By J.K. Rowling
This is the 6th book in the series. This book too has a different start. The first chapter deals with the interaction between the Prime Minister of the Ministry of Magic and the Muggle Prime Minster. You see the progression of the story from a non-magical perspective. In this chapter you also see that since Voldemort has come out in the open many deaths both magical and muggle have occurred. We also find out that the Dementer’s have revolted and are breeding which is causing fog.
The next chapter describes an interaction between Severus Snape and fellow Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange and her sister Narcissa Malfoy. What is so interesting about this chapter is that it is told from a third person perspective. It makes it difficult to tell whether Snape is good or evil. In this chapter we learn that Voldemort has set an impossible task for one of Harry’s classmates, Draco Malfoy to complete. In fact the task is one that Voldemort has been incapable of doing. Voldemort has done this to punish Draco’s father Lucius for failing to complete a task. Narcissa askes Snape to watch over Draco and goes as far as to require Snape to perform an Unbreakable Vow. An unbreakable vow if broken will cause the promise maker to die.
Finally we get back to Harry who is once again at his relatives house. This is his shortest summer stay at the Dursleys. This time it is Dumbledore who is coming to retrieve him to take him to the Weasleys for the rest of the summer. Dumbledore does show up much to the chagrin of the Dursleys. Before leaving Dumbledore does reproach the Dursleys for their cruelty towards Harry. He also tells them that the charm that protected Harry will cease to exist when Harry comes of age at 17. He asks them to allow Harry to return one more summer to ensure that this protection lasts till that time. We also discover that Dumbledore has suffered a grievous injury that has caused one of his hands to die.
Once they leave Dumbledore takes Harry with him to recruit Horace Slughorn one of Dumbledore’s old colleagues. Horace is eventually convinced to come out of retirement. Slughorn has a talent for picking out students who had a lot of talent who would go on to be the best in their fields. Slughorn returning to take over his old post of Potions the post that had been held by Snape for 14 years.
Dumbledore then takes Harry to the Weasleys for the rest of the summer. He tells Harry that he should trust Ron and Hermione with the details of the prophecy. He also tells Harry that he will be giving Harry lessons that year. While at the Weasleys Harry learns many important things:
1. Bill Weasley is going to marry Fleur Delacour.
2. Karkiroff the ex-Death Eater was found dead after managing to evade Voldemort for a year.
3. Sirius’ brother Regulus only managed to elude Voldemort for a few days when he tried to run.
4. Ollivander the wand maker has disappeared.
5. Tonks, who is a Metamorphmagus (meaning she can change her appearance at will) has lost her ability due to some unknown emotional upheaval.
Once Harry returns to Hogwarts, the students find out that Snape at long last has been given the Defense Against the Dark Arts position that he’s been wanting. Of course Snape uses his position to torment Harry more than ever. Also Draco Malfoy is distracted more than ever. Harry feels that he is up to no good. Also someone is responsible for nearly killing two Hogwarts students of which Ron in one.
In this book, there are two focuses. First is Harry’s quest to find the Half Blood Prince. In Harry’s new potions class he ends up with an old book that has a lot of interesting notes written in it. The second focus which is the most important are the private lessons with Dumbledore
The lessons focus on the reasons that Voldemort tried to kill Harry as a baby. See the prophecy only played as smart part of what happened. So Dumbledore takes Harry for a trip through Voldemort/ Tom Riddles life. This path is tortuous so I’ll explain it chronologically.
Tom Marvolo Riddle’s father is Tom Riddle a muggle. Tom Riddle’s mother is Merope (Mer rope ay) Gaunt. Merope Gaunt was one of the last living descendants of Salazaar Slytherin. This line had intermarried with their cousins to the point that there was a vein of insanity in the family. This insanity was noted in the fact that Merope and her brother Morfin had eyes that pointed in opposite directions.
Merope cherished a burning passions for Tom Riddle. She got him to marry her by giving him a love potion. Once she became pregnant she stopped giving him the love potion and he abandoned her. She gave birth to Tom Marvolo Riddle in an orphanage and died shortly afterwards. Marvolo was the name of her father.
When Tom Marvolo Riddle was eleven, Dumbledore went to the orphanage to tell Tom that he was a wizard and to give him his Hogwarts letter. Dumbledore discovered that unlike many wizarding youth Tom’s magical abilities didn’t manifest itself only as a result of great emotion. Tom had an unusual mastery of his abilities and was already using them to control and torture people without the aid of a wand. Tom exhibited some unusual character traits:
1. He didn’t want to be ordinary or connected with the ordinary.
2. He had a magpie tendency to keep souvenirs of nastier bits of magic that he performed.
3. He operated in secrecy even as a child.
On their first meeting, Dumbledore put a fear of authority in Tom for the first time; also Dumbledore was impervious to Tom’s charm. This is why Voldemort has always feared Dumbledore.
Once Tom entered Hogwarts he charmed everyone teacher and student alike. He surrounded himself with a group of friends that had a dark glamour (they were the forerunners of the Death Eaters). They were mixtures of thugs looking for refined means of torture and the weak seeking protection. Their wrong doing was always underground; they were never caught in the open. While at Hogwarts, Tom was obsessed with finding out his parentage. He stumbled across wizard geneaology books that told of Slytherin’s line and found Marvolo Gaunt. He went and visited his uncle Morfin. That same night he killed his father and paternal grandparents and framed his uncle for the murders. He also stole an heirloom ring from his uncle that night.
While at Hogwarts Tom was also obsessed with immorality. He considered death shameful. In his research of means of immortality he came across the term HORCRUX which was not properly explained in the book. He asked a teacher for help. This teacher was none other than Horace Slughorn. Slughorn stated that a horcrux is an object that has a soul encased within it. In order to created a horcrux you must commit an act of murder which destroys the soul then use a spell to encase the soul in the object. The problem is that murder in destroys the soul which is meant to be whole. Since part of the soul is encased outside of the body, it acts as an anchor if the body dies and therefore the rest of the soul doesn’t go on. The remaining soul is less than a ghost and existence is such that death would be better. The thing Tom wanted to know was what would happen if a person were to create more than one horcrux. He wanted to know if it were possible to create a seven part soul.
Years after this conversation, Tom worked at a dark curio shop which put him in a place to find highly magical objects. Two objects that he came across were Slytherin’s locket and Hufflepuff’s cup- two objects of Hogwarts’ founders. Tom killed the owner to obtain the objects. After this death, Tom traveled extensively; in fact no one knew where he went. He delved heavily in the Dark Arts. He came back to Hogwarts to try to get the Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching position. Dumbledore didn’t give it to him; he knew that Voldemort was after something besides teaching. Dumbledore felt that Tom wanted to be back at Hogwarts to search the school for some hidden repositories of ancient magic or some founder’s objects. When Voldemort came back, his features were extraordinarily distorted. Dumbledore tells Harry that Voldemort’s features looked that way because in murdering so much he had destroyed his soul and he became less human.
Oh! The reason Hogwarts could never keep a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher for more than a year is because Voldemort cursed the position when he didn’t get it.
Here we see the story arc again. Dumbledore started suspecting that Voldemort had used a horcrux back in book 2. The diary that was more than a memory; an object that began to think for itself. The dairy was a horcrux. Based upon the careless way in which it had been thrown away essentially, Dumbledore had an ominous feeling that Voldemort had made more of them. His reason for recruiting Slughorn is that he needed Slughorn’s memory to determine how many horcruxes Voldemort was going to make which is 6. Voldemort much like he did when he was a child created horcruxes commemorating noteworthy murders. He used historic magical objects. He hid these objects in places where significant events occurred in his life. Here were learn the reason for Voldemort’s anger towards Lucius Malfoy. Lucius was given the diary to hold for Voldemort; he wasn’t supposed to use it for his own means. When Voldemort found out what happened, he was extraordinarily angry. Dumbledore destroyed another horcrux which was the heirloom ring Tom had stolen from his uncle. It was destroying the object that caused the damage to Dumbledore’s hand. Dumbledore has been looking for horcruxes for quite some time and said that Harry has earned the right to accompany him the next time.
At the end of the book, Harry finds out that Snape was the person that overheard the part of the prophecy and told Voldemort. It was Snaped who was responsible for his parents death. Harry and Dumbledore do find another horcrux in a cave where Tom as a child had tortured two children. Protecting the cave are Inferi- corpses that had been reanimated to do a dark wizard’s bidding. It is a hair raising adventure that kept me on the edge of my seat. After retrieving the horcrux (Dumbledore was injured in the process) they Apparate to Hogsmeade. Before Harry can get help, they discover that the Dark Mark has been cast over the school. Remember the Dark Mark is cast whenever someone is killed. Dumbledore and Harry rush back to Hogwarts to the Astronomy tower where the mark has been cast only to find no one there. Shortly after landing on the tower, Draco Malfoy comes out onto the turret. It is revealed that Draco’s task had been to try to kill Dumbledore on pain of Voldemort killing his mother. Draco couldn’t do it; but then other Death Eaters rush in and try to force him to do it. Draco was still unable to do it. Last, Snape come in. Dumbledore actually begs saying “Severus please.” Oh Harry was wearing his invisibility cloak all this time and Dumbledore had performed a body binding charm to prevent Harry from being injured or killed. Snape with a look of loathing kills Dumbledore. The Death Eaters run. Harry having been released from the spell because its caster was dead gives chase. In the ensuing chase we see that one again Ron, Hermion, Neville, Ginny, and Luna along with Tonks, Lupin, and Professor McGonagall as well as Bill Weasley who was savaged by Greybeck the werewolf are battling Death Eaters. Once again theses students live to tell the tale. Also the chase reveals that Severus Snape was the Half Blood Prince. His mother was a pureblood wizard who married a muggle. Although Snape seems to be firmly on the side of evil, he still tries to help Harry in his quest against Voldemort by giving him a huge clue as to defeating Dumbledore. Snape does escape. Soon after Harry realizes that the horcrux he and Dumbledore risked so much to obtain is a fake. Inside the locket this note is found:
Dumbledore’s funeral is conducted and there’s talk of closing the school. Harry decides to visit Privet Drive one more time and then visit his parents graves. Harry decides not to go back to Hogwarts in order to fulfill his quest of finding the last four objects which are:
2. Hufflepuff’s cup.
3. Slytherin’s locket
4. Something of Ravenclaw’s or Gryffindor’s.
***************END OF SPOILERS****************
1. Where are the remaining horcruxes?
2. What are the identies of the remaining horcruxes?
3. Where did Snape and Malfoy go?
4. What becomes of Draco?
5. How does Wormtail repay his debt to Harry?
6. What actually happened that night his parents died?
7. Where did Voldemort go in those years he was missing?
8. Will anything happen at Bill and Fleur’s wedding?
9. Where is Voldemort hiding?
10. What will be the showdown between Snape and Harry be?
11. Where will the final battle take place?
12. If Voldemort is killed will he turn into a ghost due to his fear of death?
13. Who lives and who dies?
14. Will Harry and Ginny marry?
15. Will Ron and Hermione marry?
16. Who is R.A.B.? Is it Regulus Black?
17. Is this why Regulus Black died so soon after leaving Voldemort’s service, because the potion killed him after a few days?