I’m assuming that there are loads of you who have been waiting for the next installment of my political theology post. I hate to break it to you but that project is going on hiatus. Have any of y’all ever started a book and thought to yourself, “This is like pulling teeth. I don’t know if anyone has finished this book?” Well that’s how reading that book felt. I have other books on political theology and my process of eenie, meenie, minnie, moe didn’t really work—shocker, I know.
So since I don’t have a multiple-post project as of now, this blog will go back to being like an online journal as I begin seminary. But not yet! Today’s post comes from my morning shower.
This is technically my second blog; the first one was titled TheCollegeMuggle. I decided for a name change because the previous one pigeon holed me. 1. I won’t always be in school (Unless I teach. In that case, I may go back?) and 2. Hopefully I won’t always be a muggle. However, the Celtic in my name still holds on to the connotation I was going for in my original blog. The Celtic spirituality movement contains a hope to capture an infant like sense of awe in religion and nature. It’s a desire to shed the skin of assurance in one’s rightness and bask in the transcendent unknown. The mystery of life becomes again a journey filled with magic.
Speaking—typing?—of magic, back to my morning shower contemplation. How many of y’all have read The Lord of the Rings? Many of my contemporaries have come across Middle Earth from the Peter Jackson films. It’s how I first experienced Frodo and the Fellowship. Yet after the films, I became enamored with wanting more from Tolkien. It was sophomore year that I took on what would be a nine-month challenge of reading The Lord of the Rings. While many think of The Lord of the Rings as three separate books like Harry Potter, the books are intended to be seen as one, long (very long) narrative quest. For publication purposes, The Lord of the Rings was published in the three volumes we now know (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King) with each book containing two volumes.
I was fortunate that my copy of The Lord of the Rings was compiled in one, hellishly long text. To be exact, my copy covered 1,008 pages (excluding the appendices). This form allowed me to more closely view Tolkien’s saga as one, uninterrupted tale instead of three separate stories.
This summer I have gone through the entire Harry Potter film franchise to remind myself why I love Rowling’s works so much. I realized that I enjoyed the second half (books 5-7) better than the first four (although I do love Harry’s first time visiting Diagon Alley). The reasoning is because the second half of Harry Potter becomes united in the fight against Voldemort and the books become more unified. Thinking along these lines, this morning I thought, “Could Harry Potter be published in a manner similar to my copy of The Lord of the Rings??
To accurately compare the two epics, page numbers may not be the best measuring tool. The print in my copy of The Lord of the Rings is considerably smaller than the traditional Harry Potter print. Instead, let’s look at the word counts to see the similarities and differences. From what I could gather online, Harry Potter more than doubles that of The Lord of the Rings at 1.84 million words to 481k respectively. To put another way, the Bible contains roughly a little more than 800k words. Compiling all of the Harry Potter books into one binding would be larger than a traditional Bible (But surely not larger than my study Bible, right?!). Simply, one book would not suffice.
But that’s ok! I think having all of the Harry Potter books would be overwhelming. But what if we split up the series in two parts. For the rest of this post, let’s assume that the Harry Potter books are going to be published into two books containing the original Harry Potter texts. There does seem to be a definite shift in the series, specifically at or around the Goblet of Fire. But first, what would the titles of these two book parts be? The first half would be something along the lines of The Tales of Harry Potter. It would be centered around the first four years of Harry at Hogwarts as he learns what it means and takes to be a wizard. While it has been well documented that the seven Harry Potter books form a chiastic structure, the first four are contained in dealing with specific trials at Hogwarts whereas the final three books detail Harry and friends coming to terms with the presence and danger of Voldemort.
For my purpose, I would like to make the argument that the shift from book 1 to book 2 in my proposed two book series would not be between Goblet of Fire and The Order of the Phoenix like it would originally seem. Instead, the end of book 1 of The Tales of Harry Potter would be when Harry and Cedric grab the Triwizard Cup in the maze and book 2 The Second Wizarding War would begin with Harry and Cedric entering the graveyard and the birth of Voldemort. This way, The Second Wizarding World would deal entirely with Harry’s coping with fighting Voldemort and leaving The Tales of Harry Potter to be surrounded with Harry pre-Voldemort resurrected.
Page wise, The Second Wizarding World would still end up being longer than the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. For anyone wondering, here is a link for the word counts for Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings http://www.betterstorytelling.net/thebasics/storylength.html. As you can see, the final three books of Harry Potter are incredibly long increase from the first four books.
Now, let’s look at the word count for what these two books would look like. If the books were solely split between the first four books and the final three books (which there is a solid argument to be made for this approach, and probably more practical) the word count would be as follows:
The Tales of Harry Potter – 459,975 words
The Second Wizarding War – 624,195 words
What we would have then is the first book would be slightly smaller than The Lord of the Rings whereas the second book would be larger by slightly under 200k words.
Now, a short word of what my split would look like word count wise. Splitting the Goblet of Fire at the graveyard scene would take away 98 pages from book one and add them to book two. The only real way to figure out how many words would be transferred is to count them and I’m not going to do that. To figure out the difference, I calculated that 98 pages in the Goblet of Fire is roughly 13% of the entire book. Since Goblet of Fire contains 190,637 words, 13% of that would be 24.7k words. Therefore, my split would end up being around:
The Tales of Harry Potter – 435,275 words
The Second Wizarding War – 648,895 words
This calculation doesn’t do a whole lot to what the size of the book would be, but I wanted to show an accurate word count for either method of splitting the series. I know it would be easier for Rowling and Scholastic to split the books between 1-4 and 5-7, but I think after close examination a split between the maze and graveyard would be better to serve the purpose of having the stories compiled in two covers. It is at the graveyard that Harry’s life changes and whatever chance of him being a normal student is lost.
Finally, while it seems overwhelming that The Second Wizarding War would be longer than The Lord of the Rings, reading the former would prove to be a much easier undertaking. I first went to compare the series via Accelerated Reader points. I found that the highest rated Harry Potter book (tie: Order of the Phoenix and Half Blood Prince) clocked out at a level of 7.2 whereas The Two Towers was rated at a 6.3 level.
I find it difficult to find that all of the Harry Potter books are harder to read than The Lord of the Rings books. The first three Harry Potter books are shorter than each Lord of the Rings individually. Therefore, length is not the sole deciding factor when ranking books AR-style.
I was unable to find any official rankings outside of public opinion that stated that The Lord of the Rings are harder to read than the Harry Potter books. Regardless, this is my blog and my opinion. Therefore, The Lord of the Rings books require that the reader be a better, more focused, and more dedicated reader than the Harry Potter books do. Because of the higher difficulty that The Lord of the Rings provides, the added page length in Harry Potter balances out the added length in The Wizarding War compared to The Lord of the Rings.
Hope you were able to follow my logic. Let me know what you think! Where should the two books be split and why?