Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Why Harry Potter has an edge over A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones)



I loved the Harry Potter (HP) books and movies. I have just started reading the books in ‘A song of Ice and Fire’ (ASOIAF) series but I have watched every episode of the TV show Game of Thrones and am very familiar with the world created by George RR Martin – in short I am entitled to an opinion. True that the worlds are so different that’s its quite unfair to do so. But such comparisons have crept up. In some ways they were unavoidable because of the cultural phenomenonHarry-Potter-Logo-Wallpaper-HD-3 both have become in the last 15 years. My comparisons are more of a response to people who proclaim ASOIAF is better with funny arguments and I will try and debunk each of them.

1. ASOIAF is a complex world, HP is not.
2. HP Characters are black and white, while ASOIAF are gray.
3. HP is too comfy and feel good…and never gets gory like ASOIAF.
4. HP is predictive. But with ASOIAF You don’t know what to expect next.
5. The HP books are just a great escape. That’s why everyone likes them.

1. ASOIAF is a complex world, HP is not.

The first is true but HP world is fantastically complex. Where else before did we see so much magic in a world. Where newspapers spring to life; where a sorting hat decides where students go; where wizards have their own sport! Hogwarts was the creation of a genius. There is magic…so much magic. The story has so many arcs to it: friendship, coming of age, struggle, fighting against the dark forces, mysteries, riddles, ghosts…there really is SO MUCH and yet nothing feels out of place. There are stories like ASOIAF and the Stormlight Archive that seem because of the narration as more complex than HP – perhaps they are – but I attribute that to the number of elements involved. HP is not just complex, it’s bloody complex.

2. HP Characters are black and white, while ASOIAF are gray.

One common complaint is that the characters are not very gray. ASOIAF has made characters gray. HP starts when eleven year old Harry and his friends enter Hogwarts. Just how gray do you expect eleven year olds to be? They ended up breaking half the rules themselves (in spite of Hermione) and they each have conflicted emotions as the series progresses. Ex : Hermione stuns somebody so Ron could enter the Quidditch team. There is friction between their friendships at times. Everything is not hunky-dory.
What did you want them to do – go cut somebody with a knife over dinner in the great hall? Would that make it realistic? I don’t think so.
While we are still talking about the kids, Draco Malfoy is the classic gray character among the school mates. He is always bad-ass and yet when those moments came when he could have made himself a monster (before Dumbledore’s death for example), he quivered. He had some sanity deep down.
What about Snape?  And Dumbledore himself turned out to be a quirky character no?
It’s a classic good versus bad tale. That’s just the way it is. That doesn’t make the characters black and white. There is a difference. All characters have their own degrees of flaws. Just don’t assume that the definition of gray means to slit somebody’s throat every now and then.

3. HP is too soft and never gets gory like ASOIAF.

Yes it is feel good but don’t you want to feel good ? The feel good is very genuine and not forced by people trying to look cute. You like them because of the friendships, the adventures , magic, puzzles and Hogwarts! HP is primarily targeted toward a younger audience (observe here that it was equally well received by parents and grand parents alike). That is the genre it is in. ASOIAF sticks to what it is and never tries to mellow things down which is good for the spirit of the series and perhaps you like this feature. It is a good basis for liking one series but not for belittling the other. It is like going to a vegetarian restaurant and expecting a good chicken meal!

4. HP is predictive. But in ASOIAF you don’t know what to expect next.

Yep we don’t know when the next book in the ASOIAF is coming out do we 😉 On a serious note, what rubbish. It had become an obsession to predict how HP would end in the final book. Hundreds of critics gave their opinions and predictions using hints and their own intuition. But how many could predict Snape’s true story ? Or Dumbledore’s past ?
Or frankly who even expected Dumbledore to die in book 6? Or Sirius in book 5 ? Or that Ron’s rat was actually wormtail ? Or Crouch’s secret ? To call it predictable is insulting how intelligent the books actually are.

5. The HP books are just a great escape, that’s why everyone likes them.

Firstly I dislike the word escape for any fantasy, ASOIAF or HP. Both are fantasy works. They are meant to take you to different worlds. But why are there no other better escapes in other works? If the story was shallow, a smart reader would not feel they were escapes…he would feel foolish. If it is a great escape, it is a bloody good one.

So what does work for the HP series? Here is what I think:

1. JK is a better storyteller than Martin.

There is consistency in the HP series. Last I heard A Dance with the Dragons was heavily criticized for not moving the plot too forward. Martin’s style is to be descriptive but sometimes he tends to be over romantic about either the sex or the killing at the cost of the story.
There was no such catastrophic mistakes in HP books…ever. Even if it got a bit slow (book 6) there was still so much happening and so many loose ends being tied and it was more racy than ASOIAF. Seriously so much build about Winter and it hasn’t even come.

Update: It seems winter has finally come 🙂

2. Harry Potter blew everyone’s mind.

The world was something new, something fresh and so exciting and magical (agreed that while the concept of dark lords and wizards itself was not, the creation of an entire parallel universe and the incorporation of all these  concepts definitely was). One which you could touch and feel and almost live in.

3. It is feel good.

I remember being in a poor state of mind when I read Order of the Phoenix and it was so comforting and a great relief not because there is cute happiness all around but because the story was always moving forward, puzzles were exciting, the interaction between the characters was fun – these kept me gripped. I am not sure ASOIAF would have the same effect with its dragging and often morbid theme.

4. Harry Potter brought the magic back to books.

It quite simply changed the entire book world on it’s head. Hundreds of Thousands of copies booked even before the release date (mine included ). People from other languages learning English just to be able to read those books. It was not just a great book series that was widely acclaimed , it was an unprecedented phenomenon. It was not a small series, mind. It was not just a couple of books that did well. Each one of them did. Even after the hype.

5. Book for all Ages.

It is sad to classify it as a children’s book and that is what I feel when see Eragon, HP in the bookshelves of children. Fantasy is a better word. It appealed more in fact to the people in 20s and 30s not to mention the 40s and 50s…and yeah basically everyone! This is rare for any series. Any world with magic etc. can be shunned by a more adult audience but HP was loved. It was endearing but it was also very intriguing, adventurous and exciting!

6. Characters are Personal and their relationships are dynamic.

Any good story is about characters. I think every one of them, the students, the professors, the death eaters was so developed and all their lives well knitted together.

7. HP has so much of everything.

There is adventure, there is thrill, there is elements of intrigue expected of a fantasy, there is love, there is poetry, there is comedy and it also has it’s share of whodunnits. And each of these is spectacularly implemented.

Ending note

I hope my tone in this article is not mistaken. HP is not flawless and I really like ASOIAF. It is another step in being a more rounded reader. The world is pretty original and killing was actually quite common in the worlds similar to the ones in which it is set in (medieval times for example).
What I don’t like is the perversion that come with these books. Gore and deaths are one thing. They add a necessary dimension which makes them believable but the perversion in the books at times makes me want to quit them. If Tyrion dies, I pull the plug on this series.



A letter to people who think they know it all in the world of writing and books

Hi Pretentious Self-Assumed expert,

Let me start by introducing myself. I am pretty well read and what follows is not sarcasm. My favorite book series are Harry Potter, Twilight (Do I hear distaste already?) and books by Dan Brown. I could mention some more but I guess this is a good enough flamebait.
Ok fine Harry Potter is not the best book ever (if there is such a thing and if there was, it would have a good chance if it were up to me) but what is with the hate? Why did it take you seven books to realise you did not like it? Why are you supressing (or have conveniently forgotten) the exhilarating experience that it was. And don’t tell me you did not secretly enjoy Twilight. I mean I am a guy and I loved it. If I was a girl I may have bonkers even.
I was reading an article where Dan Brown was described as a poor writer and I thought to myself… really? The euphoria I got reading Dan Brown was pretty unmatched.
Closer to home people blast Chetan Bhagat. At this point I would like to ask you this?
‘What does it mean to be a good writer?’
And I think your explanation of this is going to be something like this:
‘He should make his words sing.’
‘Should use as few words to convey as much as possible with no repetitions.’
‘Structure should be good.’
‘Prose should be refined.’ etc…etc.

Dan Brown on Page number 8 wrote ….
‘The sky was blue-green’. What a poor writer. He should have written ‘The sky was the color of the light tinge of turquoise waters on a warm beach.’ You have a point there…but that’s about it. Prose is an integral part of writing but it is not writing itself.
The soul of writing to me is the narrative voice and plot. To me good writing is simply what pulls you right in and makes you want to finish reading. The reading does not come out of effort but simply being genuinely interested in the tale.
When you were told or read Cinderella you did not trip over the color of her slippers which were something like translucent blue crystal; you were more keen on knowing what happens next and how the story unfolds. And I think you are now going to say that, we have grown up with time hence our stories cannot be so simple and they should have more detail and blah…blah which is partly true but mostly rubbish. There is a reason why Harry Potter appealed to Everyone and not just kids. Even as adults our child like curiosity to stories remains. And I feel you have lost yours. Your obsession with prose has blinded your innate capacity to enjoy stories. As if it is the only means of measuring ‘good writing.’ I would say grow up dude but actually I will say, ‘don’t grow up.’
Recently my mom asked me, which novel she should read. And this got me thinking. She was asking for a novel and not the tinkles and magazines that she has read. There was a long pause and then I said, ‘Chetan Bhagat.’ I was half surprised by my own answer and for some reason even half-ashamed. What else could I suggest to a potential novel lover who really wants to have a good time with light prose. I could not suggest Harry Potter or Stephen King cause funnily enough their prose is a bit high. So I suggested something that makes for not only an easy but also an interesting read.

I am not a Chetan Bhagat fan but I am not his hater either. I read a couple of his novels and they were decent enough. Nothing more. Nothing less. Give him credit, atleast he’s honest with himself and not trying to be someone else. It’s easy to bitch and say he sucks (I have done it too) but that’s quite far from the truth and it is the equivalent of telling someone casually, ‘You know that TV show sucked’ while it might have genuinely entertained you.

Our best case scenario is a writer with superb prose in addition to a strong narrative voice as well as plot but that’s rare and even subjective.
If I had to choose between an average prose with beautiful plot and rich story telling ( Brandon Sanderson/ Harry Potter/Twilight/Dan Brown perhaps?) or between an epic prose (oddly enough I have ran out of words…haha not really I am just trying to make a point!) and a poor story I would choose the former everytime. I am not saying I am a good writer (by your definition I am not) but I did make you read this far… so that kinda proves my premise 🙂

Yours Sincerly,
Harry Potter Lover