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The Lexicon Blog

What’s New? Plenty!

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted here, mostly because I’ve been putting most of my updates and comments on the HP Lexicon’s Facebook page and Google+ page. Here’s what’s been going on with the Lexicon lately:

A new series of books is available called The Harry Potter Lexicon Reader’s Guides. The first and second volumes have been published on Kindle and Nook, and the third should be available by the end of August, 2012. The Lexicon book is included in this series and is available now!

The HP Lexicon podcast was just updated with episode 13.

I’ve been doing a LOT of editing all over the Lexicon website. Many of the edits have been small, but some larger revisions have been going on, such as a new page listing offensive and defensive spells and an update and redesign of the pages for the WOMBAT tests which appeared on Rowling’s website back in 2006 and 2007.

There are lot more changes, updates, and discussions going on, and I plan to start posting here again to keep you all up to date.


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Episode 13: “The budding new baby hero!”

Steve digs into the interview archives, discussing Rowling’s control of her story and her characters, then explores the murky challenge of finding name sources, discovers the not-so-murky Grimmauld Place in London, and discusses the essential elements of book six which allow us to truly understanding book seven.

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Episode 12: “Why weren’t we told about this sooner?”

Steve chats about Rowling’s take on “official” Harry Potter, then discusses different modes of storytelling in book five, fan recommendations for best re-reads, how Sectumsepra just might be necessary, and how Molly Weasley rocks long before her showdown with Bellatrix.

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Episode 11: “What happened to the whimsy?!”

Steve marvels at the levels of the soundscapes on Pottermore, then bemoans expensive canon and Rowling’s lost website, reads a wonderful insight from a fan about the magic of books, then finds book five to be “really jarring on a number of levels” … and yet his favorite book of the series.

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Episode 10: “This gap is where it all changed …”

Steve starts “season two” of the podcast by reviewing the past nine episodes, then discusses new things on Pottermore, discovering Diagon Alley in London, how the world of Harry Potter changed during the gap between books four and five, and why that gap left many fans unprepared for book five when it came.

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Comments on SOPA

Today I was asked about my position on the pending legistation in the US congress known as SOPA and PIPA. As the webmaster of a relatively popular website, as a published author, and as a dedicated fan of the Harry Potter series, I firmly oppose this legislation. These bills are intended to fight piracy and copyright infringement, but they are written in a way which is overly broad and which threatens legitimate websites. For example, many websites, including the Lexicon, could find themselves shut down if they link to some external site which includes possibly infringing content. Few site owners would have the resources to fight against such an unfair attack. As someone who has been the victim of piracy and copyright infringement, I support the goal of defending copyright owners and trying to stop illegal pirating of intellectual property. However, I am definitely against anyone who feels that the way to stop such things is to censor and damage the free and open way in which the internet operates. For more detailed information on SOPA, please visit this Wikipedia page.

Steve Vander Ark

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Episode 9: “The Dark Arts … are you TRYING to be bad?”

Steve wonders about the numbers 1531 and 4157, then talks about December in the Harry Potter universe, what makes the Dark Arts dark (and where Crouch Jr. could have learned them), mixes up the spelling of a spell and forgets the order of Priori Incantatem, then recalls experiences with anti-Potter book-banners.

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Episode 8: “And then book 3 came along … a bolt of lightning!”

Steve raves about Pottermore, then talks about dragon breeds, interviews from the misty past, offensive spells, Rowling’s trickery, missing the whole point, and other odds and ends of Harry Potter lore.

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Updates and new stuff

I’ve been wandering around Pottermore lately. Everywhere I look, I find interesting canon information (along with the odd chocolate frog card or galleon). As I’ve mentioned before in the podcast, I won’t be posting all of that new canon information on the Lexicon. There’s no way I want the Lexicon to spoil anyone’s joy of finding for themselves things like the story of McGonagall’s lost love or the purposes of other hidden King’s Cross platforms. However, I have added to the Lexicon little tidbits here and there — Ollivander’s first name, for example. If you’re already on Pottermore you know how wonderful all of Rowling’s essays are and that there’s no substitute for reading these marvelous tales directly from her. If you’re not on Pottermore yet … well, let’s just say that you’re in for a treat when you finally get your owl, get your wand, and get Sorted. Me? I’m a Ravenclaw and my wand is hornbeam and unicorn hair.

There are a few other new things to mention. The latest episode of the HP Lexicon podcast went live over the weekend. You can find out more about it by clicking on the Podcast link on Lexicon pages (or just by clicking here). In this episode I talk about wandering down Charing Cross Road looking for the Leaky Cauldron, the purpose of book two and its connections to book six, and other odds and ends of Potter lore. You can download it from here on the Lexicon or get it on iTunes.

Also, I’ve released the first eBook in the Harry Potter Lexicon Reader’s Guide Series. This book, entitled The Reader’s Guide to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, consists of completely updated notes, trivia, connections, plot questions, and background details about the first Harry Potter book, presented chapter by chapter and even line by line. I’m working on the second book, not surprisingly covering Chamber of Secrets, and I expect that I’ll be releasing a new volume every six months or so.

The book doesn’t simply reproduce the readers’s guides from the Lexicon website. In fact, I intentionally avoided referring back to those notes since they were written many years ago without the benefit of the viewpoint of the entire series. Instead I went at the project with “fresh eyes,” bringing to the text of the book over a decade’s worth of research into the world of Harry Potter.

So far, the book is available on the Kindle and the Nook (whose online store seems to have problems with apostrophes in their book titles, for some reason). I’m looking into releasing it in other formats as well.

Thanks for all the emails and comments. It’s great to know that there’s still such a vibrant, creative, and exciting community of fans out there enjoying Harry Potter as much as I do.

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Episode 7: “There’s a door … a black door with no handle …”

Steve wanders down Charing Cross Road, then talks about hidden pubs, anti-magical roads, questions in book two and answers in books six, floating kitchenware, hanging animals, and other bits of Potter lore.

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Episode 6: “Only two people are known to have done it … and they’re both dead!”

Steve discusses McGonagall and Walpurga and their friends, wobbly bridges, mutant chickens, Bertie Botts Shots, who can and can’t fly, a fateful decision to retrieve a forgotten diary, and other odds and ends of Harry Potter canon.

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Episode 5: “In front of me was a signpost that said ‘Burrow’…”

Steve explains how choices were made about Lexicon content ten years ago, then discovers the Burrow among the hedgerows, an intriguing list from Rowing’s notebooks, and two Harrys over the course of the saga.

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Original page date 9 June 2011; Last page update 14 June 2011 SVA