Troubled Blood Week Placeholder Post #2: Parallels with Order of the Phoenix. Spoiler Alert.

It is  a truth universally acknowledged, at least on Hogwarts Professor,   that the Cormoran  Strike series is running parallel to Harry Potter:  the many links (see here and here) between Lethal White and Goblet of Fire should be enough to convince any readers more astute than Crabbe and Goyle.  Because of that, we should expect to find parallels between the fifth books of both series.  So, did you see any Dolores Umbridge’s?  Weasley Kings?  Nigredo?  Tell us in the comments!  A full list will be compiled later.  [Read more…]

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…]

Troubled Blood Predictions: The SWAGs

What We Think May Happen and Why: Mild and Wild SWAGs

Rowling admitted that she has embedded clues to the upcoming series entries in the books already published and that she is writing books like this because that’s what writers she likes do (no, I cannot think of any who do anything on the order of puzzle writing in a book series akin to what Rowling does). Read that 16 February 2018 BBC.co.uk  Interview with J.K. Rowling here. The relevant passage is at the tail end:

You say that you’re often obsessed with your characters’ pasts. You must have gathered quite a lot of information about Strike by the time you got to Career Of Evil. Did you think about how much you should put in there?

Through the whole of the first three books I have seeded future plots. I already know where he’s going to go and I’ve already mentioned things I need to mention. I’ve mentioned people I need to have mentioned, because you will meet them in further books.

It’s a question of really knowing who they are and using that. I enjoy reading books of any kind, not just detective fiction. Where I feel the author really knows, I feel like I’m in safe hands. They know everything – I don’t need to worry, they’ve got it all worked out. I like that feeling when I read a book. That’s the kind of book I want to write.

Speculation on Troubled Blood, consequently, turns on a close reading of the previous Strike novels, 1-4, an understanding of the parallelism in Rowling works internally in the series and externally with Potter, and a sense of what constitutes a clue in the Rowling writing domain. I started the prediction making with respect to Phoenix parallels in an October 2018 post about the probable end of the Strike agency in Troubled Blood. (Be sure to read the comment thread on that post!)

We’ve come a long way since then. I’ve already posted my prediction sure-things, events and literary twists that have to happen because they have happened in every other Strike novel. Here are seven SWAGs for contrast, most ‘scientific’ or at least closely reasoned and a few at the end that explore the ‘wild’ side. Enjoy! [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…]

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.