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13 Brazen Harry Potter Knock-Offs From Around the World

If J.K. Rowling’s seven Harry Potter books left you hungry for more Hogwarts, you’re not alone. Fortunately, a whole bunch of totally unauthorized Potter novels have been published in other countries. To give you a taste of the kind of quality reads available to Potter fiends, here are the plot summaries of a few brazen knock-offs.

1. Harry Potter and the Leopard-Walk-Up-To Dragon (China)

This book manages to rip off two best-selling franchises. After getting caught in a sweet and sour rain, Harry turns into a fat, hairy dwarf. To recapture his magical powers, he teams up with an old wizard named Gandalf to find a mystical ring, kicking some serious dragon butt along the way. Essentially, the anonymous author took a bunch of scenes from The Hobbit and swapped in Harry Potter and his friends for Tolkien’s characters.

Here’s the first paragraph, as translated by Young-0:

Harry did not know how long this bath would take, when he would finally scrub off that oily, sticky layer of cake icing. For someone who had grown into a cultured, polite young man, a layer of sticky filth really made him feel sick. He lay in the high quality porcelain tub ceaselessly wiping his face. In his thoughts there was nothing but Dudley's fat face, fat as his Aunt Petunia's fat rear end.

2. Harry Potter and the Chinese Porcelain Doll (China)

Harry heads to Asia after learning that Voldemort is attempting to persuade his Chinese arch-enemy/protégé Yandomort to attack the Western wizarding world. There’s only one thing that can stop the dynamic duo: a porcelain doll. While en route to China, Harry runs into Long Long and Xing Xing — two Chinese circus members. As it turns out, Yandomort used to work for a circus under the name Naughty Bubble. When Voldemort murdered Naughty’s mother (Big Spinach), he also took the boy under his wing and taught him black magic.

3. Harry Potter and the Big Funnel (China)

Life at the Dursley house turns awkward when Dudley starts dating a belly dancer. Harry, who has just graduated from Hogwarts, accepts an internship position at another wizarding school. The job starts out okay – until his students start turning into wooden stools left and right. Harry is understandably confused and sets out to solve the mystery. He’s got four primary suspects: an evil student, Hagrid, Voldemort, and The Filler of Big (the big funnel). While we haven’t read the book, it's safe to assume that the funnel is the culprit.

4. Tanya Grotter and the Magical Double Bass (Russia)

Harry’s Slavic twin rides a double bass instead of a broomstick and has a large mole on her nose instead of a lightning bolt on her forehead. Other than that, she bears a striking resemblance to our favorite boy wizard -- she lives in a cupboard in the home of her relatives, the Durnevs, after her parents are killed by the evil sorceress Chuma-del-Tort.

5. Tayna Grotter and the Golden Leech (Russia)

Grotter takes on Hurry Pooper (seriously) in the World Dragonball Championship. While trying to catch the snitch, they crash and accidentally create an alternate timeline in which the evil Chuma-del-Tort has won control of the wizarding world. In this dystopian land, characters speak the Russian equivalent of Orwellian Newspeak. To make things go back to normal, Tanya must defeat the Golden Leech – which may or may not symbolize American capitalism.

6. Harry Potter in Calcutta (India)

After finishing his first year at Hogwarts, Harry hops on his Nimbus 2000 and zooms halfway across the world to Calcutta. He meets a young boy named Junto, and the two kids meet up with characters from classic Bengali literature. Legal pressure from Rowling and her publishers kept this book off the shelves.

7. Harry Potter and the Water-Repelling Pearl (China)

Harry teams up with Gandalf again (plus some guy named Peter and a team of little warriors) to find a sea city in the desert. They pass through a magical keyhole into a mysterious land, where they battle monsters and come out on top. But when he returns from his victory lap, Harry learns that Hermione’s been kidnapped by the Dragon King. To rescue her, Harry must break into the Dragon Palace using the magical waterproof pearl.

8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blooded Relative Prince (China)

Surprisingly, this novel bears very little resemblance to its namesake. In the book, Harry decides that Hogwarts isn’t rigorous enough and transfers to the top wizarding school in Asia – Qroutes School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But while there, Harry turns to the dark side and becomes evil. In the end, his peers band together to take him down, giving him a good beating in the process.

9. Porri Gatter and the Stone Philosopher (Belarus)

In this Belarusian spoof, the magical wizard boy we know and love takes a turn for the badass. Porri Gatter rides a motorcycle instead of a broomstick and carries a grenade launcher instead of a wand.

10. Harry Potter and the Chinese Overseas Students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (China)

Voldemort’s getting stronger, so Dumbledore decides to bring in a little mental muscle to keep Hogwarts safe. He recruits six Chinese students -- all of whom are super-geniuses with incredible work ethic -- to help whip his pupils into shape. The transfers inspire Hogwarts students to stand up to Voldemort when he launches a full-scale attack with his posse of dementors, werewolves, giants, and Death Eaters in tow.

11. Harry Potter and the Showdown (China)

Following Dumbledore’s death, McGonagall and Slughorn reopen Hogwarts. Cho Chang introduces the school to a book of Asian spells called 36 Strategies to help them defeat Snape (who remains evil in this alternate ending). In a wild turn of events, McGonagall is assassinated by the sword of Gryffindor. Harry confronts Voldemort at Azkaban and kills him. The conclusion’s a real cliffhanger: Harry is stuck in an unresolved love triangle.

Bonus: Two that are only sort of serious:

12. Harry Pórrez and the Mystery of the Holy Grail (Latin America)
This is the first in a four-part Spanish language comic book series. The story chronicles an 11-year-old boy and his friends Ron and Hermania in their attempt to take down the evil Condemort. The author, Bernardo Vera, admitted that it’s just a totally shameless knockoff of Harry Potter – dressed up with “unnecessarily dramatic” transitions between chapters. Subsequent titles include Harry Pórrez and the Prisoner of Alacrán, Harry Pórrez and the Trophy of Fire and Harry Pórrez and the Ace in the Condemort's Hole.

13. Hairy Pothead and the Marijuana Stone (Canada)
Harry enrolls at Hempwards School of Witchcraft and Weedery after being rescued from the banality of everyday life by a biker dude. While there, he learns how to use a magical glass bong and discovers a remarkable talent for the sport Qannabbi. This Canadian spoof is basically Harry Potter meets Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. The book’s author, Dana Larsen, was running for office in Canada when the book was published and believed it would win him support. No, he wasn’t trying to recruit young voters: Larsen is a founding member of the single-issue Marijuana Party that fights to repeal cannabis prohibition.

Thanks to the New York Times for translating and providing plot summaries for several of these books back in 2007.

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12 Facts About Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness
George C. Beresford/Getty Images
George C. Beresford/Getty Images

Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella about venturing into the moral depths of colonial Africa is among the most frequently analyzed literary works in college curricula.

1. ENGLISH WAS THE AUTHOR’S THIRD LANGUAGE.

It’s impressive enough that Conrad wrote a book that has stayed relevant for more than a century. This achievement seems all the more impressive when considering that he wrote it in English, his third language. Born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski in 1857, Conrad was a native Polish speaker. French was his second language. He didn’t even know any English—the language of his literary composition—until age 21.

2. HEART OF DARKNESS BEGINS AND ENDS IN THE UK.

Though it recounts Marlow's voyage through Belgian Congo in search of Kurtz and is forever linked to the African continent, Conrad’s novella begins and ends in England. At the story’s conclusion, the “tranquil waterway” that “seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness” is none other than the River Thames.

3. THE PROTAGONIST MARLOW IS CONRAD.

The well-traveled Marlow—who appears in other Conrad works, such as Lord Jim—is based on his equally well-traveled creator. In 1890, 32-year-old Conrad sailed the Congo River while serving as second-in-command on a Belgian trading company steamboat. As a career seaman, Conrad explored not only the African continent but also ventured to places ranging from Australia to India to South America.

4. LIKE KURTZ AND MARLOW, CONRAD GOT SICK ON HIS VOYAGE.

Illness claimed Kurtz, an ivory trader who has gone mysteriously insane. It nearly claimed Marlow. And these two characters almost never existed, owing to their creator’s health troubles. Conrad came down with dysentery and malaria in Belgian Congo, and afterwards had to recuperate in the German Hospital, London, before heading to Geneva, Switzerland, to undergo hydrotherapy. Though he survived, Conrad suffered from poor health for many years afterward.

5. THERE HAVE BEEN MANY ALLEGED KURTZES IN REAL LIFE.

The identity of the person on whom Conrad based the story’s antagonist has aroused many a conjecture. Among those suggested as the real Kurtz include a French agent who died on board Conrad’s steamship, a Belgian colonial officer, and Welsh explorer Henry Morton Stanley.

6. COLONIZING WAS ALL THE RAGE WHEN HEART OF DARKNESS APPEARED.

Imperialism—now viewed as misguided, oppressive, and ruthless—was much in vogue when Conrad’s novella hit shelves. The "Scramble for Africa" had seen European powers stake their claims on the majority of the continent. Britain’s Queen Victoria was even portrayed as the colonies' "great white mother." And writing in The New Review in 1897, adventurer Charles de Thierry (who tried and failed to establish his own colony in New Zealand) echoed the imperialistic exuberance of many with his declaration: “Since the wise men saw the star in the East, Christianity has found no nobler expression.”

7. CHINUA ACHEBE WAS NOT A FAN OF THE BOOK.

Even though Conrad was no champion of colonialism, Chinua Achebe—the Nigerian author of Things Fall Apart and other novels—delivered a 1975 lecture called “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness” that described Conrad as a “thoroughgoing racist” and his ubiquitous short classic as “an offensive and deplorable book.” However, even Achebe credited Conrad for having “condemned the evil of imperial exploitation.” And others have recognized Heart of Darkness as an indictment of the unfairness and barbarity of the colonial system.

8. THE BOOK WASN’T SUCH A BIG DEAL—AT FIRST.

In 1902, three years after its initial serialization in a magazine, Heart of Darkness appeared in a volume with two other Conrad stories. It received the least notice of the three. In fact, not even Conrad himself considered it a major work. And during his lifetime, the story “received no special attention either from readers or from Conrad himself,” writes Gene M. Moore in the introduction to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness: A Casebook. But Heart of Darkness managed to ascend to immense prominence in the 1950s, after the planet had witnessed “the horror”—Kurtz's last words in the book—of WWII and the ramifications of influential men who so thoroughly indulged their basest instincts.

9. T.S. ELIOT BORROWED AN IMPORTANT LINE.

Though Heart of Darkness wasn’t an immediate sensation, it evidently was on the radar of some in the literary community. The famous line announcing the antagonist’s demise, “Mistah Kurtz—he dead,” serves as the epigraph to the 1925 T.S. Eliot poem “The Hollow Men.”

10. THE STORY INSPIRED APOCALYPSE NOW.

Eighty years after Conrad’s novella debuted, the Francis Ford Coppola film Apocalypse Now hit the big screen. Though heavily influenced by Heart of Darkness, the movie’s setting is not Belgian Congo, but the Vietnam War. And though the antagonist (played by Marlon Brando) is named Kurtz, this particular Kurtz is no ivory trader, but a U.S. military officer who has become mentally unhinged.

11. HEART OF DARKNESS HAS BEEN MADE INTO AN OPERA.

Tarik O'Regan’s Heart of Darkness, an opera in one act, opened in 2011. Premiering at London’s Royal Opera House, it was reportedly the first operatic adaptation of Conrad’s story and heavily inspired by Apocalypse Now.

12. THE BOOK ALSO SPARKED A VIDEO GAME.

In a development not even Conrad’s imagination could have produced, his classic inspired a video game, Spec Ops: The Line, which was released in 2012.

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Design
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.

[h/t Kottke.org]

All images by Dan Bell

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