July 21, 2007 was an emotional day for Harry Potter fans everywhere. This was the day “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the seventh and final book of the beloved series, would hit stores. The day readers and fans everywhere would see how the saga would end, whether good or evil would prevail.
Somewhere in the world, there was a man dressed as Hagrid at a bookstore amongst hundreds of other fans to procure his copy of the long awaited conclusion. Little did he know, he would soon be the man to continue the series for those suffering from post-Potter depression.
The afternoon after completing Rowling’s final tale, G. Norman Lippert sat down at his computer and began writing. Two and a half months later, he completed the 400 page novel, “James Potter and the Hall of Elder’s Crossing,” which has since evolved into the James Potter series, comprised of “The Hall of Elder’s Crossing,” “The Curse of the Gatekeeper” and “The Vault of Destinies.”
Lippert has managed to produce a strikingly impeccable piece of fanfiction unlike any of the disturbingly inappropriate or terribly thought-out pieces that are out there. He brings back favorite characters in new elements: McGonnagal is headmistress, Neville is the Herbology professor and Harry is head auror at the Ministry of Magic.
“The Hall of Elder’s Crossing” begins with Harry and Ginny taking their oldest son, James Sirius Potter, to King’s Cross Station to board the Hogwart’s Express. However, James soon realizes that he is nothing like his father. He has put an enormous pressure on himself to be just like the famous Harry Potter, but is unable to do so. He is terrible at Quidditch and can barely fly a broom.
However, James fights to be like his father and eventually finds himself in a whirl wind of adventure and trouble at Hogwarts, along with his two friends, Zane, an American in Ravenclaw House, and Ralph, a Slytherin.
James finds himself faced with opposition from the Progressive Element, a group who believes that Harry and his friends were wrong for killing Voldemort and that by doing so, they performed a social injustice. The Progressive Element believes that the magical community should be united with the muggle community.
Delving into Lippert’s take on how the story would progress is like returning home after a long trip. He managed to keep the atmosphere familiar, without simply copying Rowling’s work and inserting new characters.
In his spin-off, Lippert decided to bring in the wizarding world from across the pond –the Americans have invaded Hogwarts and brought Benjamin Franklin (Franklyn in the books) with them. The series also features Draco Malfoy’s son Scorpious, Albus and Lily Potter (Harry and Ginny’s other two children), as well as the children of Ron and Hermione, Percy and his wife Audrey and the Lupins.
The new generation is just as adventurous as the one before with some distinct differences. A Potter in Slytherin? A Potter who is just plain awful at Quidditch? A Malfoy in Gryffindor? Lippert surprises readers at every turn with his breaks from Rowling’s mold.
With its return to the Chamber of Secrets and the int of a return of Dumbledore’s Army, the second in the series, James Potter and the Curse of the Gatekeeper is equally as familiar to readers. In this installation, Lippert reverts to Rowling’s original social structure by changing the trio back to two boys and a girl: James, Ralph and James’ cousin (Ron and Hermione’s daughter) Rose Weasley. Having rose in the group dynamic brought back the hint of Hermione that really perfected this book.
Albus Severus Potter begins his first year at Hogwarts in “The Curse of the Gatekeeper” and becomes the first Potter to ever be a Slytherin. He, unlike his brother and much like his father, makes the Quidditch team as seeker. Lippert utilizes the tension between the two Potter boys as a catalyst for much of the action. The introduction of familial relationships and difficulties adds a new twist and perspective to the stories that the original Harry Potter series did not have.
Despite the comforting return to Hogwarts that Lippert provides in the first two novels, he takes too far of a turn from Rowling’s world in the third of his series, “James Potter and the Vault of Destinies.” In between writing the second and third novels, he wrote an original story based upon the life of one of his own characters, Petra Morganstern. “Vault of Destinies” is based almost entirely on Petra’s story rather than on a continuation of the Harry Potter series.
In “Vault of Destinies,” Lippert takes his characters to the American Wizarding Academy Alma Aleron for the year. Harry has international magical relations business to take care of so the lan is along for the ride.
At Alma Aleron, the houses are called societies and named after mythical creatures, vampires, zombies, igors, werewolves, pixies and bigfoots. Instead of being sorted into houses like at Hogwarts, students are required to rush the society of their choice, much like they would a fraternity or a sorority.
Something about this process felt disingenuous to the magical school experience as laid out by J.K. Rowling in Harry Potter. The ability of the students to choose displays the cultural contrast of freedom in America but is a stretch too far away from what is comfortable in this series.
Overall, Lippert creates an interesting world and a riveting story, but “Vault of Destinies” is not a book I would consider to be a faithful continuation of Rowling’s much loved tale. It seems as though Lippert is now more focused on attracting readers to his own original works and stories which he can sell rather than remaining true to the Harry Potter series.
Lippert is planning on writing a fourth of the series to be published online sometime in December 2013. The entire James Potter series is available for free download on Nook, Kindle or as a PDF on jamespotterseries.com.