Dumbledore Talks To The Sorting Hat

December 2, 2014
A little something I’ve been fooling around with that I thought you all might enjoy.

Mark Terry

Dumbledore Talks To The Sorting Hat
By Mark Terry
            Professor Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft & Wizardry, approached the entrance to his office, which was just down Gargoyle Corridor in the Headmaster’s Tower. An enormous ugly gargoyle hid the entrance. Under his arm he carried an ancient, tattered and patched black hat.
            “Fizzing Whizzbees,” he murmured.
            The gargoyle moved aside to reveal a stone staircase guarded by a statue of a phoenix. The staircase spiraled upward.
            Stepping onto the stairs, Dumbledore rode it upward, gathering his midnight blue robe around his legs so as not to get caught in the door.
            Dumbledore’s office was a large circular room. Filled with bookcases and books, and a vast assortment of magical instruments on spindle-legged tables, they twirled and whirled, creaked and cranked, and puffed small clouds of steam and smoke into the air. Along the walls hung portraits of previous headmasters. Most of them were currently asleep, gentle snores filling the room.
            Dumbledore set the hat on the edge of his desk and seated himself behind it in his large high-backed chair. With a wave of his wand, he conjured a cut-glass goblet of scotch. Studying the hat, he took a sip.
            A slit in the hat appeared and it spoke. “Ah, Professor Dumbledore. Want a word, do you?”
            “You are very astute,” Dumbledore said with a nod toward the hat.
            “Thank you, sir. I am, although I am but a hat.”
            Eyes twinkling, a small smile twitched at the corners of Dumbledore’s mouth. “I assume you know what I wish to discuss.”
            “Harry Potter, would be my guess.”
            “Yes, indeed.”
            “And his sorting.”
            “You are, after all, the Sorting Hat.”
            Bestowed with ancient magic by the founders of Hogwarts, Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin, the Sorting Hat was able to peer into the minds and souls of students, recognize their greatest talents and tendencies, and sorted them into the school’s four houses, based on the traits the four founders of the schools valued most.
            “Indeed I am.”
            “You sorted him into Gryffindor House,” Dumbledore said, watching the hat closely.
            “I did. “
            “It was very difficult. Plenty of courage. Not a bad mind. Talent. And a thirst to prove himself.”
            Peering at the hat over his glasses, Dumbledore said, “You appeared to have a lengthy conversation with the boy during his sorting. Usually you make decisions quickly.”
            “Many choices are obvious.”
            “Are they?” Dumbledore asked idly. “I would not think so. They are, after all, only eleven years old. Hardly fully formed. Many will change over the course of their years here at Hogwarts. Their experiences, their friendships, their successes, their failures … all will mold them into who they will become.”
            “Are you questioning my abilities, Dumbledore?”
            “No one, myself included, completely understands how you do what you do.”
            “Magic. Magic created by four of the greatest magicians who ever existed.”
            “Indeed. So, perhaps, we can discuss Harry Potter.”
            One of the former Headmasters, Phineas Nigellus, in one of the portraits, woke up with a start and leaned forward to listen closer. 
            “Of course. As is your want.”
            “Why Griffindor? Why was it difficult?”
            “Why not, perhaps, Slytherin?” the hat said slyly.
            Phineas Nigellus coughed discreetly.
            “Quite right,” Dumbledore said, taking another sip of scotch. “Directly to the point.”
            “I think he would do very well in Slytherin.”
            “Do you? Then why did you not place him there?”
            “Do you remember your own sorting, Dumbledore?”
            “Like it was yesterday,” Dumbledore said, the tips of his mouth curving slightly upward in a smile once more.
            “Your intellect is considerable.”
            “Thank you.”
            “You are acting modest about your intellect, Dumbledore, when we both know you are one of the most brilliant wizards who ever lived.”
            “And you’ve evaluated most of them.”
            “I have. And yet I sorted you into Griffindor. Not Ravenclaw.”
            “Ah,” said Dumbledore. “There is that. Have we not discussed this before?”
            “Perhaps,” the hat said, “you placed that memory in the pensieve and wish to evaluate it again before we continue our chat?”
            “No, no, I don’t believe so. Go on.” He thought to himself, And somehow the founders gave the Sorting Hat a wry sense of humor. He wondered which of them introduced that element.
            “You understand, Dumbledore, that the sorting takes into consideration more than talents and abilities.”
            “Just so.”
            “Yes. So although by your intellect, Ravenclaw would have made a great deal of sense, I was aware of other things battling with your brains, so to speak. Your courage. Your arrogance—yes, you would have done well in Slytherin at that age, were it not for your kindness.”
            A derisive cough from the portrait.
            “Perhaps,” Dumbledore said, gaze far off.
            “Yes,” the Hat said. “Would you care to place me on your head and re-sort you?”
            “I don’t believe so, no.”
            The Sorting Hat let out a soft chuckle.  “Few would, ultimately. Their identities often become linked to their House.”
            Dumbledore looked sharply at the Sorting Hat. “Yes, you’re right. Surely you don’t mean—“
            “In fact, I do mean exactly that, Dumbledore. Part of what the founders—not all of them certainly, but Rowena Ravenclaw, Helga Hufflepuff and Godric Gryffindor, yes—imparted to me is the possibility of seeing how their Houses will influence the extraordinary gifts they have.” And the Sorting Hat let out another low chuckle.
            “Something amusing?” Dumbledore asked. He raised the goblet and swallowed half the scotch. He considered refilling it, but no, it was rather early in the school year for that.
            “I considered putting you into Hufflepuff to take some of the starch out of that ego of yours, Dumbledore. Yes, yes. That would have been interesting.”
            Dumbledore’s eyes narrowed.
            The Sorting Hat said, “Never you mind, Dumbledore. You went where you belonged. As did Tom Riddle.”
            Leaning back in the large chair, Dumbledore tapped his fingers together in front of him. “And why do you bring up Tom Riddle?”
            “You know quite well why I bring up Tom Riddle,” the Hat said. “Because you wish to discuss Harry Potter. And it is Tom Riddle who tried to kill him as a baby. And who was … diverted as a result.”
            “And do Tom Riddle and Harry Potter share other things?”
            “I told Potter he would do well in Slytherin.”
            “And yet you placed him Gryffindor.”
            “He was difficult. Talent and a thirst to prove himself.”
            “Common traits in all our Houses, in many ways.”
            “Talent, of course. Some more than others. That thirst, that ambition, Dumbledore, that takes many forms. Slytherins, of course, want to dominate.”
            “Yes, often at any costs.”
            A grunt from Phineas Nigellus. Dumbledore ignored the portrait. His clever devices puffed and twirled and clanked. A quick glance around the room showed Dumbledore that many more of the former Headmasters in the portraits had awoken and were listening to the conversation.
            “Indeed. Your ethical mind and your kindness kept you out of Slytherin.”
            “Oh, please,” muttered Phineas Nigellus.
            “But not Tom Riddle,” Dumbledore said, long finger stroking the goblet.
            “There was no doubt whatsoever where Tom Riddle belonged. No more than when a Weasley shows up.”
            “All in Griffindor.”
            “Never underestimate a Weasley, Dumbledore. You have a new one.”
            “Ronald, yes. He was sitting next to Potter.”
            “Together I believe they will go far. Oh yes.”
            “I’m glad to hear it. But what did you see—“
            “Potter did not want to be in Slytherin.”
            Picking up the goblet, Dumbledore finished off his scotch. He continued to hold the empty goblet.
            “He was quite adamant on that, kept whispering ‘not Slytherin, not Slytherin.’”
            “Did he?”
            “Would I lie, Dumbledore?”
            “I do not believe so. So Young Mister Potter made the choice to be in Gryffindor.”
            “No,” the Sorting Hat said. “He made the choice not to be in Slytherin. He would not have been appropriate in either Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff. He does not have that keen intellect for Ravenclaw and mark my words, he would not fit in Hufflepuff. He has a fine mind, certainly, and plenty of ability, but he is not the scholarly type one expects in Ravenclaw. It was either Slytherin or Gryffindor.”
            “And had he not been insistent on exclusion from Slytherin?”
            “Ah. A toss-up, I believe. He has been abused, Dumbledore. With that kind of neglect and abuse, he could have gone either way. He could have become a victim or an abuser, but I do not think he will. No,” the Hat said musingly. “I think we can expect great things of Mr. Potter. Terrible things, perhaps. He has that potential in him. But I think not. I think Gryffindor will be best for him.”
            “And it was what he wanted.”
            “Great and courageous.”
            Phineas Nigellus let out a loud, not-quite-believable snore.
            “Thank you,” Dumbledore said. “You have been insightful.”
            Dumbledore reached to take the Sorting Hat off his desk and place it on its shelf, when he thought, “This question of where to sort students. Do you often run into students who you strongly feel would go into one House, but for a mix of reasons choose another?”
            “Happened twice today, Dumbledore. It’s common, but not that common. Malfoy, he was instantly Slytherin. Weasley, just as easily into Gryffindor.”
            “Who was the questionable student?” Dumbledore asked, curiosity, one of his great strengths and weaknesses, getting the better of him.
            “Hermione Granger.”
            “Indeed. Her parents are Muggles.”
            “Dentists, I believe. But she has an intellect that would have rivaled yours back in the day, Dumbledore.”
            “And yet…”
            “Not Ravenclaw,” the Hat said. “Yes, I thought she would fit there. But like you, there was something else…” the Hat trailed off.
            “Sometimes I hear their voices,” the Sorting Hat said.
            “Whose voices?” Dumbledore asked, leaning forward. In all his many discussions with the Sorting Hat over the years, the Sorting Hat had never mentioned voices.
            “The founders. Slytherin, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff.”
            “And you heard their voices?”
            “I heard Godric Gryffindor speak briefly when I was placed on the Granger girl’s head.”
            “And what did he say?” Dumbledore asked, curious, perplexed, and a little surprised. And very, very intrigued.
            “He said, ‘She is a true Gryffindor.’”
            “And most unusual.”
            “Was there more?”
            “No, Dumbledore. That is all.”
            “Good night then.”
            “Adieu,” the Hat said, as Dumbledore flashed his wand, levitating the hat off his desk and onto its shelf.
            Dumbledore studied the empty goblet for a moment, then twirled his wand. It refilled with scotch. To Fawkes, his phoenix, Dumbledore said, “What do you think, Fawkes?”
            But the bird had nothing to say.

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.