Two books produced by Pottermore and maybe these have been recently produced as audiobooks. I bought The History of Magic for cheap on Audible shortly after reading Quidditch through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them in the fall. Beedle the Bard is a new audiobook and free on Audible currently.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard
We all know the one story quite well, The Tale of the Three Brothers from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and there’s no need to recap it here, except to say that before school closed for the year, I had planned to show the kids the animation from the film along side the Pardoner’s Tale from the Canterbury Tales to talk about influence.
The rest of the stories in the collection are not particularly interesting and have that unfortunate air that comes with a lot apocrypha made for fantasy novels of being too suited to a thematic task and not organically a feature of the world they habit. It’s the scaling issue a lot of Harry Potter has, where the world seems both hugely massive, and only as big as the books need them to be. A literary form ala the Simpsons’ house.
What is really good about this collection is a) the different readers of the audiobook — Jason Isaacs, Jude Law, Warwick Davis, Evanna Lynch, and Bonnie Wright. And B) Jude Law as Dumbledore annotating each tale. The annotations are both more interesting and longer than the tales themselves, which are forgettable.
The History of Magic
This book is great and I didn’t actually know what I was getting when I bought it. I thought it was the same kind of book as Quidditch and Fantastic Beasts. Instead, it’s a behind the scenes look at the Harry Potter series and is more akin to a podcast or docuseries than any kind of apocrypha. What makes it quite special is its connection to the British Museum, which helps to document historical and mythical analogs for the different names, creatures, spells, people, and other parts of the series. So it’s like a very annotated version of the stories — or compendium of annotations. I don’t really care that much about JK Rowling’s story in creating Harry Potter, and to this book’s credit, it doesn’t either, but I loved what worked out to be a historical documentary of magic and mythology through the ages. It’s very successful in this way. It uses a lot of the familiar names and voices from the audiobooks especially, interviewing Jim Dale and Stephen Fry and having them do different versions of the voices. It brings in the artist from the Illustrated versions, walking us through his process, and it talks about various elements of the publishing process. I obviously missed out on having the art in front of me but the descriptions in the audiobook were vivid, but so much of the story and art from the book (from having read the series several times through) are apparently imprinted on my brain, so I didn’t really need it.