Thursday, April 29, 2010

Nicholas Flamel

Guess what?! I came home from work with residual energy and managed to read and process an entire chapter! All the craziness at work is going to last about another week, so posts will probably continue to be sporadic until then, but I'll do my best, as we're getting so close to the end of Philosopher's Stone. This chapter isn't really a favorite of mine, though I did steal the title of my blog from it, so this post is likely to be brief.

Two major events happen in this chapter and the first is the discovery of who Nicholas Flamel is. Now, I know that coincidence is an important literary device, but this one really does drive me a little crazy, that Harry just happens to have the right chocolate frog on hand, and Hermione just happens to have the right book upstairs makes me give a little eye roll, but more than that, shouldn't Flamel have his own chocolate frog card? I mean, really you'd think being the only one to be able to make a Philosopher's Stone would warrant a little recognition. I suppose it's possible that he refused to sign a waiver for his likeness, but then it seems weird that they would mention him at all. At any rate, we finally know who Nicholas Flamel is and we can move along with the plot.

Oh wait, no plot, it's Quiddich time again. Now, I really like Quiddich, but this game, like the one before, is written in that weird space-time hopping way that Jo thankfully gave up for the next book, and therefore drives me nuts (though Neville taking on Crabbe and Goyle by himself gives me a serious happy). In addition to that, there's a lot of talk in this chapter about the House Championship and I get totally confused, because I don't understand why winning in Quiddich has anything to do with the House Championship. Does winning give you house points? That seems a bit unfair as there's also the Quiddich Cup, or is she using them interchangeably? Surely not, as she mentioned in "The Midnight Duel" that Gryffindor haven't won the Quiddich Cup "since Charlie left" and in this chapter everyone keeps talking about how they haven't won the House Championship in 7 years and if she were using them interchangeably at that point that would make Charlie 23 or 24, making Bill at least 24 which would mean he was 14 years older then Ginny who at some point in another book says that she's wanted to go to Hogwarts ever since Bill first went, but she wouldn't even have been born yet. This could be a big part of why I don't like this chapter, it's too confusing. Luckily Rowling mostly fixes this in later books too and seems to keep the Quiddich Cup and the House Championship more separate.

There is a final bit of plot after the game and it's Harry listening in as Snape threatens Quirrel. It's a pretty classic misdirect and I think I remember it working on me the first time I read it. Many of my least favorite scenes are ones where Harry is eavesdropping, I don't know if it's because it feels too passive for Harry or too lazy on Rowling's part or some combination of the two, but whenever there's a scene like this I pretty much skim it and move on.

How do you feel about this chapter? Anyone else get caught up in math and forget to enjoy the story?


  1. I never even thought about the math before!

    Wow... I'll never look at that chapter the same way again.

    Oh and about the House Championship/Quiddich Cups - I don't know if this was ever in the books or just my own interpretation but I thought maybe they were awarded house points for winning the Quiddich Cup, sort of like bonus school points for doing well in gym class? So maybe winning the Quiddich Cup is separate, but it will help them win the House Championship?

  2. If they get house points for Quiddich it has to be for winning, the quote from this chapter is "If Gryffindor beat Hufflepuff they'd move up to second in the House Championship" and this is only the second game of the year, they still have Ravenclaw to play. Maybe its just the arts geek who watched all the money go to the jocks in high school, but that seems really unfair.

    I think about the math all the time, with TV too. "Friends" was always all over the place with their ages and it always really bugged me. I feel like not taking the time to do the math right is lazy and somewhat insulting to the fans, many of whom will notice and remember the discrepancy. Especially in this day and age of DVDs and instant gratification where those kinds of things become especially noticeable.

    /rant (sorry)