Review: Book of Potions

I don’t care for Potions. As a Ravenclaw, while this might sound a bit stereotypical, my favorite class is Charms. I suppose this is in part because Professor Flitwick, the Head of Ravenclaw house, is the teacher. I have a high respect for Professors Sprout and McGonagall as well, but I have none left over for Professor Snape, the Potions professor.

I understand that potion-making is a “subtle science” and an “exact art”, but I certainly prefer wand-waving to cauldron-bubbling, even if Professor Snape seems to think that wand-waving is “foolish”. Zygmunt Budge seems to be cut from the same cloth as Severus Snape, as “brewing glory” appears to be always on the forefront of his mind.

Like Book of SpellsBook of Potions involves practicing spells (or in this case, potions) and listening to stories. Frankly, as you’ve probably already guessed, I enjoy practicing spells much more than potions. Learning and practicing spells is not a simple task, but there are certainly fewer steps involved when casting spells. When brewing potions, you need to swap out your wand for a spoon to stir, a knife to chop, shears to cut, hammer to crush, pestle and bowl to grind, blower to fuel the fire, tweezers to pull, and I’m sure there are other tools that I am forgetting. When casting spells, all you need is a wand, and for me, that is all I want! Long recipes with specific, seemingly arbitrary steps? Who wants that?!

And the stories? Oh, how I miss the varying and eloquent stories told by Miranda Goshawk. Zygmunt Budge’s stories are all, yes all, about him! How self-centered can a person be? Certainly, the stories are entertaining (because, let’s face it, anything written by J.K. Rowling is!), but they all have a recurring theme: how many different ways can Mr. Budge say “woe is me”? He was not allowed to enter the Wizarding Schools Potion Championship at the far-too-young age of 14, and so, in a rage, he left Hogwarts, eventually becoming the Hermit of Hermetray. There on this island, he invented his potions and wrote his Book of Potions, hoping that, someday, this potions book would help a future Hogwarts student (the player) win this Potion Championship (since leaving school meant that he was no longer eligible to participate himself).

So in addition to practicing potions and listening to Budge’s “woe is me” stories, there is an overarching challenge to complete by the end of the game. Since it is a Wizarding Schools Championship after all, there needs to be some competition! This competition comes from far away places, such as South Africa, Russia, and Japan.

And here is where I must give this game its severest criticism: I feel as though Sony is really taking advantage of its partnership with J.K. Rowling. This partnership came into being so that Pottermore could be created, and I believe that the entire fandom is, for the most part, collectively thankful for that. Sure, there were glitches in the beginning, but I think that Sony and the rest of the Pottermore creative team have made vast improvements since then.

However, it was foolish of me to assume that all new content by J.K. Rowling, related to Harry Potter, would be simply funneled into Pottermore. Instead, new content found its way into two Sony video games so far, Book of Potions and Book of Spells. I am fortunate enough to own a PS3, and I was also fortunate enough to be able to purchase these two games and play them. Not everyone has the same means to do so, and so they miss out on these new stories by Rowling, not to mention these new little tidbits of information, such as the names of never-before-mentioned wizarding schools.

I think the South African school might have been called Wagadoo, but with no subtitles while narrating that part of the story, there’s no way I can be sure that I’m spelling that correctly. I trust that the Harry Potter Wikia is correct in their transcription of the Japanese wizarding school, Mahoutokoro. I did not catch the name of the Russian school at all, though I did hear the country’s name mentioned. As Pottermore recently revealed that there are eleven wizarding schools, my curiosity has been incredibly piqued to find out the names and locations of them all! It is my fervent hope, then, that even if the new stories from Book of Spells and Book of Potions don’t find their way into print or onto Pottermore, at the very least I do hope that J.K. Rowling does put information about all the world’s wizarding schools there for everyone to freely enjoy.

I also wish that Rowling would write a Book of Spells and a Book of Potions to be published. We already have one Hogwarts textbook, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which tells all about magical creatures. What I wouldn’t give for two published books that give definitive lists of every spell and potion, even those not named in the original Harry Potter books. Actually, make that three books; I would love to see a published version of “1000 Magical Herbs and Fungi” too.

Perhaps these potential three books could make their way onto Pottermore instead! But who am I kidding? I’m almost certain that yet another Wonderbook is currently in the works, this one called “Book of Herbology”.

I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that new content should be free to view on Pottermore? Then again, I do have to hand it to Sony for finding ways to make a profit through Pottermore. Share your thoughts in the comments!