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30th December
2008
written by Steph
51y7e623iul__ss400_I received the beautiful special collector’s edition of J.K. Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard from Tony as a Christmas present.  This edition is comprised of a beautiful leather hollow book that contains an ornately silver buckled volume (the cover of which is adorned with a thick silver skull) of the book itself inside.  In addition, prints of the illustrations (all hand drawn by Jo Rowling, herself!)  from the book are tucked away inside the larger book.  As an aside, I’ll mention that due to some terrible bungling on Amazon’s part (I was at home the day this present arrived, and not only did they print “Muggles Beware!  Don’t ship or open until Dec 4!” on the outside of the shipping box, but also the actual title of the book (again, on the OUTSIDE of the box)!), I knew without a shadow of a doubt what one of my gifts would be.  I did not, however, know which version of the book I would get, so at least that mystery remained!  I must say that I am very pleased to add this gorgeous edition to my Harry Potter collection. Those of you have read the final installment in the Harry Potter series will be familiar with the concept of these tales, and in particular, will be well versed with the final story in this volume, “The Tale of the Three Brothers”.  For those of you who haven’t made it that far into the series, the idea behind these tales is that they are the wizarding world’s equivalent of our fairy tales.  Instead of “Cinderella” or “Sleeping Beauty”, young witches and wizards hear about “The Fountain of Fair Fortune” or “Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump” (among others).  Each story is meant to impart an important morality tale or lesson, generally about the appropriate uses of magic, as well as its limitations.  Additionally, a good deal of wizarding lore and history is contained within them, but I would note that nothing is contained within these pages that would be considered a spoiler to anyone who is a fan of Harry Potter but hasn’t finished the primary canon. This book was a quick read, and I finished it about an hour one afternoon following our extended Christmas festivities.  The stories were fun, but were not especially deep or provocative in any noteworthy way.  I should think these stories would be fun to read to younger fans of the series, but for adults I think the charms of the stories themselves are somewhat less.  I did enjoy “The Fountain of Fair Fortune” quite a bit, and was perhaps most disappointed by “The Tale of the Three Brothers”, because it is literally taken verbatim from what is printed in Deathly Hallows. Overall, I think that the element that I enjoyed most about the stories was the commentary by Albus Dumbledore (and footnotes by Rowling) that followed each one; it was nice to gain further insight into the wizarding world of Harry and his friends.  I just wish that the stories embodied the wit and spirit of the Potter novels a bit more. In the end, this feels like somewhat of an afterthought in terms of an addition to the Harry Potter oeuvre, but for those who want a complete collection or who are diehard fans, it’s a nice extension.  It sure does look darn pretty on the shelf, and I am very appreciative that Tony was so on the ball as to get me one of the limited edition copies.  Personally, I hope Jo starts cracking on that encyclopedia of the HP universe that she’s been promising she’ll eventually publish.  Now that’s a book I can't wait to get my hands on! Rating: 3 out of 5

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