Betrayal and death in a darker Potter tomeI’ll have to be brutally honest and confess I am probably one of the few people who have never read a Harry Potter book until now. And, though having a general idea from watching two of the movies, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the sixth book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”
In essence, it is obviously a continuation of the coming of age story of the fledgling wizard Harry and his companions Ron Weasley and Hermione Grainger, and the not so companionable Draco Malfoy, at Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft.
Harry and crew are in their sixth year at the school, and coping with adolescence as they continue their studies in magic. But all is not well in the parallel worlds of magic and Mugglesville (the real world?).
The ex-Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge and his replacement Rufus Scrimegour inform the Muggle prime minister that all-out war has erupted between the “death eaters” of Lord Voldemorte and the rest of the “good” witching world, as Voldemorte seeks total domination.
Unfortunately, this has had consequences in the Muggles’ world and a recent spate of disasters and murders have been the result.
An early chapter devoted to Severus Snape, a new character Horace Slughorn, and the fact that Ron’s brothers Fred and George’s magic joke shop has gone semi-legitimate, supplying the ministry with defense artifacts, telegraphs the fact that there is to be some sort of shock climax to the story.
Nevertheless, the book continues at length to chronicle the proceedings of Harry’s year; getting private lessons from Professor Dumbledore as Hogwarts students learn more complex magic, while coping with the ongoing war.
Harry also seeks to uncover Voldemorte’s past with the help of the mysterious Half-Blood Prince ― whose book helps him master magical subjects that had eluded him ― and what made a boy like himself become the Dark Lord.
J.K. Rowling is a good author and her character development cannot be faulted. However, I can’t help thinking that at 625 pages the book is overly long. Unfortunately, having not read the previous five books could be biasing my viewpoint.
I am sure Harry Potter fans will not be disappointed in this latest episode, which will undoubtedly lead to a climactic showdown in future books. As for me, I guess I’d better start from the beginning.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
By J.K. Rowling
Scholastic, 625 pages
37,110 won at Kyobo Book Centre
by Chris Price