Book 34: Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince

Book Title: Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince
Author: JK Rowling
Published: 2005
Pages: 607
Category: fiction: fantasy

For the Half-Blood Prince book release we made cloaks.

I didn’t get a job the summer of 2005 so i spent the days leading up to July 16th driving around town with an assortment of Death Eaters looking for enough black fabric to fully cloak about 12 people.  That was Fun.

We gathered at Jennifer’s house to cut the fabric, then at Elise’s place to sew together cloaks.  It was a mess. but amazingly so.
Then we went for dinner at Fifth Street Grill, the reservation under Voldemort, 12 or so of us walked in with our cloaks and hats and everyone in the restaurant either laughed, starred, or a combination of the two.

We took the Knight Bus (aka the Number 4) to Bolens and proceeded to wander the mall, sparking the eternal “Death Eaters Don’t read Cosmo – Well, this is InStyle” debate.  Then we sat in a circle inside Bolens reading excerpts from previous books.  Finally we went outside to wait in line, where we acquired an 8 year old girl dressed as Luna Lovegood.  Her father wanted to go home, and she didn’t. So he left her with us. (I laugh when i think of what his wife’s reaction to this would be, but I guess he figured it was safe to assume that we wouldn’t be leaving our spot in line anytime soon.) At 10:30 pm I sped downtown in my car to pick up Elise from work, so that we would be back in time to get our books when the doors opened.

We encountered Qui-Gon Hagrid, and a goat dressed as a dragon and a miniature horse dressed as a unicorn.  Entered some colouring contests and finally laid hands on our books.  We went back to Jenn’s house and read through the night, stopping to discuss and to watch ourselves on the early morning news.

Jenn had to go to work in the morning, so we went our separate ways, Alex and I ended up going downtown dressed in our Cloaks, where we got our pictures taken by Japanese Tourists.  Then I returned to my house and finished the book.

That fall I started university at my Castle.  My Castle that was once owned by the Fiennes Family.  The same family that Ralph Fiennes, aka Voldemort is from – hence Voldemort’s Castle. I packed my cloak – i wasn’t going to a castle without it. And on the plane listened to about 11 episodes of Mugglecast and Pottercast.  I had a whole HP section on my wall of my dorm room.  And Half-Blood Prince came with me.

One may question the intelligence of taking a 600 some odd page book across the Atlantic, when all I was taking with me was two suitcases for 8 months. But at that point it had been 6 years of my life, and I had to take the book along with me to England. To my Castle.

A lot of plot elements came together in Half-Blood Prince, and we finally got many of the answers we were looking for.  And we see so much more of Albus Dumbledore – a man we have always respected but never really understood. Of course, after reading Deathly Hallows, we still don’t truly know him, he will always keep his mysteries. After discovering that there are true prophecies, it was so good to see Harry come to terms with the path his life is on, and to come to a realization that his actions would be the same no matter whether he had heard the prophecy or not. Harry takes some element of control back in his life at this point in the series, and for the first time we have a (relatively) clear game plan for how to take Voldemort down.

There are many elements I love most about Half-Blood Prince, one of them has to be that the other Houses come into play more than they had in the past. We learn of Voldemort’s obsession with the founders, and concentrate with Harry on Slytherin’s Locket, Hufflepuff’s Cup, and something of Ravenclaw’s. Looking into the memories and history of Voldemort himself is haunting and so very interesting after seeing the chaos and evil he had brought into the world.

Another is that with the introduction of Horace Slughorn, we see a side of Slytherin House that is not evil, but is instead ambitious, self-preserving and so many other elements that are often overlooked by those who see only meanness and cruelty in the House of Slytherin.

And then there is Felix Felicis, and the antics of Harry being Harry, attempting to get that very important memory from Slughorn (which I think was perfectly done in the movie). As well as the moments of tranquility that Harry and Ginny get to enjoy, before the purposefulness that Harry acquires in the aftermath of the death of Albus Dumbledore.

Of course, no discussion of Half-Blood Prince can finish without talking of the Prince himself, and the events at the end of the book, with the flight of the Prince, and Snape’s dramatic scene as Harry chases him from the grounds of Hogwarts,

“You dare use my own spells against me, Potter? It was I who invented them – I, the Half-Blood Prince!…DON’T…CALL ME COWARD!” (563-564)

I think this was the moment I truly started to meditate on the character of Snape, and join in on the discussion as to whether he was indeed evil or not. Just pages before, Snape had murdered, in a seemingly cold-blooded fashion, the greatest wizard of the day, and to have this sequence right after – it made for a very interesting debate for the next two years, on the true loyalties of Severus Snape.

Half-Blood Prince does a wonderful job of setting the stage for the events of the Deathly Hallows, as the characters who we leave on its last pages are ready for where the next book will take them.

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2 Responses to Book 34: Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince

  1. Elise says:

    “We only break (or don’t break, as the case may be) for Harry Potter”
    That was such a great night! I wish there where more so that we had an excuse to be that ridiculous again. The movies just aren’t the same, there’s something special about the excitement a terror of new original content, and staying up all night to read it.

    • Pippa says:

      I always wonder about how I can read a book for the first time again, just once more. Not dreading the things that you know will make you cry, not racing through things to get to the parts you really enjoy.

      I bet there would be a market for some sort of mind-erasing tool that could do that, but let you go back to the first memories too!

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