Not only were these short stories and character profiles an on-point read for Potter fans, they were also magisterially woven together into a tapestry that expresses the vast complexity of Rowling’s universe and her ability to keep it all hidden in plain sight.
TL;DR at the bottom.
Minerva is the Roman goddess of warriors and wisdom. William McGonagall is celebrated as the worst poet in British history.
Professor McGonagall’s chapter made me tear up a little, I’m not going to lie. It dwells on her family ties, her first love, her relationship to the ever-kind Albus Dumbledore, her lifelong bereavements, her care for The Boy Who Lived and her legacy – most importantly to her (rather than her Order of Merlin, First Class), her face stamped on the Chocolate Frog Famous Witches and Wizard series.
Although McGonagall had long ago settled in my heart as a treasure with her stern and yet comical remarks (“I will not have you, in one night, besmirching that name by behaving like a babbling, bumbling band of baboons!”) and her peculiar Animagi quality (among so many other things), this new insightful read made her place in my heart more palpable, and her raging moments – as well as her courageous ones – have in turn become more understandable and even more admirable.
Shortly before Remus’s eleventh birthday, no less a man than Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts, arrived uninvited on the Lupin’s doorstep. Flustered and frightened, Lyall and Hope tried to block his entrance, but somehow, five minutes later, Dumbledore was sitting at the fireside, eating crumpets and playing Gobstones with Remus.
Words cannot describe the insight provided by Rowling on this particular segment of the book, the one about the kindest werewolf to ever have lived. Rowling manages to connect Remus’s inherent self-destructive nature to the watershed moment of his ‘turning’ and up to his demise in the Battle of Hogwarts. In the wake of her narrative, Rowling brings to life the aspects of the most prominent people in Remus’s life: his parents, The Marauders, Albus Dumbledore, Nymphadora Tonks, Severus Snape, Harry Potter... and shines a light into moments that could not have been given the attention they deserved even with 7 books and 8 movies.
Above of all, to me, it cleared so much about a very particular (and sad) moment in the series: Padfoot’s death. I'll let each one drive their own conclusions from their own readings.
I did not want to call her anything comical, or which suggested chicanery, but something impressive and attractive. ‘Trelaway’ is a very old name, suggestive of Sybill's over-reliance on her ancestry when seeking to impress. There is a beautiful old Cornish song featuring the name (‘The Song of the Western Men’).
Here's a snippet:
A good sword and a trusty hand!
A merry heart and true!
King James’s men shall understand
What Cornish lads can do!
And have they fixed the where and when?
And shall Trelawny die?
Here's twenty thousand Cornish men
Will know the reason why!
Out spake their Captain brave and bold:
A merry wight was he:
Though London Tower were Michael’s hold,
We’ll set Trelawny free!
We’ll cross the Tamar, land to land:
The Severn is no stay:
With “one and all,” and hand in hand;
And who shall bid us nay?
This fact [his enthusiasm allied with his recklessness around danger] led to no fewer than sixty-two periods of probation during his time of employment at the school (a record that still stands).
A short but sweet note to close the book, the Hufflepuffian magical-creature enthusiast is another one to add to a long and colorful list of peculiars that we have had the pleasure to witness swishing by Hogwarts. I can only wish we had had even more of him.
Remus’s Patronus is never revealed in the Potter books, even though it is he who teaches Harry the difficult and unusual art of producing one.
It is very hard to endure living in satisfaction with only 7 books in a series that could expand into thousands of volumes and still be scant. However, it is easy to see the reason behind the number, the need for the closure. Equally easy it is, however, to jump at the chance of a new piece of work in the barely explored universe. Do jump, it is worth the dive.
Rowling’s snippets into her mind and, above of all, into the depth of her creation are already incredibly enlightening at Pottermore. In this collection, however, that power which her snippets hold by themselves is allied to a crafty kindle edition of masterful organization. The book dialogues with itself, and reading it is not only a pleasure but the only way (so far!) in which these fragments can be appreciated to their fullest.