Book Review: "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" by J.K. Rowling.

Yesterday (12/4/08), J.K. Rowling's newest 'book' was released: The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Now, for those of you who haven't read the Harry Potter books, this probably won't make any sense to you. The Tales of Beedle the Bard played a huge role in the final installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, specifically the story "The Tale of the Three Brothers." The book is supposedly a translation from ancient runes by Hermione Granger and includes an introduction and specific footnotes by J.K. Rowling, with special notes on the stories (along with his own personal footnotes) by Albus Dumbledore.

But this book wasn't always going to be up for sale. At first, Mrs. Rowling only made about 7 bejeweled copies that she was giving to those close to her, and the final one up for charity auction. But due to a giant fan uproar that nobody who wasn't filthy rich would ever be able to read it, J.K. Rowling decided to mass produce it, though give all proceeds to charity (as she has always done with her other companion books, Quidditch Through The Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them). There were two versions available for buy: the regular hardcover copy, or the leather-bound, bejeweled version for $100+. Needless to say, I went for the regular.

The book is a quick and easy read, at only a little over 100 pages (and huge font). There are only five little fairy tales, and all of them include notes afterward by Dumbledore. Let me first discuss each story.

"The Wizard and the Hopping Pot" comes first and is an interesting and highly moralistic story. In fact, it's probably the most straight-forward and obvious with its moral. It's about a bad-tempered wizard who inherets a magical cauldron from his father, though refuses to use it to help the people of his village.

"The Fountain of Fair Fortune" is second and probably the most lighthearted of the five. And as it is the most lighthearted, it is almost the most uninteresting and predictable (with one exception... I really didn't see the last line coming). It's about three witches and a knight who journey through the trials and tribulations before them in order to get to a fountain that is supposed to cure all their ills, even though only one of them can be selected to be cured.

"The Warlock's Hairy Heart" is the third and easily the most demented and dark of the five. There are some descriptions in there that I really didn't expect to find, especially after following a story like "The Fountain of Fair Fortune." It's about a man who finds love trifle and silly, so he performs a specific dark magic to make himself invulnerable to it... but then decides that he wants to attempt marriage after all.

"Babbity Rabbity and Her Cackling Stump" is fourth and, despite the oddest named of the fairy tales, is one of the more entertaining ones. It made me wonder what was going to happen next. It's about a foolish king who threatens death to all who use magic, but wants to be the only (and therefore most powerful) wizard in the land, so he hires an apparent sorcerer to teach him, though he's nothing more than a con man.

"The Tale of the Three Brothers" is the final story and the one that each Harry Potter fan should know if they've read the seventh book. The story is much like something one would find by reading the Canterbury Tales, I've always thought. It's about three brothers who cheat Death and, as a reward, each choose an item to better themselves: the Elder Wand (the most powerful wand ever created), the Resurrection Stone (a stone that could supposedly 'bring back' the dead), and Death's own Invisibility Cloak (which would never wear out).

All five stories are unique and entertaining in their own way, but I found the true entertainment of the book came from Dumbledore's notes. These extended my knowledge into the magical world and its vast and expansive history. It was always interesting to read about the different 'people' that lived in the past of the magical world and how they helped to establish how things came about in the modern day. There's really not much more to say about this. The stories were entertaining, but it was all the extra notes that made this read very much worth it. I can't wait to see if they're going to model the look of The Tales of Beedle the Bard in the seventh/eighth movie(s) after the $100+ version of the book. I think that'd be pretty cool.

Overall, if you're a fan of the books, you know you'll have to get this. If you follow the movies instead of the books, I'd stick away from this for now, as it is slightly spoilerous to some of the future events that have yet to occur in the films. But if you prefer the movies over the books to begin with, there's no point in addressing you, as you wouldn't go out to buy this anyway. But for those who are book fans... check it out. It's worth it.

(Note: Just keep in mind, even in the realm of Harry Potter, these were stories (fairy tales) for little kids, so don't go in expecting HP-level depth or anything. The most you'll find is discussions of morals and slight racism/equality in Dumbledore's notes).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.