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If ever a book were to test the truism that there's no such thing as bad publicity, it may be this one: an A-Z encyclopedic guide to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter universe, based on a popular Web site created by Vander Ark in 2000, and the center of high-profile litigation. That case settled, the question now becomes online Lexicon v. print.
Vander Ark has taken pains not to use Rowling's "unique expressions," as the introduction calls that writer's words (for example, the book's readers learn that doxies "have a poisonous bite"; users of the Lexicon Web site find that doxies "have sharp venomous teeth," plus a reference to Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them). Commentary unique to the volume follows many entries (one complaint at trial was that the proposed Lexicon reorganized Rowling's material without adding much information); these range from etymologies to pedestrian analyses (of Harry's reliance on the "Expelliarmus" spell versus Voldemort's on the Killing Curse: "In the end, J.K. Rowling writes Harry as a person not of violence and murder, but of compassion and mercy-of love"). The Lexicon Web site still exists as a comprehensive, updated-and free-resource; while the print edition does differ in its content, its advantages are hard to discern. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.