But beyond the characters, what I loved about Tamora Pierce was that she created a world, and the more I explored that world and the more characters I met, the more it felt like a real place.

And Tamora Pierce isn’t done. She has books coming out next year that are part of the Tortall universe. To summarize: more than 21 books. Over 34 years. All in the same universe, featuring different characters. And as far as I can tell, she hasn’t received criticism over her stories.

hp-and-the-cursed-child

JK Rowling is criticized for publishing more stories, for almost every move on Pottermore, and now for expanding a new movie series. So what is it? Is it that the Harry Potter series is simply so huge, is so successful, and yes, has garnered so much money, that it gives people the right to tell Rowling to stop writing?

Let’s be clear: This is her world. Her characters. And if she wants to explore more of that universe, that is her choice.

Our choice is whether or not we read, watch, and buy into that world.

Everyone is allowed their opinions and criticisms. And I think it’s awesome that Rowling is expanding her universe. She can choose to write as many or as few stories as she wants, and I will choose to read the books and watch the movies because I enjoy them. So I say, bring on the ‘verse, Rowling. I’ll be there.

Live Reading: First Thoughts

At the beginning of this year I decided I was going to re-read all of the Harry Potter books. I haven’t read them in several years and I want to revisit all of the characters and settings and re-immerse myself in a world that used to be my second home. I have made this into a Live Reading project, where I post my reactions to the books as I’m reading (which you can find here: thelibrary-life.tumblr.com).

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this project. While I’ve read other Live Read blogs (and loved them) I’ve never done one myself, and I actually found the whole project a little daunting. At first I wasn’t sure what to post on Tumblr – just because I find a passage in the book fascinating doesn’t mean that others will. But I reminded myself that this was supposed to be a project for me: I wanted to re experience the story and explore the books in a new way, and I chose to do that through a Live Read. So I settled down with The Philosopher’s Stone and my laptop and started reading!

HarryPotterIllustrated

I actually love doing the Live Read posts. After the initial awkwardness they became much easier to do, and (almost) any thought that pops into my head I muse about on my Tumblr page. I’m able to slow down and ponder the story in a way I never have before. This is actually my favourite part about the Live Read posts: they force me to pause in my reading and consequently slow down the entire reading process. I have read these books many, many times, and every time I flew through them, practically speed-reading my way through the pages. Yet by forcing myself to slow down, I feel like I’m actually getting a much stronger grasp on the story than I ever had before. I’m taking a much closer look at interactions between characters, dialogue and character reactions. I love digging in to the book like this, and I feel that I’m able to think critically about the story. Live Reading gives me a different type of reading experience; one that builds upon all previous experience and gives greater depth to the story.

Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to invest into this project, and consequently have only made it to Chapter Six of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – but I’ve had a lot of fun with the chapters I’ve read so far! Despite being so slow-moving, I’m still loving this project and am very excited to continue the journey. :)