20 July 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

If you haven't finished the book yet, or if you intend to read it at any time in the foreseeable future, do not read this post! It will contain spoilers, no matter how obtuse I try to be. For me, most of the charm and excitement in reading comes from not knowing what is going to happen, and I would not want to spoil this experience for anybody.

I don't like this book anymore!

Yes, I realize that this is not really true, but I only finished the book a few hours ago and I'm still a bit emotional about it. Ok, fine. I cried my eyes out. Satisfied? (The fact that I get so worked up about fictional characters belongs to another post entirely.)

Love is much more important to Rowling than magic. The real mystery, for her, is the human heart. She has always been more interested in the hand that wields the wand, the way the enchantment illuminates the wizard who casts it. (Time)

The main theme of the book is love. Both requited and un-, misplaced, perverted, denied, repressed and obsessive. It causes humour and tragedy. And the ultimate sacrifice.

The pace of the book is not nearly as frantic as some of its predecessors, at least for the most part, but the overall tone is darker. Harry is growing up, and his world is changing fast. It becomes common practice over breakfast for them to ask if anybody they know had been killed

Harry is no longer the tiny 11 year old that viewed his new world with so much excitement and wonder. By the end he is not even the moody and angry teenager from book 5 anymore (this is a good thing, all the yelling was getting rather tiresome).

An interesting theory about this sudden maturity is that Harry's mood swings was caused by his connection to Voldemort. If he was feeling Voldy's emotions and even entering his mind, then it makes sense that some of Voldy's ever-present anger must have been having an effect on Harry's temperment in general. Since Voldemort started using Occlumency against Harry, he has become much more level-headed. Most of the time anyway.

There is also the intriguing backstory of Tom Riddle. Voldemort is no longer just a scary, but mysterious force somewhere in the background. To have his fleshed out like this, with his obsessive and manipulative personality explored, he is suddenly much more terrifying. More grounded in real life, and thus closer to home.

Until right at the end the title did not really make any obvious sense. But with the prince's identity revealed, it is suddenly cast in a whole new light. The book is about Harry and the prince, and his ultimate betrayal.

So, is Snape evil? I'm not sure. All the evidence seems to point that way. Harry finally has proof that his suspicions have been valid all along. But there is just this little nagging feeling in the back of my head that tells me we have not heard the full story yet. Either way he is a really good liar. Maybe I just don't want to believe that Dumbledore could have made such a fatal error. But I'm sure it will be adressed in the last book.

MA: OK, big big big book six question. Is Snape evil?

JKR: Well, okay, I'm obviously – Harry-Snape is now as personal, if not more so, than Harry-Voldemort. I can't answer that question because it's a spoiler, isn't it, whatever I say, and obviously, it has such a huge impact on what will happen then they meet again that I can't.

Dumbledore... There were hints of course, and not just in this book, but I still believed or at least hoped that he would be the one person that would be there to help Harry in the end, even if he did not survive himself. I was waiting for it to be a ruse or some kind of clever plan on his part right up to the end.

And not returning to Hogwarts next year? The next book has the makings of a 'treasure' hunt adventure. Since Harry is coming of age in July, there will also be a lot less limitations on the place he can go. At least we know that Harry won't be completely alone. Jo has hinted that a reasonably unknown member of the Order of the Phoenix will be playing a mayor part. And there is always the mysterious R.A.B.

Edit: It just occurred to me. Dumbledore said the the post of DADA teacher has been cursed ever since Tom Riddle applied for it. No teacher has lasted longer than a year. What then was Dumbledore's reasoning in giving the post to Snape? Did he suspect that Snape would be leaving them?

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Anonymous nafi said...

I liked the book (audio book). But I rushed through the rest of the series just before the new book was released, so I have no experience in waiting for 2 years for the next installment.

I feel cheeted!

Err, maybe Snape cursed the DADA position. Or even Voldemort. Remember, they both wanted the position, but was denied, by Dumbledore...

Anyhoo, I guess I'll have to be content with fruitless speculation in the Harry Potter forums, or immerse myself in building my own website.

7:32 AM, October 09, 2005  

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