I’ve been re-reading the Harry Potter series and I’ve just finished the Half-Blood Prince, i.e., the sixth book. If you missed my previous installments, here are my reviews for books one, two, three, four, and five, respectively. Spoilers abound, obviously there and going forth here.
Now, keep in mind, I’m saying this before having re-read the seventh book, which will begin shortly, but the sixth, in my second re-read of it, now may be my favorite book of the Harry Potter series. There are three reasons for this: 1.) Even though it’s around the 660-page mark, I feel like it’s the most tightly written of the series. There’s no wasted moments or words here. 2.) As I’ve been saying, the books have continually gotten more and more mature and this book is no different. It’s a heavy book that deals with some heavy themes of loss, pain, love, loyalty and so on. It’s dark. For instance, we are introduced to a new dark creature: the Inferi, which are dead bodies animated back to life for a Dark wizard.
And 3.) A lot of people seem to have a consensus that Sirius and Fred’s deaths are the hardest to take in the series, but Dumbledore’s hits me like one of those pianos in a Wile E. Coyote cartoons. Dumbledore is just such a great, complex character and has been positioned as this guy that the Death Eaters and Voldemort fear; whenever Dumbledore shows up, it’s a game-changer. And now he’s dead. Then when the phoenix, Fawkes, begins singing his lament for Dumbledore, I lose it. Tears were aplenty at the end of this one.
I heard another writer describe this book as like a CSI novel, re-tracing the steps of Voldemort’s life. That’s what I think makes this book so exceptional because I like learning as much about Voldemort as possible. And what a fucked up, psychopath 101 kid and then adult he was and is. He did the proverbial animal torture, but more than that, he was obsessed, even at an early age with not only because unique and different, but immoral. A wizard, he thought, should not able to die. It’s his obsession.
And thus, he dabbled and perfected the most Dark magic of all: the Horcrux, which is splitting one’s soul and putting it in an object, so as to remain alive in some capacity even if their corporeal body is destroyed. It’s almost unheard of to do it because to split one’s soul in two means you have to murder someone. Well, Voldemort wanted to split it seven times because seven is the most magical number.
So there we are, Harry is the “Chosen One” to kill Voldemort, but he has to find four more of Voldemort’s Horcruxes (he already destroyed the diary in Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore destroyed the ring, and the remaining one resides in the “human” body of Voldemort) and without Dumbledore’s help anymore…perhaps.
That’s also another interesting aspect here: Voldemort and Harry naturally have some overlap. Both revere Hogwarts as their one true home and both group up without their parents. Voldemort just took it to another level.
And you can tell Dumbledore loves Harry, although we’re going to find out some troubling caveats to that in the seventh book, but his trust in Harry is incredible. After drinking a vile potion that weakens him greatly, Harry leads Dumbledore back to Hogwarts where this exchange takes place:
Oh and we now have the issue of Harry thinking Snape legitimately killed Dumbledore. So that’s another issue to be mindful of going into the seventh book.
As usual, some quotes for your delight:
“Do you remember me telling you we are practicing non-verbal spells, Potter?”
“Yes,” said Harry stiffly.
“There’s no need to call me “sir” Professor.”
The words had escaped him before he knew what he was saying.”
-Another great display of Harry’s sarcasm
“It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.” – Dumbledore
“Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.” – Dumbledore
“Dumbledore says people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.” – I forget who said this one
“I don’t mean to be rude—” he began, in a tone that threatened rudeness in every syllable.
“Yet, sadly, accidental rudeness occurs alarmingly often,” Dumbledore finished the sentence gravely.”
– Dumbledore with his own bit of sarcasm