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

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  11,246 ratings  ·  188 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
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 Goblet of Fire by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 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 35 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
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
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.

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
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
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
Ovviamente non è un romanzo, ma una semplice guida (oltretutto incompleta perché uscita prima della pubblicazione degli ultimi due libri, se non erro).
Abbastanza interessante e non banale.
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
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
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
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
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
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
It’s no secret that I am a Harry Potter fan. So much that I also love reading books about the Harry Potter books. I love learning more about Harry’s magical world, all the creatures and characters involved and the background on how JK Rowling created such a fascinating world. When my mom gave me this book for my birthday this year, I was so excited to learn more about my favorite fictional world.

Each chapter of David Colbert’s The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter answers a question that many Harry
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
(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
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
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
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.
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
Tabitha Gilroy
I have read a few of these types of books, and so far found this one fairly terrible. It didnt go into much depth on anything, I already knew most of what was in this book if not more. I think the title are summary gave a bad indication what would be in this book. It was more of an FAQ book than the encyclopedic cover implied
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
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.
This book is pretty interesting. It explores the mythology behind many of the magical creatures mentioned in the Harry Potter series, as well as things like the hidden meanings in names of characters and places in the books.
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