Thursday, May 17, 2018

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The penultimate entry of writer J.K. Rowling’s original Harry Potter saga opens with the British Prime Minister awaiting a phone call from the American President, although he first gets a visit from the former Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, who informs him about the goings-on in the world of magic, with Rufus Scrimgeour being the new Minister. In the meantime, sisters Narcissa Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange talk by a shack, afterward meeting Severus Snape and Wormtail, the former with whom Bella is infuriated given that Harry Potter remained at his mercy during his tutelage at Hogwarts.

The book eventually gets to Harry himself, who spends another summer with his last living relatives, the Dursleys, where he remains vigilant in case the magical Hitler Lord Voldemort’s minions are on to him. Dumbledore ultimately arrives at their home, informing Harry that his late godfather Sirius Black bequeathed him his London home, which Harry suggests would be better off remaining as headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. Another inheritance is the Black house-elf Kreacher, who is reluctant to have Harry as his master, with Sirius’ cousins, among them Bellatrix, in line to possess him.

Dumbledore brings Harry on an errand to the abode of one of his former instructors, Horace Slughorn, to coax him out of retirement in the village of Budleigh Babberton, with Slughorn, despite having been a Slytherin, very much defying the House’s negative image. The Hogwarts Headmaster further invites Harry to private “lessons” once his term commences, following which is a visit to the Weasley family home, the Burrow, with patriarch Arthur Weasley promoted in his position at the Ministry of Magic, Bill to marry Fleur Delacour, and O.W.L. results revealed.

Draco Malfoy, made a servant of Voldemort thanks to an Unbreakable Vow earlier made, serves as a constant target by Harry for his alleged dark deeds, to the point where he eventually sends his house-elf friend Dobby on a mission of tailing espionage. Thanks in part to a tattered and vandalized textbook once owned by the eponymous Half-Blood Prince, Harry has a much better time in Potions class than before, with the vexed Defense Against the Dark Arts position (the reason for its supposed curse revealed some ways into the novel) opening with lessons of nonverbal spells.

Dumbledore soon commences his “lessons” with Harry, which involve the exploration of Lord Voldemort’s family heritage, Potter given the mission to extract information about Horcruxes from Professor Slughorn, although he is initially reluctant to disclose data about them. Towards the very end of the sixth entry, Harry affirms his loyalty towards Dumbledore, with the Ministry of Magic at times trying to coax him into being their poster-boy. The Room of Requirement that served as training grounds for Dumbledore’s Army returns, as does Moaning Myrtle the ghost.

An old friend of Hagrid’s passes on, apparition lessons begin, the definition of Horcruxes is revealed, Harry goes on a mission with Dumbledore to receive one of said objects, the identity of the Half-Blood Prince is revealed, and hell ultimately breaks loose at Hogwarts, culminating in a satisfying conclusion that akin to the book’s predecessors is very bittersweet. Harry continues to be a difficult student, and is hailed as “the Chosen One,” echoing other media such as the Star Wars film series, but as with preceding entries, the book is sure to satisfy long-time series fans, old and young.

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