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The Lexicon: An Unauthorized Guide to Harry Potter Fiction and Related Materials Paperback – January 16, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1571431745 ISBN-10: 1571431748 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 347 pages
  • Publisher: RDR Books; 1 edition (January 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1571431748
  • ISBN-13: 978-1571431745
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #384,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

If ever a book were to test the truism that there's no such thing as bad publicity, it may be this one: an A–Z encyclopedic guide to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter universe, based on a popular Web site created by Vander Ark in 2000, and the center of high-profile litigation. That case settled, the question now becomes online Lexicon v. print. Vander Ark has taken pains not to use Rowling's unique expressions, as the introduction calls that writer's words (for example, the book's readers learn that doxies have a poisonous bite; users of the Lexicon Web site find that doxies have sharp venomous teeth, plus a reference to Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them). Commentary unique to the volume follows many entries (one complaint at trial was that the proposed Lexicon reorganized Rowling's material without adding much information); these range from etymologies to pedestrian analyses (of Harry's reliance on the Expelliarmus spell versus Voldemort's on the Killing Curse: In the end, J.K. Rowling writes Harry as a person not of violence and murder, but of compassion and mercy—of love). The Lexicon Web site still exists as a comprehensive, updated—and free—resource; while the print edition does differ in its content, its advantages are hard to discern. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–This work serves as a companion to J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter books (Scholastic). It begins with a brief list of abbreviations that are used throughout the series and an explanation of date usage in the Lexicon. The remainder of the book contains alphabetical entries explaining characters, wizarding terms and phrases, and geographic locations (both real and fictional). Each entry has a brief description and a reference to the first time the term is mentioned in the novels. Character entries also include dates relating to the characters' lives and important positions they may have held, if known. Additional descriptive information beyond the connection to Harry Potter is included in italics when the term's origin outside of that universe is included or if further noncanonical explanation is required. It should be noted that the Lexicon is not a complete Harry Potter encyclopedia as many of the characters' fates remain undisclosed to preserve the experience for first-time readers. That being said, this volume will serve as a quick reference guide for enthusiasts of the series and as a good companion for teens writing fan fiction.–Kelliann Bogan, Colby-Sawyer College, New London, NH END

More About the Author

Steve knows way more about Harry Potter than anyone ever should and loves sharing what he's discovered with fans all over the world. He's the webmaster and editor of the Harry Potter Lexicon website, the premier reference source about the world of Harry Potter, and a popular presenter at Harry Potter events. His podcast (ingeniously entitled "The HP Lexicon Podcast") takes listeners on an entertaining ramble through the Harry Potter books.

As a teacher and librarian, Steve has also led seminars about technology in education and about literacy and teaching writing. He presents for groups of middle school kids his own take on "Nine Reasons NOT To Read A Book". Somehow Steve has also found time to be the resident director for a theatre company and has directed everything from dinner theatre to full musicals.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Claire M. Johnson on March 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
I am an avowed Harry Potter fanatic, and I have been looking forward to this book for ages. It is, well, limited in its application. Given that it's arranged alphabetically (and having flipped through it several times it seems complete enough), it assumes that you know exactly what you're looking for, spelling and all. There is NO index, so if I wanted to look for a spell that, say, wrote reviews for amazon.com, I would be stymied unless I had a vague inkling as to how that spell might be, well, spelled. I had hoped that this book would be an substitute for his exhaustive website, and, unfortunately, it is merely a reference book to his website. In addition to the lack of index (which is THE most frustrating omission), off the top of my head, I can think of several things that should have been included and yet are not (and, I assume, would not run afoul of the JKR legal team): family trees; timelines for the novels; listing of who is in what house, both in the present era and in the previous era; and listing of teachers (past and present). These are just off the top of my head. I still think this book very valuable on one level, but it is NOT even marginally a substitute for his excellent website. An index would have induced me to give it another star.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Boenzi on September 13, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Lexicon" is more than a glossary of Harry Potter terminology. This listing of names, terms, geographical and magical markers offers definitions, descriptions and connections that are magical, even for muggles. Furthermore, the book captures the spirit and sparkle of the Harry Potter series (and canon) in a way that is faithful to J. K. Rowling's creation and the readers' need to plumb the depths of the individual books or the entire saga. Congratulations to the compiler Steve Vander Ark and his associates. Their vision and perseverance have produced good results. "The Lexicon" is a significant resource for those who take J. K. Rowling's writing seriously.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Nadine on January 22, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While you will not understand the magic that J.K. Rowling created in her Harry Potter series without reading the books first, you will however, be able to reference just about any specific person, place or thing ever used in the series by name with this delightful tome. It is obvious that it was created by loving hands and minds, and so it is a treasure to any true HP fan! With all due respect to this book, it will not overshadow any future encyclopedic digest that J.K. Rowling may produce herself; but for the time being, it is one very handy volume and a very useful source to the world of Harry Potter! A wealth of information and fun!
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By dorcas_meadowes on January 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
Anyone who was ever been immersed in reading the Harry Potter books knows that there are hundreds of characters, dozens of spells, a menagerie of creatures, and zillions of little fanciful details. And that's what you will find in The Lexicon: a refreshing refresher course in the facts of the series.

This is the book for those times when you just can't remember the differences between a "Hover Charm" and "Wingardium Leviosa," or was it "Levicorpus?" Or when you can't recall whether a detail is from one of the Harry Potter movies or from the books. Was that irritating shrunken head in the Azkaban movie based on anything in the books? Yes, believe it or not - only it was in Chamber of Secrets and it didn't speak with a Jamaican accent.

Just paging through the book is a fun walk down memory lane. I had forgotten all about the students falling ill with "Umbridge-itis," or that there was a Beauty specialist with the delightful name of "Madam Primpernelle." And take, for example, the entry about "Dragon Milk Cheese." The writers of the Lexicon take the obvious literal question of how dragons could give milk since they are clearly reptilian and not mammals, and harken back to a seventeenth century term for "strong beer usually reserved for royalty." Baby dragons must burp alot, huh? It sounds as if the cheese would be tasty.

There are hundreds of such examples of scholarship that enrich and reward the reader, such as Latinate root words provided for spells such as "Cave Inimicum" (beware of enemies) and "Protego Horribilis" (shield us from the frightful). I think children would especially find this fun and useful, since none of that is explained in the books, and most kids (or adults) don't have a Latin dictionary lying around the house.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jeanne Kimsey on January 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
At last, this valuable reference is in print, and what a gift to the Harry Potter community! Even casual readers who don't bicker over details on fan forums will be pleased to find new meanings and context in the language. The authors, all of whom are super-fans who have spent years researching and cross-referencing this material, were obsessed with details and loved the books. This is the most complete guide to the Harry Potter series written so far, and an instant classic. It's true that the same information about spells, names, and places has been available for years in the online version of the Lexicon, but now in book form it will be available to a new audience. So even if your computer goes viral, your local library shuts down due to lack of money, and you are sent out of town beyond the reach of high-speed cable, this good old-fashioned book will give you the answers you need.
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