David Colbert,
The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter:
A Treasury of Myths, Legends & Fascinating Facts

(Lumina, 2001; Berkley, 2002)

With Harry Potter mania rampant once again and the much-anticipated fifth book as elusive as a phoenix, David Colbert's The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter might just be the trivia to appease Potter fans.

The slim volume includes facts, legends and insights regarding each of J.K. Rowling's first four novels. Colbert's work is at its best when delving into the historic basis behind characters, creatures and magical lore. I was amazed to learn that the real Nicolas Flamel of Sorcerer's Stone fame did indeed pursue a magical element for changing quicksilver into gold and an elixir for immortality in Paris during the 1300s.

Mythological and legendary creatures, such as centaurs, hippogriffs, basilisks and dragons, enjoyed featured roles in the Potter stories, and Colbert details the legends behind the legends in brief, easily digested snippets. The carefully chosen art, frequently wood-block carvings or etchings from Egyptian antiquities, add a fascinating realistic element to his explanations. He also delves into the naming of these creatures and most every other person or place that merited a name in the novels.

Set up with alphabetical listings and handy side tabs,The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter provides delightful companion pieces for the currently available novels. And best of all, it might inspire young readers to learn Latin, research a wizard or witch from historical times, or pen their own epic hero to send on a magical quest.

- Rambles
written by Julie Bowerman
published 4 January 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.