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Jewel101
08-31-2005, 09:28 AM
Have anyone else notice the flaws in JK Rowling's magic system. I mean there are so many scenes that could easily be cleared up with a spell she later introduces to the book. For example, the truth serum; that could have easily been used in the other books for other situations that required complex plots and such to fix. Not to insult JK Rowling but, stuff like that sort of irritates me. What do you people think of this?:Shrug:

E.G. Gammon
08-31-2005, 01:01 PM
I've never read the Harry Potter books (I've seen the movies, though), so this theory - mainly based off my own project - could be completely off. But...

In my own novel series, magic, itself, is a character and like the human characters, it has flaws, but it also ages and matures - becoming more complex, becoming more flourished with knowledge, information and answers/solutions. So as time goes on, things get more complicated, but sometimes easier to fix. Characters sometimes pull together knowledge they have learned in the past or discover something and think to themselves: "If only I knew this before" or "If only I had this spell or potion around a long time ago, so-and-so could have been solved a lot quicker." The characters learn more over the course of the story, so things sometimes get easier or as the characters mature, they eventually learn how to notice things, how to look harder, where to look and who to go to when they need help. Many times, a characters' quest for answers - even quests for answers, characters take the "long way," to solve, end up being great lessons in disguise.

I have no idea if this explains anything in the HP novels, since I haven't read a single one, but it's just a theory based on the own rules from my project...

Edit: If the complicated route is taken in a LATER book, to solve a problem that could have been eliminated with a spell or potion used in an EARLIER book, then I agree - that's a flaw. But, if it's the other way around, I'd go with my theory...

preyer
08-31-2005, 01:06 PM
hm, not sure this thread is properly titled, lol. first of all, i'm one of the few who can't read rowling: i find her books just too... too.... anyway, i've seen the movies. to me, it's not so much as a flaw in her magick system as opposed to the logic.

i think we know the real reason she (apparently) does this, and that's to tell a new story. her and george lucas should get together and make the most logically flawed movie ever made. there also may be certain skill levels a young would-be magician has to attain, such as magickly picking complicated locks requires a better spell. is there something limiting about the truth serum that makes it unuseable able, such as the ingredients are very rare or the incantation part is dangerous? (this personally is an intriguing thing i'm borrowing from 'army of darkness': a spell whose last word is so complicated, that to mess it up means instand destruction. if it works, however, nirvana or something, the secrets to the universe are revealed. a better way to 'kill' potter off, rather having him going down with voldemort, he uses this spell to defeat him then rather drifts off into the cosmos.... bleh. you're right, that sucks.)

where was i? oh, yeah. this obviously just isn't related to rowling's books, but stories in general where it's like, 'why don't they use such-and-such from the last movie/book here? would make things a whole lot easier!' a flaw on the author's part? for storytelling? honestly, would *would* you attack the vampire lair at night when you could wait til dawn and burn the damn house down? guess that makes too much sense. would it work? you betcha. exciting? not unless you're making s'mores.

something else i think is worth noting: most people aren't writers, therefore don't have the critical nature we do to half make a novel a study of style, plot, etc..

i've always wondered why potter, being so prone to adventure, doesn't master a few key spells that should come in pretty damn handy, ones perhaps beyond what his adversary would expect of his schooling. call me crazy, but if i could afford it, you betcha i'm gonna have a spare wand tucked into my sock (which could have interesting effects). something like a spare wand and a slick fire spell would have come in handy in that spider cave, if i remember the scene right.

not just rowling, it's a whole bunch of other books, usually series or franchises. it's just when you have to come up with something bigger and better and fresh, the 'basics' often fall by the wayside because they're not even interesting anymore.

tjwriter
08-31-2005, 02:58 PM
I've read all the books numerous times. The movies compare nothing to the books. I was so disappointed with the third that I have people look at me all weird (mainly my mom). There are flaws, of course. It's impossible for something to perfect.

The important thing to remember is that these are kids. They are learning as they go. For that alone, I disregard some of the things that they learn later, which could have been helpful. Yeah, Hermione probably knew from the beginning but she is often reluctant to go along with all of Harry's crazy ideas.

The thing about Veritaserum is that it is a hard, complex potion. It also has an antidote. All this is learned from the sixth book. In book five we learn that it also takes a month to complete. I doubt the kids would be able to buy some or even to steal it.

The whole storyline is long and complex. It would take ages to fully dissect it, so I am not even going to try. That's just my thoughts on a couple of the factors.

TJ

Saanen
08-31-2005, 05:45 PM
I second what tjwriter says. I think Rowling does a marvelous job of keeping things straight over the course of seven books (well, six so far, but I don't expect she'll fall down on the job for the last one) and many thousands of pages. Sure, there are holes here and there, but remarkably few for a work of this scope.

I really like the books. I also love seeing eleven-year-olds carrying around and reading books that weigh more than their school texts. Whether or not you like the books yourself (not speaking to anyone specific here), you've got to admit that they're showing many kids that reading truly is an amazing experience. That can only help us as writers when those kids grow up to buy our books. :)

I like the movies too, but if you truly want a sense of the world Rowling has created you have to read the books.

PattiTheWicked
08-31-2005, 05:49 PM
Just for another perspective, think of it this way. Magic is a tool, a skill set which works best when used in tandem with the mundane. Sure, there are times when magic is obviously the answer -- such as disarming a troll, causing someone to levitate, or get your broom in the air -- but there are other times when the nonmagickal solution isequally appropriate.

Just because someone CAN use magic doesn't mean they should stop using the mundane to solve their problems.

katiemac
08-31-2005, 08:08 PM
In the fantasy stories I read, I like it when magic isn't always the right answer. It can be a great accessory, but it should never be a crutch.

There was a line that stuck out to me quite a bit from the newest HP book, which was a debate between the Prime Minister and a wizard. From my memory:

"But you can do magic! You people can fix anything."
"Yes, but the problem is the other side can do magic, too."

TheIT
08-31-2005, 09:59 PM
Have any of the HP books explained the inconsistent use of wands? The first book went into great detail about how each wizard chooses a unique wand based on personality and materials, yet in later books it seems any wizard can use any wand to cast a spell.

lxstanto
08-31-2005, 10:30 PM
As I recall wands could be used by anyone (who could do magic), but if you use your wand the spell is more powerful or more likely to work.

Saanen
08-31-2005, 11:01 PM
As I recall wands could be used by anyone (who could do magic), but if you use your wand the spell is more powerful or more likely to work.

Maybe you just get used to your wand too, like a computer keyboard or a particular paintbrush or a favorite guitar. :)

Jewel101
09-01-2005, 12:23 AM
For one thing, i attacked the harry potter books because i'm currently reading them. For another, i'm not talking about the kids only. I mean snape has a bottle of truth serum in his robes that he carries around, so why doesn't he use it, say to find who opened the chamber of secrets or other mishaps at school? I understand perfectly that an author sometimes brings in new things into later books. But isn't easier to just write down all possible plots and make a list of magical spells and potions and whatnot? But i guess it doesn't matter that much and i'm just a perfectionist.

bravo preyer, i like your reply. I would love to see that movie of rowling and lucas.

haven't read the 6th book yet

as i said, it isn't only the students i'm talking about

and i agree pattithewicked, there should be mundane problem solving, not saying that they must use the magic solution, just saying, it doesn't make sense to bring in a spell for a solution which could have been used for another problem

I've always wondered about the wand thing. I think maybe rowling made an emphasis in the first book that she forgot about. I don't know. ur prolly right, lxstanto

katiemac
09-01-2005, 12:53 AM
I've always wondered about the wand thing. I think maybe rowling made an emphasis in the first book that she forgot about.

I don't know how far you have read, so I'll be careful about what I say. But something very significant concerning Harry's wand occurs in the fourth book (and may have been foreshadowed in the first one, I can't remember). Anyway, the specifics of this still haven't been addressed yet, but I'm assuming the seventh book will answer these questions, just based on the nature of what has to happen at the end.

Also, you did say you haven't read the sixth one yet, but there is a point in which Harry asks, "Can't we use veritaserum?" The answer is, "No, he'll be expecting that." Even magic can be fooled.

preyer
09-01-2005, 08:04 PM
well, too, using magick in every situation can be like doing a frame-up restoration to fix a leak in your radiator. that is, is the 'expense' of magick justified by its result? sure, snape *could* have found that stuff out, but if the serum is so precious, he probably figured it wasn't worth it (not to mention having a good idea who was behind it in the first place) and even if he did know, what difference would it make? the truth will out in the end, and all that.

it's been my understanding that rowling has her magick system based on, ah, hm, 'reality.' that's not to say the logic of her stories are perfect. like it was mentioned, it's hard to keep everything 100% in synche with one another. i bet there were things she wished she hadn't written in a previous book that screw her up now. i still think it's mostly for dramatic effect: if a little logic is sacrificed, well, few will probably even think of it. she hopes. i'm hardly an apologist for rowling (especially not one for lucas), but it seems that she's done pretty well with her continuity judging from others have said. it's hard for one person to think of *everything*, lol.

could it be more realistic? probably. the question is, would that realism hurt the drama or suspense? i'd imagine that invisibility cloak could be used at every juncture of every adventure, it requiring no effort at all. like in the first movie, i was sitting there and asking myself why they took the cloak off when entering the room with the giant dog. i wondered why hermione knew the spell to fix harry's glasses (brilliant or not, that was stretching it for me). i continually wonder why harry doesn't improve his lot in life concerning his home situation. so they gave him a room-- whoopidy doo. why not just go live with the weasleys if things are that bad? maybe this is all explained in the books, but the movies just don't contain an overabundance of logic concerning a lot of points. like you said, why isn't a skill learned in book two perfectly useable in book four? my answer is: who wants to read the same thing?

as far as the actual magick system rowling employs for her books, while i think it's very idealized for children's escapist fiction, seems pretty tight to me. what i wonder is what the power is based on, which, to my knowledge, has been very much avoided so far. is it natural or supernatural? and which supernature sanctions it? (which is really the gripe some people have with HP, that the magick is all devil-inspired. not to start a debate on that. has rowling addressed the source in one of her books?)

Saanen
09-01-2005, 08:45 PM
The reason Harry has to stay with the Dursleys is addressed in the later books, and it is very important. In addition, Harry's returning to the Dursleys after school ends serves as a good framing device for the earlier books.

I don't think Rowling has addressed the basis of magical powers, but my impression is that she sees magic as a talent no different from, say, musical talent or artistic talent--something that crops up out of nowhere in some families and something that runs in other families. I certainly don't get the impression that she sees magic as divinely or diabolically inspired in any way, and it really drives me nuts that people want to read their beliefs into a piece of escapist fiction.

Preyer, I really agree with you when you talk about whether making a piece of fiction more realistic would hurt the drama or suspense. When you come right down to it, that's far more important in any book than realism. We are surrounded by reality, but we love a good story and most people are prepared to overlook a certain amount of goofiness in a plot. That's why you don't hear many people asking why those giant eagles didn't just carry the ring to Mount Doom and drop it in instead of Frodo having to walk it there.

katiemac
09-01-2005, 08:56 PM
That's why you don't hear many people asking why those giant eagles didn't just carry the ring to Mount Doom and drop it in instead of Frodo having to walk it there.

Heh, heh. That's the first thing I thought when I saw the movie, except I just figured the eagles could have carried him there in the first place.

preyer
09-01-2005, 09:27 PM
and i thought the very same thing, lol. then again, it would have been a short story. i guess we can say the ringwraiths would have caught them and pretend the journey in its entirety *had* to happen. at the same time, i don't care how good of shape you're in, running a thousand miles over rough terrain is just a little unbelievable, especially for a dwarf.

the smartest magician ever? the one in 'dragonslayer' who condenses himself down into a powder (if i remember the movie) and has his apprentice make the journey for him. smart.

Vanessa
09-01-2005, 09:37 PM
Have anyone else notice the flaws in JK Rowling's magic system. I mean there are so many scenes that could easily be cleared up with a spell she later introduces to the book. For example, the truth serum; that could have easily been used in the other books for other situations that required complex plots and such to fix. Not to insult JK Rowling but, stuff like that sort of irritates me. What do you people think of this?:Shrug:

I haven't read any of the books or watched the movies, and to add it all up in a nutshell, those books have made her a wealthy writer. She has gained international attention. I say she's on to something.

katiemac
09-01-2005, 10:42 PM
i wondered why hermione knew the spell to fix harry's glasses (brilliant or not, that was stretching it for me).

I think, as an author, she's pretty good at keeping things like this together. Usually in the books (I don't think this glasses example was one, though I don't remember) the kids learn spells during classes which they apply throughout the books. Quite a few of them Harry learns on his own, either because he reads about them in old textbooks or he's competing in a tournament or club, and they get pulled out later, normally when he's saving his own neck. I appreciate that she doesn't just pull spells out of nowhere for times like this, because then that borders on lazy writing. It's still contrived, in a way, but then again that's the nature of plots. There's a particular potion that the kids made in the second book which turned out to be completely useless for their cause (while interesting, I wondered at the time why it was included at all), but knowing it exists is imperative for later books so certain explanations are more realistic.

tjwriter
09-01-2005, 10:52 PM
In the first book, where Hermione fixes Harry's glasses with a simple repairing spell, I can only assume it was in the standard book for grade 1, which knowing Hermione, she read cover-to-cover before the start of term.

I think Rowling has become notorious for using information that seems mundane in a earlier book but becomes crucial or useful in a latter.

preyer
09-02-2005, 07:26 AM
'oculus repairo,' or something like that. i guess it's easy enough to remember. it's obvious, heavy-handed characterization for me, but then again it's a kids book. then thing was for me why she would even know such a spell as were it worth remembering because so many people wore glasses. she used the spell in the train on their way to school. when she petrified the kid, well, now that's a usefull spell.

Monty
09-09-2005, 12:44 AM
In the fantasy stories I read, I like it when magic isn't always the right answer. It can be a great accessory, but it should never be a crutch.

There was a line that stuck out to me quite a bit from the newest HP book, which was a debate between the Prime Minister and a wizard. From my memory:

"But you can do magic! You people can fix anything."
"Yes, but the problem is the other side can do magic, too."


In book six we hear this argument between the prime minister of the muggle world and the wizard being refered to here is Fudge. The former minister of magic replaced by the former head of Auror's because of his lack of seeing that Harry was right and Voldemort was back.

Going a little off topic I also find it funny that PA is now referred to as the Publisher that must not be named. LOL .

A truely funny use of Harry Potter terms.

But back to the topic I most find and agree that magic can't solve every problem, but I do so much wish Professor Dumbledore had a spare wand in his socks as The half blood prince killed him. AKA Spape. Little Draco could not get the job done.

Also just like in life Draco was given a way out and does not take it. The way out had nothing to do with magic. Also if magic had not been used to keep Harry out of the fight he might of saved Dumbledore. But then Harry might of been in the line of fire with his old potions teacher.

The real conflict being one of choices, Like children have in real life becoming adults. Draco choice was the wrong one. Also Spape forming that unbreakable curse with Draco.

Why didn't Voldemort try to place such a spell on Harry to be loyal to him forever?

Could it be Harry would die then obey such a spell?

But killing off Dumbledore and Harry being tried of Hogwarts I thing R.K. Rowling has written herself into a very tight spot. I can't wait to see how she gets herself out of this one.

Killing off Dumbledore in my opinion was not a bright idea. monty.

loquax
09-09-2005, 07:48 PM
I think guns were referred to as "primitive wands muggles use for killing each other" or something. But as far as I can tell you can't block a bullet with a 'love'. How simple it would have been if Voldy had used an uzi - no more lightning shaped scars - just baby brain matter all over the walls.

That's the biggest flaw with magic. It gets the strange jobs done well, and the easy jobs done badly.

Elwyn
09-09-2005, 08:58 PM
Magic? I don't believe in magic. The reason I spent sooooooo much time researching before writing my (yet to be published) book is because I read a couple of the Potter books, the first of the Lord of the Rings and watched the Lord of the Rings movies and found them severely lacking.

Lacking in what respect you (may) ask? There were no explanations of how things happened. Things just appeared out of thin air or just happened to be. Since I have an engineering background, that just aggravated me to no end.

Yes, there is “magic” in my book, but it’s scientifically based. Imagine someone from the twenty first century going back in time to the dark ages and doing something as simple as lighting their pipe with a butane lighter, or using a flashlight. They’d probably be burned at the stake for witchcraft.

The thing about using magic is that it’s so easy for an author to get out of a situation that they’ve written themselves into. Mr. X gets into a jam, so he pulls out his magic twanger and “poof” makes everything alright. I’d rather read how MacGyver(sp?) would get out of the problem. But, that's just me. I too used to believe in Santa Claus.

Saanen
09-10-2005, 03:57 AM
Magic? I don't believe in magic. The reason I spent sooooooo much time researching before writing my (yet to be published) book is because I read a couple of the Potter books, the first of the Lord of the Rings and watched the Lord of the Rings movies and found them severely lacking.

Lacking in what respect you (may) ask? There were no explanations of how things happened. Things just appeared out of thin air or just happened to be. Since I have an engineering background, that just aggravated me to no end.

Yes, there is “magic” in my book, but it’s scientifically based.

And there you have one of the big differences in someone who likes SF and someone who likes fantasy. :)

The rules of magic in books are often vague and sometimes--aggravatingly--inconsistent. Then again, so is the science in some science fiction. It all depends on the author.

fallenangelwriter
09-14-2005, 07:52 PM
But back to the topic I most find and agree that magic can't solve every problem, but I do so much wish Professor Dumbledore had a spare wand in his socks as The half blood prince killed him. AKA Spape. Little Draco could not get the job done.

An extra wand wouldn't have helped. first, it would have made Draco panic, and dumbledore might have been forced to hurt him. second, He was probably too weak to beat Snape and the others alone. third, it seems likely that he was done for anyway, between the cursed ring and the potion he drank.

Also just like in life Draco was given a way out and does not take it. The way out had nothing to do with magic. Also if magic had not been used to keep Harry out of the fight he might of saved Dumbledore. But then Harry might of been in the line of fire with his old potions teacher.

THe point about Draco is too true. However, i doubt Harry could have saved Dumbledore.

The real conflict being one of choices, Like children have in real life becoming adults. Draco choice was the wrong one. Also Spape forming that unbreakable curse with Draco.

I'm still wondering about the unbreakable vow, myself. perhpas it was dumbledore's idea?

Why didn't Voldemort try to place such a spell on Harry to be loyal to him forever?

When Snape made the vow, he was one of the casters of the spell- that is, the one to be bound must be willing to take the oaqth.


But killing off Dumbledore and Harry being tried of Hogwarts I thing R.K. Rowling has written herself into a very tight spot. I can't wait to see how she gets herself out of this one.

True enough. Harry needs to learn a lot mroe if he's going to take on the death eaters and Voldemort even with Snape and possibly Draco backing him up.

Killing off Dumbledore in my opinion was not a bright idea. monty.

on the contrary, killing off Dumbledore was REQUIRED. i suppose she could have waited until partway through seven, but harry needs to come into his own as THE hero, and that means no mroe dumbledore to overshadow him. Dumbledore fought Voldemort once to protect Harry, and his desire to shiled harry would lead him to do again and again.

how will Harry, who must kill voldemort, get a chance with "the only wizard he ever feared" standing between the two?

Kasey Mackenzie
09-14-2005, 09:02 PM
I thought this was a general conversation on the magic system in Harry's world so figured it'd be safe enough to read...I haven't read book 6 yet but I guess I know who dies now...And before anyone points it out, I purposely avoided the post that said, "In book six" but when the last post popped up at the bottom of the screen I couldn't quite miss that particular line!

Please, just a personal request, when discussing such major plot points, especially in a pretty new book, remember to give a spoiler warning. People like me will appreciate it greatly. Thanks.

(And no, I'm not majorly mad or anything, just a bit disappointed.)