The Half-Blood Prince
Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive
Series: Harry Potter
Published in: 2005
Age Range: General
Setting: Hogwarts School for Witchcraft & Wizardry
Back at school now the Ministry has acknowledged Voldemort's return, Harry has to cope with Dumbledore's extra lessons for him, Ron's impetuous and public relationship with Lavender and Hermione's response, while preparing himself for the battle he knows must inevitably occur between himself and The Dark Lord.
Dumbledore explains that they must hunt for the Horcruxes by means of which Voldemort has split his soul into seven pieces, all of which must be taken before he can be destroyed. The key to these Horcruxes lies with the new teacher, Horace Slughorn, whom Harry must persuade by any means possible. Meanwhile, Ron and Hermione are enemies and Harry has to keep in check his new-found liking for Ginny Weasley.
See The Harry Potter Series for general comments.
This is the first Harry Potter which has smacked more of something inspired by fan fiction than by the author's original intent, the first in which the relationships between the characters has played a more significant part to the underlying battle of good and evil. That said, the author seems to have steered clear of the muddier waters of teenage relationships and while Ron's relationship with Lavender is almost entirely physical, it's clear that it's Hermione who's really in his heart, and the person you really feel sorry for in the end is Lavender who, shallow as she may be, deserves better from Ron.
There has been, and will continue to be, much discussion over Dumbledore's knowledge and actions, but I can't help feeling that Dumbledore, who started the series as an intrinsically powerful wizard with a sparkle of nutty humour, has been overtaken by the popular feeling that somehow he's too powerful and must be brought down a notch. I felt that at the end of book five, and I certainly felt it at the end of this. The forthcoming seventh book might prove me wrong. But the films following the series, presumably with the author's consent, have certainly moved in the direction of reducing him to a weaker and more emotionally-driven character, away from the archetype of a powerful mentor which seemed to be his role initially
Tuesday 1st January 2002