100,000 Page Views… Thank you

Expecto Patronum! crossed 100,000 page views tonight.

I was pretty certain it was going to happen today, but I was still a bit surprised when I looked at the stats and saw that the blog was now showing 100,010 page views. Not bad for a blog that started out as a post-DH brain dump!

For the longest time, the blog’s most popular page was Battle of Hogwarts Anniversary. That surprised me at first because I wrote the post in about 15 minutes. Most posts – or at least the analytical ones – take hours to write. Judging by the search terms in my stats, I think a lot of visitors were looking for the fanart featured in that post and stumbled across my blog.

Lately, though, the blog’s top page views have been the ones pertaining to Snape’s Logic Puzzle – or (in Google Search Term Lingo) the “Potions Puzzle Pottermore.”

The blog post again took about 15 minutes to write, but Solving Snape’s Logic Puzzle – the permanent page that the post points toward – took a good number of hours.

I wrote the page while doing the PS/SS re-read over a year ago, and I wrote it actually as a companion piece to the re-read post An Ounce of Logic, which was just getting too long. Solving the puzzle based entirely on the rhyme (and without being able to look at the bottle layout) was great fun because it was an opportunity to go all super-mega-ueber-geeky!

Because it is so geeky, Solving Snape’s Logic Puzzle got maybe an average of 3 page views per day in the year before Pottermore opened for Beta testing. But now – now that you actually have to solve the Logic Puzzle to advance in Pottermore – the hard work I spent solving the puzzle and writing about it last year has finally paid off. The average page views per day for that single page have jumped about 3000% since August 15… and who knows what the percentage will be come October, when Pottermore opens to the public. After all, the solution is already laid out, and people are looking for a quick way of solving the problem.

I can’t really think of a better way to celebrate the 100,000 milestone than by knowing that some of my personal favorite work on Expecto Patronum! has caught on and taken us over the mark.

So thank you, everybody who’s reading, for visiting and supporting this blog. :)

Pottermore: I Just Solved Snape’s Logic Puzzle

Sorry I’ve disappeared into Pottermore for the past couple of days. I will be back tomorrow, I think – or possibly Monday – to write up my general thoughts.

In the meantime, I just wanted to let everybody know that on Pottermore, you will have an opportunity to solve Snape’s Logic Puzzle. And when you get to that point in the story, you will find that one of my two final solutions is correct. :)

If you have visited Solving Snape’s Logic Puzzle, then you will know that figuring out the single final solution is impossible without actually seeing the layout of the bottles. You can only narrow it down to two potential positions for the “Forward” potion. (No such problem exists for the “Backward” potion).

I’m not going to reveal right now which one of my two solutions is the correct one. I’d like to give you an opportunity to solve the puzzle for yourself when you get to Pottermore.  But I will say this: while it was a solution I anticipated, it was not the solution I expected… though I think it was kind of the solution I was hoping for.

Feel free to use my Logic Puzzle notes when you get to Pottermore. Goodness knows I did!

Pottermore “Thank Yous”

In one of its final tweets before the waiting began, hp_batsignal wrote:

If there’s one thing that defines the #HP fandom it’s our ability to bridge differences & work together and the Bat Signal is proof of that.

After having seen some pretty nasty fan factions and fanwars, it has truly been refreshing this past week to watch fans work together to help other fans gain early access into Pottermore.

After the Magic Quill challenge rules went live on the Pottermore website (about 2am BST, July 31), one forum member at Chamber of Secrets posted her email from LeakyCon giving out the basic timing for Clue #1 and telling us the Chapter we needed to look at.

That member is a James fan. I’m a Severus fan. It just didn’t matter. Her post gave me – and all the other HP fans on that thread – hope that we could, indeed, make it through the Magic Quill challenge together and gain early access into Pottermore. By early morning, most of us had. That experience inspired my blogging during this past week.

So on that note, I’d like to thank some folks who helped with this experience along the way.

A Special “Thank You” to..

  • The folks at Chamber of Secrets – and particularly the member who posted her letter from LeakyCon and the Admin who let me know that, yes, the CoS servers could handle the load if I linked to the site from here. :)
  • A couple of CoS members who helped with specific numbers that I suggested here as potential clues:  ardnaxela (who told me that the photo of the original Order of the Phoenix could be found in “The Woes of Mrs. Weasley” – Day 5 Hints), and Wren (who suggested the number of potions Professor Slughorn offered his N.E.W.T. students as a possible number – Day 6 Hints). We didn’t end up needing either of those numbers, but it’s always good to have as many numbers as possible on hand when suggesting potential clues. :)
  • Random tweeters who let people know about this blog… and especially…
  • Jess at The Last Muggle, who tweeted the Day 5 Hints, gave me a tip about hp_batsignal in one of the Comments threads, and mentioned this site on her blog. If you don’t read Jess, please do. She writes one of my favorite Harry Potter blogs.

What We’re Most Excited About…

So now, time to talk about the Pottermore features we’re most excited about…

The Sorting:
I’m excited – and nervous – about the Sorting. I want to be in Ravenclaw or Gryffindor.

I’m a Ravenclaw on Mugglenet Interactive, a Gryffindor on Chamber of Secrets, and I “test” all over the map on various unofficial Sorting tests. In fact, in the time it took me to write this paragraph, I tested across the Web as Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff!

But please, Sorting Hat, I beg of you… do not put me in Hufflepuff.

The Wand:
I’m thrilled at the prospect of getting a wand. I’m kind of hoping that my username will help me get a wand with a Phoenix tail feather core. Not because I think I’m Harry Potter (and especially not Tom Riddle!), but just because I really love the Phoenix. Second choice: Unicorn tail hair. I’d prefer not to end up with Dragon Heartstring.

There are supposed to be 33,000 different wand combinations, so I think there’s a possibility that we might have additional cores beyond the three that Ollivander makes. But then, we are buying our wands at Ollivanders, so…

The Logic Puzzle:
If you’ve roamed this site, then you probably know that I’ve posted an almost complete solution of Snape’s Logic Puzzle (the puzzle that guards the Philosopher’s Stone). The reason the solution is almost complete is that, without a visual cue, we can only get down to the last two bottles with any certainty.

Well, finally, to the rescue… There is a photo supposedly leaked from Pottermore showing the exact arrangement of the bottles in the puzzle. If that photo leak is for real – and not just a clever piece of fanart – then we will soon have our complete solution!

New Content:
We know that we’re finally going to learn more about some of the Houses – especially Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. We’re going to get some McGonnagall backstory and some Dursley backstory. We’re going to get a lot of wandlore. And probably plenty of other material. So far, JKR has written about 19,000 additional words for Pottermore.

So what is some of the new content that you’re hoping to see? And what are some of the Pottermore features you’re most excited about?

Let us know in the Comments thread. :)

(And btw… Actually, this Severus fan gets along just fine with the James fan who posted the LeakyCon message… but the point is that a lot of fans have reached across their differences this past week just to help out other fans. YAY!).

The Task Most Made of Awesome?

I can’t believe it’s been Saturday since I last posted… but then again, I can. My husband’s out of town, and I’ve been running around all over the place, and today I had to keep the kitties calm while they were locked in a room because workmen were installing a furnace.

So, before we move on, let’s take a poll!

Which House Head’s task beyond the Trap Door is most made of awesome… and why?

Please explain your choice in the Comments thread!

I’ll be back to check after I’ve had a chance to see this Alan Rickman movie that’s been in my queue forever. Something called Sense and Sensibility.

ETA: I just remembered… some of you are dropping in randomly and haven’t read the last four posts! So if you need a refresher on the tasks, here you go…

And with that, I really will go watch my Rickman / Austen movie. :)

An Ounce of Logic

“Brilliant,” said Hermione. “This isn’t magic – it’s logic – a puzzle. A lot of the greatest wizards haven’t got an ounce of logic, they’d be stuck in here forever.”

Snape’s logic puzzle guards the chamber where the Mirror of Erised guards the Stone. And curiously, it is his task, not that of the Deputy Headmistress, that stands right next to Dumbledore’s – perhaps giving an early hint of the extent to which Albus Dumbledore trusts Severus Snape.

Additionally, the logic puzzle wins Hermione’s admiration… and for the first time in the text, we get a hint that there might be more to Snape than what is circumscribed by Harry’s feelings.

But Hermione is also partially wrong. There is magic involved in the task… just not in the solution to the puzzle.

More Magic Than Advertised

The Trio is trapped in a chamber – between purple flame on one side and black flame on the other. The flames, obviously, were conjured by a spell Snape cast.

There are 7 bottles, 5 of which contain wine or poison – concoctions that can be created by Muggles. However, the 2 bottles that will actually get the drinker through the magically-conjured flames contain potions that could only have been brewed by persons with magic powers.

Rowling herself makes this clear in the following Q&A:

Q: Can Muggles brew potions if they follow the exact instructions and they have all the ingredients?

Rowling: Well, I’d have to say no, because there is always … there is a magical component to the potion, not just the ingredients. So, at some point you’re going to have to use a wand. I [have] been asked what would happen if a Muggle picked up a magic wand in my world. And the answer would probably be something accidental … possibly quite violent. Because a wand, in my world, is merely a vehicle — a vessel for what lies inside the person.


But, you’re right. Potions seems, on the face of it, to be the most Muggle-friendly subject. But there does come a point where you need to do more than stir.

So potions are part of magic. They are not created by mechanically brewing the right ingredients in the right proportions. They involve the use of a wand. And even if a Muggle were to put the same ingredients into a cauldron in the right proportions at the right temperature for the right amount of time, the end result would still not be the right potion.

The task, then, does involve more magic than Hermione lets on. Magic flames guard the doors, and magical potions get the drinker through those doors. But a maze of non-magical logic guards the potions that conquer the flames.

The Logic Puzzle

Snape’s logic puzzle is solvable. In fact, we’ve been discussing the solution in the Comments to the previous post.

Mad, one of the commenters, has pointed out an elaborate solution at the Harry Potter Lexicon. Iggy and I have discussed our solutions, and I have written up the details of my solution on a page here called “Solving Snape’s Logic Puzzle.” (If you take that link now, you can skip down this page to A Slytherin Task? when you return).

The poster at HPL, Iggy, and I all arrived at the same solution, by the way. But before we discuss the solution, let’s first take a look at the puzzle itself!

Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,
Two of us will help you, whichever you would find,
One among us seven will let you move ahead,
Another will transport the drinker back instead,
Two among our number hold only nettle wine,
Three of us are killers, waiting hidden in line.
Choose, unless you wish to stay here forevermore,
To help you in your choice, we give you these clues four:
First, however slyly the poison tries to hide
You will always find some on nettle wine’s left side;
Second, different are those who stand at either end,
But if you would move onward, neither is your friend;
Third, as you see clearly, all are different size,
Neither dwarf nor giant holds death in their insides;
Fourth, the second left and the second on the right
Are twins once you taste them, though different at first sight.

Okay, my eyes glaze over with bad verse (and sorry, but whatever else he is, Severus Snape is not a master versifier).

But when I finally managed to get my eyes in focus, here’s what I took away from the first half of the poem: one bottle will move you ahead (line 3), one will send you back (line 4), two hold nettle wine (line 5), three hold poison (line 6). Or, as Hermione sums it up quite succinctly:

“Seven bottles: three are poison; two are wine; one will get us safely through the black fire, and one will get us back through the purple.”

And, of course, if you don’t make a choice, you’re stuck in the chamber forever between the purple flame and the black. Nice.

Now, let’s look at the clues that help Hermione make her choice.

  1. There is always poison to the left of nettle wine (lines 9-10)
  2. The bottles on either end of the line contain different contents, but neither will move you forward (lines 11-12)
  3. The smallest and largest bottles do not contain poison (lines 13-14)
  4. The second from the left and the second from the right are housed in different-sized bottles, but they hold the same contents (lines 15-16)

I’m going to cut to the chase and offer my solution right now:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Poison Wine x y Poison Wine Backward

If you want to see how I arrived at this solution (and why there are still unsolved variables in the sequence), you can go to the solution in “Solving Snape’s Logic Puzzle.”

A Slytherin Task?

Severus Snape is, of course, the Slytherin Head of House.

We don’t learn until CoS that Slytherin is associated with Pureblood Supremacy… and we don’t learn until HBP that Snape is not a Pureblood… but the Half-Blood son of a Muggle father. In DH, we also learn that the Muggle slum of Spinner’s End is not merely where Snape sets up shop during the summer. It is the place where he grew up. So where did he acquire his capacity for logic?

If most Wizards, as Hermione suggests, don’t have “an ounce of logic,” then Snape most likely acquired his logic before he got to Hogwarts – and most likely as a result of his Muggle background. While logical capabilities and great mental discipline should be crucial for the more scientific aspects of potions-making, most Wizards aren’t any better at potions than they are at logic. In fact, Snape suggests that most students in his class will “hardly believe” that potions are magic.

So potions is probably not what gave him his logic. Logic is more likely what allowed him to excel at potions. (Perhaps he was educated by Jesuits before he came to Hogwarts!)

The traits associated with Slytherin are ambition, cunning, determination, and resourcefulness. So we can expect that in creating the task, Snape would draw on whatever resources were at his disposal, whether they came from the Wizarding World or from the Muggle world.

He draws on his ability to cast spells that conjure flames. He draws on his ability to brew potions that get the drinker through the flames. And he draws on his logical ability to create a puzzle that would snag many Wizards.

Additionally, cunning is at the core of the task. Poison “slyly” hides inside the line. The largest bottle must contain wine (not the potion that moves the drinker “backwards”), while the smallest bottle contains the potion that moves the drinker forward. And of course, using logic to defeat Wizards would be quite nearly the definition of cunning.

Ambition? Snape is the youngest Head of House. He is 32 years old at the conclusion to PS/SS, and he has a strong rivalry with Minerva McGonnagall – his own former Transfiguration Professor and the Gryffindor Head of House. I can imagine Snape designing his task not only to protect the Stone but also to compete with hers.

A Turning Point

The logic puzzle also serves as a bit of a turning point for Snape’s character.

Up to this point, Snape has been presented primarily as the Professor Harry hates and suspects. Yet right here, in the midst of the Trio’s journey into the bowels of Hogwarts to protect the Philosopher’s Stone (from… Snape! [sic]), we learn that the Potions Master is a man of skill and intellect – not just a one-dimensional villain. He is a man whose task Hermione deems “brilliant.”

Snape’s brilliance puts some flesh onto the man… and that flesh subtly begins to humanize him for the audience… just in time for the big reveal that will occur just beyond the black flame.

So what do you think? Where did Snape get his logic? What Slytherin qualities do we see in this task? What do we learn of Snape? What did I miss?

T, for Troll

That’s the grade I’d give Professor Quirrell’s protection for the Stone. Why? Because, it’s bogus! It’s just a waste of space!

As I mentioned in the Comments to the previous post:

He had a way with trolls, so he planted a troll in order to get past it easily. Since his method for getting past it meant knocking it out, he basically allowed anyone who came after him to get past the troll as well. So Quirrell, I don’t think, really counts.

And so that means that the next task we’ll discuss is…

Professor Snape’s Logic Puzzle!

So here’s a little question I have for all of you. Is there any remotely canonical visual representation of how the bottles should be arranged – size and all? Is it possible to recreate the bottle presentation by means of the poem? Is it possible to figure out the answer to the Logic Puzzle without the visual aid of seeing the bottles?

Please let me know in the Comments thread.