Thursday, October 14, 2010

HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE by J.K. Rowling

Countdown to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Month Four-Book Six-Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
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It’s getting down to the wire now- one month till the release!! Today I’m doing the second-to-last book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Talk about awesomeness! Here we go!!
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The story opens with Britain’s Prime Minister (the Muggle one) trying to deal with a string of freak disasters. A nearby bridge collapse has nearly chased him out of office, and he doesn’t even know what caused it.
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But he knows someone who does (not that he likes it)! Yep, it’s our old friend Fudge, now ex-Minister of Magic! That’s right, Fudge has been kicked out (no offense, but good riddance!) and was replaced by a guy who really knows his stuff and is ready to believe Lord Voldemort is back named Scrimgeour.
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But in the meantime, things aren’t going well. That bridge collapse was no technical difficulty (please stand by). It was the Death Eaters! And that hurricane was no hurricane. It was a giant (not Grawp, thank goodness, but one of the bad giants.)! Voldemort is clearly growing stronger.
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Many miles away, another plot twist is beginning. Two women appear in a small, mostly Muggle village somewhere. One of them, Narcissa Malfoy (does that ring any bells?), seeks out one house in particular. The other, her cousin Bellatrix Lestrange (if the previous one didn’t, this definitely should!), tried to persuade her not to do whatever it is she’s doing.
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Turns out the person Narcissa Malfoy’s going to visit is our old friend Professor Snape, of all people. Apparently a little birdie told Narcissa that Voldemort himself has given her son Draco a mission, a very, very dangerous mission, and she wants Snape to promise to protect Draco as best he can. Bellatrix isn’t impressed, but she consents to perform the Unbreakable Vow on Narcissa and Snape.
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Many miles later, we finally find Harry-asleep against his window. A letter lies nearby, telling Harry that Dumbledore will come and pick him up at exactly midnight. Well, it is now.
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Dumbledore, of course, is punctual as always. Harry is awoken (at last) by the streetlights being put out (read your Sorcerer’s Stone, people!), and hastily starts to pack. But before he can finish, he rushes downstairs to find Dumbledore politely greeting the sternly anti-wizard Dursleys. He then proceeds to inform Harry that he has 1) inherited Sirius’s house, number 12 Grimmauld Place, and 2) inherited Kreacher of all house-elves! Needless to say, Harry is less than pleased, but better that than handing both over to Sirius’s cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange-and, incidentally, the very person who killed him!
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Yeah. Really.
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Happily, though, Harry also gets our old friend Buckbeak the hippogriff. He’d been living with Sirius ever since his big getaway, so now he’s Harry’s. Harry decides to let Hagrid take care of him.
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So then Dumbledore sets off with Harry in tow to find an old friend of his, Horace Slughorn. They find him in a Muggle house, hiding out from the Death Eaters. At the first sign of Harry and Dumbledore’s appearance, he had made it look like he’d been attacked by Death Eaters.
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One tip for that though: if you’re gonna convince anyone who knows anything at all about Voldemort and his henchmen (least of all Dumbledore) you’re going to have to remember one crucial point: the Dark Mark.
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Slughorn forgot his, so Dumbledore isn’t fooled. Now, here’s one spell I need: the Cleanup spell. They show it in the movie, and it’s totally awesome. They use it to clean up Slughorn’s mess, and then Dumbledore leaves to let Harry work his charm on Slughorn.
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In the end, it works: Slughorn agrees to teach at Hogwarts, which of course is the very reason why Dumbledore brought Harry along in the first place. He needs Professor Slughorn, but you really only find out some time later, so you’ll have to wait a bit to find out.
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With that little task done, Dumbledore drops Harry off at the Weasleys’. But before they go in, we find out several important things.
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Now, here’s the problem with cutting things off early so that you don’t give the ending away: if the character learns vital information after the big huge final battle, then I can’t tell you. But I am telling you now, so don’t be upset. Turns out that prophecy was about Harry. It said a boy born to parents that had defied Voldemort several times would come, and Voldemort would choose him as his equal, but he would have powers ol’ Voldemort doesn’t. Oh, yeah, and he would be born at the end of July. Does that ring any bells?
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It should. If you were thinking “Harry” you’d be right. But the funny thing is, if you thought “Neville”, you’d also be correct! Well, would have. Obviously, Voldemort picked Harry, or else the title would be Neville Longbottom and the Half-Blood Prince instead of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. And, sorry Neville, but somehow Harry’s name looks better on the cover of the book. Could be that I’m just used to seeing it, but anyway, moving on.
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So, essentially, Dumbledore warns Harry to stay out of danger, like that’s gonna happen! After that, though, the two head inside to find Mrs. Weasley soothing a distressed everybody’s favorite don’t-call-me-Nymphadora awesome Auror, Nymphadora Tonks. Since Sirius’s death, she’s been beating up herself because she thought she could have saved him. “Survivor’s guilt,” is what Hermione names the condition.
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Next morning, Harry is reunited with Ron, Hermione, Ginny, the twins, and the rest of the Weasleys. That day, among other things, they get their O.W.L’s in. I’m not telling what they are, of course; you’ll just have to make like Hermione and get the book! They also go to good ol’ Diagon Alley with-surprise, surprise!-Hagrid as their guard. But when they get there it’s to find that nearly everything is closed, including the wand shop Ollivander’s, where Harry got his wand so long ago. Rumor has it that he was dragged off by Death Eaters for whatever reason. Mysterious, huh?
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One thing that is open, though, is Fred and George’s joke shop! Remember way back when Harry gave him his prize money from the Triwizard Tournament? Well, after they made their grand escape from Hogwarts they flew here and built their joke shop. It’s awesome too, but that doesn’t stop Harry from noticing our old friend Draco Malfoy looking very suspicious.
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Harry being Harry, he persuades Ron and Hermione to tag along as he tails Malfoy. Malfoy being Malfoy, he decides to lead them right into the weirdest place in Diagon Alley-Knockturn Alley. There they find Malfoy inquiring at a creepy shop called Borgin and Burke’s about something he wants to repair but doesn’t want the shopkeeper to see. He also threatens the poor shopkeeper with a visit from resident creepy guy Fenrir Greyback. In case you don’t know, Greyback is a werewolf-as a matter of fact the very same one who bit our friend Professor Lupin!
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Soon we find ourselves back on the train to Hogwarts. Harry tried to persuade Ron and Hermione that Draco is a bad guy, but they aren’t buying it. So he decides to spy on Malfoy, with the help of his trusty old Invisibility Cloak and a little of Fred and George’s Instant Darkness Powder. Unluckily, though, he gets caught by Malfoy, who breaks poor Harry’s nose and covers him with the Invisibility Cloak so no one will find him.
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Luckily, though, someone does: everybody’s favorite don’t-call-me-Nymphadora Auror, Tonks! Now, depending on whether you’re reading the book or watching the movie, it could be Tonks, or, if you’re watching the movie, good old Luna Lovegood. My personal favorite is Luna (for obvious reasons) but you can pick whichever you like. But anyway Tonks takes Harry back up to school, where we discover security has been tightened all around Hogwarts. We also find out Tonks has a new Patronus-something the movie just didn’t think important enough to feature. Ah, well. They’ll probably spring what that Patronus was hinting at in the Deathly Hallows. At least, I hope they will.
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So finally Harry gets back to Hogwarts, just late enough for Snape to put Gryffindor back about fifty points. Ah, well. At least something’s still the same. Harry is reunited with a worried Ron and Hermione and they begin the school year together. Turns out Harry’s been appointed Quidditch Captain this year, so he has to pick out a new team. He does (after some hilarity, of course), and at the end of it Ron’s on the team again playing Keeper. Yay!!
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Meanwhile, Harry’s lessons with Dumbledore have been going well. Dumbledore has been telling the story of Tom Riddle, a.k.a Lord Voldemort, starting at the very beginning with Voldemort’s mother Merope Gaunt and his dad, Tom Riddle Senior. But even as this story is unfolding, another mystery arises….. this one in the form of a seemingly innocent potions book. It’s been written all over by its previous owner. According to a scribble in the front, it used to be owned by a person called the “Half-Blood Prince”. But who could it be? That’s the mystery. It’s got helpful tips for potions all over the place; who do we know who’s good with potions? Hmmm…..but more than that, it has spells too. Spells that appear to have been written by the Half-Blood Prince himself. One of particular importance that I’d like to point out now is called “Sectumsempra” and it’s very important.
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Dumbledore has also been teaching Harry about another critical point: Horcruxes. These little….objects….are the reason Voldemort didn’t die that night when he attacked Harry, and the reason why no one’s been able to kill him since. See, what happened is that he split his soul by killing people and putting the pieces into containers, called Horcruxes. An example is Tom Riddle’s Diary, waaaaaay back in the Chamber of Secrets. Yep, that was a Horcrux. He made seven in all. Tom Riddle’s diary was one, and so was a certain ring belonging to the Gaunts that Dumbledore managed to destroy, at the cost of a wilted hand. This particular ring is very, very, super-duper astronomically so-important-it’d-be-really-stupid-not-to-mention-it important. Maybe not so much now-though it definitely is important now-but in the next book, it is. Very much so. But anyway, he made seven in all. Six I’m pretty sure Dumbledore, Harry, and Voldemort all know about. The seventh…..well, I’m pretty sure Dumbledore knows it, but that’s about it. I’m not saying what it is…..or, rather, who……..
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Back to a lighter subject, though. Soon Harry’s on Christmas Break and heads to the Weasley’s for Christmas. There the movie deviates quite a bit from the book. In the movie, the Death Eaters interrupt what was going to be a very awesome kissing scene between Harry and Ginny, Bellatrix lures Harry and Ginny into a cornfield (where’d that come from? The Burrow was by a forest…..), and the Death Eaters blow up the house. Ka-boom. In the book, Harry just basically has a good Christmas and discusses the possibility of Draco’s being a Death Eater with Mr. Weasley, Lupin, and everyone else within earshot. Personally, though, I like the movie better, though it does make you wonder where certain events take place in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Now, if they hadn’t interrupted that kiss…….
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Anyway, back at the school of magic, Ron manages to take a love potion (meant for Harry) and is taken by Harry to Slughorn’s office. There he manages to take a deadly poison (meant for Dumbledore). Only Harry’s quick thinking saves him to act goofy another day. But the incident leaves Harry reeling. Earlier, a cursed necklace had sent a girl named Katie Bell to St. Mungo’s. Who’s behind these attacks? Harry has his suspicions, of course. But nothing’s for sure.
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The next day, at the Quidditch game (narrated by none other than Luna Lovegood), Harry manages to get knocked out and joins Ron in the hospital wing. There he sets our old friend Dobby the house-elf and the unsavory character of Kreacher to tail his prime suspect-none other than our old friend Draco Malfoy. Is he going too far with this, or is Harry on the right track? Nothing’s for sure yet.
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Later, we’re sure of two more Horcruxes: a locket of Slytherin’s and a cup of Hufflepuff’s. We also know Harry has a little job: he has to recover a crucial memory from Slughorn. This he does, with the help of a little Felix Felicis.
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Just after that comes a pivotal chapter in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It comes when Harry corners Draco in a bathroom, accusing him of cursing Katie and poisoning Ron. They duel, and we finally figure out what Sectumsempra means. And it’s not good at all.
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Here again the movie deviates from the book. In the movie, Ginny comes along to the Room of Requirement to get rid of the Half-Blood Prince’s book and kisses Harry there (YES!!!!!!!). In the book, Harry gets detention and misses a Quidditch game and the Gryffindors win and Ginny kisses him at the celebratory party. Either way, we finally get payback for that interrupted kiss!!!
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But now it’s time to get back to more serious stuff. Dumbledore has found out where another Horcrux might be located, and, this time, Harry’s coming along for the ride. So they Disapparate from the Three Broomsticks to a little cave by the sea.
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Sound familiar? Well, I didn’t mention it, but this cave is special. Tom Riddle took two children here to torture, and since then he’s turned it into a fortress to protect one of his Horcruxes.
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There’s just one problem: it’s in the middle of a lake. And in the lake are Inferi, enchanted dead guys. And they’re super ugly, nowhere near as cute as the blood-sucking dead guys of the Twilight series. Aw, man!!
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And they’re not even blood-sucking. Oh, well.
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Somehow, though, Harry and Dumbledore reach the island. But an even more pressing problem steps up: the Horcrux is at the bottom of a cauldron filled with impenetrable potion. The only way to get at the Horcrux is drink the potion.
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Dumbledore does, and it makes him very weak. Harry manages to grab the Horcrux and get him back to Hogwarts. But it’s only to find that his suspicions about Draco were correct: he has been trying to kill Dumbledore all year. Not only that, he’s also fixed a Vanishing Cabinet down in the Room of Requirement, and now a whole host of Death Eaters has invaded Hogwarts. And Draco has Dumbledore cornered good and proper.
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But then Snape comes up.
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I’m not saying what happens next-it’s against my policy of never giving away the ending-but I will say that it ends up being a HUGELY MAJOR All Is Lost moment, if you know what I mean. And it’s pretty easy to figure out. And Snape is at fault.
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Oh, and did I mention SNAPE is the Half-Blood Prince? Who would’ve known?!
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Well, I don’t like to end on a negative point, but that’s pretty much it. Well, see you next month---FOR HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS!!!!!!!! That’s a happy note, right? I should think so!! Until then, happy hippogriffs to you and see you then!
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P.S And a special thanks to everybody’s favorite super-ultra-extra-awesome-person Nayuleska, ‘cause……well, you know why. Thanks, Nayuleska!!!!!!!

2 comments:

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Nayuleska said...

I didn't think it was possible to have a reason for blushing before breakfast! Thanks Kimber Jr :)