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The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter: A Treasury of Myths, Legends, and Fascinating Facts

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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  10,231 ratings  ·  180 reviews
J.K. Rowling fills her books with references to history, myths, legends and literature. The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter reveals the stories behind the stories.

All the questions you ever wanted to ask about the fantastical world in which Harry lives are answered here. Discover the astonishing origins of magical creatures, the clues to hidden meanings in names, and amazin...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 4th 2004 by Berkley Trade (first published 2001)
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
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15th out of 36 books — 64 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Stephanie S.
Nov 08, 2007 Stephanie S. rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Harry Potter Fans
This book is very informative. It identifies all of the elements in the Harry Potter books that come from actual literature or history. It tells the origin of many names and words in the books. It also shows how many of the creatures such as hippogriffs, manticores, and sphinxes are actually mythical creatures that have been around for a long time. It also points out many things you would not have noticed in the books. For example, in book one, the Mirror of Erised isinscribed with the words "Er...more
Jeeth Suresh
Dec 02, 2007 Jeeth Suresh rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Not For Harry Potter Fans
Shelves: harrypotter
An excellent guide into the world, and history of Harry Potter. However, it seemed a bit unrealistic that J.K. Rowling is so in tune with these histories...I think that this is speculation on a massive scale, and aims only to try to phantom the world of Potter... Oh well.
Sarah (TotalTeenFiction)
Full review here on TotalTeenFiction

I'm a huge Harry Potter fan and I love reading about the series (when I'm not reading the books themselves!) so when I spotted this book in a charity shop, I had to pick it up. The edition I have was published in 2001 and only focusses on the books that were released that time: up to Goblet of Fire and the companion books Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages. It's a completely unofficial guide, not associated with JKR or WB.

Th...more
PurplyCookie
Every HP fan would definitely need (or desire) a companion book just to wade through all the literary, religious, fantastical and mythological references and innuendos Rowling made in all of her seven books. The book aptly describes itself as a "treasury of myths, legends and fascinating facts" regarding the world of Harry Potter and it wasn't that far off in its self-description.

It is a great tribute to Rowling's works; consisting of around 50+ questions aiming to dig deeper at an innocent rema...more
Carmen Maloy
Oct 22, 2007 Carmen Maloy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: HP fans
This book was a great one for those who find words and the origin of words and ideas fascinating. This book opened up the mind of J.K. Rowling in terms of where she found references and words and changed them to fit her story. As many of the words or word roots and ideas have corrolations in myths and legends, the words and names that the Harry Potter series uses strikes a chord with adult readers as well as young readers as they are already familiar in oue own history and vocabulary.

The compar...more
melydia
The name is somewhat misleading; this is a cute mini-encyclopedia of the real mythological roots of many aspects of the Harry Potter books. While I didn't learn a whole heck of a lot of new information, I would definitely recommend this book to any Harry Potter fan, especially younger ones. The writing is friendly without being dumbed down, the articles are short but concise, and the breadth of information is impressive. If nothing else, it instilled in me a renewed interest in mythology, and th...more
Vijeta
Mar 10, 2013 Vijeta rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
This is a must, must read for Harry Potter fans. It tells you that there lies so much symbolism at the core of the story. There are references to Greek, Norse, Celtic myths, to Christianity, to Pagan rituals. There are allusions to legends of yore, the Arthurian in particular. Rowling devises each name with a purpose. Almost everything has a basis in something. So, without further ado, go read it if you love the world of Harry Potter as much as I do.
Kristina
I thought this book was an amazing read for any Harry Potter fan. It is full of hidden meanings and origins of many different names, beasts, and items in the Harry Potter series. After reading this book I have an entire new respect for J.K. Rowling, and I already thought she was pretty amazing!
Kate
Being a huge Harry Potter fan, I'll read pretty much anything that focuses around the magical world. This was an interesting book that talks about and explains in detail the creatures and studies within the Harry Potter books - such as goblins, alchemy, divination and witches.
Jessica Booth
To any avid reader, this book didn't involve any new and thrilling ideas, but because it does involve Harry Potter - it can't be bad! A good read for new Harry Potter fans and those who have not read a lot of mythology or fantasy works.
Anvita
Really nice. Couldn't even imagine that there were so many secrets hidden under the apparent part! Rowling must be credited for such a thorough research before assigning names to characters. Every name has its own mystery.
Charles
Overall, this book has proved to be an amusing (albeit unofficial) guide to the magical world(s) of our beloved boy wizard who has enchanted the whole world many times over.

David Colbert, at first glance, did not really have such a hard job. I mean, even though my edition was published in 2001 when only the first four Harry Potter books were released (besides 'Beasts' and 'Quidditch) he managed to cram 200+ pages of interesting material, and if he wanted to go into more detail I am sure he would...more
Jenny
Feb 12, 2014 Jenny rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Potterheads
Shelves: 2006-2011
Something to read if you're interested in the myths behind the legends in the Potterverse.

Not so much an encyclopaedia as it wants to be, but more like a cute little collection of frequently asked questions concerning Harry Potter.

It's not a bad book, no, I'd recommend it to anyone who keeps an interest in Potter, the mythological creatures and all the other things the book brings into light. Sadly though, it is not officially approved by the Author herself, J.K. Rowling. Go on, read it now. I...more
Amber.
A very good, informative book. Great read for Harry Potter fans, even for people who haven't read the books (although some people won't understand the references).

I found this book at a stall at my local market, and as soon as I saw the words 'Harry Potter' I wanted to have it in my bookshelf. It was very cheap, $5 I believe. I took it home, finished off the book I was currently reading and eagerly started to read it.

I found it very interesting. For those of you who have not read it, it is a fac...more
Alisa
Feb 21, 2014 Alisa rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: teen
I love the general idea of what this and similar books try to do - analyze Rowling's research of and reference to all things mythological, legendary, realistic, and occasionally linguistic.

The book itself, however, I find too complex for a child and too simple for an adult. I would love to see something of it's kind that would truly encompass every fact that is possible to find on the matters discussed. Alright, so that's my personal wish. I digress. Back to the actual book, the way it is.

In our...more
Nessa [October Tune]
Read this review, and many more on my blog October Tune!

I really like non-fiction books about my favourite stories; like a Lexicon about Harry Potter, and the 3-Minute J.R.R. Tolkien biography that I read a couple of days ago. I don’t really remember how I found out about this book, but I bought it immediately because it interested me a lot.

This book answers a lot of questions that you might have asked yourself while reading Harry Potter.

Though personally I didn’t really feel like all the questi...more
Jessica
I give this one 3.8 stars out of 5. The information is well-researched, eloquently written and keeps your attention, so it doesn't feel like you're reading something that could easily be an academic paper. Not only did Rowling do her homework while writing the entire Harry Potter series, David Colbert did his in conducting a thorough analysis of the books. The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter includes history, politics, language, astronomy, religion, geography, science (mainly alchemy), pop cultur...more
Eli
I would have given this book four stars for its interesting tidbits on the myths, folklore, and history that seeped into the Harry Potter series. I had been looking forward to reading it because it was recommended in John Granger's books on the series. However, I had a few problems with this book.

First, the organization is not as logical as it first appears. The bulk of the book is organized alphabetically by topic, with the exception of the final chapters, which are devoted to topics from the l...more
Molly
Oh, you know, this was a lovely little bathroom book type of read--a few pages before bed sort of thing. I really enjoyed reading the Harry Potter series, was reluctantly sucked in when my then-boyfriend (now husband) wheedled me into trying them out just before Goblet of Fire came out. I worked at a bookstore then, and nothing is more strange than seeing that place fill up like a hothouse for that Potter mania that is a release party. I was charmed. And I liked this dip in returning to some of...more
Guilhermeee
(3,5 estrelas)

Antes de mais "Os Mundos Mágicos de Harry Potter" é um livro de caráter informativo, possa-se de dizer assim. Este livro é super interessante para quem tal como eu é fã do feiticeiro Harry Potter e do mundo que o envolve. Mas sinceramente acho que este livro teve momentos que me prendeu a atenção total, com curiosidades que nunca me tinham passado pela cabeça, enquanto que houve outros em que eu divagava completamente e o que tinha lido há 2 segundos era como uma memória perdida. E...more
Jenny
I was disappointed in this book. I was hoping for much more. Almost every chapter title posed a question then the chapter would only answer it sometimes and other times the chapters would be on related topics. I felt each chapter was woefully short. The topic that obliquely related to the chapter heading would just start to be delved into when the chapter would end abruptly. The chapters were rarely more than a page and a half, with each page having generous margins in which "related topics" or...more
Mandy
Each chapter of David Colbert’s The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter answers a question that many Harry Potter fans have long wondered (and even some we’ve never thought to ask): Is “Avada Kedavra” a Real Curse?; Why Would Chocolate Help after Escaping a Dementor?; Why Are Goblins Such Good Bankers?. Because of this structure, readers can pick and chose which chapters to read, in any order they’d like. It’s not necessary to read the book all the way through from cover to cover.

While reading the Ha...more
McKenzie Richardson
This was an interesting book. It's a great introduction if you want to learn more about some of the references in the first four Harry Potter books. There were a lot of sections I wish Colbert would have elaborated more on, but he does a good job of giving some basics about various topics. Also, the book contains an Afterward suggesting other books to read to get a more in-depth view of some of the subjects discussed. Overall, it was a cool read. I am looking forward to reading some of his other...more
Joseph
While not a very taxing investigation, the author manages to convey the depth of the subject without too many painful glosses. Importantly, the questions he asks are much more pointed and considered than other authors and his answers are much more illuminating. Overall a great read when one wants a refresher course but it really for those with an advanced background in the field.
 ~Geektastic~
Interesting, if simplistic, insight into the various myths, legends and languages used as reference by JK Rowling in the Harry Potter series. The writing style is obviously aimed at a younger audience (tween to younger teen), but the research is solid. I like that I was able to get my hands on the expanded version, but it's a little annoying that the main text covers books 1-5, while books 6 and 7 are sort of tacked on at the end. I wish some of the chapters, like the one on the use of Latin for...more
Elizabeth
This is a very interesting and entertaining read about the various aspects of language and mythology that Rowling borrowed for her Harry Potter novels.

This is a piece of writing that I found incredibly interesting as a Harry Potter fan. It was interesting to know where the mythological creatures she used had come from, where the words she used for the spells had come from, and so on.

As a fan of history, language, and mythology, I found this an incredibly interesting read. It was both interestin...more
Andy M
Everyone seems to have rated this highly, but I have no clue why. IT ISN'T A COMPANION. It's a book of badly explained facts that you could find out easily without this book.

I can't even remember where I picked this up, but I didn't find it interesting or helpful in the slightest.
Shawna
Clearly written for someone much younger than myself. There were interesting tidbits of information but nothing very in-depth. Topics and structure often felt jumbled and haphazard. However, only the first four books were out when this was written and it's funny to see what this guy predicts and whatnot.
Martha
Dec 14, 2013 Martha rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Harry Potter readers
This book is what I'd categorize as a 'bathroom shelf' or a 'living room coffee table' read as it's an anthology of important references, names, and sources for Rowling's relatable and magical world of Harry Potter. Having read this in the course of a few hours this afternoon, I'd like to buy this book to keep as reference when I reread the series from start to finish again. Other than it being a reference, it didn't delve much further into her world-building and character realism. Finishing thi...more
Eva
I think that this book was okay, but what I wanted more of was more stories, myths, and facts directly from J.K. Rowling or the books themselves. Overall the book was okay. Not the best.
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