The Half-Blood Prince is where Rowling prepared us to the final and most important mission Harry, Ron and Hermione must have in the Deathly Hallows. Here is also the end of the cheerful and playful atmosphere in Hogwarts that had captured our hearts from the very beginning of Harry Potter series. In fact, the class scenes are already very limited here. Maybe Horace Slughorn’s class is the only one we read quite often about in this book, because it’s related to this book’s title: The Half-Blood Prince. It is the half-blood prince’s old Potion text book that leads Harry to be the star of their potion class and the dearest student of Slughorn.
Speaking about the half-blood prince, I come to think that by giving this book 'The Half-Blood Prince' title, Rowling is actually indicating that Severus Snape has and would have an important key role in Harry Potter stories—although it would have been revealed only at the end, he actually had had it from the first time, undetected. In this book too, I realizes how Snape is really a very talented teacher from the beginning; his only flaw is his unreasonable hatred to Griffindor’s students—thanks to the history of bullying he received when he was a student! I think, rather than Slughorn, I would love Snape to teach me Potion if I was studying at Hogwarts. :) And see how he taught Defense Against Dark-Arts class! I think he is the most suitable teacher to teach this particular subject because of his own passion in the Dark Arts--in this case, I must say that Snape has overshadowed Lupin in this subject.
My respect for Snape has also been growing since this sixth book—of course, it’s after I knew on whose side he really is. For one thing, Severus Snape is a man of steel nerves! Maybe it is an advantage—if you are a double agent—to be lacked of emotion. Snape is always cool, even in front of Voldemort, and that’s why he can cheat on him for years—imagine, cheating on Lord Voldemort! In the early part of this book, Snape is also forced to make an unbreakable vow by Narcissa Malfoy. I don’t know (forget, actually) whether Snape has learned Dumbledore’s secret plan or not at this point; I don’t think he has. And that made him very tactful to act accordingly in that situation.
It is in this book too that Rowling provides us with Voldemort’s history, an adequate background of what created a heartless dark wizard like Tom Riddle. Well…again, it was his childhood and family background that has made young Tom Riddle lost his humanity and emotion. I begin to see the big picture Rowling wants to show us; Harry Potter series turns out to be all about love—or the lack of it. Harry Potter survives from the Killing Curse because of his mother’s love shield; Tom Riddle turns up as Voldemort because his mother suffered from a tragic love; Snape betrays Voldemort because of his love to Lily Evans. Now I realize that Rowling is so genius in building her figures’ characters; she wants us to see that every person—good or bad—doesn’t come from nowhere, he is built by family and society, woven by thousands of small incidents and circumstances.
This sixth book also brings us to the first hint of Voldemort’s horcruxes; and Dumbledore's adventure with Harry which finally leads to his death. Just as my first read, and although I know the truth about it now, I was still touched by Dumbledore’s death scene. Not only because he died tragically—it is his plan, it turns out—but more because it means that Harry’s last hope of safety and comfort has gone forever, and now he is forced to do what the wizarding world expected him to do; whether he likes it or not, whether he’s ready or not.
Ah, last but not least, this book also marks the more solid friendship of the trio: Harry, Ron, Hermione. The love between Ron and Hermione is more distinguish now, and how deep is their friendship with Harry that they vow to accompany Harry searching for horcruxes rather than returning to Hogwarts. Coming from Ron, it’s quite understandable; but imagining Hermione sacrificing her school is very surprising. But then, it is not just a friendship, it’s doing what they could for their lives, the lives of people they care for, and for the (wizarding) society. In short, they do it because it’s the right thing to do.
Four and a half stars for the Half-Blood Prince, and I am torn between going directly to the Deathly Hallows after this, or keeping it as long as possible, because… it’s not comforting to realize that it will end up soon, and it might be a long time before I can go back to Harry Potter again; and at that time, I might find Harry Potter slightly different than it is now. What a dilemma!
*I read Bloomsbury hardback edition for:*
6th book for Hotter Potter
4th book for Read Big! Reading Challenge
13th book for What’s in A Name Challenge 2013