Book Review: The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling

TL;DR – a companion piece to Rowling’s hugely successful Harry Potter series.

Summary (warning: spoilers)

A collection of short stories that have been passed down through generations of witches and wizards that demonstrate that for all the benefits magic can bring, it can also cause just as many problems.

Review

I have been debating for some time whether to write a review of each of Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Their success and reach worldwide (along with the multitude of reviews already written on the series) has held me at bay. I devoured the seven-book journey of young Harry when they were first published; the first book alone I have read at least eight times. But venturing into writing a book review seems somewhat superfluous when I’m sure millions have already dissected the series.

So, while I continue to have this inner monologue with myself, I decided instead to write a review on The Tales of Beedle the Bard which is a collection of short stories written from the wizarding world of Harry Potter. The introduction outlines its genesis. The collection was read at bed time to young witches and wizards as often as fairy tales like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty have been read to Muggles (i.e., us non-magical folk).

For centuries they have been told and re-told, and this latest incarnation has been “translated from the original runes by Hermione Granger” and has the added benefit of having additional notes written by Professor Albus Dumbledore himself.

One particular distinction between Muggle fairy tales and The Tales of Beedle the Bard are that in Muggle fairy tales, magic is usually the source of the hero/heroine’s problems, while in Beedle the stories tell of characters that can perform magic themselves but discover it is just as hard to solve their problems with magic as we do without magic.

In this way the morals in The Tales of Beedle the Bard are similar to parables and cautionary tales that have been written and shared through human history.

What makes this read a little different are the added notes by Albus Dumbledore after each story. He provides insight into how these tales link to the world of Harry Potter, Voldemort, the Malfoys and other famous witches and wizards and the historical prejudices that exist between the magical and non-magical worlds. It also underpins the division between those witches/wizards that believe they are superior and should rule over Muggles versus those who believe they should co-exist with Muggles.

Of the tales themselves, “The Fortune of Fair Fountain” is probably one of my favourites along with “The Tale of the Three Brothers” which is prophetic in nature and will be familiar to those who have read the Harry Potter series.

For die-hard fans who can’t get enough of all things Harry Potter, The Tales of Beedle the Bard will be a necessity for answering those obscure Potter trivia based on Rowling’s creation.

3.5 out of 5.