Friday, December 19, 2008

Book Review: "The Tales of Beedle the Bard"

I don't suppose J.K. Rowling's The Tales of Beedle the Bard needs any introduction from me (if it does, you probably need to finish the seventh book ... go do that, then come back and we'll talk), so I'll just offer some brief musings on the book. It's short (I just read it in less than an hour, and I wasn't reading quickly), since Beedle the Bard only had five tales, but Rowling fleshes out the stories with short commentaries by Dumbledore which provide a bit of historiographical and literary background to the stories and place them within the cultural context of their time (they're quite funny, too).

I'm a sucker for annotations and footnotes (real or otherwise, I loved Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange all the more for its copious references), so I enjoyed those portions of Tales the most. The stories, while fascinating, mean more with Dumbledore's additions, although of course these were written before his untimely end and before the Tales' importance is felt in the final volume of Harry Potter's adventures.

A pleasant distraction from the afternoon's snowstorm, and a suitable addition to the HP canon (not to mention a welcome cash cow for Rowling's Children's High Level Group charity). A nicely designed volume, too (even though I ended up opting for the trade edition and not the deluxe, which I couldn't quite justify to myself).

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