Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Lord Voldemort is back and everyone in the wizarding world knows it. There’s no denying it anymore, and now the Muggle Prime Minister knows. Due to his dismal handling of the situation, Cornelius Fudge has resigned and Rufus Scrimgeour has become Minister of Magic. The Ministry has its hands full trying to keep both the wizarding world and the Muggle world safe from increasing attacks by Death Eaters.

Dumbledore has promised to reveal more to Harry after the events of Order of the Phoenix. He makes good on his world when he comes to collect Harry in the summer to visit an old friend, Horace Slughorn, in an effort to convince him to return to Hogwarts and teach. After their attempt is successful, Dumbledore sends Harry to spend the rest of the summer with the Weasleys before returning to Hogwarts and to private lessons with the headmaster.

Everything at Hogwarts isn’t quite what it used to be. While many of his friends now see that Harry wasn’t lying about the Dark Lord’s return, the days are bleaker with the uncertainty of whose family will next be attacked. Draco Malfoy, particularly, seems to be acting odd but only Harry seems to notice and no one believes him (as per usual).

Still, things are not always bad. Though Harry’s “lessons” with Dumbledore reveal more of Tom Riddle’s past, they give Harry a sense of purpose. Combined with his improvement in Advance Potions thanks to an old, battered textbook annotated by someone known as the Half-Blood Prince, Harry is rather enjoying the year.

But there are so many unanswered questions. Who is the Half-Blood Prince? What is Draco doing at Hogwarts? What was Tom Riddle planning before he became the infamous Lord Voldemort? And can Harry and Dumbledore gather enough information in time to stop him?

I remember the first time I read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that it was not one of my favorites. I’m not sure why, but it was. At the time, nothing could top Prisoner of Azkaban and I wasn’t an overly fond fan of Snape. (Still am not but I see why many are.) But, having reread the book some 10+ years later, I actually really enjoyed it. It answers a lot of questions from the previous installments. We also see Harry begin to really understand Voldemort and his motivates, not necessarily in sympathy but to understand why and how to counter his moves.

Some of Harry’s frustrations remain, especially when it comes to Draco. He’s so convinced that Draco is behind a number of incidents at Hogwarts, but because he has not evidence no one takes him seriously. While the story gets darker, and Harry’s certainty grows, this book is also another major turning point for Harry towards the end.

I found myself becoming frustrated with the movie adaptation of Half-Blood Prince after revisiting the book. So many good bits left out! Can I please have a television mini-series?

My rating:3.75/5


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Sorry to be a little late posting; I’ve had to do some reading for grad school before classes begin. This might become a more frequent occurence as the semester progresses. I apologize in advance. Onto the summary!

When we last left off in Goblet of Fire, Cedric Diggory had been killed, Alistair Moody turned out to be a polyjuice using Barty Crouch Jr, and Lord Voldemort had returned. But despite all of that, the wizarding world seems fairly normal. No unusual killings, no unusual disappearances, no one seems worried.

Except Harry Potter and his companions…or maybe just Harry since he hasn’t heard from anyone all summer.

As usual, Harry spends his summer at Privet Drive avoiding Dudley – who has now taken up boxing and bullying – and attempting to discern any wizarding news from the muggle news. He is also having nightmares of Cedrics death and an unknown door at the end of a long corridor. Things change rapidly when Harry and Dudley find themselves attacked by a pair of dementors. Harry is forced to use the patronus charm to save them, but is soon sent a letter by the Ministry that he used magic in the presence of a muggle while underaged and is expelled from Hogwarts.

Harry is soon rescued by a group called the Order of the Phoenix and brought to 12 Grimmauld Place, the headquarters of the Order and his godfather Sirius’ family home. He learns that the Ministry of Magic has not told the public of Lord Voldemort’s return but is instead vilifying Harry and Dumbledore, saying they are lying about the Dark Lord’s return. Eventually Harry goes to trial for his underaged magic, but is soon free of charges and returns to Hogwarts.

But Hogwarts is no longer the happy place he remembers. Harry loses a few friends due to the Daily Prophet’s constant publication of his “lies.” The new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is none other than Ministry undersecretary Dolores Umbridge, who quickly uses her position to try and reform the school and refusal to teach actual defensive magic. Harry’s nightmares haven’t stopped either, but instead become more detailed and vivid. As more and more students slowly realize the aren’t getting the education they need to defend themselves, they turn to the only person who they know has had adequate experience: Harry.

Now Harry must secretly teach his friends the spells to keep them safe while attempting to decipher his odd nightmares – which may not actually be nightmares. But the one man Harry has always turn to for help is no longer able – or willing – to aid him. Dumbledore’s continued absence soon angers Harry. But the question is why?

While I love Harry and I completely understand his anger and frustration, Order of the Phoenix ranks as one of my least favorite books in the series. I think my main source of anger mimics Harry’s; why Dumbledore continues to refuse to see him. While I understand Dumbledore’s motives (and Rowling’s), from Harry’s viewpoint is was needless.

One of the things I really did enjoy from this book is the scene’s with Dumbledore’s Army as they learn defensive magic from Harry. These scenes really showed that even though Harry isn’t as bookish as Hermione, he is still quite adept at magic.

Overall I still really liked Order of the Phoenix. Who am I kidding? I like all of the Harry Potter novels.

My rating: 3.75/5

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The fourth installment to the Harry Potter series, the Goblet of Fire is likely the first volume with real, major action in it due to the Triwizard Tournament. It is also the last installment where Harry is still a carefree teenaged wizard before the return of Lord Voldemort.

The novel starts off with Harry preparing to attend the Quidditch World Cup with his best friends, Ron and Hermione, and Ron’s family the Weasleys. It’s the first time we are introduced to Ron’s two older brothers, Bill and Charlie, and see more wizards and witches beyond those at Hogwarts and Diagon Alley. Harry is truly happy; he’s with people he loves, attending a sport he adores. But there everything goes wrong with Death Eaters show up and the Dark Mark appears over the field.

Things calm down as the school year begins. Only this isn’t a typical school year. Readers are introduced to more schools of wizardry, the Beaubatons and Durmstrang schools who bring students to participate in the Triwizard Tournament alongside Hogwarts. As a rule, only students 17 and older can submit their name to compete. But what kind of Harry Potter novel would this be if somehow Harry doesn’t find himself a contestant? The only problem is Harry never submitted his name! And the only people who really believe him are Dumbledore and Hermione; even Ron thinks Harry tricked his way into the tournament. To make things worse, there’s no way for Harry to get out of the tournament.

For those who have read the novel (or seen the movie), you already know that Harry successfully makes his way through the tournament tasks. But seeing as this is the middle novel in a series of seven, this is where things really heat up as Lord Voldemort returns. Now Harry’s problems are far larger than an average teen wizard’s.

While not my favorite novel in the series, I really enjoyed Goblet of Fire. We start to really see what the wizarding world is like beyond the borders of the UK. We also start to see Harry really excel in some forms of magic as he must master spells he is academically too young for in order to survive the tournament. He does this, of course, with the help of Hermione. This is also the novel where we begin to see how teen impulses can oftentimes override good judgement as the students now find themselves attracted to the opposite gender.

Overall, I find Goblet of Fire a really fun read. I thoroughly enjoyed my reread of it after all these years. I also find the movie slightly more disappointing as many of my favorite book scenes were left out – understandably for time’s sake. Still, rereading the books makes me wish more that someone would develop a television mini-series of the books. This would encompass more of the little nuances of the story that give it life.

My rating: 4/5