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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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Dark, mature and more fun than ever

  • Aug 5, 2005
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Are you one of those adult readers who was somewhat disenchanted by Harry Potter Five and its one-note adolescent crankiness? Did you decide to hold off on reading the latest until the lines of Muggles at the bookstore dwindled?

Well, prepare to be re-enchanted and find yourself a book before some overexcited fan gives away the ending in your presence. This is a distinct hazard as the ending raises many more questions than it answers. The day I finished the book a young friend eagerly demanded my views. My theories and interpretations being different than hers we were soon engaged in a lively debate. When called to join the rest of the company, she balked, saying, "I've been waiting DAYS to discuss this with someone who's read the book."

Wow, I thought, it's a long time since I thought of a book in quite that way. Never, really. When I was a kid, the only books we all read were those assigned by a teacher and discussed in class. Not exactly occasions of great excitement. My young friend is an adult now, but she wasn't when the first book was published here in 1998 and all her friends were caught up in the phenomenon.

And this is a series that has grown up with its fans. Rowling has long said that each book will grow darker as Harry matures and his archenemy, the evil Lord Voldemort, grows stronger. Voldemort has now gathered his old followers, the Death Eaters, and is inflicting mayhem and murder on the magical - and Muggle - world. Wizards and witches are dying and disappearing daily and the Ministry is kept busy modifying Muggles' memories to make attacks by marauding giants appear to be out-of-season hurricanes. There's no disguising death, however.

Hogwarts, protected by powerful enchantments, is a sea of calm in all this. Potter is now 16, and while he's as stubborn as ever, he's learned to weigh consequences, at least in personal relationships. Girls are a major concern, but he worries about how a romance between his best friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley will affect their friendship, particularly if they break up. And he struggles against his own interest in Ron's younger sister, Ginny: "He would not risk his friendship with Ron for anything."

Harry's magic has improved, but he is not above cribbing from an old, borrowed potions book. Its previous owner, the "half-blood prince," has scribbled improved potions recipes and antidotes in the margins, along with ingenious hexes and counter hexes, most, but not all, harmless and amusing. Thanks to the book Harry is tops in his potions class. He harbors hopes that the mysterious "prince" is actually his dead father, James.

But while youthful crushes, Quidditch rivalries and failed attempts to apparate from one place to another without leaving behind a limb preoccupy most of the students at Hogwarts, including Harry, a dark plot is hatching within the school and Harry seems to be the only one taking it seriously.

We know from the preface that Harry is right about his nasty classmate, Draco Malfoy. Lord Voldemort has given Draco an assignment. It's a task beyond his years and his mother is so frightened she has extracted an unbreakable vow from Professor Snape to protect her son.

Despite his wise headmaster's inexplicable trust in Snape, a supposedly reformed Voldemort follower, Harry has always suspected him of being a secret Death Eater. With Draco sneaking around Hogwarts at all hours, often disappearing off the marauder's map (this map shows everyone's movements and is visible by saying, "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good"), Harry is more certain than ever that Snape is helping him.

But when he tries to tell Professor Dumbledore, the headmaster refuses to hear him. Harry is spending more time with Dumbledore this year, getting private lessons to aid him against Voldemort in the coming struggle. Most of these consist of memories viewed in the pensieve. This marvelously named object is a basin in which the user can relive other people's memories as an observer. The memories concern pivotal moments in Voldemort's past: his unhappy birth, isolated childhood, and scheming schooldays at Hogwarts. The chilling portrait that emerges is the evil antithesis of Harry's own orphaned past.

But as Rowling builds toward the great struggle between Harry Potter and the evil Voldemort, she does not neglect the humor and delightful detail that make these books such a magical world. As usual, it's many of the inconsequential moments that make the atmosphere sparkle.

A crotchety old headmaster portrait in Dumbledore's office, for instance, is grumbling about Dumbledore's too-lenient treatment of Harry, when he hears about Harry's encounter with a thief in possession of objects from Harry's late godfather's Grimmauld Place house. " `That mangy old half-blood has been stealing Black heirlooms?' said Phineas Nigellus, incensed; and he stalked out of his frame, undoubtedly to visit his portrait in number twelve, Grimmauld Place."

And Ron, in potion class, during his prolonged falling out with Hermione: "Ron was sitting beside Harry with his mouth half open, doodling absently on his new copy of Advanced Potion-Making. Ron kept forgetting that he could no longer rely on Hermione to help him out of trouble when he failed to grasp what was going on."

Much is revealed in "The Half Blood Prince," and much remains to be revealed. More complex and layered than previous books, I'd say this was the best so far, except that the first book, which set up the amazing wizarding world, was such a magical marvel. Fans will be impatient to get their hands on the next and last Harry Potter adventure, though a little fear and doubt will accompany the eagerness. Rowling doesn't necessarily guarantee that all will turn out for the best.

-- Portsmouth Herald

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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 :)
About the reviewer
Lynn Harnett ()
I love to read, always have, and have been writing reviews for more years than I care to say. Early on, i realized there are more books than there is time to read, so I read only books I like and mostly … 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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