MuggleNet Reviews ‘Ink Black Heart:’ Harry Potter Fandom Reversing Course?

Irvin Khaytman, author of Dumbledore: The Life and Lies of Hogwarts’s Renowned Headmaster: An Unofficial Exploration and longtime columnist at (where he writes under the pseudonym hpfanboy13), has written a review of Ink Black Heart. [The original article was taken down after I posted this piece; it can still be read at The Wayback Macine archive.] I recommend it with enthusiasm for three reasons.

First, Khaytman is worth reading about anything Rowling writes because of his profound grasp of Potter canon, his wit, and his capacity to turn a phrase to delight and cuff the chin of his reader. An ‘hpfanboy13’ piece on Potter, Fantastic Beasts, or the Strike series is sure to challenge the reader, maybe even make her or him raise either a fist or a toast, and to re-think whatever subject Khaytman explores, to contradict or support his argument.

Second, he knows his Cormoran Strike, though not as well as he does Harry Potter, alas, and is familiar with some of the ideas we discuss here, most importantly, the Parallel Series Theory and the Seven Book Ring. His takes on the echoes of Half-Blood Prince in Strike6 alone are worth the time invested, as you’d expect from this caliber Potter Pundit, and make his decision to write the review for MNet before reading work others have written here and elsewhere seem well-founded.

His ignorance of how ring composition works, of the 5-6 Flip idea, of literary alchemy, of mythology, and of Strike Extended Play, however, will leave those who have been part of the Ink Black Heart conversation here scratching their heads when reading his confessed confusion about some topics and his certainty about others (he’s sure about how 100 pages could be cut from Troubled Blood without affecting the narrative, for example; only someone clueless about the clockwork structure and inner relationship of the Strike5 story parts could say this without blushing). Rowling’s intertextuality or literary allusion, too, outside of references to the apposite Potter book, seems to have totally escaped his consideration.

Despite those failings and blind-spots, I loved Khaytman’s review and his subsequent conversation in the post’s comment thread with Beatrice Groves. I laughed, I groaned, I rubbed my chin and re-read parts that were especially thought-provoking. He is sui generis and a boon to Serious Strikers, a breath of fresh air, really, and a welcome voice. [Read more…]

JKR Live Barmy Army Q&A: A Review

Yesterday’s ‘Barmy Book Army’ live Q&A with Rowling-Galbraith about The Ink Black Heart was a landmark event in the history of the author’s interviews and engagement with fans. Her previous live events were either recorded in advance with questions of her choosing or with children interviewers back in the days of Potter Mania. This really was live, unrehearsed, and, though The Presence got to pick and choose from the avalanche of tweets, Serious Strikers were on hand to ask challenging questions.

Understandably in light of her being hounded by Gender Theory Extremists wherever she appears online, this open door to her twitter feed was restricted to just the 8,600 followers of ‘JKR’s Barmy Book Army.’ The format was simple: 

Barmy Book Army then asked her seven questions to get things rolling, if you will, and the conversation really took off. Rowling began with a long thread of tweets about ‘Sickness in Ink Black Heart,’ which string I have to suspect she had prepared in advance, and then went into ‘reply’ mode. The moderator, true to her word, re-tweeted or flagged comments for her guest’s special attention. The first three and the fifth questions were actually for Barmy Book Army readers rather than Rowling specifically while the fourth, sixth, and the ‘Bonus’ question were for her alone.

After the jump, a review of the questions, Rowling’s most involved statement, the hits and misses among reader questions and Rowling responses, and an explanation of our debt to Nick Jeffery for deploying his skills and savvy to get Barmy Army’s attention and Rowling’s responses to HogwartsProfessor questions. [Read more…]

JKR Live Q&A on Twitter Tomorrow

Rowling-Galbraith’s previous ‘Live Ink Black Heart Q&A‘ tease turned out to be pre-recorded discussion; it was invaluable and a delight, don’t get me wrong, but the twenty-seven questions were chosen or approved by the author months in advance and there was nothing ‘live’ about her interaction with Ink Black Heart readers.

Tomorrow, though, it seems The Presence will be doing an honest-to-God open forum with Strike6 readers on Twitter in support of ‘JKR’s Barmy Book Army‘s discussion of Ink Black Heart. The posted time is 4-5 PM, British Summer Time (BST), which is five hours ahead of American Eastern Time, six of Central, and eight of Pacific. If you’re free tomorrow morning or afternoon, this Twitter feed will be your best shot at getting the questions you want Rowling-Galbraith to answer presented to her.

What will you be asking about Ink Black Heart? After the jump, I share my Top Three questions and one other structural surprise ‘Shot in the Dark’ which I hope someone will ask her (or all the HogPro All-Pros will ask her to flood the line?). What burning Strike6 question do you want her to answer? [Read more…]

Error corrections in The Ink Black Heart Kindle: Can anyone verify if any of our “gaffes” are fixed?

I just saw a Facebook posting where someone shared a recent communication from Amazon:

Dear Customer,
We recently learned that due to circumstances out of our control, the version of The Ink Black Heart: The Number One international bestseller (Strike 6) that you purchased had some quality issues. The content has been reviewed by our quality team and the errors have been corrected.
You can download the new version of the ebook file by going to the “Manage your content and devices” page:…/contentlist/booksAll/dateDsc/. Find the file in your Kindle Library and click on “Update available” next to the title. To finalize the download, make sure your device is charged and that your wi-fi connection is active.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you and thank you for your patience.
Customer Service Department
I know some people have noticed typos, and that there have been complaints from some e-readers that the online chat print was too small to read comfortably. However, I am mainly curious to see if any of the gaffes Hogpro readers and writers have noted have been fixed already. As the case of the mysterious Mia Thompson shows, sometimes a correction can mean major new material.
Have any of our Kindle readers (specifically from the UK) gotten this communication?  If so, please share what is fixed.


Is Ryan Murphy Part of the Strike Pantheon…. As Poseidon?

I haven’t dived into the mythic elements of Cormoran Strike as much as my fellow faculty here, mainly because it is out of my area of expertise.  However,  a couple of my comments on one of John’s lengthy posts on the topic, I speculated that:

  1. If Strike and Robin are stand-ins for Cupid and Psyche, their eventual child should be a girl with a name meaning “Pleasure.” and
  2. Charlotte could be an anti-Psyche in the same way Morris was an anti-Eros.  That thought let to the idea that her daughter with Ross might have a name meaning “Pain” or “Sorrow”– a moniker fitting for Jago’s fourth unwanted not-the-heir-child. I suggested Lolita, both short for Dolores and a nod to Nabokov’s most famous female protagonist.

As usual, I wasn’t exactly right, but the child’s name is “Mary,” for which one meaning is “bitter.”  More importantly, this makes Charlotte’s daughter a namesake to the original “Our Lady of Sorrows.”  (Aside:  her brother’s name, James, derives from Jacob and means “supplanter”–  fitting for one who is destined to receive the full inheritance at the expense of his siblings).

With the small amount of confidence that half-guess gave me, I’m going to plunge into a raging ocean of speculation:  that Robin’s new beau, DCI Ryan Murphy, will also play a mythic role in the series. Furthermore, he will play the role of that ill-tempered deity of oceans and horses, and father of Percy Jackson, Poseidon (Neptune to Romans).

Find out why after the jump. [Read more…]