Book Review: Quidditch Through The Ages

Quidditch Through The Ages, by Kennilworthy Whisp (J.K. Rowling)

Anyone reading this book should be a fan of Harry Potter [1].  It may be unnecessary to say that for most readers, as Quidditch is an imaginary sport from that particular fantasy series, but there are likely to be at least a few people who would pick up this book and find it of interest even without knowing the series, and such readers would need to know ahead of time that this book is part of the secondary literature of J.K. Rowling concerning her Harry Potter universe [2], and really does not stand alone on its own apart from having an interest in that fandom.  That said, if you are a fan of the series you will likely like this book, and at around 100 pages, and full of humorous inside jokes, you will likely enjoy this book.  As far as fake sports histories go, this is a good one, and a fun one, and when one is reading a book like this, fun is what you are looking after.  If even real sports histories gain much of their appeal from the fun of athletic competition, that is true even more so for fake sports histories.

Quidditch Through The Ages is to sports history something like what Spinal Tap is to music documentaries.  At least that appears to be the aspiration.  It would have been easy for J.K. Rawling to toss something off that was subpar and it would have sold a lot of copies because of its association with Harry Potter, but Rowling actually spent some time mapping out the history of her complicated imaginary sport played on broomsticks.  Not only that, but she has also thought out the fake history of who checked out this book, something that unites people from all of the houses in Hogwarts.  In about 100 pages, not including a humorous foreword supposedly by Albus Dumbledore, Rowling addresses the evolution of technology with flying broomsticks, ancient broom games that served as precursors to Quiddich, the early record of the game played in the Queerditch Marsh, the arrival of the golden snitch to the early game, anti-muggle precautions taken to keep the wizarding games free from unfriendly eyes, changes to the game since its beginnings in the 14th century in the pitch, balls, players, rules, and referees, quidditch teams from the British Isles, the spread of the game worldwide, the development of the racing broom (a late development), and the game today.  As far as fake sports histories go, this one has a lot to offer.

Besides the obviously breezy and light tone of the book, which is at odds with the darker tone of the later books in the series and something more in line with the tone of the chapters of the books that deal with Quidditch, there are other aspects of this book that are worthy of commentary.  For one, the author sets in her wizarding world some aspects of cultural differences between countries–Europe is at a superior level to Africa, the United States and Canada are off on their own, and the Middle East and most of Asia uses flying carpets and does not see the use of a sport played on flying brooms.  There are concerns for environmental sustainability, with the replacement of an endangered bird with a charmed snitch as a central element of the game, as well as some ironic comments against a blind adherence with tradition that betray the author’s strong reformist streak.  About the only thing missing from the book is some fake data, because there is nothing this reader, who spends his day looking at more or less real data at work, likes more than analyzing fake data showing standing, championships, and the like.  Since J.K. Rowling is on record as not being very fond of mathematics, though, it is surprising that she does not include a statistical apparatus for her fake sport showing the standings for various teams over history, although that would make this book even more awesome than it is.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, History, Sports and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Book Review: Quidditch Through The Ages

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