Week Seven of the Ickabog! Hurrah!


It’s a very exciting time here at HogwartsProfessor because the finale of Rowling’s so-called “political fairy tale,” The Ickabog, is bornded Monday to Friday this week. Here are links to the relevant sites and posts if you need to catch-up. I hope we can confine our discussion this week to the comment thread on this Week Seven post so nothing gets lost in the excitement and flood of twists and revelations we’ll be reading.

Where to Read the Story: If you haven’t read the chapters yet, you can find the first chapter here. If you’re up to speed, the latest chapters can be found here. Rowling’s introduction to the series and illustration contest? Click here.

The Ickabog Structure: The fairy tale turns out to be structured much like any other Rowling novel or series, which is to say it is a seven part ring composition. Read about that and Louise Freeman’s alchemical insights in the comment thread here.

The Ickabog Hermaphrodite: What a shock to learn that the ‘monster’ was not a monster — and not a he or a she but both! I speculate here that Rowling has deceived us about the genesis of this story release both because of its relevance to her current struggles with fandom and because of her signature theme of narrator as Silkworm.

Notes and Predictions: David Martin on Sunday gave us his menu of predictions with his notes about what certain things seem to mean in the story so far. The comment thread is a fun one not to be missed.

I hope it goes without saying that all the comments below, predictions and discussion, assume the reader either has read the chapters currently available or does not mind story spoilers. Please jump right into the conversation which begins with my thoughts about Monday’s chapters!


  1. Monday morning and its two new chapters reveal… both David and I were wrong about Bert Beamish and the Ickabog (hurrah!). Our Beamish boy gives in to Daisy’s pleas to listen with hardly a fuss so there isn’t even the stand-off confrontation that David predicted, not to mention the assassination and death of Icky I saw as nearly inevitable.

    Anyone care to predict what Lord Spittleworth will do when he learns from Basher John that the Children’s Crusade and the Ickabog are on their way to Chouxville? My guess is the obvious choice, namely, that he doubles down on his lies and threats and sends out the Ickabog Defense Force to kill the monster and “save the deluded citizenry.”

    And perhaps they succeed! Maybe Icky dies trying to protect Daisy and Bert? Regardless, The Ickabog bornds in its death throes and its Ickaboggles come into the world with the hope and love Icky has experienced and embodied as their defining qualities. Cue revelations of the Spittleworth Usurpation and we have a happy ending.

  2. DAVID M MARTIN says

    John, I’m going to stay optimistic about the Ickabog’s survival until it has a normal, healthy bornding death for one simple reason: JKR told us right at the beginning that this is a fairy tale. (Maybe we should be looking at JKR’s stories in “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” for paterns and clues about how the story will turn out.) In fairy tales, the good guys don’t get killed.

    This will be an interesting week.

  3. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    This, and the two official sites, are my only real sources for matters Ickabogical, so I may easily have missed the answers elsewhere, but… In her 26 May Intro, JKR wrote, “In November 2020, The Ickabog will be published in English in print, eBook and audiobook formats, shortly followed by other languages.” And the 3 June post – when it launched “in France, Italy, Germany, Spain (including Latin America) and Brazil” – ends “In November, The Ickabog will be published, in print and eBook, in French, Italian, German, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Simplified Chinese and Russian. An audiobook will follow”, and also notes “The Ickabog is now available to read in Simplified Chinese and Russian, every weekday a new instalment will be released until 31st July.”

    Do ‘we’ know if it will continue to be available online for (re)reading, and, if so, for how long in which languages?

  4. Quick notes on Tuesday’s Chapter, #60 — The Rebellion:

    Another Stand-Alone Chapter! The most chapters we can have, then will be 69, if she posts three a day until Friday (70 with an epilogue?), and the lowest number 63, if we get three more stand alones. Given the preponderance of one a day chapters we’ve had in the last week, I’d bet on 64 (or 63 and an Epilogue). That’s 4 cubed, as you know, and will make sorting the chapter ring parts easier (?).

    We’re Moving Very Quickly! There’s little time with a Friday deadline to draw out the narration so the Children’s Crusade has already arrived in the Capitol, the Rebellion from the dungeons has already stormed the castle, and Lords Spittleworth and Flapoon are in flight, if only to take up arms against the ‘real’ Ickabog. Still, it feels like little more than a set-up for the action and revelations to come…

    The Jabberwock! Look for our Beamish Boy to slay not the Jabberwock but the real monster of the tale, the Lords, and specifically Lord Flapoon, who shot his father. The scene? The barn containing the fake Ickabog who resembles Carroll’s monster much more than the real deal on the march.

    Ring Note! The execution of the seamstresses and tailors who put together the Jabberwock-Ickabog is a neat pointer back to Week 1 and Mrs Dovetail’s senseless death that was caused by her working days and nights on an outfit to please the king. That is this tale’s Inciting Incident so look for this monster to be a part of the finale, the revelation of the king being cruel and selfish (and anything but fearless).

  5. DAVID M MARTIN says

    In today’s chapter (chapter 60 Rebellion) the scene in the king’s apartment reminds me of the Shrieking Shack scene in “Prisoner of Azkaban” (chapters 17, 18, and 19 of “Prisoner.”) The similarity is that in both scenes we have interactions among multiple characters (or groups of characters) who have distinctly different understandings about what’s going on. JKR’s skill is that she keeps these different understandings clear in her own thinking and so has each character act according to his or her understanding.

    Consider the characters in the Shrieking Shack scene and what each knows or believes:
    • Sirius Black and Remus Lupin know that Peter Pettigrew is alive and betrayed the Potters.
    • Peter Pettigrew knows the same but thinks he may be able to stay hidden.
    • Harry and Ron believe that Peter Pettigrew is dead and that Sirius Black wants to kill Harry.
    • Hermione believes the same as the two boys and she also knows the Lupin is a werewolf.
    • Snape believes that Lupin has helped Black get into the castle and that Black betrayed the Potters.
    The actions of each of the characters in the Shrieking Shack is consistent with what they know and/or believe about their situation.

    Now in the king’s apartments (by the time we reach the end of that scene:)
    • Lord Spittleworth knows that the prisoners from the dungeons have escaped and he believes that the Ickabog does not exist.
    • The king believes that the Ickabog is real and believes that it is dangerous, but does not know that there were prisoners in the dungeons.
    • Basher John and the two spies know that the Ickabog is real and that people are not afraid of it.
    • Lord Flapoon “had a vague idea that Spittleworth must be behind all these people rushing in and talking about live Ickabogs, so he wasn’t frightened in the slightest.”
    • The prisoners from the dungeons know that Spittleworth is a murderer and liar, but they (probably) do not yet know that a real Ickabog is coming.
    Again, JKR writes the scene so that each character behaves in a way consistent with what they know or believe.

    Lords Spittleworth and Flapoon are in for a surprise.

  6. Louise Freeman says

    So, where’s Lady Eslanda? Surely they are going to get her out of the library in time to join the finale— hopefully with whatever big information she’s uncovered in her years of reading. What do you bet that Spittleworth is heading there?

    If Bert kills Flapoon, I bet Spittleworth gets taken out by Mrs. Beamish, or Lady Eslanda, a la Molly Weasley v. Bellatrix. If Eslanda and Goodfellow get the throne, I think Daisy will wind up being in charge of the orphanage, with Ma Grunter delegated to grunt work. Expect a Lumos-mission message, with the children either reunited with their parents or placed in loving homes. Martha gets to raise the Ickerlings. And Nobby Button’s fake statue is replaced by one of the late great Ickabog.

  7. Bonni Crawford says

    Sorry to be responding re: a Harry Potter point in this Ickabog thread but re: Shrieking Shack point 5 above:
    • Snape believes that Lupin has helped Black get into the castle and that Black betrayed the Potters.

    -But does Snape really believe that? It’s mentioned (by Sirius, who overheard it from death eaters in Azkaban) that the death eaters knew that Pettigrew was the spy, so I think Snape, as a death eater, would also know that? But maybe the death eaters in Azkaban only found out that Pettigrew was the spy after Voldy’s defeat at the Potters’ and no-one’s told Snape?

  8. Wednesday’s Chapter, #61 — ‘Flapoon Fires Again’

    Another Stand Alone Chapter! The most possible chapters we can have now at three a day and an epilogue are 68 and the least number 63, 64 with an epilogue. I’m still hopeful for four cubed. Bear with me.

    There’s the First Great Ring Latch! ‘Flapoon fires again’ echoes, of course, the first time Flappy shot his blunderbuss, then in the marsh resulting in the tragic death of Bert Beamish’s dad, the death that had to be concealed and which inspired Spittleworth’s whole Machiavellian scheme. It seems certain that this shot has ended any hope of that scheme playing out as he’d hoped.

    The Bornding! Icky bornds its Ickyboggles and Lord Flapoon promptly shoots them. How many die? Do any survive? What will be the effect of having been bornded by a happy Ickabog who is loved and protected by human beings? A trust in people? And if they all die? I think it is time for our Beamish Boy to be avenging the death of his father and the assault on the Ickabog!

    Two More Days! A death bed or bornding bedside scene with Daisy and the Ickabog to break your hearts and give us our first bowl of Message must be in the cards tomorrow. Captain Prodd has resurfaced; can Otto Scrumble and Lady Eslanda be far behind? I expect an almost ex machina appearance of the residents of Spittleworth Castle with the Dungeon rebels and our set-up for Friday’s finale and epilogue.

    What are you looking for?

  9. Wait a Minute! It’s a Ring!

    Lord Flapoon’s shot at story start is aimed at what he thinks really is an Ickabog and is most definitely not but he misses and kills Major Beamish instead.

    His second shot, in reverse echo, at story’s is aimed at a real Ickabog but Lord Flapoon believes it is not really one. I assumed above that the second shot would find its mark and kill Ickaboggles.

    But why not a real, direct parallel with his first shot? Might he not hit the other Beamish, Bert Beamish, who, seeing the Bad Guy take aim, has leapt in front of the bornding Ickabog to screen it and Daisy from Lord Flapoon’s shot? His father was willing to die for King Fred; his son dies a truly sacrificial death out of the love he feels for his friends.

    My Beamish Boy! Imagine the deathbed scene with Ma Beamish, Daisy, and the Ickaboggles. Of course, maybe he survives and we all live happily ever after?

    Whom do you think Lord Flapoon’s shot hits? The Shepherd and Patch, the dog? Let me know before Thursday’s chapter(s) are posted…

  10. John, you just stole my thoughts of Bert jumping in front of the shot. The true sacrificial death chosen by Bert to save the Ickaboggles. Seems a bit dark for a farietale, but could be. It would have that deeper meaning like Harry’s death by Voldemort.

  11. DAVID M MARTIN says

    As some slightly befuddled soul once said, “It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.” So, no predictions for me today. Instead, I’ll offer a few possible scenarios of things that might happen.

    Possible scenario #1: Flapoon’s shot – whatever its outcome – will enrage the crowd. The crowd’s anger was previously directed at Spittleworth, but now they turn on Flapoon. Seeing this, and seeing that the crowd is too big to be stopped, Spittleworth will throw Flapoon to the wolves while he flees to his country estate.

    Possible scenario #2: For some reason (possibly because of the events outlined in scenario #1 above) Spittleworth will flee to his country estate. But when he gets there, he finds that Captain Goodfellow is already there, having been urged by Millicent, Lady Eslanda’s maid, to rescue the Lady. Goodfellow and Spittleworth fight, and Spittleworth is slain.

    Possible scenario #3: After vanquishing Spittleworth, Flapoon, and the other bad guys, the crowd proceeds to the palace and finds the king still cowering in his apartments. They bring him out to meet the new-Ickaboggles – who, of course, are baby cute. Bert then takes the king to see the fake stuffed Ickabog and shows him that it is fake by cutting it open with a sword so that all the sawdust pours out. (Note that this will be the second time Bert has destroyed a fake Ickabog. Remember that back in chapter 20 he destroyed his toy Ickabog that Mr. Dovetail had carved for him.) This would have the nice symbolic message that the real monsters to be destroyed are fear, superstition, and ignorance.

  12. Bonni Crawford says

    Oh, I hope Bert doesn’t die! But I suspect he does. There have been notably few deaths in the last several chapters, which makes me think JKR is lulling us into a sense of false hope before springing a really tragic one on us. That could be the ickaboggles, but we haven’t met them yet, so that wouldn’t pack the same emotional punch – even though they are defenceless babies – as a sacrificial death by a teenage character we’ve followed since he was 5 years old.
    The Grimm brother’s original folk & fairy tales were pretty grim (pun intended) and even quite gruesome in parts, and I think JKR would not feel constrained to provide a happy ending by the label of ‘fairy tale’. I think a hopeful but bittersweet ending more likely than a fully happy ending.

  13. Thursday, Chapters #s 62 and 63, ‘The Bornding’ and ‘Lord Spittleworth’s Last Plan’

    A Double Chapter Day! We get the story at both the Royal Castle and at Lord Spittleworth’s Estate. If the ‘Trial of Lord Spittleworth’ tomorrow is a stand-alone, we’ll have the wonderfully symmetrical and magical 64 as our total chapter count, if we have two chapters, we’ll have 65, three chapters 67, and if we have an Epilogue, besides a very disappointed Lana Whited, you can add one (or not) to those numbers. I’m still hoping for 64 and an epilogue, the Aesop’s Addendum with the moral spelled out. You?

    The Bornding! Hey, the Ickabog lives to meet its Ickaboggles, if only briefly. That was grand. We also learn that it is what the Ickabog is feeling at the precise moment of Bornding that colors the Ickaboggles’ world and character (contrast with the astrological formula that it is the quality of the atmosphere supercharged with planetary influenza, I mean ‘influence,’ that colors forever the person born at that moment). Twins, too — one a bornded killer of humans (hard to feel much sympathy for Lord Flapoon, alas) and the other a friend of all mankind and Daisy especially. Can you say yin and yang? Angel and Devil? Higher and Fallen nature? Anyone have any idea what will become of the monstrous Ickabog, Bad Ickabob? Hard to see even the newly illumined Cornucopians wanting this roaring monster roaming the countryside.

    The Ring! Sure enough, as predicted yesterday, Bert Beamish takes the blunderbuss bullet meant for Icky and the two Ickabobs but he survives due to the sign of his father’s courage. Fearless Fred via the medal he gave Bert to assuage the royal conscience turns the trick. This ‘Shot Beamish’ echo of the story start out on the Marsh is revisited, too, by Lord Spittleworth at his estate when the Spittoon thinks the young Beamish is his father, whose murder began the “ruin of Cornucopia and the enriching of Lord Spittleworth.” Major Beamish seems to be playing an outsized influence on the events of this chapter through his look-alike progeny.

    The Reunion! We have the beginnings of a great Shakespearean comedy finish with everyone at the castle (except Mrs Beamish and Captain Goodfellow…) finding those they have been separated from, i.e., the Dovetails, the orphans with their parents, the prisoners with their families. Tomorrow’s return of Roddy, our Beamish Boy, Lady Eslanda, and Lord Spittup to the castle for justice and revelations promises to be another round of recognition and reunion (conjunction?) at the story latch. Daisy and Bert, Captain Goodfellow and Lady Eslanda, and maybe even Mr Dovetail and Mrs Beamish…

    Surprise! After today’s big events, what does Rowling have left to reveal at the ‘Trial of Lord Spittleworth’? You know there is at least one big twist, maybe two or three. I think we’ll finally get what Louise Freeman predicted way back when the spurned Spittoon locked up the lovely lady in the library — ‘What She Found There.’ My bet is that we discover that Lord Spittleworth’s family stole their property from Captain Goodfellow’s clan, that he actually is of noble birth rather than a so-called “family of cheese makers,” which removes the obstacle he feels to his courting the beautiful Eslanda.

    Or! The Goodfellow family turns out to have been the First Clan of Cornucopia back at the time of its origin and so he is the rightful king. Pretty embarrassing if that turns out to be the case, as he’s just announced that Cornucopia will no longer be having a king. Maybe they’re Pluritanian nobility? Hold that thought…

    Or What Else?! What are your ideas for what Rowling has kept in special reserve for the very last day of The Ickabog? Does Bad Bob the Man Killer become the True Ickabog Defense Force who patrols the borders of Cornucopia to protect it against invaders? Does Good Icky stay with Bert and Daisy Beamish and live happily ever after? Is Lord Spittleworth confined to the dungeons where he lives on cabbage soup? Or is he made the servant of Bad Bob, a humble mushroom gatherer? Or maybe a Brothers Grimm grim ending where the birds eat his eyes and he is cut into a thousand pieces for Patch the Dog to eat…

    Speaking of Patch: Otto Scrumble made his appearance (sort of!) as hoped before the finale. Are there other strings that need to be tied up? The biggest one is the death of Mrs Dovetail, the inciting incident of this whole drama, and Daisy’s satisfaction that the king and everyone in Cornucopia agree at last that the Emperor is wearing no clothes, which is to say, that he is “vain, selfish, and cruel,” as she was brave enough to say aloud way back in Week 1. I think it’s fair to predict that King Fred’s punishment is not only a forced abdication but indentured servitude to a tailor or milliner, at which employment he may only wear sack cloth pants and shorts, no finery.

    Can’t wait to hear your thoughts and for tomorrow’s finale!

  14. Nick Jeffery says

    She who shall not be cancelled says “three more chapters to go – two today!”
    This confirms your long predicted 64 chapters.

  15. Tyler Brown says

    Excellent predictions regarding the ring composition!

    As to Christian content after (almost) a first run through, all held tentatively:

    The (Beamish) boy who lived, spitting image of his father, as good as raised-from-the-dead, brings the villain to justice alongside the brave and caring Daisy *Dove*tail (whose father is a carpenter (!) and who is assisted by the probably-not-coincidentally named Martha). Their journey takes them beyond Jeroboam (north!) to the exiled Ichabod…er, bog, which they escort back into the kingdom. The dove, of course, symbolizes the Spirit in the Gospels and Christian tradition. The Ickabog-Ichabod allusion is less certain, IMO, since it is not obvious (yet) how it fits the biblical reference, but the probable reference to Jeroboam, also a figure from the time of the kingdom in Israel, pushes me over the edge.

    Could Lady Eslanda possibly find records from ancient times of humans and Ickabogs living in harmony, despite the origin story in the Ickabog’s song?

  16. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    General textual queries in medias res:

    In this intensely different Rowlingian ‘serial publication’- daily by chapters – have there been any textual emendations to date? Have people been copy-pasting and/or taking screen-shots faithfully from day one to retain what is in fact the first state of each chapter text – or, to attempt to, since theoretically a chapter-text could be emended at any later moment of the same day from that of its first going up?

  17. Friday, 10 July, Chapter #64, ‘Cornucopia Again’

    64 Chapters It Is! Rowling finishes her political fairy tale with stand-alone chapter in aqua marine. Only further study will reveal (a) if the color coding means anything beyond the web designer’s preferences and palette possibilities or (b) if there are numerological resonances and meanings to be teased out of the seven weeks, the chapter presentations in single, double, and triple helpings, and with the four cubed aspect of the number sixty-four. Or is it two to the fifth we’re looking at?

    The Ring Latch! We learned about Cornucopia and first heard of the Ickabog in chapter 1, ‘King Fred the Fearless.’ The finish, ‘Cornucopia Again,’ serves as something of an epilogue in which we return to the start, albeit in a reconstituted country with a new form of government, a repentant king who demonstrates not only remorse but no little courage, and happy Ickabogs, no less. The story center, chapter 36, midweek of Week Four, ‘Cornucopia Hungry,’ points to both the beginning and end chapters and is a proper story turn in this regard.

    The Turtleback! With weeks one, four, and seven lining up, and weeks two and six, three and five being in parallel on many points, I think we are obliged to admire Rowling’s consistency in her choice of story scaffolding.

    The Christian Content! See Tyler Brown’s comments in the thread above. There’s more to tease out, I’m sure, especially with today’s repentant king and his signature remorse and repentance, but this is an excellent start.

    The Alchemy! The rubedo is the stage in which all things are revealed and reconstituted, i.e., the transformations in the albedo or white stage are brought out in conflict. Sure enough, all that we learned and the characters experienced in the Ickabog’s cave define the events of the last week, Bert Beamish’s heroism and loving sacrifice of self to save the bornding Ickabog he wanted to kill in the cave being the most important.

    The Surprises! Bert and Daisy do not wind up at a wedding of their own, but serve at the marriage of their parents (I guess being brother and sister by law creates something of a taboo for their conjugality? Alas!). Lady Eslanda read a lot of books, perhaps the whole library at Lord Spittleworth’s castle, but she learned not one thing, it seems, relevant to the story. She comes off as something borderline pathetic in her note scolding a foreign king and her having to be rescued, et cetera. Turning orphanages into libraries, sadly, as a PM’s wife mission sounds like the First Ladies in the US who advocate for literacy (who could be against that?).

    A New City! Ickaby is a delight, no? There is a home for the second, congenial Ickabog, jobs for the unemployed, and a new start for the Marshlanders. I suspect this is something of a reverse historical poke at the landowners who in the nineteenth century took away the grazing land of shepherds to create palatial lawns for their estates — and a delightfully naive and romantic touch, if true. The political fairy tale ends with something of the democratic and socialist twist you’d have to expect in land redistribution for the poor; there is no mention of the former land owners or thought of what happens if Gordon Goodfellow, Prime Minister, is followed by a not so good fellow who cites this precedent for seizing land, goods, and capitol at will (taxation!) to pay for General Beamish’s army and its weaponry. It is indeed, as left, a fairy tale of a politically naive person who forgets conveniently the lessons of the 20th Century….

    The Dungeons! Shudder. I was cheered in being chilled by the cast of characters living beneath the castle with their hate, anger, and bitterness stewing together. I was glad she didn’t airbrush away this touch of realism — some folks do not change and you have to find people to staff the institutions to contain them — especially when contrasted with the hopeful example of King Fred. Lord Spittleworth never resurfaces (think Gellert Grindelwald).

    Your thoughts! Let me know what you think! We’ll be revisiting the Ickabog, believe me, after we catch with Cormoran Strike, and I look forward to reading your thoughts on a second reading. If Rowling leaves the story up long enough for us to revisit the story and catch the ring resonances side to side and the alchemical touches missed on the first pass.

  18. DAVID M MARTIN says

    Answering Bonni Crawford’s comment from July 8:

    My main reasons for believing that Snape thought that Sirius Black had betrayed the Potters are (1) that’s what all the good guys, including Dumbledore, thought and (2) Snape did not know that Peter Pettigrew was Voldemort’s spy.

    I believe that Snape did not know that Peter Pettigrew was Voldemort’s spy because of what Harry (and we) learn from Karkaroff’s testimony later on. In “Goblet” Harry sees part of Karkaroff’s trial in Dumbledore’s Pensieve. Here is the relevant part, when Karkaroff was trying to give the names of fellow Death-Eaters:
    “You must understand,” said Karkaroff hurriedly, “that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named operated always in the greatest secrecy. He preferred that we never knew the names of every one of our fellows. He alone knew exactly who we all were.” (“Goblet” page 588)
    Probably some of the Death Eaters – but not all of them and not Snape – knew that Peter was a spy. So in Azkaban they shared this knowledge with other Death Eaters, and those were the discussions Sirius Black overheard. Obviously Snape was not there to hear these discussions.

    There’s an additional reason for believing that Snape did not know that Peter was a spy: If Snape had known, Snape would have found some way to protect his beloved Lily from Peter – perhaps by warning Dumbledore or perhaps even by going after Peter himself.

    So when did Snape come to know or believe that Peter was the spy and the traitor and that Sirius Black was not? It must have been some time after that scene in the Shrieking Shack but before the “Parting of the Ways” chapter at the end of “Goblet.” If Snape still believed that it was Black who had betrayed the Potters, he would never have been willing to shake hands with Black.

  19. Bonni Crawford says

    David M Martin – thank you for this – you’ve convinced me and clarified how the situation must have looked from Snape’s point of view.

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