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WIP The Mind Arts by Wu Gang - T

Discussion in 'Review Board' started by Haze, Jan 26, 2018.

  1. Haze

    Haze Second Year

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    Title: The Mind Arts
    Author: Wu Gang
    Rating: T
    Genre: Romance/Supernatural
    Status: Work in Progress (71,742 words)
    Library Category: The Alternates
    Pairings: Harry/Daphne
    Summary: What is more terrifying? A wizard who can kick down your door or a wizard who can look at you and know your every thought? Harry's journey into the mind arts begins with a bout of accidental magic and he practices it and hungers for the feelings it brings.
    Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12740667/1/The-Mind-Arts

    An excellent AU story so far. The focus seems to be a lot of Harry and his ability to use legilimency at an early age. Romance is basically non-existent at this point because so far, the story just reached Third Year.

    Some grammatical mistakes but nothing major. The more this story goes on, the more its revealed just show AU this story is. Harry himself is very competent if not socially somewhat inept? Or rather, he relies on legilimency for most of his social interactions.

    Be warned though. The first chapter throws a massive red flag in the form of physical abuse by the Dursleys which, while shapes him, is never really mentioned again. Nor did it "turn him into a puddle of angst".

    Honestly, one of the best finds in the fandom for a long time for me. 5/5 so far.
     
  2. Baradine

    Baradine Seventh Year

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    I wouldn't call it 5/5 material, but it's alright. Interesting enough premise to keep me going, and executed well enough to not turn me away. It has all the tropes of a fanfiction that has been based far too heavily in fanon, which is not good in my opinion, but it kind of glosses over them well enough that I can find myself not caring. At the very least, I haven't seen a story with a mind magic focused Harry, so that's novel enough to keep the story interesting.

    3.5/5, rounded up to 4.
     
  3. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Writing is competent but unfortunately I can't get past the characterisation of Harry - "magically strong, emotionally weak" is a theme I particularly dislike. (It's also a theme which is common in slash fics). I have little patience for panic attacks etc. in a protagonist.

    There's one other aspect to this which is disappointing, which is that it fails on its fundamental premise: that of depicting a talented Harry (particularly in the mind arts). The problem is that the author hasn't put much flesh on the bones of Harry's magical talent. This comes in a few forms:

    - The author skips over a number of important "milestone" items, such as spell creation. One scene Harry expresses an interest in spell creation, and a few scenes later he has already created his first spell. None of his acquisition of this skill was shown.

    - The author doesn't really put any work into depicting how Harry is better at magic than everyone else, and indeed in some areas actively sabotages this point. E.g. the author makes Hermione better at magical theory than Harry but Harry better at casting magic, thus removing "knowledge and understanding of magic" as the source of Harry's superiority. With that removed, Harry's superior magical ability has no real source to explain it. Yes, he has natural talent, but that still needs to be honed somehow, because otherwise he would already be the complete Voldemort-beating package at age 11. But we don't really have any idea of what it is that Harry is improving on, if not knowledge/understanding.

    - The author has Harry's magical skills accelerate in unexplained ways. When you get to third year it's remarked that Harry is pulling away from his peers in terms of magical ability, despite the fact that he isn't doing anything different to what he was doing before, nor has he had any new revelation that fundamentally deepens his connection to magic etc. It's a jump in skill without cause.

    Ultimately, one can't help but feel that the narrative spends so much time on Harry's friendships and the armchair psychology behind them that it forgets about its original premise.

    3/5

    (Probably a 4 for people who have a higher tolerance than I for protagonists with mental disabilities)
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2018
  4. Dario

    Dario Muggle

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    The Good:

    -The premise itself is very intriguing. I'm surprised I hadn't seen a story with Harry having a natural affinity for the Mind Arts. For that reason alone, if nothing else, it warrants a brief skim through.

    -It seems that the story is looking to largely diverge from canon starting at Chapter 7. So far we haven't seen much of the change, (the happenings in Hogwarts have pretty much been the same as in canon up until this point) but the hints that were given make me hopeful that it will completely derail from the original Third Year plot.

    -IIRC the author seems somewhat aware of a few of the aspects of what makes and doesn't make a good story. That's one step in the right direction I suppose.

    -Starting at the most recent update (Chapter 7) there is a considerable increase in quality. The author mentioned that he aquired an editor - makes sense. The most recent chapter is definitely more than readable and I was able to actually get into the story for the first time.

    ~~~

    The Bad:

    -The grammar and typos from Chapters 1-6 are atrocious, although I admit I may be overly critical.

    -I've noticed the author glosses over most events. As mentioned above by Taure, Harry was thinking of creating a spell and then ended up creating it within a few paragraphs. Things like that occurred frequently.

    -There seems to be much telling and almost no showing. I felt as if I was reading an account of events rather than a story. I suppose this coincides with the point above but I think it deserves it's own space.

    -Harry is first in his class and seems to grasp magic like a second nature. Again as stated above by Taure, his magical talents are unexplained and make theoretical magic feel useless. Combined with his prodigious talent with Legilimency, it seems he's shaping up to become a powerful!Harry. We don't see many instances of his power, (the last two points) but that's just the feeling I get when reading it.

    ~~~

    There are definitely more good and bad things about the story that I forgot seeing as I read it yesterday, and as stated above I honestly couldn't get into it until the last chapter. Overall it's an interesting read, and if the author rewrites his first 6 chapters (he said he might), then I will come back and change my rating accordingly.

    TL;DR The premise is interesting - the idea of a Harry that has a prodigious talent in the Mind Arts appealed to me greatly but I can't help but feel this story falls flat. If you can make it through the first six chapters you might start to like it.

    2.5 rounded up to 3.
     
  5. Genghiz Khan

    Genghiz Khan Unspeakable

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    I'm a sucker for Harry/Daphne, so I'm going to grade this higher than I normally would. The story has begun drifting away from canon. There's quite a lot to like here. The author's style of writing and his update rate, for one, particularly work for me. Others have pointed out the bad grammar, but I haven't noticed it. Either the author has corrected it, or I've been a little too engrossed in the story. Harry's fascination with the Mind Arts is completely new. I haven't yet come across a story I like which uses the Mind Arts as the main theme. Harry's interaction with the other characters is fleshed out; his thoughts are coherently written. His interactions with Dumbledore are one of the central pillars of the story (I'm not sure when I last read a story about which I could say that). The way he ticks is just... different. His lack of understanding of social cues and his somewhat laid-back bewilderment when it comes to emotions is, if not unique, certainly refreshing.

    As Taure has pointed out, though, if you don't like a protagonist who has social disabilities, you're not going to like it as much as you probably would otherwise. Harry is a socially stunted, magically gifted boy. Most of the time, he's just clueless. He hasn't a pinch of social grace in his body, nor does he have many friends. He's publishing papers on herbology and dementors by third year. He's a self-taught prodigy who just gets magic. If you can't handle that, this isn't the story for you. I also agree with Taure's critique of this story: I merely believe the good outweighs the bad here.

    A 4/5 for sure. It's not 5/5 material, but I'd definitely recommend it to people.
     
  6. MonkeyEpoxy

    MonkeyEpoxy Alchemist

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    There is a very sinister place the author could take this story, with not a whole lot of effort, re. Daphne's relationship with Harry. Harry is quite powerful and I'd be worried about him face rolling everything later on, but he released a snippet of a Voldemort encounter and he's... on another level.

    Fun story.
     
  7. TMD

    TMD Groundskeeper DLP Supporter

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    I've really enjoyed this story so far. I understand the author went back and re-edited/re-wrote earlier parts of the story which he felt weren't as good as the later parts. On a first reading, I did notice an increase in quality towards the later chapters - but the earlier chapters weren't remarkably bad by any means. In some aspects, this story reminds me of 'Blindness', particularly in Harry's relative strength compared to other students. I find the characterisation above average, and as the story progresses it becomes more AU. I was concerned initially that it would be a canon rehash with all the major plot points staying the same, but in Y4 for example the TWT is taking place in Beauxbatons. There hasn't yet been a meaningful challenge for Harry. I think the author is also aware of this, as he included a couple of scenes with teacher's demonstrating to Harry just how little (relatively speaking) he knows. Despite that, it wasn't a notable beatdown which really drives the point home (a particular chapter in The Denarian Renegade by Shezza was the gold standard of this imo), and the message was largely ignored. The take on mentor!Dumbledore as supportive in all aspects, even giving Harry free reign to study all types of magic simply with the caveat that he takes care is both interesting and strange. It's hard to imagine Canon Dumbledore being blase about his protegee reading up on blood and soul magic.

    Overall the update rate of this fic, the interest plot elements and the competent (and then some) MC make this a fun read. The lack of meaningful challenge thusfar, and a few issues with telling rather than showing bring the overall score down. Currently this is absolutely 'almost recommendable' and closer to 4/5. I will be following this as the author updates and will hopefully update the score down the road - around 20 chapters are left according to his profile.
     
  8. Lord Murtaza

    Lord Murtaza First Year

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    A lot has been said in the above comments that bears little repeating - HP's skill in the Mind Arts is never fully explored other than him having 'natural talent' - which, as the premise for the entire story, you'd think would be pretty important.

    There were a couple of interesting Ideas, such as the Hindu God Agni being a wizard with a prodigious talent for controlling fire (other stories have Jesus being a wizard so this was a small twist on an otherwise old Idea) but then the author never fully explores this besides talking about pyromancy and cryomancy and electromancy and everything-under-the-sun-mancy. Thus, the lone shred of originality dies an ignoble death.

    Reading through, I had serious concerns about this story being a variant on Super!Harry - and I still do. The author's frankly weak attempt at 'grounding' HP by making him go through some kind of PTSD-esque syndrome after being attacked by Dementors does not do him/her any favors. It was a chore getting through those parts.

    The author's characterization of Dumbledore, however, is not as bad as the usual tripe in FF. It's done decently enough, with no mustache-twirling, greater-good-spewing Dumbledore to be seen. The author makes a passable attempt at Canon's Dumbledore *if* AD took an interest in a Super!Harry.

    There were parts of the story that left me completely bewildered - and not in a good way. NL&HP published in a Herbology Journal during their Third Year? The Basilisk slain by a hastily conjured rooster from a shoe? GG contacting HP at the Longbottom's out of the blue? What?

    Overall, the story is a wasted opportunity at an interesting premise. If anyone else knows of another story with HP having prodigious skill in the mind arts, I'd happily take recommendations.

    3/5
     
  9. Scott

    Scott Groundskeeper DLP Supporter

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    I give it a 4/5. I enjoyed it immensely so far. I'll give a further, more detailed review in a couple days.
     
  10. Lindsey

    Lindsey Death Eater

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    This story reminds me of 'Harry Potter and the Boy Who Lived' set in Hogwarts. I am quite sure he uses that story as his inspiration as well, as he does that lovely call out to the story in his latest chapter (with how the student tried to enter the Tournament). If this is the case, he is obviously a member of this website as this is the only place he could have read that chapter. So, to you, Wu Gang, if you are reading this, you should post your in WBA as it can be improved upon and easily made great.

    I give this fic a 4/5 for with all its problems, there is a lot of unique and decently written ideas as well. Yes, he could slow down and show his progress more, go more in depths with some of his heroes and expand on the magic, but what he does provide us is quite interesting.

    My biggest problem with this story is how powerful Harry is shaping up to become. It's one thing if he wants to be like Dumbledore when he is an adult, but it is looking like Harry will be as powerful as Dumbledore and Voldemort by the time he graduates Hogwarts. I can't see how any 17-year-old genius could become a better wizard than someone who has had 100 years of experience. This brings me to a point I heavily dislike: Harry being published multiple times in completely different subjects. It would be one thing if Harry becomes the best of one or two different things (Mind Arts, for example)... not the best at everything.

    I feel like the author has put the Mind Arts in the background compared to all the other magic in his system, which I find quite a shame. You could do terrible, but great, things with the Mind Arts in all sorts of ways. It is incredibly dangerous, as indicated by the influence he has already done to Daphne (and a way to easily make the story go dark). I dislike how much freedom Harry has with the Mind Arts as well, as I wouldn't imagine Dumbledore ever allowing Harry to freely read minds and cause the chaos that he has already done to Malfoy and some others. Everyone just seems to shrug off his mental abilities, and not be majorly freaked out like they should be.

    There are a few things I do enjoy.
    - Tracy's characterization. She is super fun.
    - Dumbledore for the most part. The author is able to write Dumbledore well compared to almost any other author.
    - Interesting magical theories.
    - The AU portion of this fic such as Sirius never going to jail (though why was Peter trying to kill Harry then and Remus is like a background character), the tournament being at another school (new tasks?), Grindlewald, and more.
     
  11. Johnnyseattle

    Johnnyseattle Unspeakable DLP Supporter

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    TMD compared this story to Blindness, one of my favorite stories still updating, and that's the exact feeling I get from it too - there really isn't much of a challenge in the world for Harry due to how ridiculously powerful his ability is (although there are hints in this one that the gulf isn't as wide as in the former) - the true struggle for him is really with his morality, and whether he can manage to keep his humanity the closer he gets to relative godhood. I love that concept, and it's something rarely pulled off well in fanfiction. Loving it here though.

    The grammar and low-hanging spelling mistakes will kill some people here, no doubt, but if you can look through that, there are some great concepts and theoreticals that I think a lot of us would enjoy. Easy 4/5 for me so far.
     
  12. PoshMafia

    PoshMafia Squib

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    I really enjoy this.

    4/5 for me

    Really am enjoying the way he is handling Dumbledore, and I am finding myself excited for the next chapter.

    Not really much more to say, it might be at the fourth year but plot-wise I feel there is much more to come and we have barely scratched the surface.

    Although he is trying to present harry as broken in certain ways, I am finding it hard to spot even looking for it. Then again perhaps I read too many sociopathic MC's who knows. Not I.

    @taures points I agree largely with all of it, but due to my general enjoyment of the interactions, I find myself willing to ignore such oversites.
     
  13. vlad

    vlad Groundskeeper Prestige

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    I really like it. Both the story and the technical skill pick up once it gets to the real meat of the AU, and it's worth the early slog. The plot and the magic both feel fresh, which honestly is the highest compliment I can pay a story after 12 (fuuuuuuck) years of reading fanfics.

    Maybe it's erring too far into powerful!Harry territory, but it's enjoyable, and most importantly it makes a serious effort to have Harry have a very strong natural talent and then work very, very hard to capitalize on it. And not entirely breaking the magic of the HP world, given what we know Riddle and Dumbledore were accomplishing at an early age.

    5/5. Because for any faults you can point to, it's easily one of the better novel-length stories I've read in years. 6/5 for a Daphne that also comes across as fresh. 7/5 for defeating Veela with autism.
     
  14. mistermisstep

    mistermisstep First Year

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    tl;dr - The summary issues checks that the story can't (often) cash.

    That summary really did have me hooked straight away, damn it.

    Of course, the fic immediately went for the cliche, which was a disappointment. Canon home life was shitty enough for Harry, and the variations on the theme no longer shock or interest me, but all right, I soldiered past. Just first chapter jitters, I figured, and I've read worse.

    The first instance of Harry's "mind arts" was pretty neat, and those scenes are probably the best thing this fic has going for it. I also liked that he wants memories because sometimes he finds wonderful ones. So the story had showed that the description wasn't just a mirage, finally ... a hint of some jewels scattered in the dust ...

    And then Harry got his letter and everything degenerated the second that

    Dumbledore decided Harry wasn't going back to the Dursleys, and that the wards could just collapse.

    OOC as hell for me, and my expectations were ratcheted down once again. But it was there that I had begun to truly get a feel for this fic. For every neat thing, there are, at minimum, two things that suck about it. After that point, though, I no longer wanted to read on. But I read on, because I really wanted to avoid some actual work I had to do at the time, and I still held out the faint hope that things would change.

    The first chapter, finally, mercifully ended after Harry goes to Diagon Alley (the shopping scene is mercifully glossed over), stayed at the Leaky Cauldron, a Hogwarts Express scene, and then the Sorting, most of which had been so very expected.

    Like most "starting in first year fics" this thing could've easily jettisoned its first chapter, shoved in some flashbacks of his first uses of magic, and got on with things in a faster, fresher way. There were also some technical mistakes I'd noticed (formatting, the occasional misspelling), and the writing itself is ... all right. Not spectacular, but readable. It leans a bit too much on canon at times, though, literally pulling lines from it in some places.

    There also isn't much description on the differences between doing what is essentially natural Occlumency and more conventional magic. Or much in-depth stuff about Harry's abilities. Or any long-term effects of being what amounts to a mind-reader from a messed-up family. Or explain why Harry is suddenly doing a lot of high-level magic for almost no reason at all.

    He should be more curious, considering his talents and his house, and that curiosity would give a good reason for him to know spells that he shouldn't, but instead he's just smart by author fiat and weirdly over-powered.

    Those problems stick around in later chapters, which is a shame. There's a kernel of a good idea here, and it has its nifty moments, but it's hampered by the lack of technical finesse and the crutch of canon: everything's different, but also the same and with less engaging writing. It's also got two of the biggest problems that seem to plague most Alternate Universe fics, the inability to extrapolate what the changes to the characters will later do to the plot or the characters themselves (other than shunting Harry into a different house), and the unwillingness to actually deviate from the canon plot to make things more interesting ... And I also dislike fics where someone is sorted into a house, but makes friends with literally everyone outside it.

    But it's not angsty ship-fic and it has tinges of humor here and there, so 3/5.
     
  15. why?

    why? Seventh Year

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    @mistermisstep - Do you feel that way after having read everything that’s been posted, or did you stop in 2nd year? The author mentioned that he initially wanted to start the story in 3rd year, where the real divergences happen.

    I’m almost always a proponent of that, but I didn’t mind the gentle introduction here. I also found Dumbledore’s reaction vis à vis the blood wards refreshing. Harry’s well being comes first, but Dumbledore is also busy and hadn’t considered he’d have been abused there.

    It’s worth noting that the first chapter (and possibly the few after?) have undergone significant edits. I recall trying to read this a few weeks ago and thinking I was done with this after Harry gets new transfigured clothes. I picked this up yesterday and hardly put it down until I was done.

    It’s easily the best story to have come out in the fandom in months. Super!Harry done right. Unlike Blindness, there is a sense of tension here and right from the start, Harry has been ethically ambiguous.

    His autism — although when you’re as smart and self-aware as he is, and with a slight god complex to boot, it’s a lot closer to sociopathy — is portrayed well. His paranoia and angst is limited, but mentioned enough times that their presence is felt. He does not trust easily and it's quite clear that his read on people is flimsy at best (i.e, he'd be crippled without his legilimency). His sorting actually makes sense. He could've been Slytherin, but he is very intellectually/academically inclined and he lacks the social guile to succeed in Slytherin. He, however, does possess the cunning, ambition and ruthlessness that comes with being in Slytherin. At the time, however, he still hadn't quite befriend Daphne and his primary desire was to lay low and the Sorting Hat felt that would best for him too.

    I will admit to being disappointed that the troll incident didn't end more tragically, but this also eventually resulted in him showing us how much of a cold piece of work he can be. He just drops Hermione, and I really hope she never comes back. He also nearly does this with Daphne, who is arguably his only friend. Neville and Tracey are close seconds. I like all their characterisations here. Bubbly/bimbo!Tracey has been a favourite of mine since Anonymous58's Control. None of the other people are really friends, not in the way that Harry, Ron and Hermione became in canon. Certainly not how he and Daphne are.

    The author has been very upfront with this. The real (as in, what he's decided will have more of an impact) abuse from the Dursleys was the isolation he suffered. He's drawing parallels to Tom and Gellert in doing so. But unlike them, he has someone who knows better, wants what's best for him and is looking out. Here, Dumbledore respects his intellect and his autonomy. He can appreciate the extent to which his circumstances (horcrux, orphan, isolation, intelligence and legilimency) have defined him. He still holds back, but he's more involved and behaves both like a grandfather and a mentor.

    Boy, was I glad that the only mentions of pureblood politics/bigotry involved Draco Malfoy. There's no indication that anyone else cares about the Sacred 28, and my impression was that this bit was gleaned so the audience could have a laugh at Draco's expense.

    The basilisk encounter did fall flat. The rooster transfigured from his shoe was actually lame. However, I can see that the author wanted to have Harry meet Tom one-to-one (him turning into Tom being a big fear of his + his suspicions of their being a connection between them, even at the level of their souls), while also making it clear that if Dumbledore could have entered the chamber, it would've been him going to kill/subdue the basilisk.

    There are grammar mistakes and a few typos. My German is weak, so I don't know if his translation of that Lebendig book is bad or not, but it seems a lot better than his horrible French translations. There is a fair amount of reporting going on, but he makes up for it with the generally good teacher-student interactions. Whether it is Harry breaking down how to extract ingredients to Ravenclaws, or Dumbledore waxing poetic about the nature of magic to Harry. I don't mind it too much, because the good far outweighs it. When most everything in the fandom is as stale as it currently is, I can't help but be plain happy about this.

    A very easy 4/5 from me, with the potential for a 5, depending on how things progress from here. The meat of the story is yet to come. So I'll refrain from rating just yet. Eagerly awaiting the next update.
     
  16. mistermisstep

    mistermisstep First Year

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    I got partway through Chapter 7 before I finally bailed, in a fic that currently has thirteen chapters. A lot of words for the fic to make an impression, and it did -- just not a great one.

    Next time, the author should go with his instincts and start the story off in an interesting place to begin with.
     
  17. why?

    why? Seventh Year

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    It appears your main gripe is that and there not being enough explanations for things. They come after.

    But if you've read seven chapters and you didn't like the story, then you probably won't. The writing quality also increased a bit.
     
  18. SighDuck

    SighDuck Squib

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    Couldn't hack the first few chapters, so I skipped to the end of third year - it's been thoroughly engrossing since, and I don't feel like I've missed much significant. I agree with some of the qualms mentioned above, especially regarding the unexplained leaps in Harry's ability, but the author seems to be having a better go at it these past few chapters, and there's much less angst than I first feared. The new Grindlewald subplot is pretty neat too, mainly because of the tension it brings between Harry and Dumbledore. Most fics sorta hardline Dumbledore between the evil!manipulative!senileoldgoat! and mentor!misunderstood!grandpa! tropes, so this has a refreshing take on things if nothing else.

    Not perfect, but one of the best recent fics. If you're really put off by the first few chapters, I recommend just picking it up around Chapter 8. 4/5
     
  19. Tempestuous Ocean

    Tempestuous Ocean Third Year

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    I feel like the author took best parts of Hermione's characteristics and added them to Daphne. I really didn't like this Hermione in particular. She was basically presented as a naive girl with a black-and-white worldview and her sorting was said to be only because she wanted to be in the same house as Dumbledore. I'm glad she won't make an appearance for a while, only because her characterization annoyed me.

    Similarly Daphne, who is basically OC, became "the brightest witch of her age". While I mostly liked her character, her competence seems to be written only because she is to be Harry's girlfriend in the future. The other characters, especially Dumbledore, were well-written.

    I like the little AU mentions like free Sirius and worldbuilding elements like thunderbirds etc. Mind magic seems interesting as well, if a bit unexplained. I don't like the possible existence of "Empaths" though. Couldn't you also get the emotions of the target with Legilimency? (I need to read the parts relevant to this point again though, it's been a while).

    Not really a fan of constant mentions of ranking students either. But I enjoyed it overall. 3/5
     
  20. vlad

    vlad Groundskeeper Prestige

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    Fair, but recall that Hermione is what... 14. at the time.

    In the books, Hermione is fairly black/white early on, and then shifts over time. Her greatest problem in canon is that the universe morality always gives her a pass, but as a character she is very interesting; shifting from a deference to authority to shifting to 'as circumstances permit', to shifting to determining she is the authority. But sadly, it's only early on that she gets called out on it (troll). By Firebolt incident, her (legitimate) concern is never followed up with recognition that she went about it in a terrible way, and by book six she's utterly unbearable. By books six she casually mentions wiping her parents memories and nobody bats an eye.

    The movies dialed this up to 11.

    So I appreciate your comments about Hermione - and tbh you're not really wrong about Daphne but I'm rolling with it - but I think he's closer to the mark of 13/14 year-old Hermione than you give credit.