Sunday, 19 June 2011

Review - James Potter And The Hall Of Elders' Crossing, by G. Norman Lippert

Summary; Harry Potter's kid goes to Hogwarts, tries to maintain an identity away from that of his father, discovers a group named the Progressive Element that is trying to paint the long-dead Voldemort as a good guy and uncovers a plot to raise Merlin.

What's it like to be the son of the most famous wizard of all time? James Potter thinks he knows, but as he begins his own adventure at Hogwarts, he discovers just how much of a challenge it really is to live up to the legend of the great Harry Potter. As if it wasn't enough dealing with the delegates from the American wizarding school and figuring out the mysteriously polite Slytherins, James and his new friends, Ralph and Zane, begin to uncover a secret plot that could pit the Muggle and Magical worlds against each other in all out war. 

One of the more well-known Next Generation Harry Potter fan-fictions, G. Norman Lippert's James Potter Series became (in?)famous through posting his fanfiction novel on a flashy website of his own making - a website that was so flashy that it got mistaken for an official project by JKR or Warner Brothers. Hits to his website went up to several thousand, and before he knew it, he was a big name in Next Gen fandom. (Not bad for a guy who didn't even know what it meant.)

His story doesn't quite live up to his brilliant website, although its clear Lippert has some talent. The characterization is great fun; less so from James, who is fair enough but reads like a mini, less-angsty Harry, but Ralph Deedle, a shy, large, awkward Slytherin, and American Zane Walker, a funny and outgoing Ravenclaw, are hugely entertaining OCs. Zane in particular had the potential to be hugely irritating, but he was done well and became likable. Ralph was the most lovable and human out of the three, and to be honest, I found him the most interesting, especially his Big Reveal at the end. Kudos to Lippert for creating a human and sympathetic Slytherin character. I was less certain on James himself though; he is likable enough in his insecurities, and the paragraphs about him on the train and at the Sorting, worrying about living up to his father, were touching enough and made James quite human, but they dragged on far too long. His reasons for not telling his father about the problems going on at Hogwarts became convoluted after a while, as did the constant refrain of "we can't tell the adults until we've got more proof!" James's failure on a broom, however, created a lot of sympathy for him and he does become a fairly decent protagonist.

Supporting characters too were entertaining. Ben Franklyn, I'm guessing, was a real base-breaker, but to be honest, I loved him, he was great fun. Teddy, Petra and the Gremlins gang were occasionally off at times - the parts where they shared rooms and classes with James & co were annoying, and I wasn't fussed about Raise The Wocket - but I more or less grew to enjoy them.

Tabitha Corsica, however, was less convincing as a villainous character. I was genuinely interested in the Progressive Element part of the story, and the real life connotations with giving a historical villain a more positive image. Unfortunately, Tabitha, whilst having an interesting morality, is a one-note character; she has no real motivation for giving Voldemort a better image. I hope this was elaborated on in the later books, since I genuinely liked this component of the story.

I could say less for the other major component of the plot. Merlin-reincarnation plots are overdone, and to be honest, annoying, and this story didn't do much with the basic formula. (I did, however, quite enjoy the revelation about Ralph's wand).

Technomancy, too, I'm guessing, is another large divider. Honestly, I don't see the point in describing all the physics of magic - it won't work, and it's a recipe for all sorts of continuity issues. It also slows down the plotting of the story; more interesting social and political elements are put on hold for long and doomed descriptions of magical mechanics.

Unfortunately, long, clumsy descriptions and expositions are something of a hallmark in Elders' Crossing. The Prologue, whilst being a nice shout-out to Reservoir Dogs, drags on for far, far, too long, and once you find out that much of it doesn't bear importance to the plot, a reader feels cheated. the technical skills here are few and far between - the plotting was far to slow, and long paragraphs felt awkward. Seriously, this would've been a much better story if Lippert had done some editing. The climax suffers from this; it's by far the weakest part of the story, and doesn't much involve the social and historical ramifications of the Progressive Element - a real shame, as its by far the most interesting part of the story.

Looking back on the review, it does come off is more harsh than I intended. I did enjoy it, even with my reservations, and I feel that Lippert has real potential talent as a writer. It was light and humorous, with some great comedic moments and could be really funny. There were some real touching moments, especially with the ghost of a certain canon character. Whilst some ideas were unimpressive, the Progressive Element was properly original. All in all, I enjoyed this, but it's always apparent that Lippert is here a first time writer.

3/5. It's clumsily written and it's clear that this is Lippert's first foray into writing. However, he some natural ability, his love for the series comes through, and with some more practice, he will become a pretty good writer. (Curse Of The Gatekeeper is on my fanfiction reading list).


  1. I tend to agree with you assessment and review of the James Potter series first book, I have read all four that have been written as of now and while I very much enjoyed them, some things have made that enjoyment a little less. I totally agree about trying to explain magic with pseudo science - it takes the wonder and mystery out of magic and in his later books creating different kinds of magic takes the story out of the Rowling created world into some place different as does his vision of a wizarding city sitting on top of New York City, wizard armies, wizard pirates, and seeming to say that world population is close to doubled by equal numbers of wizards/witches and muggles. This is crossing way out of the world that Rowling envisioned. A little quirk of Mr Lippert's writing which drives me nuts is his used of "narrowed his eyes" or some variation of that every couple of pages, he needs to find a different description rather than repeating this one so many times. With this being said, I do enjoy Mr. Lippert's stories and his ability to keep a reader's attention and I hope he continues the series to the end.