Stephen Speicher

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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23 posts in this topic

Warning: There are spoilers about this book in this post.

I finished the book today after getting it Saturday morning at 1:30am. I think it was the best in the series so far. The only part I did not like is the ending because somebody dies. Beside that one negative point the book was very good. Whoever reads the book will learn a lot about Voldermort's past.

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I liked it a lot, but Order of the Phoenix is still my favorite. This one is very different from the others. I can't really say more without spoilers so:

*SPOILER WARNING*

Aaaah! I can't believe it! I won't! The thing that struck me as odd in this book is that Harry wasn't the one in danger. Where was Voldemort in all of this? His absence strikes me as ominous now that they are in all-out war. I'm firmly in the it-was-all-part-of-the-plan camp as far as the ending goes. I just don't think things can have gone that horribly wrong. I thought this book was really different than the others, mainly because it seemed so straightforward. Harry actually knew what was going on (sort-of), Dumbledore was actually telling him things that weren't in a weird code (or at least I don't think they were), Malfoy is a jerk, and Snape turns out to be evil (we all suspected him anyway, right?). It's just... too easy.

My favorite part was when Dumbledore explained the prophecy to Harry properly, and Harry finally understood what was so important. I had been wondering, at the end of book 5, why he was so shocked by it. I mean, we all expected him to go after Voldemort prophecy or no prophecy, right?

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I got it on Saturday afternoon and finished it in less than 24 hours...

I didn't like it as much as the previous ones because it is not a self-contained story. It ends on a clear note of suspence and without a clear conclusion. I don't even think it covers the full schoolyear.

One passage is worth its weight in gold, when Dumbledore explains to Harry that the existence of the prophecy does not mean that Harry doesn't control his life. I also like the romantic subplots. Boy, do those ring a bell... :)

My favorite so far is "HP and the Goblet of Fire".

SPOILERS FOLLOW

Here are my predictions for the last book:

- We'll find out in the last volume that no, Snape isn't evil (though he is a jerk). I think that we'll find that Dumbledore is right in trusting Snape (and we'll probably discover what exactly Snapes did to deserve this, and we'll all be amazed). The words of the Unbreakable Vow are carefully crafted to allow plenty of wiggle room. I suspect we'll discover that Dumbledore was pleading with Snape to make sure that he would act before Malfoy got a chance to. Note that by doing so, Snape has in a way "protected" Malfoy - from commiting real evil.

- The character who dies in this volume isn't really dead - it was all a trick (but I wouldn't be surprised if he died in the last volume). That's probably why he chose to paralyze Harry Potter. If he had been in real mortal danger, there would have been no reason to do that.

- Draco Malfoy has not irremediably tainted his soul - he's just a confused kid and a major jerk.

Of the above, I am 80%+ sure.

Now, something much, much more speculative: I think there's a, say, 25% chance that McConagall will be revealed as a Death Eater. Several reasons why I think that:

1) If Snape isn't the traitor, who is? Someone has to be a traitor, it has to be a major character ("The cook! It was the cook!"), and it has to be a surprise.

2) McConagall has a surprisingly low profile in the books. Given that she is in theory as important as Snape, she doesn't appear nearly as much. Dumbledore is tough, but he also directly helps Potter. McG is just tough, she doesn't help him directly. I suspect it's Rowling's trick to make sure the readers don't get too attached to her. Also, she's arguably powerful, since she's a full fledge professor - how come she is not more involved in directly fighting Voldemort or the Death Eaters?

3) She seemed a bit too eager to close the school at the end of the book - and of course that would be the best way to expose Potter, given the powerful protections that the school offers.

I do wonder who is "R.A.B."... I have twisted the initials in my mind, and I can't figure it out.

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Big, Big Spoilers! Beware!

SPOILERS FOLLOW

Here are my predictions for the last book:

- We'll find out in the last volume that no, Snape isn't evil (though he is a jerk).  I think that we'll find that Dumbledore is right in trusting Snape (and we'll probably discover what exactly Snapes did to deserve this, and we'll all be amazed).  The words of the Unbreakable Vow are carefully crafted to allow plenty of wiggle room.  I suspect we'll discover that Dumbledore was pleading with Snape to make sure that he would act before Malfoy got a chance to.  Note that by doing so, Snape has in a way "protected" Malfoy - from commiting real evil.

I think you're right in that I don't think we know all the facts about why Dumbledore trusts Snape. I am firmly in the Dumbledore/Snape conspiracy camp, but I'm quickly losing hope on that one due to a recent JKR interview. She has, however, refused to completely shoot down the theory so...
- The character who dies in this volume isn't really dead - it was all a trick (but I wouldn't be surprised if he died in the last volume).  That's probably why he chose to paralyze Harry Potter.  If he had been in real mortal danger, there would have been no reason to do that.
Oh I don't know. I think he did it because he knew Harry was lying when he said he'd follow Dumbledore's orders if he said to leave him to die. I mean, do you really see Harry doing that? He was trying to curse the death eaters even with the full-body bind. Nah, Dumbledore's ultimate goal is to protect his students (especially Harry). He knew that even if he dies, Harry MUST survive, or all is lost.
Now, something much, much more speculative: I think there's a, say, 25% chance that McConagall will be revealed as a Death Eater.  Several reasons why I think that:

1) If Snape isn't the traitor, who is?  Someone has to be a traitor, it has to be a major character ("The cook!  It was the cook!"), and it has to be a surprise.

2) McConagall has a surprisingly low profile in the books.  Given that she is in theory as important as Snape, she doesn't appear nearly as much.  Dumbledore is tough, but he also directly helps Potter.  McG is just tough, she doesn't help him directly.  I suspect it's Rowling's trick to make sure the readers don't get too attached to her.  Also, she's arguably powerful, since she's a full fledge professor - how come she is not more involved in directly fighting Voldemort or the Death Eaters?

3) She seemed a bit too eager to close the school at the end of the book - and of course that would be the best way to expose Potter, given the powerful protections that the school offers.

Really? I would never suspect her. Don't we have enough traitors (Wormtail). Plus, I doubt Snape will ever be redeemed for Harry even if it wasn't his fault. However, there are some oddities regarding McGonagall. The most prominent is that there is no mention of her being in the Order the first time around. However, I don't really see her as a Death Eater. I think she doesn't help Harry because she... can't. She's too rigid, she wouldn't get it. She's not really the understanding type, is she? Harry won't trust her because she's more likely to throw him in detention than to actually listen to what he is saying. I don't see her letting Harry leave Hogwarts without a fight though. Do you really think the school will close? Seven books, seven years at Hogwarts... That's the way I always thought it would be. She probably was eager to close the school because she never thought she'd have to run it herself... I do wonder, as you do, though, why she isn't very involved.
I do wonder who is "R.A.B."...  I have twisted the initials in my mind, and I can't figure it out.

Regulus Black or Ameilia Bones. My vote is for Regulus. In OotP a locket was mentioned in Grimmauld Place. We know from jkrowling.com that Sirius's mirror will "help more than we think." Regulus was a Death Eater (so he would use the title (Dark Lord). He was killed for trying to quit. His name is mentioned in passing three times. JKR has stated that it was necessary to the plot for Sirius to die. Harry has inheirited Grimmauld Place and the mysterious locket. Can it have been the horcrux? There are too many coincidences.

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Spoilers

I do not think Dumbledore is dead, because of the way he acted. He does not act like a man who is about to die. I do not think a person of his wizardry would die like that by a man he supposedly trusted. But Snape's life was on the line. I also do not think that Malfoy would kill Dumbledore.

Here are some items that I have mused over. I wonder who is R.A.B? I think that it was weird that Voldemort, besides his past, was not really in the story-line. Finally, I hope that Hogwarts stays open.

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SPOILERS

I enjoyed this one a great deal, though Phoenix (with its 'ignore reality at your own peril' theme) is still my favorite. In many ways, it was a mirror of the second book with the return of the theme of Choice. I love JKR's take on Prophecy and destiny -- that the Prophecy was like the Prophecy in Macbeth. It was Voldemort who chose to fulfill it. I think, in the end, Draco Malfoy wlll be redeemed because Dumbledore, unlike Voldemort, gave him a choice. I wasn't quite expecting that until it happened as Rowling has tried to discourage the fans from having any sympathy at all for Draco for years. Hence, my now being 100% certain that Snape is every bit Dumbledore's man. And I am 80% sure I know why Dumbledore trusts him.

Snape... he is not a good person. He has made some horrible choices -- joining the Deatheaters, treating Harry and Neville like crap, etc. HOWEVER, I do think that all of Snape's actions since going to Dumbledore after overhearing the Prophecy can be traced to two very important themes in the story -- love and redemption. Given how much Slughorn thought Harry was like Lily following the instructions of the half-blood Prince, I strongly, STRONGLY suspect that Lily and Snape had to have been working closely together in Potions. Snape is not one for trusting easily or making friends, so his affection for Lily must have been great. Snape trusted and liked her enough to share his Potions knowledge or collaborate with her (Hermione thought some of the handwriting looked female). Either way, Lily and Snape shared a friendship and I suspect he was in love with her. Her running off with Quidditch jock James Potter may have been what tipped him over to Voldemort's side (well, that and having an abusive Muggle father). However, it was Lily's impending death that brought him to Dumbledore's side.

And, I think, this is why Dumbledore trusts him. Dumbledore has said over and over that THE most powerful force in the universe, above all magic, is the power of love. Snape came to Dumbledore AFTER he knew who the Prophecy was talking about. He had to warn him or it would be his fault the woman he loved was killed. Snape's character arc is one of redemption. I think this is why Snape takes such an interest in Draco. Draco has these same tendencies -- that is why he protects him and why he made the promise to Narcissa. He wants to save Draco before it is too late.

I also strongly suspect that Dumbledore knew he was dying from the beginning, that he and Snape planned the whole ending, including not letting Harry in on Snape's true motives. For one, Harry isn't ready to hear that Snape loved his mother. For another, Harry is crap at Occlumency and that would seriously compromise Snape's position as a spy. I do think Voldemort knew about Snape's feelings for Lily -- hence Voldemort's intention to spare her. Maybe he was planning to give Lily to Snape as a prize. However, Voldemort consistantly underestimates the power of love. Voldemort killed the woman Snape loved, and now it is personal. In order to redeem himself, Snape has to make sure Voldemort is good and dead.

Mysteries aside, I think there were some excellent touches in this one. I ADORED the trick Harry pulled on Ron with the fake Felix. I have always suspected Ron is incredibly talented and intelligent in his own right -- he just lacks confidence. I enjoyed the romantic entanglements involving Ron, Lavender and Hermione. It was played for comedy -- pure teenage silliness. She's been building up something there for a while, and I enjoyed the pay off. The Harry/Ginny stuff, on the other hand, left me a bit cold. I am happy because Harry is happy, but I wasn't rooting for Harry and Ginny the way I was rooting for Ron and Hermione. It felt sudden, and I don't think she's done Ginny's character development justice. Too much telling, not enough showing. Harry/Ginny is supposed to be 'the great romance'... and it just fell flat to me personally. The Peter Parker line at the end was... lame. If Ginny were worthy of Harry she'd have told him where he could stuff it. I think Hermione or Luna either one would have done just that.

I enjoyed Fleur very much in this book. I always liked her for some reason, and was very glad to see her put Molly Weasley in her place. Molly, Ginny and Hermione were horrible to her for no real good reason. 'I am good looking enough for the both of us!' You tell 'em, Fleur.

I agree with Joss Delage that this one was less of a self-contained story. However, I don't have a problem with that and rather expected it. We got more resolution and fewer clues, but considering how late we are in the series, that was to be expected. I think the seventh book will be a complete break from the narrative structure of the previous books, most especially if they don't go back to Hogwarts. I like this, however. Harry will be an adult at the beginning of the next book. I think taking him out of Hogwarts, to do away with Voldemort once and for all, is what needs to be done. Harry is a man now.

R.A.B? Definately Regulus Black. In fact, if you go back to OotP where they are cleaning out Grimmauld Place, they do find a heavy locket they can't open. Let's just hope that no-good Mundungus Fletcher hasn't hocked it. The one great mystery for me... Ron's watch. Ron got a watch exactly like Dumbledore's for his birthday, further convincing me that Dumbledore is a Weasley. JKR did recently say that Dumbledore's family would be a profitable like of inquiry and he does look just like Ron, only about a 130 years older.

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Wow, fascinating ideas Helen... Thanks for sharing.

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Warning: There are spoilers about this book in this post.

Helen, I hadn't even thought about Snape being in love with Lily, but I really think you may have something there. As far as his status as a Death Eater is concerned, I still think he may be good. In the beginning, with Narcissa and Beatrix, he was asked to make the Unbreakable Vow. Had he refused, that would have been all but blowing his cover to Beatrix - she wold have known then that he was on Dumbledore's side. But then he made the Unbreakable Vow; he was stuck. I'm guessing that he went to Dumbledore and made him aware of the situation. Remember that Dumbledore told Harry that he must obey if he was told to run and save himself... it seems as though Dumbledore may have known his death was coming. Had Snape not killed Dumbledore, he would have died himself, because of the Vow. Quite a pickle to be in.

This isn't unlike Draco Malfoy's situation throughout the book. He didn't want to kill Dumbledore. That much was hinted at throughout the book and made completely clear at the end. To paraphrase Ayn Rand: he was acting at the point of Voldemort's gun. What could this mean for the next book? It's clear that Malfoy, despite all of his other character deficiencies, isn't cut out to be a Death Eater. Perhaps, his guilt will get the better of him, and he will become a double agent a la Snape. It would be an excited plot twist to have such avowed enemies as Harry and Draco on the same side. I guess only time will tell.

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This book was soooooooooooooooo much better than the last one. Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much better. Depressing. After a lot of thought, I decided my new favorite character in all the books of the world ever written is now Albus Dumbledore. But, I haven't read all of these books, so it may change. But as of the moment, it is Albus Dumbledore. I found that he was extremely John Galtish, Objective even. I personall found him better than John Galt(my previous favorite) because Albus Dumbledore was so much warmer. I found this to be the author's fault. It seems that Ayn Rand is much more of an essay writer(as I am). She can write brilliant novels, but she can't make brilliant characters. They're amazing alright, but they seem cold, more of an object than a person. Something I attribute to the ability of writing essays. But, Dumbledore was there, he was making witty comments, he was consoling, creating, inventing, even passing the occasional dissaproving frown. And, as I looked more and more into him, I found he was more and more like John Galt, just simply, more "real".

As to the book itself. I find it a ridiculous(HEY! This may be a spoiler, I can't tell. I'd be vastly dissapointed if I spoiled for someone, so play it safe) that Harry would not go back to Hogwarts. Yes, it would be better to stay away, but he needs to be there for a little bit, he needs to learn just a little bit more. He also needs to look for something of Ravenclaw's(the Horcrux), and Hogwarts would be the place to look(even Voldemort tried this). Under people's noses is the best place to hide things. Well, right in there nose is better, but never mind that. Once he finds this Horcrux in his nose, he should leave Hogwarts and find the others.

Horcruxes were an amazingly ingenious idea.

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BIG, BIG, SPOILERS!!!!! Mwahaha. :)

I also love Albus Dumbledore's character, and I was thoroughly sad at the end of this book. Because of my love of his character, I refuse to believe he would have screwed up so badly with Snape. I don't buy it. It's too suspicious. In any case, it's completely out of character for him to beg. My theory is, that Snape, being the potions master, could recognize whatever potion Dumbledore drank from the symptoms, and knew he was dying. However, had Snape not killed Dumbledore, he would have died, which kind of makes it hard for him to save Dumbledore from the potion. I think most people guessed, when they read that cave scene, that Dumbledore was going to die in this book. He was probably dying from that point forward. I mean, Snape had to save him from the ring too. I just don't think there was any way out in this case.

Even more depressing than the death, IMO, was how Harry took it. He's so resigned at the end of the book that it's really sad. He's not the same person he was in 1991. But it's also good, because CAPS LOCK Harry wouldn't stand a chance against this task. He had to grow up. It was just quite a harsh way to grow up.

Do any of us really believe that Harry won't go back to Hogwarts at all? He's got to go back. I don't think he's going to be a student again, but there's so much at Hogwarts that he needs to look at. He doesn't have much to learn in the way of classes, but he really, really needs to find anything Dumbledore might have left behind. I bet that pensieve could be a lot of help. IMO, this is still Dumbledore's chess game. We still haven't been told everything he knew, or what he had planned. Harry's chance is to learn what Dumbledore knew. Learning to shoot spells like Snape is all well and good, but it won't help him much against Voldy, IMO. Their wands don't work against each other, and besides, Voldy's always going to be better at dueling than Harry. He needs a plan.

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It seems that Ayn Rand is much more of an essay writer(as I am).  She can write brilliant novels, but she can't make brilliant characters.  They're amazing alright, but they seem cold, more of an object than a person.

You do know that saying that on an Objectivist forum is like opening a can of sardines when some cats are hanging around? :)

It is just baiting us to reply.

I strongly disagree in the utmost strongest terms. Atlas Shrugged focused more on how the characters related to society. The Fountainhead was more about describing the hero and what he was like so that is the book that I will focus on. I found Roark to be an extremely warm character. Look at the scene in which Roark meets Mallory for the first time. It is charged intensely with emotion. He was a mentor but also a friend, recognising a producer who had been broken and who needed that spiritual boost of simple recognition.

Look at how he approached Peter Keating near the end, and how he was excited at how Peter finally learnt some certain things. Look at how he was towards Gail and how badly he wanted Gail to discover that he could be a hero and didn't want him to be broken.

That isn't a cold person, he is one of the few people who I would declare to be a true human being, who knows how to value things passionately.

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I gave this book a ten. I give all of them a ten. Rowling has to be the best story-teller out there right now, in my opinion.

Spoiler warning (as if there's anyone left who hasn't read it). There is no doubt that Dumbledore's end (if it was his end, I found him slumbering in his portrait to be suspicious) was something he had a hand in. Disarmed by Malfoy? Please! That's like Yoda being struck down by a seperatist droid, or Hugh Akston being defeated in a game of wits by Wesley Mooch.

It took me a long time to get this book read because I finally started reading the series after I saw my wife crying as she was reading the last part of book 6. She said, "you have to read these". I am glad I did!

Anybody have a clue when the last book is coming out?

And, what the hell do I follow this up with? What is my next reading? It's got a high hurdle to jump not to be cast as an anticlimax.

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And, what the hell do I follow this up with? What is my next reading? It's got a high hurdle to jump not to be cast as an anticlimax.

I was in the same boat as I thoroughly enjoyed the Potter books in order, one after the other. So I'm following that series with what I think will prove to be an even better series, Edward Cline's Sparrowhawk. Just a few chapters in, I'm certain that I will not be disappointed.

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I forgot to mention a special fact that makes Sparrowhawk a good followup if you haven't read the series. It begins by introducing you to a young man about Harry's age in The Sorcerer's Stone. But where Harry has magic to make him special, Jack Frake has moral character and self confidence.

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Slightly OT: I saw a bumper sticker last night, presumably afixed by a Democrat. It looked just like your typical political sticker - the blue background with stars on it, waving like a flag. In fact, it was so typical, it took a second to actually register the words printed on it:

"Republicans for Voldemort"

:)

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Anybody have a clue when the last book is coming out?

Two years maybe, like between this one and the #5, no?

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Yes, there's a rumor that it'll be released July 7, 2007. It's 7-7-07. Year 7 at Hogwarts, 7 horcruxes, 2007 release... Plus, they've always been released in the summer, so July 7 would make sense, besides being insanely cool.

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Slightly OT:  I saw a bumper sticker last night, presumably afixed by a Democrat.  It looked just like your typical political sticker - the blue background with stars on it, waving like a flag. In fact, it was so typical, it took a second to actually register the words printed on it:

"Republicans for Voldemort"

:)

Lol! I saw that same sticker on a car in Orange County about a month ago. Very cute.

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Helen,

After reading your analysis I was amazed at the logical connections you made and also what I think showed a deep understanding of the characters. I've read the first five books three times and the last one twice already and never really considered Snape being in love with Lily but once you get past the obvious protection mechanism comments Snape makes in the fifth book about Lily in the Pensieve, all the information points towards what you're saying.

Actually, I have to write a paper for AP English for Oct. 31 on predicting what will happen in the seventh book and I was wondering if you wouldn't mind me using your conclusions in that paper, because I think they are probably right on the money (and if not, they probably should be).

Thanks for the insight.

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mcgwiddles~ That is an awesome paper topic. I am insanely jealous. You might find some interesting ideas in Mugglenet's editorials. Particularly this one, on Lily/Snape and this column of predictions for book 7, would be very useful. The second link is a favorite of mine. The author, Brandon Ford is very good at predicting what is going to happen.

Also, I wrote an "editorial" the topic of Lily/Snape and a small post on Snape's Loyalties on my Harry Potter related blog.

Have fun with that paper!

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Helen,

After reading your analysis I was amazed at the logical connections you made and also what I think showed a deep understanding of the characters. I've read the first five books three times and the last one twice already and never really considered Snape being in love with Lily but once you get past the obvious protection mechanism comments Snape makes in the fifth book about Lily in the Pensieve, all the information points towards what you're saying.

Actually, I have to write a paper for AP English for Oct. 31 on predicting what will happen in the seventh book and I was wondering if you wouldn't mind me using your conclusions in that paper, because I think they are probably right on the money (and if not, they probably should be).

Thanks for the insight.

Thank you! And you are most certainly welcome to use my conclusions in your paper. How cool getting to read Harry Potter for a class :wacko:

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Yeah, it is quite a good assignment! It also allowed me not only an excuse to read all the books again but also to not have to read Albert Camus' "The Stranger" existentialist nonsense.

Thanks for the links and info non-contradictor, I'm sure they will be useful.

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