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The "Wand Order Problem"

Sooner or later every fan stumbles across certain mysteries in the Harry Potter books. Some actually find them in the books, other stumbled across them in discussions online. Once discovered, any good fan will then ponder whether this intriguing new mystery is a clue, foreshadowing, foreboding, a misdirection (red herring), or a mistake (FLINT). However, before you let your imagination run wild, you should know that many of these mysteries have been cleared up.

One such mystery is referred to in fan circles simply as 'The Wand Order', and I shall clear up this mystery after laying some groundwork.

The Mystery-
Throughout the series of Harry Potter books up until near the end of Goblet of Fire, it has been implied or stated that James was killed before Lily. However, in very early editions of Goblet of Fire, in the graveyard scene, James exits the Dark Lord's wand before Lily. This now implies that James was killed after Lily and creates a substantial mystery.

The Background-
Harry's and Voldemort's wands share a common magical core. They both contain a feather from the same phoenix: Dumbledore's phoenix, Fawkes. Wands with common magical cores are referred to as 'brother wands'.

When two brother wands cast spells head-to-head against each other, as happens in the graveyard scene where Harry and Voldemort duel, the wands create the 'Reverse Spell Effect' called Priori Incantatem. This causes the spells cast by one of the wands to expel a shadow or echo of each previous spell cast by that wand, expelling the most recently cast spell first.

The Problem-
In the graveyard scene in Goblet of Fire, Harry forces Voldemort's wand to expel the shadows or echoes of its previous spells. As I said before, in early editions, James comes out of Voldemort's wand first. That implies, since the spell come out in reverse order, that James was killed after Lily, and that is inconsistent with what the previous books and Voldemort's own words have led us to believe.

The Result-
This led to many many weeks of wild speculation among online fans. Some assumed it was a mistake, other believe it was a clue. Those believing it to be a clue wondered if the earlier references to James dying first were 'red herrings' meant to mislead us, and that J.K.Rowling was now revealing some special truth about what happened to Harry's parents, but was doing so in by hiding the clue in an exciting emotionally charged scene where we were likely to overlook it.

As weeks went on speculation grew exponentially with each new theory being more wild and extreme than the one before, with each new speculator being absolutely sure that they had solved the mystery of "The Wand Order'.

The Solution-
Fortunately, we were saved from many hours of late night speculation and debate when J.K.Rowling finally confessed that it was nothing more than a mistake cause by late night writer's fatigue. All newer editions of the books in all languages (to the best of my knowledge) have corrected this error, and now show Lily exiting the Dark Lord's wand first, meaning she was killed last.

It was fun while it lasted, but the mystery of 'The Wand Order' has been solved.

Resources -
Quote from J.K.Rowling explaining the error-

Steve B.


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