Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
From a book I didn’t love to one I absolutely adore. After the overly drawn out fifth instalment, book six in the Harry Potter is the adrenaline shot the series needed. The sixth book delivers all of the plot advancement that the previous chapter but does so in a much punchier manner, delivering hit after hit after hit with several fascinating developments throughout and a couple of killer twists.
Harry returns to Hogwarts for his sixth year but it is a very different place, after Harry’s battle with Voldemort in the Ministry of Magic, the wizarding world knows that you-know-who has returned. No longer hiding in the shadows, Voldemort has begun to make moves toward dominance…the war has begun.
Once again, Harry’s role in the action seems a little secondary; after all, he’s still at School while Voldemort plots out in the real world. However, this time around, Harry’s actions throughout the book feel much more purposeful. He makes many trips with Dumbledore into the pensieve (a device which allows the user to travel into other people’s memories) to unravel further, the origins of Lord Voldermort. We get to see some of his family background as well as Dumbledore rescuing the young Voldermort, then Tom Riddle, from an orphanage to take him to Hogwarts. All throughout Riddle is a sinister figure, suggesting the evil of Voldemort always lay somewhere within him.
These flashbacks are a great way of explaining how Harry’s nemesis was gradually shed of his humanity to become the beast he is today, they present a grim and frightening look as Riddle rots away, though they also do a great job of humanising him. The reader almost feels sorry for him when he returns to Hogwarts for the last time to apply for the position of defence against the dark arts teacher, already showing the signs that his lust for power is destroying him.
The book isn’t all doom and gloom though, thankfully, Rowling breaks up the growing tension with some spot on comedic relief, leading to some of the funniest scenes in the whole series.
Most notable of which sees Ron eat a box of love potion spiked chocolates intended for Harry, which make him fall in love with the girl who sent them, much to the chagrin of Ron’s girlfriend.
The plot demonstrates yet more of Harry and his friends growing up. Ron and Hermione seem to move closer together and Harry actually starts a relationship with ron’s sister Ginny (though he does break it off towards the end of the book in a effort to keep her safe). It’s all a much needed chance to humanise the characters, to give them some real world experiences instead of magical ones and it works perfectly. It’s never too soppy or overdone, it’s just right.
And then there’s the ending. I shouldn’t even need to type out what happens at the end of this book because I doubt there’s a single person alive today that doesn’t know the eventual outcome of this story, even those that have no interest in reading the books.
Put simply, it’s arguably the best and most shocking conclusion to a piece of media that my generation has ever seen. The final act of the Half Blood Prince is akin to learning for the first time that Darth Vader is Luke’s Father, that Rosebud was a sledge, that Sherlock survived his fall from the Reichenbach. It might sound like it’s overselling it, but no, it’s honestly that damn good.
The Half Blood Prince is JK Rowling’s masterpiece, it ups the tension while delivering vital information to the plot but keeping the action, intrigue and humour all perfectly balanced. It’s a hard thing to pull off but she manages perfectly and leaves the stage set for book seven’s dramatic conclusion. And after the events of Half Blood Prince…who knows what might happen?
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