Troubled Blood Week Placeholder Post #1: Parallels with Career of Evil. Spoiler Warning!

Starting out on publication day with a test of the ring-structure hypothesis!  If the Cormoran Strike series follows the same pattern as Harry Potter, and the many parallels of Lethal White with Cuckoo’s Calling (see here, here, and here) suggests is does, there should be many points of linkage between Books Three and Five.  All serious Strikers who, like me, are devouring the book as soon as it gets into our hands should make note of them in the comments.  Headmaster John will compile a master list later!

Spoilers after the jump! [Read more…]

On the Lighter Side: Creative Predictions for Troubled Blood… and Beyond?

White horses were such a common theme in Lethal White that even the protagonists started saying it was “getting silly.”  You know what’s getting silly already in Troubled Blood, even though we are just a few chapters into the preview?  The way virtually every character has to comment about how Strike and Robin need to become a couple. So far, I’ve counted… (mild spoilers….  if you haven’t seen the TB preview chapters and don’t want to know, avoid the jump…) [Read more…]

Cormoran, Robin and the Deleted Phone Calls: Evidence of Strike’s Remarkable Insight.

In the countdown to Troubled Blood, every Strike fan out there must be, on some level, wondering what is next for Cormoran and Robin. Are they ready to acknowledge their feelings for each other? Or will they keep a safe distance, at least until Robin’s divorce from the Flobberworm is finalized, which would, of course, give Charlotte plenty of time to try to sink her claws into “Bluey” again?

One point has been bugging me since I first read Lethal White, so much that I paid special attention to it on my latest re-listen to the audio book. How does Strike find out the Flobberworm deleted his apology message to Robin, and blocked his calls?  Is this a plot hole, or is it more evidence that Cormoran recognizes who and what Matthew is long before anyone else, including Robin does?  For more of the story, continue after the jump. [Read more…]

Guest Post: Thoughts on Leda and parentage as we await Troubled Blood.

Reader Kelly Loomis has made some excellent comments on the Cormoran Strike series, and the Hogwarts Faculty has decided that her latest should be highlighted in a guest post, rather than buried in the comments of the earlier Troubled Blood post.  We also thank her for alerting us to the micro-excerpt just released, apparently confirming that the astrological clock of Hampton Court will be a key feature of the series.  Maybe even the equivalent of Lethal White‘s White Horse of Uffington? Enjoy, and thank you, Kelly, for permission to share your insights.  Please use this thread as an updated site for more Troubled Blood discussion.

As you know, I’ve been going through the books by both reading and listening the last few months. I even subjected myself to the tv series. I did ask a silly question recently that was easily answered had I read a few chapters further.
I have several thoughts regarding parentage, Uncle Ted etc.:
1) Ted must be fairly well off (or the aunt is/was).  If his aunt and uncle stay in that swanky hotel he put Robin up in, they must have some money. Having been in London, I can’t imagine what a nice place like that would cost. And Strike claims they stay there whenever they get up to London. Also, he was a red cap which was what inspired Cormoran to that future career. I know in Britain, it is common for “gentry” to enter military service so that would not mean he couldn’t have come from money. Or, he just figured out a good field to enter into after exiting.
2) Regarding Strike’s parentage, there are a  a few things mentioned. 1) People always comment how Strike looks nothing like Rokeby. Also, Eric Bloom – lead singer of Blue Oyster Cult – was described as having hair exactly the same as Strike’s. And, he was supposedly the one that got away and Leda never “shagged“ him. 2) Strike described himself as the spitting image of his uncle. Does that include his hair?
3) Leda got married to someone coming through town with the fair. And in Troubled Blood, there will be reference to tarot cards and a missing woman the year of Strike’s birth. I wonder if “Gypsies” (the preferred term, in some circles, is Romani) still travelled around at that time with fairs telling fortunes and if any of this book will tie in with the man Leda married for the sake of a new last name and new dress. And if Strike will learn about some of these circumstances during this investigation.
This is a crazy thought – could Lucy have had anything to do with Leda’s death? She is the one who has tried to have a life most unlike her mother’s. We’ve had one woman killer in Liz Tassell. Could we have another? Strike talked about how women could smolder but when they blew, they really blew. Lucy – if she was sexually assaulted by Whittaker – could have taken revenge against her mother for dragging her into those kind of circumstances over and over. It just seems Rowling is going to knock the socks off us all.
Another crazy thought is that Strike is Uncle Ted’s illegitimate son. Haha! That would really be nuts.

Monuments in The Ickabog: Commentary on Today’s Headlines?

The fountain we destroyed tonight told a lie. We wizards have mistreated and abused our fellows for too long, and we are now reaping our reward.

-Albus Dumbledore, Order of the Phoenix, Ch 37.

The US concern with the removal of Confederate monuments has jumped across the pond, with statues of Edward Colston. Robert Baden-Powell, Robert Milligan and even Churchill destroyed, vandalized or targeted for removal in the United Kingdom. As a resident of Charlottesville, VA, a city still reeling over the violence of the Unite the Right rally three years ago, I have a particular interest in the campaigns to remove these statues, most of which were erected as acts of aggression against the Black community during the height of Jim Crow, not as efforts to preserve heritage or teach history. Whether the motivation behind the original erection of the British statues was similarly tainted, I can’t say, but J.K. Rowling is undoubtedly aware of the controversy.

I managed two correct predictions in The Ickabog, first that Bert and Daisy, described as like-siblings early on, would become true step-siblings when their widowed parents marry, and the second, that the statue of the fictional hero Nobby Buttons would be replaced with one of the genuinely heroic Ickabog, who dared to make peace with his enemies.  Rowling made masterful use of both good (the Potter Family Monument, which touched and encouraged Harry in one of his darkest moments) and bad (The Fountain of Magical Brethren, see above) monuments in Harry Potter.

Interestingly, Rowling chose to destroy the Fountain of Magical Brethren, but Nobby’s statue, arguably a worse example– an outright lie that helped deceive the nation of Cornucopia into complying with the unfair tax, and inspired more lies–including a fake girlfriend for the non-existent young hero, was instead relegated to a museum, along with other artifacts of the Dark Age of Spittleworth, so that citizens can remember and learn from their history. Granted, she had particular reasons for the Brethren’s demise: the decapitated wizard saved Harry, (and its head portkeyed him back to Hogwarts) the witch restrained Bellatrix, the centaur took a Killing Curse and the elf and goblin summoned help.  But, in the midst of her other recent Twitter controversies, Rowling found time to tweet out some special praise for young Ali, the artist who created this lovely illustration of the Nobby statue. Could the statue’s relegation to a museum–where the truth can be told, not to honor  person depicted (who, in this case, doesn’t actually exist) , but to explain why the deceptive statue was erected in the first place–be Rowling’s way of commenting about what she thinks should be done with controversial monuments today? If so, I’d like to hear more of that from her on social media, and less of other topics.

Of course, sometimes a little graffiti, whether on the Berlin Wall or a Confederate memorial, can add to the meaning.  I would be remiss, as an MBU prof, not to plug this children’s book written by one of our alums and her daughter, whose dancing at the Lee Monument in Richmond has been on of the iconic images of the current movement.