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Friday, July 20, 2007

Recapping 'The Half Blood Prince'

It's been a big week, Harry Potter-wise. First, it was the film version of book 5 - The Order of the Phoenix (I liked the movie, but didn't love it. Still, given that it was by far my least favourite book of the series, I enjoyed it more than I hoped I would). Now, tomorrow, the final book hits the stands.

It's been 2 years years the last book - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - came out. Which means its been 1 year and 363 days since I finished reading it (I tend to have trouble stopping once I've started a new Potter tome). And damned if I could remember what happened. Other than The Big Death, of course.

So I dove back into The Half-Blood Prince to remind myself - and now you too - just what went down.

Lots of Love

With Cho out of the picture, Harry's affections shifted to Ron sister Ginny. Harry spends much of the book alternately daydreaming about Ginny, worrying about how Ron would react if he knew and hating Ginny's boyfriend Dean. Finally, after Harry gets himself detention from Snape during the championship Quidditch game, and Griffindor wins anyway, he and Ginny get it together.

Ron gets himself in a snit over the notion that Hermione may have done a bit of snogging with Victor Krum back in the day. So, he gets himself a girlfriend, in the form of Lavender Brown, and an affectionate nickname: Won-Won.

Hermione and Ron spend much of the book at odds, refusing to speak or be in the same room. Ah, young love.

Following Sirius' death, Tonks just isn't herself, leading Harry to speculate she may have had more than friendly feelings for her cousin. Nope, turns out she's got a thing for Lupin and he resists her entreaties because of the whole wolfy thing. Men.

We learn Mr. Weasley's pet name for Mrs. Weasley is Mollywobbles.

Lots of Hate

Early on, Snape takes an Unbreakable Vow to help and protect Draco Malfoy in his latest evil pursuit. That job, it turns out, is to kill Dumbledore.

Meanwhile, the Death Eaters are on the rampage, killing and maiming across the countryside.

To help Harry understand the fight he is up against, Dumbledore shows Harry a series of memories in the Pensieve, which lay out Voldemort's history, from troubled orphan to evil young man. It all builds to the idea that Voldemort has split his soul into 7 parts, and hidden 6 of those parts in objects (the seventh resides in his physical body). As long as these objects - the Horcruxes - exist, Voldemort remains immortal. Harry had already destroyed one - the diary that opened the Chamber of Secrets. Dumbledore had since destroyed a second - a ring from Voldemort's wizard ancestors. Harry and Dumbledore work out that the remaining 4 are hidden in a locket that once belonged to Slytherin, a goblet that belonged to Hufflepuff, something that had belonged to either Raveclaw or Griffendor (they don't know just what) and, finally, Voldemort's own pet snake.

A Big Death

Harry and Dumbledore set out to destroy one of the horcruxes - the locket - and manage to make it out alive - just barely, with Dumbledore badly weakened from drinking poison to beat Voldemort's defenses. The arrive back at Hogsmead to find the Dark Mark shining in the sky and rush back to defend the school. They are waylaid by Draco Malfoy, who seems ready to finally kill Dumbledore. Dumbledore doubts it, and even as 4 Death Eaters arrive to prod Malfoy along, it seems Malfoy won't be able to do it in the end. So, Snape does it for him. Quickly, coldly and before Harry's frozen eyes.

And the Half-Blood Prince?

Harry borrows an old potions book that once belonged to the Half-Blood Prince. The Prince's written notes give Harry an edge in potions class, and he continues to use the book despite Hermione's objections. Turns out, the book was once Snape's.

But is Snape really evil? Or did Dumbledore expect that Snape would need to kill him for Harry to succeed? Did he, in fact, order it?

Guess we'll see in book 7, as Harry sets out to avenge Dumbledore and his parents, and to finally face off with Voldemort for the last time.

This ought to be good....


  • At 11:08 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for the recap. It saved me from rereading the book. Have you finished the Deathly Hallows yet? We can discuss when you do. First off: way to step up Neville!

  • At 5:59 p.m., Blogger Jen said…

    Way to step up Neville, indeed!

    I finished on Sunday at noon. Ready and willing to discuss...

    I thought the second quarter of the book - from say pages 150-300 -was seriously slow going. But the second half of the book made up for it.

    I thought Snape might get a bit of bigger send-off. And I cried twice. You?

  • At 10:05 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yes, the second quarter was slow going but the rest of it was action-packed. The final battle was immensely satisfying.
    Although, I was expecting the death toll to be higher on the good guy side.

    Snape's end was about what I expected. He was redeemed, that was the important part.

    The ending was a bit too neat and tidy. ButI think JK as did a great job closing the series given the high expectations.

    I would've liked to find out what happened to the Dursley 19 years later.

  • At 11:41 a.m., Blogger Unknown said…

    Finished it Wednesday

    I was more pumped up about Neville than I was Harry, Ron or Hermione. A lot of there moments were pre-ordained: romantic tension, the inevitble ending. But Neville really grew over the course of the series, and I had to shouted a little "hell yeah!" when he took down you-know-what.

    Also deserving of the "hell yeah" was Mrs. Weasley:


    That would definitely be Rowlings tapping into her mother instincts in a "what would I do if I was in her place" way. Also, reminded me of Sigorney Weaver delivering a similar line in Aliens to equal effect.

    Satisfying conclusion. Had to go look online at Entertainment Weekly's wrap-up in order to figure out how the sword ended up where it did at the end.

    Which parts made you weepy? I found the burial of ***** (doing it without magic) and the Weasleys' reunion at Hogwarts particularly moving.

  • At 2:32 p.m., Blogger Jen said…

    I did not get weepy over the grave thing.

    I cried a little when Fred died, and then a lot when Harry had his chat with the spectres of his parents and Sirius before he headed into the woods. Sniff, sniff.

  • At 4:15 p.m., Blogger Unknown said…

    Yeah, Percy coming back and then Fred's demise got me. And Harry talking to the 4 and then walking towards his doom - nobility in the face of certain death always gets me, like in "Stranger Than Fiction".


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