Allan Zola Kronzek
& Elizabeth Kronzek,
The Sorcerer's Companion:
A Guide to the Magical
World of Harry Potter

(Broadway, 2001)

While this book does offer a lot of good source material on subjects touched upon in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels (#1-4, at the time this book was written), it is by no means an indispensable addition to the Pottermaniac's personal library. The references to events and personages in the Potter books are rather haphazard, and in many cases it is apparent that the Potter link is primarily a gimmick designed to sell more books. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though, because there is information in this book I had not encountered elsewhere, and it does reinforce one's impressive appraisal of the fiber of actual legendry that went into the creation of Rowling's novels.

This book offers a concise encyclopedia of magical subjects, creatures and legends. Much of the material will be familiar to anyone well-read, yet there are aspects to some of even the most familiar of legends, such as that of the werewolf or vampire, that I was unaware of; this consisted for the most part of the different ideas held by different cultures. What was evil to a European of the Middle Ages was sometimes a portent of good to an inhabitant of China or India, for example. Perhaps the most interesting items discussed in these pages are the more obscure legends of unfamiliar beings which I had never heard of before and which I had assumed Rowling had invented: e.g., grundylows, kappas and redcaps.

The authors, a professional magician and his academic daughter, have written a book that can easily be read by laymen in the ways of magic. The concise, far from elaborate discussions of each topic can be easily understood by young readers obsessed with Harry Potter, making it a welcome, interesting, entertainingly informative read that does not so much add to the legend created by Rowling as it does highlight the sturdiness of the foundation upon which her magical adventure stories are built.

- Rambles
written by Daniel Jolley
published 19 June 2004

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