Title: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Author: J. K. Rowling.
Genre: Literature, Bildungsroman, fiction, adventure, fantasy, war lit.
Publication Date: July 16th, 2005.
Summary: It is Harry Potter's 6th year at Hogwarts, but he has no chance to revel in such joys as being made the new Quidditch captain, or the newly-discovered feelings for his best friend's sister. While outside the walls, Voldemort's sinister forces amass and a spirit of fear, gloom and terror sweeps the wizarding world, Dumbledore attempts to prepare Harry for having to soon confront his destiny by taking him through the memories of Voldemort's beginnings, searching for the weakness in Voldemort's armour, and the secret to his immortality. Meanwhile, Harry stumbles on an old Potions textbook, whose mysterious previous owner, the 'Half-Blood Prince', makes Harry excel in the subject by extensive notes and edits, but the spells suggested in the margins become increasingly sinister. And though Harry is used to trusting Dumbledore's judgment, his growing suspicions about Draco Malfoy's movements and Snape's loyalty to the Order become more and more substantiated, until a shocking climax that may mean the end of Hogwarts and life as Harry has known it since entering it.
My rating: 8.5/10
♥ The Prime Minister gazed hopelessly at the pair of them for a moment, then the words he had fought to suppress all evening burst from him at last.
"But for heaven's sake - you're wizards! You can do magic! Surely you can sort out - well - anything!"
Srimgeour turned slowly on the spot and exchanged an incredulous look with Fudge, who really did manage a smile this time as he said kindly, "The trouble is, the other side can do magic too, Prime Minister."
♥ "Cissy, you must not do this, you can't trust him - "
"The Dark Lord trusts him, doesn't he?
"The Dark Lord is... I believe... mistaken," Bella panted, and her eyes gleamed momentarily under her hood as she looked around to check that they were indeed alone.
♥ "And still you overlook Dumbledore's greatest weakness: he has to believe the best in people."
♥ 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. "Best to say nothing at all, my dear man."
♥ "And now, Harry, let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure."
♥ "Professor Umbridge ran afoul of our centaur herd," said Dumbledore.
♥ "Oh, there you are, Albus," he said. "You've been a very long time. Upset stomach?"
"No, I was merely reading the Muggle magazines," said Dumbledore. "I do love knitting patterns."
♥ "It was cruel," said Dumbledore softly, "that you and Sirius had such a short time together. A brutal ending to what should have been long and happy friendship."
♥ "But while I was at the Dursleys'," interrupted Harry, his voice growing stronger, "I realised I can't shut myself away or - or crack up. Sirius wouldn't have wanted that, would he? And anyway, life's too short... look at Madam Bones, look at Emmeline Vance... it could be me next, couldn't it? But if it is," he said fiercely, now looking straight into Dumbledore's blue eyes, gleaming in the wand-light, "I'll make sure I take my Death Eaters with me as I can, and Voldemort too if I can manage it."
♥ "Arthur, is that you?"
"Yes," came Mr Weasley's weary voice. "But I would say that even if I were a Death Eater, dear. Ask the question!"
"All right, all right... what is your dearest ambition?"
"To find out how aeroplanes stay up."
Mrs Weasley nodded and turned the doorknob, but apparently Mr Weasley was holding tight to it on the other side, because the door remained firmly shut.
"Molly! I've got to ask you your question first!"
"Arthur, really, this is just silly..."
"What do you like me to call you when we're alone together?"
Even by the dim light of the lantern Harry could tell that Mrs Weasley had turned bright red; he himself felt suddenly warm around the ears and neck, and hastily gulped soup, clattering his spoon as loudly as he could against the bowl.
"Mollywobbles," whispered a mortified Mrs Weasley into the crack at the edge of the door.
♥ "Dumbledore says people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right," said Hermione.
♥ Harry did not really listen. A warmth was spreading through him that had nothing to do with the sunlight; a tight obstruction in his chest seemed to be dissolving. He knew that Ron and Hermione were more shocked than they were letting on, but the mere fact that they were still there on either side of him, speaking bracing words of comfort, not shrinking from him as though he were contaminated or dangerous, was worth more than he could ever tell them.
♥ The right-hand window was covered with a gigantic poster, purple like those of the Ministry, but emblazoned with flashing yellow letters:
You SHOULD Be Worrying About
the Constipation Sensation That's Gripping the Nation!
♥ "I have assured the spirit community that I will not pester you for information, however. 'Harry Potter knows that he can confide in me with complete confidence,' I told them, 'I would rather die than betray his trust.'"
"That's not saying much, seeing as you're already dead," Ron observed.
"Once again, you show all the sensitivity of a blunt axe," said Nearly Headless Nick in affronted tones.
♥ "The Dark Arts," said Snape, "are many, varied, ever-changing and eternal. Fighting them is like fighting a many-headed monster, which, each time a neck is severed, sprouts a head even fiercer and cleverer than before. You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating, indestructible."
♥ "Yes," said Harry stiffly.
"There's no need to call me 'sir', Professor."
♥ "Amortentia doesn't really create love, of course. It is impossible to manufacture or imitate love. No, this will simply cause a powerful infatuation or obsession. It is probably the most dangerous and powerful potion in this room - oh yes," he said, nodding gravely at Malfoy and Nott, both of whom were smirking skeptically. "When you have seen as much of life as I have, you will not underestimate the power of obsessive love..."
♥ "From this point forth, we shall be leaving the firm foundation of fact and journeying together through the murky marshes of memory into thickets of wildest guess-work. From hereon in, Harry, I may be as woefully wrong as Humphrey Belcher, who believed the time was ripe for a cheese cauldron."
"But you think you're right?" said Harry.
"Naturally I do, but as I have already proven to you, I make mistakes like the next man. In fact, being - forgive me - rather cleverer than most men, my mistakes tend to be correspondingly huger."
♥ Non-verbal spells were now expected, not only in Defence Against the Dark Arts, but in Charms and Transfiguration too. Harry frequently looked over at his classmates in the common room or at mealtimes to see them purple in the face and straining as though they had overdosed on U-No-Poo; but he knew that they were really struggling to make spells work without saying incantations aloud.
♥ He had known Hagrid to present a vicious baby dragon with a teddy bear, seen him croon over giant scorpions with suckers and stings, attempt to reason with his brutal giant of a half-brother, but this was perhaps the most incomprehensible of all his monster fancies: the gigantic talking spider, Aragog, that dwelled deep in the Forbidden Forest and which he and Ron had only narrowly escaped four years previously.
♥ Harry lay awake for a long time, looking up at the canopy of his four-poster and trying to convince himself that his feelings for Ginny were entirely older-brotherly. They had lived, had they not, like brother and sister all summer, playing Quidditch, teasing Ron and having a laugh about Bill and Phlegm? He had known Ginny for years now... it was natural that he should feel protective...natural that he should want to look out for her... want to rip Dean limb from limb for kissing her... no... he would have to control that particular brotherly feeling...
♥ Ron looked strangely blank and said nothing. Harry was left to ponder in silence the depths to which girls would sink to get revenge.
♥ "But you are normal!" said Harry fiercely. "You've just got a - a problem - "
Lupin burst out laughing.
"Sometimes you remind me a lot of James. He called it my "furry little problem" in company. Many people were under the impression that I owned a badly behaved rabbit."
♥ "Dumbledore's man through and through, aren't you, Potter?"
"Yeah, I am," said Harry. "Glad we straightened that out."
♥ Professor Flitwick had dried himself off wit a wave of his wand and set Seamus lines ('I am a wizard, not a baboon brandishing a stick').
♥ "I hear that you met the Minister for Magic over Christmas?"
"Yes," said Harry. "He's not very happy with me."
"No," sighed Dumbledore. "He is not very happy with me, either. We must try not to sink beneath our anguish, Harry, but battle on."
♥ "As he moved up the school, he gathered about him a group of dedicated friends; I call them that, for want of a better term, although as I have already indicated, Riddle undoubtedly felt no affection for any of them. This group had a kind of dark glamour within the castle. They were a motley collection; a mixture of the weak seeking protection, the ambitious seeking some shared glory, and the thuggish, gravitating towards a leader who could show them more refined forms of cruelty."
♥ Harry, however, had never been less interested in Quidditch; he was rapidly becoming obsessed with Draco Malfoy.
♥ Then Cadwallader scored again, making things level, but Luna did not seem to have noticed; she appeared singularly uninterested in such mundane things as the score, and kept attempting to draw the crowd's attention to such things as interestingly shaped clouds and the possibility that Zacharias Smith, who had so far failed to maintain possession of the Quaffle for longer than a minute, was suffering from something called "Loser's Lurgy."
♥ "it is one of the irritating things about old teachers, I am afraid, that they never quite forget their charges' youthful beginnings."
♥ "Greatness inspires envy, envy engenders spite, spite spawns lies. You must know this, Dumbledore."
♥ "But the more I hint I want to finish it, the tighter she holds on. It's like going out with the Giant Squid."
♥ "Don't you see? Voldemort himself created his worst enemy, just as tyrants everywhere do! Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realise that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one who rises against them and strikes back! Voldemort is no different! Always he was on the lookout for the one who would challenge him. He heard the prophecy and he leapt into action, with the result that he not only handpicked the man most likely to finish him, he handed him uniquely deadly weapons!"
"But - "
"It is essential that you understand this!" said Dumbledore, standing up and striding about the room, his glittering robes swooshing in his wake; Harry had never seen him so agitated. "By attempting to kill you, Voldemort himself singled out the remarkable person who sits here in font of me, and have him the tools for the job! It is Voldemort's fault that you were able to see into his thoughts, his ambitions, that you even understand the snakelike language in which he gives orders, and yet, Harry, despite your privileged insight into Voldemort's world (which, incidentally, is a gift any Death Eater would kill to have), you have never been seduced by the Dark Arts, never, even for a second, shown the slightest desire to become one of Voldemort's followers!"
"Of course I haven't!" said Harry indignantly. "He killed my mum and dad!"
"You are protected, in short, by your ability to love!" said Dumbledore loudly.
♥ "But, sir," said Harry, making valiant efforts not to sound argumentative, "it all comes to the same thing, doesn't it? I've got to try and kill him, or - "
"Got to?" said Dumbledore. "Of course you've got to! But not because of the prophecy! Because you, yourself, will never rest until you've tried! We both know it! Imagine, please, just for a moment, that you had never heard that prophecy! Hoe would you feel about Voldemort now? Think!"
Harry watched Dumbledore striding up and down in front of him, and thought. He thought of his mother, his father and Sirius. He thought of Cedric Diggory. He thought of all the terrible deeds he knew Lord Voldemort had done. A flame seemed to leap inside his chest, searing his throat.
"I'd want him finished," said Harry quietly. "And I'd want to do it."
"Of course you would!" cried Dumbledore. "You see, the prophecy foes not mean you have to do anything! But the prophecy caused Lord Voldemort to mark you as his equal... in other words, you are free to choose your way, quite free to turn your back on the prophecy! But Voldemort continues to set store by the prophecy. He will continue to hunt you... which makes it certain, really, that - "
"That one of us is going to end up killing the other," said Harry. "Yes."
But he understood at last what Dumbledore had been trying to tell him. It was, he thought, the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high. Some people, perhaps, would say that there was little to choose between the two ways, but Dumbledore knew - and so do I, thought Harry, with a rush of fierce pride, and so did my parents - that there was all the difference in the world.
♥ "...age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth."
♥ "There is nothing to be feared from a body, Harry, any more than there is anything to be feared from the darkness. Lord Voldemort, who of course secretly fears both, disagrees. But once again he reveals his own lack of wisdom. It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more."
♥ "We're nearly there... I can Apparate us both back... don't worry..."
"I am not worried, Harry," said Dumbledore, his voice a little stronger despite the freezing water. "I am with you."
♥ "I'm not afraid," snarled Malfoy, though he still made no move to hurt Dumbledore. "It's you who should be scared!"
"But why? I don't think you will kill me, Draco. Killing is not nearly as easy as the innocent believe."
♥ "DON'T - " screamed Snape, and his face was suddenly demented, inhuman, as though he was in as much pain as the yelping, howling dog stick in the burning house behind them, " - CALL ME COWARD!"
♥ "I am not ridiculous," said Lupin steadily. "Tonks deserves somebody young and whole."
"But she wants you," said Mr Weasley, with a small smile. "And after all, Remus, young and whole men do not necessarily remain so." He gestured sadly at his son, lying between them.
"This is... not the moment to discuss it," said Lupin, avoiding everybody's eyes as he looked around distractedly. "Dumbledore is dead..."
"Dumbledore would have been happier than anybody to think that there was a little more love in the world, said Professor McGonagall curtly.
♥ And he knew, without knowing how he knew it, that the phoenix had gone, had left Hogwarts for good, just as Dumbledore had left the school, had left the world... had left Harry.
♥ And Harry remembered his first nightmarish trip into the Forest, the first time he had ever encountered the thing that was then Voldemort, and how he had faced him, and how he and Dumbledore had discussed fighting a losing battle not long thereafter. It was important, Dumbledore said, to fight, and fight again, and keep fighting, for only then could evil be kept at bay, though never quite eradicated...
And Harry saw very clearly as he sat there under the hot sun how people who cared about him had stood in front of him one by one, his mother, his father, his godfather, and finally Dumbledore, all determined to protect him; but now that was over. He could not let anybody else stand between him and Voldemort; he must abandon for ever the illusion he ought to have lost at the age of one: that the shelter of a parent's arms meant that nothing could hurt him. There was no waking from his nightmare, no comforting whisper in the dark that he was safe really, that it was all in his imagination; the last and greatest of his protectors had died and he was more alone than he had ever been before.
♥ "I just wish I'd asked you sooner. We could have had ages... months... years maybe..."
"But you've been too busy saving the wizarding world," said Ginny, half-laughing.
♥ "I see you are - "
"Dumbledore's man through and through," said Harry. "That's right."
♥ His hand closed automatically around the fake Horcrux, but in spite of everything, in spite of the dark and twisting path he saw stretching ahead for himself, in spite of the final meeting with Voldemort he knew must come, whether in a month, in a year, or in ten, he felt his heart lift at the thought that there was still one last golden day of peace left to enjoy with Ron and Hermione.