Ossus Library Index Fantasy Index

HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE

A novel by J.K. Rowling (2005, Bloomsbury)
Harry Potter, book 6

Valdemort’s followers become more bold, Harry becomes more suspicious of Malfoy, and takes special lessons about the enemy from the headmaster during his sixth year at wizarding school.

 

 

Read June 4th to 19th, 2016 in trade paperback  
    While the plot of this book was light, we were introduced to many interesting situations, fun character interactions, and a finale that leaves the reader wondering where the stories can go from here.

Spoiler review:

I do truly enjoy returning to Hogwarts, and I liked the fact that although Harry was obsessed with finding out what Malfoy was up to, it didn’t get in the way like his anger did in the last book. This one was more like Prisoner of Azkaban, in that the students go to school, learn about magic, learn about Valdemort, and get caught up in events by the end. This story follows them through their courses, while introducing us to a couple of new characters. There is very little story here, except that Valdemort and the Death Eaters are trying to gain recruits among the magical population, and if they don’t want to help, they either disappear, or they get under the Imperius curse, forcing them to do Valdemort’s wishes.

The most interesting aspect of the book, of course, was learning about Valdemort’s history. It done with the extra lessons that Dumbledore is giving Harry, as during each lesson, they examine a different memory in the Pensieve. We get to see Valdemort’s grandfather, uncle and mother, and the muggle that she bewitched. Then Tom Riddle in the orphanage after his father left them and his mother abandoned the baby. The after-effects of Tom killing his father and blaming it on his grandfather are that Tom can now split his soul, because he has murdered. And Tom went on to collect various artefacts of magical nature, which he would ultimately use as hoarcruxes.

I liked the way the author used the death of Aragog the giant spider to get Hagrid and Slughorn together, with Slughorn taking the opportunity to gather venom and Hagrid issuing drinks to toast Aragog. I don’t know if the lucky potion was necessary for this to work, but it added a bit of humor to the dark story, so it doesn’t bother me much. Slughorn gets drunk, and Harry gets the unaltered memory from him, which tells that Riddle wanted seven hoarcruxes.

After this revelation, Dumbledore takes Harry on a trip to find one of the hoarcruxes, in a cave lake protected by various magical spells. Dumbledore is weakened by emptying the poison from the bowl, so he isn’t ready when the Death Eaters arrive. He seems to know what is coming, though, because he freezes Harry in place under his invisibility cloak. Malfoy, however, can’t kill Dumbledore as he was supposed to do. So Snape does it instead. Although I’ve seen the movies, I don’t recall the reason Dumbledore thought that he needed to die at this point.

He and Harry have identified many of the hoarcruxes, and they incorrectly (if I recall) think that the snake is one of them. But the one that they recover that weakens Dumbedore turns out to be a copy –that one was already stolen by somebody. Who, I don’t remember at all, so it will be interesting to see if it was worth it.

Of course, Dumbledore’s death shows that Harry was right to be concerned about Malfoy, just like he was right to be upset in the last book.

I don’t recall any mention of Harry’s reinstatement to Quiddach after being banned last book, but I guess Dumbledore can do a lot of good, there, even if he isn’t on speaking terms with the new Minister of Magic. The new Minister scares the Prime Minister, which is rather funny, but annoys Harry. It’s amazing that Harry would ever consider working for them in later years.

I liked the focus on school here, especially the continuation of their exam results from the previous term/book. On the other hand, I also liked the way Ron’s brothers were able to successfully set up their joke shop even though they dropped out of school. The proliferation of their supplies in the school injected a lot of good humor into the story. Also welcome once again was Dobby, who gets to keep an eye on Sirius’ old house elf, inherited by Harry after Sirius’ death.

I can’t wait for the story to continue, even though I know the ending. The books add so much depth to the movies, which only scratch the surface of the story.
 
   

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