Status: Complete, Word Count: 108,600, Pairing: Unknown, Genre: Adventure/Mystery
Read the Fic Here: https://archiveofourown.org/works/15828654
Author’s Summary: Harry Potter was Sorted into Slytherin after a crappy childhood. His brother Jim is believed to be the Boy-Who-Lived. Think you know this story? Think again.
Characterization: This fic has a lot of characters, and some are much better than others in this book. First of all, Harry is fucking fantastic. I know a lot of people take issue with him in Year I, but I love the way he’s written especially knowing where his character arc goes in later books. In this fic, Harry is a smug, pretentious, melodramatic dickhead, and the author knows it and leans into it. He’s melodramatic enough to fucking threaten to murder a fellow eleven year old boy. Now, this is done unintentionally in a lot of Wrong Boy-Who-Lived fics, and this only works here because it’s intentional, and Harry grows out of it over the course of the story. Watching this smug prick learn a valuable lesson in humility at the end of this book is incredibly satisfying, and it’s only made better by his character development in the later books. Similarly, Hermione is written fantastically here. She has a distinct arc throughout the fic and it’s markedly different from the one she experiences in Philosopher’s Stone. In fact, by the end of Prince of Slytherin, she is practically a different character compared to who she is by the end of canon year one. Speaking of arcs, holy shit Neville. Neville’s arc in this fic is also absolutely fantastic, and Meet the Longbottoms chapter is one of the strongest in year one. I think The Sinister Man did a really good job twisting several common tropes surrounding Neville and his magical ability, and I think he’s just a really fun character to read about. Whenever he shows up, it puts a smile on my face. The scene between him and Harry by the lake is one of the best in the series, and it truly offers a taste of the fantastic years two and three. Now for some characters who I don’t like as much. Theo Nott is boring in this fic. He’s used as a plot device, rather than a character. While this book does set up a lot of interesting stuff for later on, it doesn’t do much else with him, and he never really has an arc. The same is true for Blaise Zabini. Great setup, boring arc. This is also true for James and Lily. Their characters in this fic mostly exist to establish tropes to be subverted later, and I hate those tropes, so even though I appreciate the subversions that go on in later books, they’re not great here. However, to end things on a positive note, Jim Potter is fucking amazing, and will forever be my favorite version of the “Wrong Boy-Who-Lived.” He’s funny, his character is perfect for how he was raised, he isn’t bashed, and he’s often right. This is what I love the most about him, because a natural result of Harry being an enormous prick in this book is that it gives Jim a lot of opportunities to be in the right, and considering how most other Wrong Boy-Who-Lived fics play out, this is gloriously refreshing. While not every character hits the mark, I think that the majority of them are written very well. Unfortunately, there are several main characters and side characters who don’t live up to the potential they’re shown to have in the later years, and that holds the fic back a fair amount in places.
Action: One thing that the later books fucking excel at is tense, exciting, dramatic action sequences that are not only incredibly fun to read, but also serve to further character and story arcs. When compared to some of those later sequences, the action in Prince of Slytherin fucking sucks. However, I don’t think that’s really a fair comparison. The Sinister Man was still clearly finding his footing, and a lot of the action sequences would be fucking outstanding in other, worse fics. The troll sequence is short and sweet, and the Quirrell sequence at the end is one of the best I’ve ever seen, with some of its only competition coming from ACI100’s Perversion of Purity. While I do really enjoy both of these sequences, they also aren’t outstanding or anything. They serve the story very well, but they probably would be way better if written by present day TSM. However, once again, I’m not comfortable comparing it to TSM’s later writing, because this fic is very much a product of TSM finding his footing as an author, and it works decently enough on its own.
Plot: Now this is where things get good. See, plot can be made exponentially better by other books in a series, and this is no exception. There are so fucking many things that get set up in this book that pay off in other books down the line that it’s actually kind of insane. Furthermore, this fic’s actual plot is really great on it’s own! The twists and turns all work pretty well for me, the prophecy tease at the end is absolutely fantastic, Meet the Longbottoms is up there for me in terms of favorite Prince of Slytherin arcs, and the magic explored is really, really interesting! Although there are many aspects of this fic that don’t hold up when compared to years two, three, and four, the plot is absolutely not one of them.
Dialogue: Another thing that’s absolutely fantastic in this fic is the dialogue. The one liners are great, the dramatic moments work, it all flows really well, every person talks in a distinct way, I love it so fucking much. It definitely improves in years two and three, but it’s already great here, with a few glaring exceptions, such as the scene with Malfoy in the Prince’s lair.
Writing Mechanics: The grammar is mostly solid. There are a few slips here and there, but it works for the most part. The spelling is all there. In general, I feel like the writing is weaker here than in the other books. That’s not to say it’s bad or anything, but it just doesn’t compare to the writing in Death Eater Menace or Resurrection Game.
Overall: While Book I: The Prince of Slytherin is undoubtedly the weakest in the series, it’s also still really amazing. The characters are all fun to read, everyone is written with nuance, and the mystery is really fun too. Harry’s character arc here is really, really fun to read about. Making him start out as an absolute asshole was an excellent choice, and allowed for some excellent development. This book also sets up what will probably turn out to be hundreds of plot threads, and they are still paying off to this day. Harry Potter and the Prince of Slytherin kicks off the Prince of Slytherin series in a truly unforgettable way, and even if I think the other three years are stronger, it’s still incredibly rewarding to reread.
Final Thoughts: The Prince of Slytherin is a very solid start to a fan-fucking-tastic series. While it does stumble several times, I have a really hard time holding that against it, because I fucking love rereading it. Hindsight has made this fic exponentially better, and it was already pretty great to start with. I know I normally give specific recommendations, but everyone needs to at least try this fic. I don’t care what you’re normally into, it’s still worth a shot.
Tier: Great Tier
Written on 05/20/2021