Monday, April 25, 2005

in tune with HP Mania... man i just cant wait for the next :D:D

Just before his eleventh birthday, Harry Potter is invited to join Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry because Harry is not a muggle (what the wizards call non-magical people) he is a wizard! What's more, he's the most famous wizard in the world because he survived an attacked from the most feared wizard of then all, Lord Voldemort, and he has been left with a scar above his eye.

Before he starts at Hogwarts, Harry has to shop for robes, cauldrons, spell books and wands in Diagon Alley - a secret road located at the back of The Leaky Cauldron pub. Part way down Diagon Alley, near its intersection with Knockturn Alley (where shops devoted to the dark arts are located), is Gringotts Wizarding Bank, where witches and wizards keep their money and other valuables. Wizard money is complicated for us muggles to understand; the gold ones are Galleons, there are 17 silver Sickles to a Galleon and twenty-nine bronze Knuts to a Sickle. The children all love spending their money on Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans (sweets that include earwax flavor one if you're not careful!), and chocolate frogs.

To get to Hogwarts, pupils have to locate platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station (really based on Euston Station as Rowling got the two stations muddled), where they can board the Hogwart's Express train. Queen Boadicea is believed to be buried underneath Platform 10.

The four Hogwarts houses (each named after a founder of the School) are (Godric) Gryffindor, (Helga) Hufflepuff, (Rowena) Ravenclaw and (Salazar) Slytherin. The Sorting Hat (Leslie Phillips in the two movies, which are directed by Chris Columbus) picks a house for each new arrival.

Harry's house is Gryffindor, led by Professor Minerva McGonagall, who teaches Transfiguration and is haunted by Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington a.k.a."Nearly Headless Nick". Harry's school enemy, Draco Malfoy, belongs to Slytherin led by Severus Snape. The School motto is Nunquam Draco Dormiens Titillandus, "never tickle a sleeping dragon" and the Headmaster is Albus Dumbledore, whose name comes from the Latin for white and the Old English for bumblebee.

Harry's parents Lily and James were killed when he was a baby by Lord Voldemort (French for "flight of death" but usually known as "he-who-must-not-be-named" or "you-know-who") so Hagrid left him to grow up at 4 Privet Drive with the Dursleys: Lily's muggle sister Petunia, her husband Vernon and their fat spoilt son Dudley. Harry and his friends battle the evil Lord Voldemort (real name Tom Marvolo Riddle, an anagram for I am Lord Voldemort) throughout the books.

Harry's friends are miss know-it-all Hermione Granger, who, being the daughter of two muggles is a "mudblood" and ginger Ron Weasley. Draco Malfoy's henchmen are Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle.

The favorite sport of wizards is Quidditch, a fast and furious game played by two teams on broomsticks - Harry's first broomstick was a Nimbus 2000. A Quidditch team has three Chasers who have to get the red Quaffle into hoops to score points, a Keeper who guards the hoops, two Beaters who deflect black Bludgers (balls that try to knock opponents off their broomsticks) and a Seeker (Harry if the team is Gryffindor) who chases the Golden Snitch and on catching it, scores 150 points and wins the game. The referee at Hogwarts is Flying Lessons teacher Madame Hooch.

Other teachers are Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher (so far, a different teacher each year). Herbology is taught by Pomona Sprout and Professor Flitwick teaches Harry how to use his phoenix feather wand purchased from Ollivander's wands in Diagon Alley, the proprietor of which is played by John Hurt. The mean but magically impotent caretaker, Argus Filch, is accompanied by pet cat Mrs. Norris whereas the friendlier groundskeeper, Rubeus Hagrid, has many inappropriate pets from dragons to dogs.

Harry and his friends also have pets at Hogwarts. Harry has an owl called Hedwig, Ron has a rat called Scabbers (who turns out to be Peter Pettigrew, who betrayed Harry's parents to Lord Voldemort, then faked his own death and framed Sirius Black for thirteen murders). Hermione has a ginger cat called Crookshanks, and the Weasley family share an owl called Errol, who brings them their post, including Howlers - screaming scolding letters.

The monsters featured in the books, all borrowed from established mythology, include dragons (Hagrid keeps a Norwegian Ridgeback called Norbert), a Cerberus-like three-head guard dog called Fluffy, mandrakes (which screech when uprooted), a phoenix, a hippogriff, a troll, cornish blue pixies, the Malfoy's servile house elf called Dobby, a unicorn and a werewolf (Defence of the Dark Arts teacher, Remus Lupin).

The five books written so far by JK (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling are the Philosopher's Stone (created by Nicholas Flamel, a real-life alchemist), the Chamber of Secrets (opened by Ron's sister, Ginny Weasley), the Prisoner of Azkaban (named Sirius Black), the Goblet of Fire and The Order of the Phoenix (where one of the members of the order of the Phoenix, Sirius Black, dies in the end).


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