HARVEY is more or less the host of the group of storytellers that has been meeting in the back parlor of the Hog’s Head for over two years now. There is a purpose behind this loose collection of narratives. Harvey wants to draw on the unique skills and background of each of the people in this hand-picked group. His plan: to break into Gringotts Wizarding Bank to steal something very special from the Vault of Yves the Leper. So far, Harvey’s storyline is still pretty thin, though he has appeared regularly since TMQ #7. You can pick up his thread especially in Nos. 60, 87, 97, and 98.
SPANKY, who first appeared as a mysterious cloaked wizard with a hood-shadowed face, had a big knife and an equally big air of menace. Eventually he turned out to be an agent of the Rogue Magic Bureau who, for reasons of his own, does not even bother to stay “undercover” among Harvey’s chosen band of would-be bank robbers. Spanky’s story, which is far from finished, dominated the earlier chapters of the Magic Quill before giving way, more and more, to Merlin’s tale. However, you can thrill to the story of this ambidextrous master of wizard duels, a.k.a. the “Double-Barreled Wizard,” in TMQ Nos. 1, 5, 7-8, 10-20, 22-27, 30, 40-44, 51-55, 62, 91, 96, and 98.
ILONA, Spanky’s life partner and mother of his sometimes-visible children, can only be seen by Spanky due to a genie’s curse visited on her by Spanky’s great enemy, Sid Shmedly. Ilona’ storyline is closely tied with Spanky’s, but you see the most of her in TMQ Nos. 11, 17, 25-27, 40, 53-55, 62, 91, and 98. Their children, named ALOYSIUS, ETHELFRIGGA, MARMADUKE, PERSEPHONE and BOB, can also be seen in TMQ Nos. 62, 91, 93, 95, and 97-98.
JOE ALBUQUERQUE, American wizard detective and master of disguise, has not yet revealed much about himself. However, he does figure in some of Spanky’s stories, particularly the Bette Noir saga. See TMQ Nos. 11, 13-16, 29-30, 88, 93, 95, and 97.
ENDORA, a witch who has stayed invisible most of the time, is the character we know the least about. What we do know mostly has to do with her rather large and amazingly accurate nose. Also, a relationship seems to be developing between Endora and Merlin. See TMQ Nos. 1, 78, 80, 89, 96, and 98.
SADIE is a pipe-smoking, hairy-legged, gravelly voiced, veiled witch with some eccentric ideas about property ownership (remind you of anyone?). At first the resemblance to Mundungus Fletcher was so strong that I wasn’t sure Sadie was a witch. But now that she has been seen without her veil, I guess we can all laugh that off and save our gender-identification anxiety for the bits featuring Uncle or Auntie Leslie. For some tales involving Sadie’s shady dealings, especially with an ethically challenged herbologist named MILES O’ROUGHAGE, see TMQ Nos. 1, 4, 7, 17, 52, 81-82, and 90.
MERLIN has evolved from a rough-spoken figure in an invisibility cloak to a silly-mask-wearing adventurer and wizard-of-fortune. His exploits, ranging from athletic competitions to lighthearted pranks to a 7-year-4-month-22-day ordeal in the bowels of Gringotts Bank, have gradually become the backbone of the Magic Quill. Follow the Merlin thread through TMQ Nos. 1, 9, 21, 31-33, 38-39, 46-49, 55-59, 63-68, 70-78, 82-84, and 86-87.
RIGEL is one of the wizards who shared Merlin’s ordeal in Gringotts, and the one who grew closest to Merlin in the process. For the record, the other wizards who helped Merlin in his escape included ANATOLY (the body art wizard), SLAVIK (now a Defensive Magic teacher at Durmstrang), KARL (the survival expert, married to one Heidi), JAAN (the wandwright), DON PAGLIAI (he of the purple hair), SUBITO (a dwarf clown who specializes in short-range Apparition), and BOCCACHIUSA (the wizard mime). These characters, plus Rigel’s father ORION, and assorted goblins with names like NAILSPIKE, CHOKECHAIN and DEWCLAW, have appeared in Nos. 31-33, 38-39, 46-49, 55-59, 63-68, 70-77, 79, 82-86, 88-93, 95, and 97.
BO DWYER, special correspondent for Broomstick and Wand Magazine, and sometime announcer on the Wizarding Wireless Network, first appeared in a flashback to the Owlympics when he interviewed Spanky and his nemesis Sid Shmedly. Since then, his guest columns and interviews have provided an occasional break from the steady development of one storyline or another. See TMQ Nos. 24, 61, 69, and 79 (in which we also meet his book-reviewing colleague, CICERO PICA).
NASAL DRIP is the wizarding world’s version of Spinal Tap. Fiendishly bad “cauldron punk” trio, consisting of three unrelated blokes named Edward Smith (though that may only be a stage name), Nasal Drip is also good for an occasional diversion from the main thread of The Magic Quill. Read about them in TMQ Nos. 7, 28, 45, 61, and 98.
RIDDLE TIME was a short-lived subfeature, back in Season One. It grew out of a couple of columns of open-ended Harry Potter trivia questions that I thought would “hold down the quill” during a vacation. It kept going for a while because more people wrote to me about the riddles than anything else in the Magic Quill. Nevertheless I am glad it’s over with, because in retrospect the “riddle” numbers are the weakest parts of the Magic Quill. Don’t believe me? See for yourself in TMQ Nos. 34-48.
Now that we’ve covered the major threads of the Magic Quill, here is a quick-reference guide to the minor characters who have come and gone...
Not all of the characters were created by the Magic Quill. The LANDLORD of the Hog’s Head, whose identity as Aberforth Dumbledore was broadly hinted even before JKR confirmed it, appeared in several early installments of TMQ, plus Nos. 51 and 78. HARRY POTTER himself has appeared as a baby, along with his parents, the “Marauders,” and their friends: see TMQ Nos. 2, 42, 44, and 53-54.
More baddies.... The first name of the Dark wizard FINSTERWALD was revealed in TMQ No. 6. Spanky’s schoolboy nemesis SID SHMEDLY turned up in TMQ Nos. 7-8, 10, 17-20, 22-27, and 40. An evil conspiracy was revealed (for the only time) in No. 12. The saga of BETTE NOIR played out in TMQ Nos. 13-16. Androgynous creep UNCLE OR AUNTIE LESLIE reared his or her horrible head in Nos. 32 and 63-64; the last Magic Quill Survey indicated that LESLIE was the character who left most readers “completely cold.” Death Eaters OREL and EUSTACE plotted against the Potters in TMQ Nos. 40-44 and 53-54. And who can forget IL COMTE di Bestemmia, a.k.a. Signore Maledicto, who along with his faithful house-elf OMBRA has waged a comical war of evil against our good guys. First seen making a love speech about himself, Il Comte has appeared in Nos. 74-77, 86, 88, 90, and 94.
+++ FREE BONUS! +++
Now it’s time for a pop quiz. Let’s see how carefully you have been reading the first two years’ worth of The Magic Quill. For each question you get right, 1 sickle will be donated to the March of Galleons, funding research for the prevention and treatment of Squibbism.
DIRECTIONS: Consider it an “open scroll” test; feel free to hunt for the answers. It may not be easy, but the answers will be revealed next week. Keep track of your own answers and grade your own work. Please, do not send Robbie your answers through the Feedback System. Also, please, do not spoil the answers for everybody in the discussion forum.
- Name a house-elf who works at the Hog’s Head.
- Name the nurse who used to look after Spanky’s children.
- Name a thestral and the dealer who sold it to Rigel.
- Name Bette Noir’s butler.
- Name Spanky’s hometown and the wealthy wizard who protects it.
- Name the goblin who ate the most wizards on record.
- Name all three members of an Owlympic dueling team.
- What does ETHF stand for?
- Name an agent of the RMB who went bad (hint: the jury is still out on Spanky).
- Name the proprietor of the Used Broom Shed.
- Name the pub at the finish line of a long-distance broom race.
- Name an astronomer who could turn into an eagle.
- Name the first Death Eater to make an attempt on Lily Potter’s life.
- What musician is known as the Wizard of Pop?
- What is Spanky Spankison’s real name?
- Who preceded Karkaroff as head of Durmstrang?
- Who was the founding chairman of Gringotts?