On the cold London night of Thursday 15th March in the year of magic 2018, witches, wizards and muggles from all the land were invited to an evening of witchcraft and wizardry to celebrate the launch of the perennial favourite of lovers of broom-based sport lore, Kennilworthy Whisp’s Quidditch Through the Ages.
Now coming to life as an audiobook to bring the history of that most beloved magical pastime to a new dimension, for one evening the 18th century church of LSO St Luke’s with it’s prominent obelisk spire near London’s Old Street, a favoured venue of the London Symphony Orchestra, was converted from a Grade I listed building into a Quidditch arena in celebration of the launch.
“Although people rarely died playing Quidditch, referees had been known to vanish and turn up months later in the Sahara Desert.”
With three goals stood on a stadium backdrop and a huge Golden Snitch hanging above the crowds and four sets of seating surrounding the auditorium, the guests were introduced to Mike Richards and Jennie McCann speaking on behalf of Pottermore and Audible.
Pottermore Publishing is the entertainment and news company for J K Rowling’s Wizarding World, and they highlighted the charity work of Lumos, an organisation which works to end the need for orphanages and make care within a family a global reality for all children by 2050.
Named for the spell which brings light to darkness, Lumos works to reunite children with families and Pottermore will make a proportion of the proceeds from this audiobook available to Lumos and to Comic Relief, both organisations which help some of the world’s most vulnerable children and young people to have a better life.
Around the space were a wonderful selection of historical objects from the wizarding world, from the Golden Snitch used by Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010), Draco Malfoy’s Nimbus 2001 from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) as flown by Tom Felton and other assorted Bludgers, Beaters and magical memorabilia.
With amazing sound quality which has become a staple of Audible’s dramas, the lights dimmed and guests listened to a selection of the history of Quidditch revealing how in less enlightened times wizards used to chase a small bird called a Golden Snidget.
The cruelty of this was fought by Madam Modesty Rabnott, her accounts of which are brought to life by Andrew Lincoln in throughly entertaining fashion, the target eventually being changed from the near extinct Snidget to the Golden Snitch with which modern witches and wizards are familiar.
With a light show near magical in itself, the main event of the evening began, a commentary from the heart of the 2014 Quidditch World Cup Final by the Quidditch correspondent of The Daily Prophet herself, Ginny Potter (voiced by Imogen Church) and trash talker and general disgrace to the wizarding world Rita Skeeter (performed superbly by Annette Badland).
The audio event was incredible and immersive with the sounds of witches and wizards, Quaffles and Snitches flying around the venue from the thirty-eight speakers surrounding the delighted audience. Throughout, the incredible light show accompanied the sound of the match giving the impression of the game happening just out of sight.
For fans whose love of the magical world is more based on characters than the sport, the commentary gave frequent updates from the lives of famous and familiar people of the wizarding world, and while Ms Skeeter would give her particular slant, Mrs Potter née Weasley would be on hand to correct, sometimes physically, her colleague’s bias.
The event was great fun and gave a sample of the truly entertaining nature of Audible’s Quidditch Through the Ages. What could easily have been a dull sports book is instead an entertaining history mixed with thrilling snippets of information on beloved characters with great performances.
Andrew Lincoln, BAFTA Nominated star of The Walking Dead, narrates with lots of character the various historical figures of the magical world while Imogen Church is superb, really capturing the energy of Ginny Potter and the friction with Annette Badland’s self-serving Rita Skeeter.
The rest of the book offering insights such as the invention of the flying broomstick, the common fouls, the spread of Quidditch worldwide and many other topics to keep the Quidditch fan enthralled, and as has come to be expected Audible’s production values are superb, giving listeners another chance to be swept away into the rich world of J K Rowling’s magical imagination.
“The full list of these fouls, however, has never been made available to the wizarding public. It is the Department’s view that witches and wizards who see the list ‘might get ideas.’”