Harry, Ron and Hermione enter their 6th year at Hogwarts. This time though, Harry is dealing with the death of Sirius a few months ago at the hands of Bellatrix Lestrange in the Ministry of Magic. Simultaneously, he has to deal with knowing a prophecy made years ago which states that neither he nor Voldermort can live while the other survives. Harry now knows that he has to vanquish Voldermort or be vanquished himself. This year, Harry suspects Draco Malfoy of being a Death Eater — an idea scoffed by his best friends as well as Lupin and Mr Weasley. At school, Harry who now does Potions with a new teacher, Professor Slughorn (Snape now teaching Defence Against Dark Arts) is given a text book which is turning him into somewhat of a genius at the subject. The book belongs to someone who referred to themselves as the ‘Half-blood Prince’. This year, Harry is also given extra lessons by Dumbledore and these lessons involve delving into Lord Voldermort’s past and trying to understand him as a child and later a student at Hogwarts. Harry finally learns about Horcruxes. Basically, through the lessons he learns that Voldermort split his soul into 7 pieces thereby ensuring his immortality unless and until these Horcruxes are destroyed. Thus making his attempt to overcome Voldermort that much harder. The book looks at life in general for Harry at school, battling feelings for Ginny Weasley, while at the same time dealing with his suspicisions of Malfoy and Snape, learning about Voldermort’s past all culminating to a thrilling yet sad end.
Trust and betrayal are one of the main themes in this book. Harry trusts Ron and Hermione with no doubt whatsoever. Yet, he has difficulty with Dumbledore trusting Snape especially when the former never gives a reason for his trust. And for the reader too, there is that doubt as to why Dumbledore continues to trust Snape. Especially as we know he makes an Unbreakable Vow to help Draco Malfoy and keeps his word in the end. There also exists the theme about self-sacrifice which is seen through Dumbledore’s character in the end as well as Harry’s attempts. Another important and interesting thing spoken about is the prophecy. Dumbledore attempts to make Harry understand that it is not just because of the prophecy that was made that the situation between him and Voldermort is as it is. Voldermort chose to take the prophecy seriously and hunt Harry down and kill his parents in the process. It is Harry’s choice and decision following what Voldermort did to avenge his parents’ deaths and not just because the prophecy says so. In other words, nothing is necessarily destined in our lives. It is the choices we make that pave the next path in our lives.
As always, this is yet another book with humour and an engaging narrative that keeps you going and wanting to know more. It raises several questions particularly about Snape and his motives. At the same time, the Horcruxes and the ending leave you intrigued. Let’s just say if you haven’t read the books and will now, it’s a good thing you don’t have to wait a couple of years for that! Like I did initially.
I give it a rating of 5.
Until next time,