Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I nursed Half-Blood Prince out through the week, reading small snippets each night so that I would finish today. I’m about to hop over to Bloomsbury to listen to Rowling read…and then I am logging off until I am done with Deathly Hallows, to avoid any more possible spoiler exposure. I’ll be posting my review as soon as I finish, behind a jump cut. I am so excited that it’s almost physically painful, and I’ll be working off my excess energy tonight running around with a bunch of Harry Potter fans.

Half-Blood Prince has been my favourite book in the series, because it develops much more emotional and plot complexity. it’s also pretty fast paced, with a lot of really chaotic stuff going on, and a large number of little hints and clues. It was a good book to linger on, I think, since I had to digest so much as I read it.

The crux of the book, of course, is the murder. Is Snape good, or is he evil? I’ll be finding out in, oh, about eight and a half hours, but it bears a moment of reflection anyway, since to me, this is really the most important part of the series. Personally, I think that Snape is good, and that he killed Dumbledore on Dumbledore’s orders, knowing that appearing to come out in support of Voldemort would strengthen his usefulness for the Order. This is not to say that the scene was not intense or horrifying, as it is every time that I read it. Snape will redeem himself in book seven, and it will be an important moment.

I’ve had a lot of issues in my own life this year with “choosing between what is right, and what is easy,” so the book really resonated with me, perhaps even more so than the first time I read it. To me, the world really does break down into two kinds of people: the people making these choices, and the people who cannot even understand or comprehend them, as Harry realizes as well. Half-Blood Prince really brought that home for me, and strengthened my conviction that you should choose what is right, you should always choose what is right, and you should disregard the cost because the cost of not choosing what is right is simply too high. If the people around you do not understand that, you probably shouldn’t be around them, because you will ultimately suffer for it.

Speaking of choosing what is right, what is up with Harry cheating at Quidditch all the time? Seriously, people. It’s been bugging me through the last couple of books, and that scene where he shouts at the Slytherin Seeker to get him to drop the Snitch…it troubles me. I’m all for giving Harry a little darkness, but he’s just being unsporting there. I wonder if that will come back to bite him, even though Quidditch won’t be in book seven, according to Rowling. Speaking of which, why is the ball called a Snitch? You’re telling me she didn’t think that one out carefully?

And did anyone notice the cameo appearance by the Giant Squid? I’m telling you, people, this whole thing is hinging on the squid. Is the squid a horcrux? God, I hope not, that would be terrible! I’m hoping that the squid will defend Harry, participate in the destruction of a horcrux, or possibly eat Voldemort. (By the way, do not search for any Harry Potter character+giant squid in Google. Just…don’t. And if you do, do not do an image search. You have been warned.)

Speaking of horcruxes, let’s talk horcrux for a moment. We’ve got two down, the diary and the ring. One presumed horcrux, the locket, missing. Personally, I think that the locket has been destroyed, since who in their right mind would take it and then not destroy it, especially when they leave a note saying that they will? Or is it possible that RAB is actually in the lake with the other Inferi, still clutching the locket? And how did Dumbledore not realize that the locket was fake, since he’s so good at detecting Dark Magic and Voldemort’s mark in particular? That leaves four, according to Dumbledore, one of which is Voldemort himself. Hufflepuff’s cup and Nagini seem to be two likely candidates, as suggested by the discussion between Dumbledore and Harry. This leaves…something of Griffindor or Ravenclaw’s? I find it hard to believe that Voldemort wouldn’t hit all four houses, personally. And, of course, if Harry is a horcrux, is he the seventh, or the eighth, as I suspect? And how/when will he realize that he is a horcrux? Is he the Griffindor horcrux?

I’ve also been thinking about name origins and meanings, especially for the Death Eaters. Take Voldemort, for example, which translates to “Thief of Death” in French. I really cannot believe that I didn’t notice that before, since stealing from death is such an important part of his character. Lestrange would translate into “the stranger,” while Malfoy could be stretched to mean “bad faith” or “bad religion.” Interesting how a number of the bad guys have French names, or other unusual names, while the heroes have good solid English names like Granger and Potter, isn’t it?

I feel both gleeful that the release is fast approaching, and sad because I am nearing the end of a long road. Whatever happens, it will all be over in only a few hours…what a strange thought.

[Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince]