Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Number of pages
Approximately 30 hours
Explanation of the Title
The title refers to one of the previous owners of Harry’s potions book. The Half-Blood Prince had made notes of all kind in the book, including notes about potion making but also various spells are writen down.
Harry is waiting in his room for Dumbledore to come and collect him. Everybody now believes that Voldemort is back. To back this up, strange accidents and murders are already happening across England. The minister of magic has visited the prime minister to inform him of the situation. The wizarding-community has handed out pamphlets on which some precautions are described. The prophecy that Harry is the Chosen One is one of the biggest items in the Daily Prophet, although they’re only speculating.
Dumbledore will take Harry to the Burrow, where he will spend the rest of his holiday, something Harry doesn’t mind at all. But before Harry can enjoy the rest of his holiday, Dumbledore asks a favor of Harry. He is to persuade Horatio Slughorn to come out of retirement and start teaching again.
Harry meets up with Ron and Hermione at the Burrow and informs them of the prophecy, which states that either he or Lord Voldemort will have to die because they can’t exist together. Later on they receive there results on their O.W.L.’s. Harry fears he won’t be able to become an Auror because Snape won’t let him continue potions with just an ‘Exceeds expectations’.
They all go to Diagon Alley to get their supplies for their next year at Hogwarts. Due to all the commotion they get some extra security from the ministry. While in Diagon Alley they also stop by the new joke shop of Fred and George. It’s success and so the store is very busy. They also encounter Draco Malfoy, who’s doing his shopping with his mother. Later on they see Draco walking alone, which they find very suspicious and they decide to tail him. They can’t find out what Draco is up to exactly, but Harry has a bad feeling about it and decides to keep an eye on him. Ron and Hermione don’t think it’s a big deal and think Harry should forget the matter.
Back at Hogwarts Snape has finally got the position he always wanted, Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Slughorn will be teaching potions from now on. Harry is displeased with Snape, but McGonagall tells him that Slughorn will let him do potions with an ‘Exceeds Expectations’. Because Harry didn’t count on this he gets a book and ingredients from Slughorn. The book is full with all sorts of handwriten notes. In his first potions-lesson he follows the instructions written by the previous owner, and it wins him a small bottle of Felix Felicis, a potion that makes you lucky. Hermione strongly disapproves of Harry using the notes because they don’t know who made them. The previous owner was called The Half-Blood Prince and Hermione starts her search on information on this character.
Dumbledore will also give Harry private lessons this year and Harry can’t wait to start them. Dumbledore wants to teach Harry more about Lord Voldemort and his past. Therefore Harry and Dumbledore take several excursions into the pensieve to look at memories concerning Voldemort. Because Dumbledore has already told Harry all the facts and will try to teach Harry by speculation and guesswork.
Harry, Ron nor Hermione has continued with Care of Magical Creatures this year and they feel they should talk to Hagrid about this. Hagrid is a bit reluctant to talk to them at first, but they don’t give up that easily and make up with Hagrid.
During the first excursion to Hogsmeade somebody tries to sneak a dark artifact into the school. However, the attempt fails and a student ends up in St Mungo’s because she touched the necklace herself and gets injured because of a curse on it. Fortunately she can return to Hogwarts after being in hospital for several days. Harry suspects it was Draco who tried to smuggle the artifact in, but nobody believes him.
At the evening of Slughorn’s pre-Christmas party,Harry finally gets some interesting information. Draco and Snape have an argument about the task Draco is supposed to fulfill. Snape wants to help him, but Draco won’t let him. Snape is angry about it, and tells Draco he made an Unbreakable Vow to his mother. Harry learns later on that you die if you break an Unbreakable Vow.
Harry stays at the Burrow for the Christmas break. When they are having their Christmas diner they get an unexpected visit from Percy, one of Ron’s elder brothers, and the new minister of magic, Rufus Scrimgeour. Scrimgeour asks Harry to help the ministry by showing he approves of the policies of the ministry. Harry refuses because he doesn’t like the policy, which has involved locking up innocent people to show the public that the ministry is getting some work done.
After the Christmas break Harry gets some homework from Dumbledore. He’s supposed to get a memory from professor Slughorn. Harry tries to get the memory on several occasions, but he’s more obsessed with Draco’s plan. He even gets Dobby and Kreacher to tail Draco. Kreacher is Harry’s own house-elf which came with the house he inherited from Sirius Black, his godfather. They tell him that Draco often goes to the Room of Requirement.
At last he also gets the memory from Slughorn, although it takes him a bit of his Felix Felicis. Slughorn’s memory shows Slughorn telling a young Voldemort what Horcruxes are and how they are made. A Horcrux is an ordinary object which contains a piece of the soul of a wizard. To get that piece of soul it has to be torn off of the soul, which can only be accomplished by killing another human. If the soul is divided and a piece of it is transferred to the object the person can’t die until the Horcruxes are destroyed as well as the body. Voldemort appears to be interested in making seven Horcruxes, but Slughorn tells him this has never been done before and strongly disagrees with the notion.
Dumbledore tells Harry that he has already destroyed a few Horcruxes and he promises Harry he can join him when he finds another.
Unfortunately Dumbledore asks Harry to come with him just on the day Harry discovers Draco has finished his plan. He gathers his friends and gives them the remainder of the Felix Felicis and tells them to keep an eye on Draco and on Snape.
Dumbledore and Harry go to a cave and find the Horcrux. It takes some effort to actually get possession of it and Dumbledore gets weakened a lot. When they finally return to Hogsmeade the Dark Mark is hovering above the school. Harry and Dumbledore get some broomsticks and race back. When they land on the roof Dumbledore puts a spell on Harry so he can’t move. Unfortunately, now he hasn’t got time to defend himself and is disarmed by Draco. Harry can do nothing while Draco unfolds his plan. He’s supposed to kill Dumbledore. But he doesn’t dare in the end. Then Snape comes and does it for him. With Dumbledore dead, the Death Eaters that had infiltrated the school try to flee. But Harry’s friends, the teachers and a few Aurors are still putting up a fight while Harry chases Draco and Snape as they flee the grounds and disapparate.
With Dumbledore dead, the whole school has become sad. Preparations for the funeral are made and Harry knows what his task is, to find the remaining Horcruxes and destroy them.
As usual, Harry Potter is the main character in this story. He’s getting a bit older and besides the fight against Voldemort there’s also love in his life now. He falls in love with Ginny, Ron’s younger sister, and fears Ron’s reaction if he got together with Ginny. In the end it turns out fine, but he breaks up with Ginny at the funeral of Dumbledore, because he fears she will be in danger if she’s with him.
Harry is convinced that Draco is up to something, but nobody, not even Ron and Hermione, believe him. In the end he’s right after all.
Together with Dumbledore he looks into the past of Voldemort and learns about the prophecy and how he can beat Voldemort. Harry has an argument with Dumbledore about him trusting Snape and again he’s right in the end.
Harry also gets his hands on Snape’s old potions-book. He uses the notes Snape has made in his days and tries a few spells Snape thought up. He uses one of them on Draco who gets severely injured and this earns Harry detention until the end of the year. He puts the book away in the Room of Requirement.
This year Harry becomes captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team and he has a hard time putting together a good team, but in the end his team wins the cup.
Draco Malfoy - Draco has a dark mission ahead of him this year. He’s to kill Dumbledore or die trying. This has a great effect on Draco, he becomes paler and paler as the year progresses. He thinks he won’t be able to do it after a few failed attempts and finds comfort in Moaning Myrtle, the ghost of the girl’s bathroom. He does injure two students with these attempts. In the end, he doesn’t have the heart to finish Dumbledore.
Professor Snape - Snape makes an Unbreakable Vow to Draco’s mother to protect and help Draco in his mission. Draco won’t let him help him however and Snape only hears of the plan when it’s already in full motion. He is in time to kill Dumbledore, however.
Snape also gets the job he always wanted, Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher and continues to make Harry’s life as miserable as he can.
Professor Dumbledore - Dumbledore has promised Harry after last year to teach him everything he knows about Voldemort. He takes Harry down into memories about Voldemort in his pensive. He tells Harry about his suspicions about the Horcruxes and what sort of objects they will be. In the end he is betrayed by Snape.
The story plays in the present time, but it is hard to discern what time exactly, because there’s not much technology used by the wizards.
The story is chronologic, although it contains several flashbacks when Harry and Dumbledore enter the pensieve to look at some memories. Furthermore, the story contains a few references to events from the previous books,
The story plays at Hogwarts most of the time. There a few other spots, such as the cave where the Horcrux is kept, The Burrow and Hogsmeade.
As usual, the theme of the story is the battle between good and evil, the battle between Harry and Voldemort. The battle is progressing into the next stage, since Harry finally discovers how he can beat Voldemort. Namely by destroying the six Horcruxes and the seventh peace of Voldemort’s soul, which still resides in his body.
The book isn’t very hard to read or understand. The story doesn’t suffer under this however. It still contains tension, but it’s not to scary for little children.
We follow this story mainly through Harry’s eyes. We get to look in on his thoughts and views on the world and events around. In the beginning we look through the eyes of the prime minister.
Relation Text – Author
There doesn’t seem to be a real relation between the author and the text. The story concerns itself mostly with the battle between good and evil. It also deals with the problems of any normal teenager of Harry’s age. To me it seems a bit farfetched that Rowling has put her own experiences in this story.
I really enjoyed Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. The plot wasn’t very complicated though. But my overall reading experience was good; I found it hard to put the book away until I finished it. I do think you get a better experience if you have read the other books as well, so you can see the growth of the individual characters.