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Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince

The sixth book in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.

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  • Sep 4, 2005
Pros: Harry finally matures

Cons: If I told you and you haven't read it, I'd be killed

The Bottom Line: I can't believe that stuff happened!

I’m not going to pretend the big revelation in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was nearly as shocking as it’s made out to be. Honestly, while it was certainly shocking enough, it was still a bit of a letdown. The only reason anyone wouldn’t be able to see it coming is because of the nature of one of the characters involved. It’s for this very same reason that you’re half-suspecting the other character involved - his nature seems to implicate, so it’s not so shocking. By the time it happens, it should have been included on your list of guesses as to what exactly happens. As if you couldn’t tell, I promise not to spoil much, if anything, about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. However, I will most likely spoil other books in the Harry Potter series in order to fully explain Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

It’s really weird: For all Harry Potter’s defenders say about how the series teaches kids to have good morals, the score so far is bad guys three, good guys zippo. I thought the good guys were supposed to be the victors in the end. First Cedric Diggory bit the dust at the hands of Voldemort himself in Goblet of Fire, then Sirius was destroyed by Bellatrix Lestrange in the climactic scene in Order of the Phoenix, and now..... Well, let’s just say that if you’re one of the many Potter fans still clinging to the thin thread of hope that Sirus is still living, the next wizard scratched from Voldemort’s personal hit list is really going to be hard to take. It’s upsetting to say the least, and what happens at the end leaves the upcoming Harry Potter series finale wide open.

That will have to wait though. For now we have Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the darkest chapter of the wizard-in-training’s saga yet. I’m dead tired of explaining the background, so I’m going to skip talking about it in lieu of saying that if you’re not familiar with the story by now, get your head out of your a**. I know that’s harsh, but if you don’t know by now, you simply haven’t been paying attention and it’s time for you to wake up. Now the story of this individual book, however, is what I’m being paid to write about. So if you have any curiosity about that, read on, because I’m about to talk about it.

Voldemort’s anti-mudblood movement has only been picking up over the two years since his resurrection, and the war against him has not been going well. Not only has the Order of the Phoenix suffered from heavy losses, but it’s spilled out into the muggle world as well, so much so that the Prime Minister of the country is receiving unwanted visits from Magic Minister Fudge a lot lately. However, the chapter with the Prime Minister is a waste of paper because it doesn’t figure into the story at all. The story really begins with chapter two, which I also can’t talk about without giving away an essential plot element. Harry, who’s still living with the Dursleys, doesn’t make his first appearance until the third chapter, and the goings-on of the Dursleys this year are mercifully short. We barely have time to get aquainted with Vernon, Petunia, and Dudley when Professor Dumbledore shows up, informs Harry about his rightful inheritance - thus assuring us that Sirius really is dead - and whisks Harry out the door and to the Burrow where he wanes away the summer with the Weasleys.

Now that the Ministry of Magic isn’t trying to tell the wizarding community only what they want to hear, Hogwarts is now one-hundred percent Umbridge-free and has a competent wizard back in charge (which is a fancy way of saying Dumbledore is back in the head office, where he belongs). The job of teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts, surprise surprise, is vacant when the book begins. A quick detour on the way to the Burrow involves Harry and Dumbledore dropping by the home of one Professor Horace Slughorn and talking him out of retirement so he can teach the subject he once taught at Hogwarts. Slughorn is also a former head of the Slytherin house and he seems intent on making as many connections as possible by way of the Slug Club, groups of connected and/or exceptional students.

In one of Slughorn’s classes, Harry has no book, so the Professor lends him one which has scrawlings of spells, potions and the like written down by a mysterious person who only calls himself the Half-Blood Prince. The book makes him into the best student in the school, but he also has a way of writing that Hermione once defines as a sick sense of humor. Don’t worry, you’ll know why once the Half-Blood Prince reveals himself. While Harry is taking advice from his twisted, invisible ally, Dumbledore has also invited him to take private lessons with him in the headmaster’s office. There, we get glimpses into the memory-filled penseive once again, this time learning about the past of Voldemort. We learn about his past and about how he managed to stay alive for so long. We also learn the rather uninteresting “revelation” that his real name is Tom Riddle, which of course is no surprise to those who have read Chamber of Secrets (which is referenced at one a few points).

Those put off by Harry swinging emotions like a woman in her period will be happy to know that those days are behind him. In Half-Blood Prince, Harry is no longer the drained, emotional wreck he became in Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix, or the naive kid he was in Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, and Prisoner of Azkaban. With the rocky part of puberty finally behind him, Harry has become a battle-smart, headstrong lad who finally has a complete understanding of the magical realm and the way things work. At the end of Half-Blood Prince, he emerges mature and ready to become the one who will vanquish Voldemort once and for all.

The bad news is, his unpredictable tantrums seem to have been charmed onto Ron and Hermione, who appear to spend the bulk of the book nursing crushes on each other. They remain as likable as ever, but they’re almost as bad as the tiresome exchanges between Dobby and Winky in Goblet of Fire (I liked Goblet of Fire, but those two characters made me want to kick them). Fortunately, Dobby barely shows up at all in Half-Blood Prince, and Winky is never even mentioned. When he does show up, though, he tries to throw himself on the fire - a far cry from merely banging himself on the head. Most of the other characters are intact and the same as ever, including Fleur Delacour, who is now Bill Weasley’s fiance. Malfoy is the lone exception again. He starts with promise, in a scene in which he discovers Harry listening to him in his invisibility cloak, reveals him, and breaks his nose. After that, he kind of fades out and becomes little more than a specter until the climax, when his conscience shows up for the first time in the series.

Going into some of the later chapters of the book, one will easily notice that Half-Blood Prince is incredibly dialogue-driven. There’s mystery and magic galore, but dialogue is also more important than ever. Scenes in the penseive require particular attention. That’s no deterrent, however, and it will prove to be a weak charm if you’re trying to use the but there’s too much talking excuse to stay away from it. Harry is still as British as ever, so you do have to deal with little differences between British and American vernacular. They’re nothing to worry about, however, and you’ll pick up on the lingo soon enough. The kids aren’t swearing at all anymore.

Is Half-Blood Prince the best Harry Potter yet written? I don’t think I can decide. It’s a hell of a book, though, with an incredible story which wraps up many of the happenings in the preceding Harry Potter books but leaves an ending wide open for Harry’s final showdown with Voldemort. Author JK Rowling should be jailed for making us wait after this. What to do now while the finale is being written? If you don’t like Half-Blood Prince’s revelation and death, you may benefit from therapy. That should pass the time nicely.


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More Harry Potter And The Half-Bloo... reviews
review by . February 05, 2010
Writing a fictional character from childhood to adulthood, as J. K. Rowling is doing in this series, is not easy; following a character from uncertainty to heroism, as Harry Potter has progressed in Half Blood Prince, is fraught with danger for the writer who attempts it.    And again, Rowling attempts all and succeeds. With one year to go, Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts for Year 6, but not before dealing with lingering complications from the taut climax of Harry Potter and …
review by . July 02, 2010
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was released during a tragic period of my life, just when I thought that I had grown out of the series I'd loved as a child. I was entering my junior year in high school when my parents decided to move our family from the big city of Los Angeles, California to the small town of the Middle of Nowhere, Georgia. As an act of reconciliation, my brother in law purchased the book about 300 miles out of California. I was so depressed about my loss of friends …
review by . June 09, 2010
What was your emotional reaction as you read? Why?      I was excited to finally get the next Harry Potter book out and learn more abou tthe plot and discover the mysteries.        Who would you recommend this reading to and why?      Anyone who likes young adult and fantasy books. And if you like a book with a good mystery.        Consider the setting.      Its set in a mystical …
Quick Tip by . October 15, 2010
I was totally "blah" about this novel. It is purely a setup novel--creating the necessary ingredients for the finale. Its very much like laying out all the ingredients to make your own creme brulee. Gathering the ingredients is necessary to making the final product, but ... it isn't exactly all that fun. I didn't feel cheated by the novel, just not even remotely sated.
Quick Tip by . October 14, 2010
This is my favorite book in the series. It's the one that ends on the biggest cliffhanger. Appearances can be deceiving.
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
The entire series are worth reading. They are full of imagination.
Quick Tip by . July 03, 2010
Pivotal, but not as strong as other books in the series. A great many hints are dropped that are not necessarily "canon" (e.g., Dumbledore is gay?), and much background is filled in. Good, just a bit longer than I'd have liked (with apologies to the author!). Not the ending you'd expect.
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
the half blood prince was a very good book. i liked it a lot. they certainly switched things around by making snape defense against the dark arts teacher in this book. and the horcruxes made voldemort just seem that much more evil. not like he was an angel but the things he did to become immortal are frightening, and very extreme. im going to get the griffindor house crest tattooed on my forearm because i like this series so much.
Quick Tip by . June 30, 2010
harry learns the secret that will unlock his past and his future...a very thrilling and exciting read.
Quick Tip by . June 26, 2010
Great book! The story is a bit scary :)
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Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial.      Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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The long-awaited, eagerly anticipated, arguably over-hyped Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has arrived, and the question on the minds of kids, adults, fans, and skeptics alike is, "Is it worth the hype?" The answer, luckily, is simple: yep. A magnificent spectacle more than worth the price of admission, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will blow you away. However, given that so much has gone into protecting the secrets of the book (including armored trucks and injunctions), don't expect any spoilers in this review. It's much more fun not knowing what's coming--and in the case of Rowling's delicious sixth book, you don't want to know. Just sit tight, despite the earth-shattering revelations that will have your head in your hands as you hope the words will rearrange themselves into a different story. But take one warning to heart: do not open Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince until you have first found a secluded spot, safe from curious eyes, where you can tuck in for a good long read. Because once you start, you won't stop until you reach the very last page.

A darker book than any in the series thus far with a level of sophistication belying its genre, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince moves the series into murkier waters and marks the arrival of Rowling onto the adult literary scene. While she has long been praised for her cleverness and wit, the strength of Book 6 lies in her subtle development of key ...

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ISBN-13: 978-0439791328
Author: J. K. Rowling
Genre: Education, Juvenile Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Arthur a Levine, Scholastic
Date Published: July 16, 2005
Format: Novel
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