The second book in Harry Potter-Evans-Verres and the Methods of Rationality, The Professor’s Games continues Harry’s adventures in his first year at Hogwarts. The professor mentioned in the title “The Professor’s Games” is no other than Professor Quirrell (or, perhaps you could interpret it as Dumbledore, but I will let you figure that out). Quirrel takes on a more central role than in Rowling’s The Sorceror’s Stone. Certainly, in the canon, Quirrell is the main antagonist in Book 1. He’s carrying Lord Voldemort on the back of his head, seeking out the sorceror’s stone to attain immortality. But Quirrell barely catches your attention throughout the book; your focus is directed to the wicked and plotting Snape rather than the “poor, stuttering Professor Quirrell.” Harry himself goes to the end of the book thinking it was Snape.
In this book, Professor Quirrell is a dynamic and powerful character. His classes aren’t merely lessons in wand-waving or encounters with magical creatures (he openly condemns this approach). He confronts them with ideas, with strategy– and even introduces ideas from the Muggle world as well. You don’t seem totally aware what to make of Quirrell, or what his intentions are. Does his still have Lord Voldemort in the back of his head? Is he somehow being controlled by Lord Voldemort? Or is he somehow rebelling against him? Does he have intentions of his own, separate from Lord Voldemort’s?
The central feature to Quirrell’s class is the concept of battle magic– his version of defense against the dark arts. He introduces armies into Hogwarts, breaking the first years up among three generals (Potter, Malfoy, and Granger). In addition to House dynamics, you now get army dynamics.
Throughout the book, Harry, Malfoy, and Granger are the new trio; Ron is a minor character who occasionally shows up. And all are entirely different than the books. Draco is a mastermind, even willing to break his hatred of mudbloods to fulfill the ends to his plots, and becoming Harry’s friend to seek power. Hermione doesn’t know what to make of Harry, and plays the role of rival-friend. Harry– well, he’s definitely not the Harry of the canon. You aren’t sure whether he is evil. He’s trying to keep his inner Dark Lord in check, but he’s definitely got some worrying symptoms.
Some readers may not like the abrupt endings. Unlike the original series, each book doesn’t end with closure, tied nicely with a bow. The book was written as a series of blog posts, kind of like a Charles Dickens novel I suppose. To me, it’s all the more motivation to keep reading. This one lives up to the trend of the first one, and leave you hanging.