Tuesday morning, I received my highly anticipated early invite to Pottermore. Pottermore, if you haven't heard, is the new Harry Potter website with exclusive content and extra insight into the wizarding world, some of which is written by J. K. Rowling herself. It opens to the public in October, but from July 31 to August 6, fans were given the opportunity to win early access to the Beta. I was lucky enough to register on the second day, but wasn't actually allowed into the site until this morning.
I wasn't really sure what to expect. I knew the site would have extra details on the Harry Potter universe that weren't provided in the books, and that we'd be sorted into one of the Hogwarts houses, but I didn't know how it would be organized, or what there would be to do at the site. I'm still in the early stages and have much to explore, but I have to say I'm pleasantly impressed.
It starts out a bit slow. Pottermore follows the path of the books; it's nicely configured to be a companion to the books as you read through them. Chapter by chapter, it takes you to various key scenes (arrival at Privet Drive, the zoo, meeting Hagrid, etc.), allowing you to click around to explore each scene. If you click the right place, you can unlock some of the exclusive info, and you can also collect various items from the scenes, which I guess will have a purpose at some point. The images are lovely, but there doesn't seem to be that much to do in each scene, and you find yourself mousing around a lot, feeling like you must have missed something somewhere.
But things finally pick up when you get to Diagon Alley. There, you discover that you have a Gringotts vault stocked with Galleons, and you get to go shopping! You collect the supplies that you'll need for your first year of school, and you select a pet to take with you. I agonized over the pet choice, which also becomes your avatar. I knew I didn't want a toad, but choosing between the various varieties of owls and cats was hard. I had to walk away and come back a couple hours later before I was able to make the decision. In the end, I chose a black cat. When I first got there, I felt sure I'd buy an owl, because they're awesome as well as useful. But when I thought about it, the owls sit up in the owlery. If I want a pet to sit on my lap while I study in the dormitory common room, I need a cat.
The last step at Diagon Alley is to buy your wand. After a series of questions, none of which seem related to wands or wand materials, Ollivander declares what kind of wand has chosen you. Mine? Elm with unicorn core, ten and three quarter inches, unyielding. I have to say, I was unimpressed at first. I'm fine with unicorn hair, but elm seems a little uninteresting and I have no idea what I did to merit an unyielding wand. But really, I don't know what kind of wand I thought I should have instead. Oh well.
My first day in Pottermore ended with the Sorting Hat ceremony. I was very nervous, because I've long thought I'd be in Ravenclaw. I even have a sweet Ravenclaw Quidditch t-shirt. Gryffindor would be fine, too, but the others just didn't fit with how I see myself. The Sorting Hat asked a series of questions, but compared to other Sorting Hat quizzes I've seen online, it was much harder to tell how some of the answers would point you towards one house over another. That's a good thing, I think, because it discourages answering questions certain ways just to get into a certain house. After I'd answered a handful of questions, it suddenly declared RAVENCLAW! I was so happy and relieved.
I can't wait to explore more of Pottermore. Now that I have a house, I can try to learn spells and make potions to win points for my house. If you're in Pottermore, let me know your username so we can "friend" each other. Mine is WitchWillow140 (for those who don't know, they give you maybe five usernames to choose from when you register, so you don't get much freedom, though I like my name's association with Buffy the Vampire Slayer). I'm not sure what one does with friends on Pottermore other than track their progress, but seeing as I have none at the moment, I'd really like to find out!