I’ve been re-reading the Harry Potter series and I’ve just finished the Half-Blood Prince, i.e., the sixth book. If you missed my previous installments, here are my reviews for books one, two, three, four, and five, respectively. Spoilers abound, obviously there and going forth here.
Now, keep in mind, I’m saying this before having re-read the seventh book, which will begin shortly, but the sixth, in my second re-read of it, now may be my favorite book of the Harry Potter series. There are three reasons for this: 1.) Even though it’s around the 660-page mark, I feel like it’s the most tightly written of the series. There’s no wasted moments or words here. 2.) As I’ve been saying, the books have continually gotten more and more mature and this book is no different. It’s a heavy book that deals with some heavy themes of loss, pain, love, loyalty and so on. It’s dark. For instance, we are introduced to a new dark creature: the Inferi, which are dead bodies animated back to life for a Dark wizard.
And 3.) A lot of people seem to have a consensus that Sirius and Fred’s deaths are the hardest to take in the series, but Dumbledore’s hits me like one of those pianos in a Wile E. Coyote cartoons. Dumbledore is just such a great, complex character and has been positioned as this guy that the Death Eaters and Voldemort fear; whenever Dumbledore shows up, it’s a game-changer. And now he’s dead. Then when the phoenix, Fawkes, begins singing his lament for Dumbledore, I lose it. Tears were aplenty at the end of this one.
I heard another writer describe this book as like a CSI novel, re-tracing the steps of Voldemort’s life. That’s what I think makes this book so exceptional because I like learning as much about Voldemort as possible. And what a fucked up, psychopath 101 kid and then adult he was and is. He did the proverbial animal torture, but more than that, he was obsessed, even at an early age with not only because unique and different, but immoral. A wizard, he thought, should not able to die. It’s his obsession.
And thus, he dabbled and perfected the most Dark magic of all: the Horcrux, which is splitting one’s soul and putting it in an object, so as to remain alive in some capacity even if their corporeal body is destroyed. It’s almost unheard of to do it because to split one’s soul in two means you have to murder someone. Well, Voldemort wanted to split it seven times because seven is the most magical number.
So there we are, Harry is the “Chosen One” to kill Voldemort, but he has to find four more of Voldemort’s Horcruxes (he already destroyed the diary in Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore destroyed the ring, and the remaining one resides in the “human” body of Voldemort) and without Dumbledore’s help anymore…perhaps.
That’s also another interesting aspect here: Voldemort and Harry naturally have some overlap. Both revere Hogwarts as their one true home and both group up without their parents. Voldemort just took it to another level.
And you can tell Dumbledore loves Harry, although we’re going to find out some troubling caveats to that in the seventh book, but his trust in Harry is incredible. After drinking a vile potion that weakens him greatly, Harry leads Dumbledore back to Hogwarts where this exchange takes place:
Oh and we now have the issue of Harry thinking Snape legitimately killed Dumbledore. So that’s another issue to be mindful of going into the seventh book.
As usual, some quotes for your delight:
“Do you remember me telling you we are practicing non-verbal spells, Potter?”
“Yes,” said Harry stiffly.
“There’s no need to call me “sir” Professor.”
The words had escaped him before he knew what he was saying.”
-Another great display of Harry’s sarcasm
“It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.” – Dumbledore
“Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.” – Dumbledore
“Dumbledore says people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.” – I forget who said this one
“I don’t mean to be rude—” he began, in a tone that threatened rudeness in every syllable.
“Yet, sadly, accidental rudeness occurs alarmingly often,” Dumbledore finished the sentence gravely.”
– Dumbledore with his own bit of sarcasm
BOOK SUMMARY: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
This edition of Harry Potter series begins with Harry entering his 6th year at Hogwarts, where an endless turmoil is weaved. The army of Voldemort is getting stronger day by day and daily tragedies seem to be a routine. The Muggle world is at huge risk and Hogwarts is no safer anymore too.
Harry doubts that Professor Draco Malfoy is a part of Voldemort’s his army. Therefore, he starts following him and his actions but very few believe Harry’s theory regarding Malfoy being a part of Lord Voldemort’s army. With hormones being real high for the three best friends, Ron, Hermione and Harry’s friendship has to undergo a lot of tests. Ron finds his first love in the lady named Lavender Brown. This enrages Hermione a lot. While all of this is going on, Harry realizes that he is growing feelings for Ron’s sister, Ginny Weasley.
Where you think that there is already a lot happening at Hogwarts, the work load leaves everyone in pressure. Even Hermione struggles under the pressure of getting her work done on time. The difficult assignments seem to be getting to everyone. Snape continues as the teacher of Defense against the Dark Art and he makes sure to make Harry’s life horrible by sending him to detentions whenever possible. A new professor, Horace Slughorn, becomes the teacher for Potions class and he thinks that Harry is the best student. Harry excels in this class due to a book he found secretly. The book belonged to an old student of Hogwarts, which was famous as the Half-Blood Prince. Hermione is mostly frustrated that Harry gets ahead just because he owns that textbook. Not only this, the 6th year also teaches them the magic which allows them to move from one place to another.
The 6th year entirely seems to be going too heavy for the community of Hogwarts. It seems as if someone is within the walls of Hogwarts and is conducting the tasks for Lord Voldemort. With every situation getting worse, Harry is curious to find whatever is going on behind the scenes and who is actually behind it. However, this mission gets hard to complete as Harry has other responsibilities too. He has to head the Quid ditch team. Everyone is expecting that Harry will be the reason behind the victory of Gryffindor but he has a lot on his mind already to keep him distracted.
Dumbledore had decided to give Harry private lessons at the start of their 6th year. This makes Harry feel elated as he learns that private lessons with Dumbledore involve travelling through the reminiscences of everyone who were aware of Voldemort at any part of their life. Through these lessons, Dumbledore and Harry travel through a lot of essential information. They collected important data, like Voldemort’s memories which had his childhood and his years as a student in Hogwarts. The last and most important flashback is somehow connected to Professor Slughorn but he could not reach it as he has removed it through powerful magic. Dumbledore pleads Harry to ask Slughorn to hand over his memories to hm. But Harry knew that this was impossible.
But luck stays on Harry’s side as he had won a powerful potion (Felix Felicis) in his Potion class. He uses it to get the memory of Slughorn. When they travel into the memory, they find the moment in which Voldemort had learnt about Horcrux. Horcrux is the most powerful Dark Art magic which permits the division of the soul. This magic gives the owner the power of immortality. When Voldemort was at Hogwarts, he had asked Slughorn to exchange some really essential information about this Dark magic. The result of this had been that Voldemort’s soul was divided into seven parts and these pieces were hidden in different locations round the world. Penetrating through the memories that Harry had managed to possess, Dumbledore can easily make wonderful suppositions about the locations in which the parts might be. The only way that Voldemort can be killed is to collect and destroy all the seven parts of Horcrux. Harry realizes that this is his mission to complete.
Dumbledore and Harry travel to the first Horcrux to retrieve it and on their return, they find out that Hogwarts has been attacked by the Death Eaters. The sign of Lord Voldemort, the dark mark, travels like a huge black cloud over the Wizardry school, Hogwarts. As Harry and Dumbledore travel to the tower, they figure out that the Dark Mark is a trap set for Dumbledore and was intruded to bring him to that tower. Before the Death Eaters corner him, Dumbledore uses his spells to hide Harry Potter and make him invisible so that the Death Eaters do not fetch him.
Draco Malfoy arrives where the entire scene is going on, to kill Dumbledore but it seems really hard for him to do so. However, in the light of the orders sent by Lord Voldemort, only Draco is supposed to do so. With shaky hands, Draco stands there to kill Dumbledore but seems too scared to do so. No sooner Snape arrives at the tower and sees that influential Aurors protecting Dumbledore had arrived. Snape murders Dumbledore himself and this sends him tumbling down. Harry Potter is helpless as ever due to Dumbledore’s magic. He is filled with grief as he sees Dumbledore die but is not being able to do anything about it. Harry runs down to find his friends and there is an utter chaos everywhere, with blood around. The Death Eaters leave and Harry is filled with horror as he is not able to stop Snape from killing Dumbledore or do anything. Everyone gathers around the dead body of Dumbledore and sorrow is filled in the air. It is decided that the best lies in closing Hogwarts.
Dumbledore had wished that he must be buried in Hogwarts. His funeral was a big ceremony as people from all corners of the world come to see him. Deep down in his heart, Harry knows what he has to do next. He had to hunt down to each Horcrux and kill Voldemort. Hermione and Ron swear to help and support their friend through this. Harry is left with a heart that is filled with grief but feels better, knowing that his friends are along his side. He also breaks up with Ginny because he does not want Voldemort to attack her in any case. She understands this but it gets really tough for both of them to part their ways. The school closes with Harry’s heart filled with sorrow and with unknown dangers that lie ahead for him due to Voldemort.