Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
by JK Rowling
The sixth Harry Potter novel introduces some new characters and some new – and very dark – magical concepts. It also immerses us in the teen world of romantic attachments, jealousies and rebellion.
The Ministry of Magic now knows that Lord Voldemort is back. People are disappearing and dying, not only in the wizarding world, but among the muggles too.
Horace Slughorn, a former teacher – one who taught Tom Riddle (AKA Voldemort) – returns to Hogwarts on Dumbledore’s invitation as Potions Master. But Dumbledore is really interested in Slughorn’s memories of the young Riddle and what he told him of horcruxes, and recruits Harry to discover what these memories are. Whilst attaching himself to Slughorn’s “set”, Harry finds himself the possessor of an old Potions book, once the property of a student who calls himself the Half-Blood Prince. Full of handwritten notes, it enables Harry to excel in the subject, much to the disgust and envy of his friend Hermione.
However, Harry’s task proves more difficult than expected because Slughorn is ashamed of his memories and is reluctant to give them up. Harry, now captain of his quidditch team, has other matters to deal with. He is determined to find out what Draco Malfoy is up to when he disappears off the Marauders’ Map. There are other issues too – his feelings for Ginny Weasley and his growing dislike and distrust of Professor Severus Snape.
In the course of this novel, by far the darkest Potter story yet, we meet the parents and grandparents of Voldemort. We learn some new charms, some dangerous curses and above all discover exactly what horcruxes are, and how they are a factor in the Dark Lord’s apparent invulnerability.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a great dark fantasy. It is a journey on which not all who set out will return! We discover the identity of the Prince, but only after a great sacrifice.
The Hogwarts House Edition of the final novel in the series will be released in June, when I will conclude my own series of thoughts on the collection.