In the past year, J.K. Rowling released a mystery novel under a pseudonym, signed a deal to write another screenplay set in the Harry Potter universe, and trolled her fans by suggesting that Hermione should have ended up with Harry instead of Ron. Now, Rowling has gone back to basics, publishing a new story on her Harry Potter website, Pottermore.
“History of the Quidditch World Cup” is just what it sounds like—a faux-academic chronicle of the quadrennial championship of Rowling’s famous made-up sport. The account, which is in the ballpark of 1,700 words, covers the rules and finer points of the tournament, which Rowling informs us has occurred every four years since 1473 (save for a hiccup in 1877).* Rowling also describes four “infamous tournaments,” including the 1994 tournament that Harry attends in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. (Part 2 of the history will be published next Friday, March 21.)
The arch tone of the new document will be familiar to anyone who remembers all the fake textbooks cited in the Harry Potter books. Take, for instance, this note about the International Confederation of Wizards Quidditch Committee’s regulations:
The rulebook concerning both on- and off-pitch magic is alleged to stretch to nineteen volumes and to include such rules as ‘no dragon is to be introduced into the stadium for any purpose including, but not limited to, team mascot, coach or cup warmer’ and ‘modification of any part of the referee’s body, whether or not he or she has requested such modification, will lead to a lifetime ban from the tournament and possibly imprisonment.
If this extract makes you smile, and you already have an account with Pottermore (which requires users to sign in), you should take a few minutes to read the rest. If you’re a casual Harry Potter fan who’s wondering whether it’s worth the time and effort to create an account for the sake of reading “History of the Quidditch World Cup,” know that you’re not missing anything important if you decide to skip this one. It’s a pleasant reminder of the dense richness of Rowling’s magical universe, but it’s not a must-read.
*Correction, March 14, 2014: This article originally estimated that part one of "History of the Quidditch World Cup" was around 1,000 words. It's closer to 1,700 words.