Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6)

ISBN: 0439785960
ISBN 13: 9780439785969
By: J.K. Rowling Mary GrandPré

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Adventure Children Childrens Favourites Magic Re Read Sci Fi Fantasy Series Ya Young Adult

About this book

The war against Voldemort is not going well; even the Muggle governments are noticing. Ron scans the obituary pages of the Daily Prophet, looking for familiar names. Dumbledore is absent from Hogwarts for long stretches of time, and the Order of the Phoenix has already suffered losses. And yet, as with all wars, life goes on. Sixth-year students learn to Apparate—and lose a few eyebrows in the process. Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love. Classes are never straightforward, though Harry receives some extraordinary help from the mysterious Half-Blood Prince.So it's the home front that takes center stage in the multilayered sixth installment of the story of Harry Potter. Here at Hogwarts, Harry will search for the full and complex story of the boy who became Lord Voldemort—and thereby find what may be his only vulnerability.

Reader's Thoughts

Jake

The first time I read it at camp, I was bored and taken aback by what I saw as worthless and superfluous backstory. I openly mocked the counselors and campers who cried as a result of the famous murder.I reread it this past week in anticipation of the final chapter and am embarassed to say that I came close to spilling tears on the Metro as I finished it. This book is better than I remembered, and the history IS significant. It sets up the seventh perfectly and escalates the war and plot in ways no one could have guessed.The character development is astounding, and truly makes you take notice of how little you knew until this book. Dumbledore and Voldemort are fleshed out to an extent we hadn't seen before, and if possible, makes Dumbledore even more likable. He represents all that is good and loving and warm in the world, and Tom Riddle is his total opposite in every way. Voldemort is pure evil, but he never crosses the line of becoming a caricature of the villain. His torture of small children, his charm of the teachers, his murder of his own family, his desperation to achieve immortality at the expense of innocent lives, it almost overwhelms the reader to see such a character thrive in the wizarding world. Furthermore, Slughorn was one of the best additions to the books and his likable smarm added humor and warmth to an occasionally chilling book. He wasn't loathsome like Umbridge, annoying like Lockhart, conflicted like Lupin. He knew exactly what he wanted and had no qualms using the kids to do it, and for some reason, it was highly enjoyable to watch his antics unfold.And, of course, more Ginny means more joy. She's by far one of the best characters in the entire series. Ginny represents strength and bravery arguably more than any other character in the series, and constantly looks after those that are bullied and belittled. In short, she's perfect.

Jess Michaelangelo

Even though I already knew what was going to happen, no thanks to a friend who spoiled it for me, that didn't stop the tears from flowing as I read the end of this book. J.K. Rowling continued to take the series down a deeper and much darker road with this book. This particular book seems to focus quite a bit on emotions--fear, love, hatred, grief. As a reader, this book was the most gripping out of all of them. Within the first chapter or two, I was already ready to start throwing punches left and right. And that amount of emotion was there throughout the entire book--especially the ending. Now, I know that these are works of fiction, but for Harry Potter fanatics, the death of someone who has become very real to us and who is a favorite character of many, the ending was as painful as can be. I definitely have to give props to Rowling for her control over her readers' emotions in this book. We've reached very frightening times in Harry's world...I can only imagine what the next book is going to bring...

Chris

Since pretty much everyone I know has read these books, I figure reviewing them is pretty pointless. But with the new book coming out in a couple of days, I have to go through them beginning to end. To make the reviews more entertaining, I will be doing them in a variety of unexpected formats. For this review, I will be writing as a power ballad.(Intro: Piano and strings)You were always by my sideYou will always be my guideBut the road I'm onGoes on and onAnd I've left you beHIIIIIND!(Big crunchy electric guitar)(DUMBLEDORE!)I will never forget the strength you showed!(DUMBLEDORE!)I will never forget the debt you're owed!(DUMBLEDORE!)And when I face the final hour(DUMBLEDORE!)I will call on all your power!(Guitar solo)There's no way back againBut if I can find a friendTo see me thoughAnd remember youI'll make it to the EEEENNNND!(DUMBLEDORE!)When I finally catch that snake in the grass(DUMBLEDORE!)You will be able to rest at last!(DUMBLEDORE!)You know he never will escape(DUMBLEDORE!)I'm comin' for you SNAAAAAAAAPE!!!!(Guitar solo)(Guitar solo with children's choir singing "Run, Snape, Run!")(Guitar solo with fireworks)(Drums explode)EDITOR'S NOTE: Yes, I know, it's horrible. I'm not proud....

Katherine Furman

So I feel I must publicly expound my Severus Snape theory before the last Harry Potter book comes out. I know, it's a total guilty pleasure, but damnit, I love that ragtag bunch of misfit wizards. So prepare to be awed by my genius analysis of the eternal question: Is Severus Snape evil? Well, in one word - Completely. Quiet down, quiet down, quit your uproaring and just hear me out. In the world that Rowling created for Harry Potter almost every character is either goodness and light or darkness and doom. Sure they have conflicts and sometimes shit ain't easy, but their motivations are always clean cut. Snape is the one mystery. He seems evil, but he protects Harry, sort of. Dumbledore trusts him, but he makes pacts with the Malfoys. What's a muggle to think? Well, I'll tell you what to think. Snape is only looking out for #1. He's got designs on blossoming from the picked on nerdy potions kid to the unquestioned dark overlord or everything. Oh, spoiler alert: If you haven't read the 6th book, I'm totally about to blow the ending for you. You might be saying, 'Well then why does Dumbledore trust him? Dumbledore's super smart and would know if he was evil.' Well it's because when Dumbledore asks him, "No, seriously Snape, are you done with Voldemort?" Snape can say, "Of course, guy," and be telling the truth. He's done with that shit and he's got his eyes on the prize for himself. Even under the control of the Veritaserum he can honestly say he's not working for old Voldy. So thus he gains Dumbledore's trust in that he's no longer a Death Eater. Booyakasha! (And how genius was it for Snape to arrange a plan with Dumbledore to kill him (Dumbledore) at the end of the 6th book!? We all know that shit was preordained, what with all the "Snape, you just gotta do it," jive by big D. So everyone's led to think that even though Snape now seems like a bad guy he really isn't. Oh you poor, feeble-minded saps.) Ok, so now you're going to ask why would Snape ever protect Harry? He hates Harry's dad and he's got no love for the boy either, so why has he saved him in the past? BECAUSE Harry's the only one who can destroy Voldemort and quite possibly vice versa. So what's Snape gonna do? He's gonna pit the two of them against one another and let them destroy each other. Then the way will be clear for Snape to rule unopposed. Ha! Goddamn I'm a genius!

Sarah

I learned that I was far too addicted to characters over plot when this became my favourite Harry Potter book on the strength of getting to see more of the Slytherins...

Mikey

I wanted to like Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Really, I did. After the huge disappointment of The Order of the Phoenix, I was ready to have fun again. But the same problems that plagued the fifth book are here in the sixth; this novel is more of a chore to get through than anything else, and long passages go by in which absolutely no action takes place. In fact, the whole book is inactivity; the plot consists of - get this - Harry learning about Voldemort's past. This is nothing that couldn't have been treated in other books with several asides, or even with Voldemort's own book. But no, Rowling felt that this needed to be spread incredibly thin over hundreds and hundreds of pages. She's still not a very good writer, and she badly needs a good editor. There's no reason for one, though; at this point, Rowling could sell the phone book under the title Harry Potter and the Unlisted Number and it would probably sell millions. As for The Half-Blood Prince, 300 pages could easily be removed from its text without anybody - the author included - noticing.

Thomas

"I enjoyed the meeting too," said Luna serenely. "It was like having friends."And that, my friends, is why I love Luna Lovegood.But, on a serious note, this book blew me away. Even though I read it over a month ago the feelings of yes yes this is why everyone loves this series so much thank you yes still reverberate throughout my being when I think about it. This sixth installment incorporated a perfect mixture of action, romance, mystery, and wizardly happenings. All of the overarching plot lines: the romances between Harry and Ginny and Ron and Hermione, the disappearance of Dumbledore, the continuing evolution of the prophecy, etc. came together to create a captivating story full of twists and fresh, likeable characters. While this one and the seventh book are tied in terms of being my favorite, if I had to choose one book that really captured the essence of Harry Potter, I'd probably pick this one.My favorite moments revolved around Ron and Hermione. I loved their mutual jealousy and affection and how neither of them succumbed to insta-love. Overall I would recommend this to any fans who enjoyed books 1-4; the quality of this installment makes the hot mess that was the fifth book a distant memory.

John Brooks

The crown jewel of the Harry Potter series, "Half-Blood Prince" is one of the finest novels I've read in my lifetime. Having allowed us to watch Harry evolve and mature for so many years, Rowling finally lifts the veil, so to speak, humanizing the larger than life characters of not just Dumbledore and Snape, but significantly and achingly, Tom Riddle. This is love letter to one of the hardest things we all experience: the moment that your idols become your peers, your parents become your friends, and your superiors your equals, when you realize we're all in this together and that it is nobody's job to shelter you, and when, finally, you realize that people are absolutely human.Rowling's affection for her characters and her sympathy for even the most vile of her creations (the Malfoys and Voldemort himself) are at the heart of Harry Potter's lasting beauty and insight. Here, she explores her three most fascinating creations, and one wishes the story would never end. But it does, and when it does, Harry is faced with the same challenge that Rowling subjects her readers to: how much faith do you really have in what you've been told, and do you believe, at the end of the day, that good really does win out?A timeles classic. One of my favorites, ever.

Liza H

I admit this is a re-read, as I have of course read this book before, when it first came out in 2005. I haven't read it since, however, and the way my brain retains information (ie: it doesn't) it was almost like reading it for the first time. Which is why I'm counting it here. I'm one of the many who have been following Harry in his adventures with much interest and glee, and this book held as much magic for me as all of the previous ones. I'm especially thrilled with how much these books have "grown up" along with the characters (and, presumably, most of the readers). I know a lot of people didn't like how Harry fell for Ginny, but I didn't mind it. And the insights into Tom Riddle's life was very interesting; while Voldemort will always be the stereotypical bad guy, it was great to know how and why he is the way he is. I also got a kick out of Slughorn, and one of my favorite scenes is at the Christmas party when Slughorn has his arm around Snape, talking about his "star pupil". Snape continues to be extremely interesting too - and the fact that he IS the Half-Blood Prince that Harry (and Ron!) have been "worshipping" via his old textbook speaks volumes as well (ha, I punned). I've always been a Snape-lover, and when he killed Dumbledore I was surprised (at least, I was the first time I read the book!) but I very quickly came to the conclusion that this was planned between him and Dumbledore; that Dumbledore's pleading "Severus, please" was not for his life, but for his death. Because of his withered arm and weakness from the potion he'd drunk, I'm also very convinced that Dumbledore was probably dying anyway.It was good to give this book a very close re-read, since the final book came out, and that review follows...

Deyse (Deyse Says)

In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince we follow Harry through his sixty year on Hogwarts and things are much more darker than in the last book. With Voldemort each day more powerful and with more Death Eater joining their cause it seems that this war is ready to reach it full force. But is Harry ready to take his part on this? That's the journey of Harry, together with Dumbledore, on the sixth book of this series. For me this is the best book of the series, the pace is so quickly that it seems impossible to put it down, it also has a more adult tone, a more scary tone. After the end of The Goblet of Fire I didn't think I could be more scare but I was wrong, in this one we have a tension building since the very first chapter, we known that things are bad and if Harry doesn't learn what it takes to bring Voldemort down maybe he wouldn't even get a chance. And Harry knows that, the pressure of the prophecy is always present, in this book Harry doesn't get to be so immature as in the book before, the need for growing and quickly is each day more clear. In this phase of learning, to Harry, we get to see a lot more of interactions between Harry and Dumbledore, which is priceless, we get to understand a little more how ahead of us Dumbledore always was and how much he dedicated to make Harry's patch a little more easy. But Harry isn't the only one that sees that the world is changing, everyday people read the bad news on the Daily Prophet, people missing without explanations, unnatural destruction, Hermione and Ron know that the changing is coming and they never back off, showing that they are in this together. Despite all the bad stuff that is happening in the world, the teenagers of Hogwarts still found time to do you know teenager stuff. Now that Harry, Ron and Hermione get to the age of 16 years old we see a lot more of romance, it's still not a lot, but certainly things got interest. We also still get to worry about the quidditch and classes, so this gives us a more homey feel. Over all this book shows us the maturity of this series, Harry is finally becoming an adult, together with their readers, and it get us ready to the final statement of Harry history.

Malxox ♥

THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE IS THE BEST BOOK EVER!!! Oooooh!!! <3 Honestly I ended up watching all the movies before reading the books (ashamed :( ) but because if that I have been absolutly dying to read the Half Blood Prince. It's my favorite HP movie, ergo my favorite book! I'm a bit of an odd one I guess, liking the 6th book over the 7th, but I can't help it :) Draco's in this book more. It seems to be about him and his struggles as well as Harry. I love that because it shows that he has things going on as well and that... I think it's hard for him even being the little rich Slytherin. In the earlier books he was just a little--Draco I'm sorry D:-- shit. Ruder and meaner than in thr movies. If y'all haven't figure it out by now.... I love Draco/Tom. He's my favoriteist character&actor! :3 J.K.Rowling is just fabulous, if you haven't read the Harry Potter books... SHAME ON YOU! Go do it now!!

Jonathan Janz

Here's the thing about the Harry Potter books...They're awesome.Deep, huh? Well, deep or shallow, it's the truth. I waited a long time to read the Harry Potter books because I wanted to experience them with my own children. My son (8) and I just finished the sixth book, my first daughter (6) and I are working on the first, and my youngest child (3) is content to commandeer her siblings' wands and run around shrieking, "I have a Harry Potter stick!"In other words, we all enjoy it.I could write a great deal about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, but it's a tough book to write about without giving things away. And though I loved this novel for many reasons, I find it quite difficult to separate it from the other tales. This, I think, speaks to J.K. Rowling's ability to connect the stories in a such a way that they each have their own identity while still continuing to trace a gigantic glowing arc through the sky along which the reader is able to ride from the first book to the seventh.So before I tell you a few things I loved about the novel, please know that there might be spoilers below. Not huge spoilers, mind you, but I'm always afraid of letting something slip. So...be forewarned. Don't read on if you haven't read this book yet. And if you haven't read the book, why are you reading a review of it by a writer whose skills don't yet approach J.K. Rowling's? Seriously. Get off the danged Internet and read this amazing series!Some delights and terrors and sorrows...1. Fenrir Greyback: Bet that surprised you a little. I know that this character played a relatively minor role, but on the page he was a scene-stealer, a flesh-chewer, and a perfect foil for one of my favorite character, Remus Lupin.An aside: About a year before I began reading the series, my Creative Writing class was discussing characterization. The kids began talking about the Harry Potter books. One remarked that the supporting characters were as interesting as the leads, which led another student to bring up Remus Lupin. She was halfway through her cataloging of his merits as a character when she stopped and looked up at me, as if seeing me anew. She then said, "Mr. (Insert real name here). You sort of remind me of Lupin." When I later found out he was a werewolf, I was a little bit shocked (and secretly pleased). But when I really got to know the character, I found the remark incredibly gratifying.Back to Fenrir Greyback (with whom I hope I have nothing in common)...What made Greyback so incredibly interesting to me was not only the sheer ferocity of his behavior, but the diabolical simplicity of his motives. If the Harry Potter books were likened to Lord of the Flies and Voldemort's ambition were compared with Jack's (the leader of the hunters), then Greyback would be Roger, the sadist. This powderkeg of a character lives only to rend flesh and to guzzle the steaming lifeblood of his victims. Greyback doesn't want to rule the world; he simply wants to terrorize it. I don't know what kind of a role he plays in the seventh book (if any), but his unreasoning brutality added just the right note of menace to a book that largely---and sensitively---focused on the romantic relationships of its teenagers.2. Fleur's Surprising Reaction: I admit to falling prey to a stupid prejudice here, and I feel awful about it. But I wrongly assumed Fleur Delacour was a pretty face without a soul. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire she was the object of many male desires (Ron's particularly), and though she was skilled at wizardry, she wasn't an especially affecting character. She did seem affected, however, and when she showed up again in Book Six, I, like Mrs. Weasley, rolled my eyes and dismissed her as a fluttery, vapid future supermodel.How wrong I was.One mark of a great writer, I think, is the ability to surprise the reader without cheating. That's J.K. Rowling. When something terrible befell Fleur's fiance, I was all set to mentally berate her for her superficiality. But rather than making a caricature out of Fleur---as I fear I unknowingly did---Rowling transformed her and made her deeply endearing with a couple elegant lines of dialogue.And I loved that. So here's to continual reminders to not judge people by appearances or even their seeming personalities. People can still surprise us, and we need to give them the opportunity to do so.*takes a deep breath*And lastly...3. Dumbledore: If you've read this far, you've only been assailed by minor spoilers. I don't want to spoil this plot twist, but I don't know how to talk about it without spoiling it. And the fact is, I don't want to talk about it.Rarely has a fictional character so resonated with me the way Albus Dumbledore has. In the first book he was wise, eccentric, and a constant source of comfort. As the series has developed, he has persisted in exhibiting those traits, but he has also grown more than most might think. He has revealed a penchant for trusting others too much. He has admitted how fallible he is, how prone to mistakes. He has been injured, accused of wrongdoing, and generally fed through a physical and emotional woodchipper.And he has come through it all with an open, caring heart and an enormous capacity for love. One passage in particular, I think, summarizes this amazing character for me. In a scene that chronicles how Tom Riddle became Lord Voldemort, Dumbledore attempts to gird Harry's resolve and confidence in the inevitable battle with his nemesis:"Yes, you have," said Dumbledore firmly. "You have a power that Voldemort has never had. You can---""I know!" said Harry impatiently. "I can love!" It was only with difficult that he stopped himself adding, "Big deal!""Yes, Harry, you can love," said Dumbledore, who looked as though he knew perfectly well what Harry had just refrained from saying. "Which, given everything that has happened to you, is a great and remarkable thing. You are still too young to understand how unusual you are, Harry.""So, when the prophecy says that I'll have 'power the Dark Lord knows not,' it just means---love?" asked Harry, feeling a little let down."Yes---just love," said Dumbledore.The above passage will strike some as too direct, too naive, or worst of all, too emotional.It struck me as incredibly beautiful. There are all sorts of belief systems in the world, and no two people are exactly alike in their beliefs. But what Dumbledore says here is something that, were it adopted by more people, would alter our world for the better. Harry, for all his flaws, usually acts with good intentions. He befriends Luna Lovegood (another one of my favorite characters in all of fiction), gives of himself to others, and is willing to suffer so that others won't have to experience the same pain. In other words, Harry loves.And so can Dumbledore. Which is why this book was so memorable, wonderful, and painful to me.I'm going to go now. My wife is making a delicious supper. My son and first daughter are ready to wrestle. And my three-year-old is racing around the house casting spells on the furniture with her Harry Potter stick.And for that, J.K. Rowling, I thank you.

Joyzi

***SPOILER ALERT***This book was really amazing it even made me cry. Even if I know a lot of spoilers which my friend have told me about Snape being the Half Blood Prince, Snape killed Dumbledore, Ginny and Harry being together, about the horcrux was a fake, my friend actually told me the summary of this book. I think even if I know a lot of what was going to happen I still find it painful to read it especially the part when Dumbledore was killed and Hagrid was talking to Harry and Hagrid doesn't know at that moment that Dumbledore was already dead. It was really painful for me and i cried at that point because it was like suddenly the most person that you think the greatest of them all and actually the one wizard that Voldemort feared was dead. To think that Snape killed him and that the horcrux was fake i feel really terrible that it all ended that way. I think that this ending was more depressing than when Sirius Black was killed on the Order of the Phoenix. There were so many questions that really need answers. That would make you after reading this book think, be nervous about what would possibly happen.I really felt that this was a good book and hope that the movie would not disappoint me. I saw a trailer of it wherein the burrow was burned it's not in the book though. I can't wait to buy "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows." Really Harry Potter series made me hooked that i truly recommended everyone to read this book.

Rebecca

** spoiler alert ** I don't really know what I think of the beginning, since the first two (clearly important) scenes are done outside Harry's frame of reference. The whole point of the books has been that we're in limited 3rd person POV - we find things out when Harry does. That's been the clearly established rule for 5 books, I don't understand why we're changing it in the 6th. Obviously the point of being an author is that you make the rules, but once you've made your own rules you're supposed to abide by them until you've also created an exception. That can be done more easily with substantive rules - you can have vampires wander around in direct sunlight eating garlic for all I care, if you say why you're doing it. But a style rule that's been clearly established isn't supposed to be broken, unless you need information that CAN'T be conveyed any other way, and I don't see why she couldn't have conveyed the information in those scenes later in the book in the usual way. Okay, yes, it's clearly important that we know about the Unbreakable Vow, but Harry found out about it anyway, so I'm not sure why we had to know about it when we did. The point could have been to introduce Narcissa and use Bellatrix again, but I'm not sure why we care. Or I guess it could have been that we suspect Snape, which would definitely be fun and games, but I'm suspicious of that clearly planted suspicion. My best guess is that we need to know not only THAT Snape made the Unbreakable Vow, but WHAT he vowed to do, and that must have been the most convenient way to do it. Also, I would like to veto love triangles. I know, I know - we have a bunch of 16 year olds of the two genders in constant close quarters, it would be more shocking if we DIDN'T have triangles. But it's woeful to have to read it for a million billion pages. And Ron really can be a spectacular McAsshat when he wants to. (Lavender? Really? I have nothing against her, but really?) Although I worry about where she's going with Ron and Hermione - they FIGHT. A LOT. And I don't think that would change that much, no matter what happens...it hasn't been the "bickering of unspoken passion" all this time. I think Ron started the snarking of move around Year 4, but Hermione has been thoroughly...Hermione until this year. Also, I kind of like her with Viktor Krum, because it was FUNNY. Although I am surprisingly myself by being a supporter of Harry-Ginny. I heart Ginny and I think she would work well with him. I mean, if it goes bad it will go VERY VERY BAD, as Harry himself as pointed out, but maybe it won't go bad. Maybe there will be ONE THING in this ENTIRE SERIES that doesn't end up going bad. ....Or she could be the one who dies at the end of book 7 WAH VETO.One disadvantage of being a Johnny (jill?) come lately is that I knew that Dumbledore died, just like I knew that Sirius died, but I managed to block that out with the supreme conviction of someone who believes that the bad ending will have worked itself out by the time she gets there. Unfortunately, it did not, and I am deprived of Dumbledore as I was deprived of Sirius, and yea verily I cried. I cried harder for Sirius than for Dumbledore, though I'm not sure why - probably because why Dumbledore's death wasn't a shock, how it happened was, and I was too busy screaming "WHAT THE F!" at the book to really be emotionally wracked. I had to go back and read it twice just to make sure I really understood what had just happened, because it seemed like there was just no way. So the end.....W. T. EEEEEEFFFFFFFF. I mean, what WAS that? Was it an Imperious Curse? Was it the consequences of the Unbreakable Vow? Or have Ron and Harry been right all this time? And it's so utterly bizarre because earlier in the book I'd been thinking about how even though Snape doesn't always like it, in the end he does usually seem to do what's right, like when he made Lupin the serum or when he tried to teach Harry Occlumency-whatever, even though he doesn't like it, and that was what had me convinced that Dumbledore was right in trusting him. And I'd thought that maybe if Harry just sucked it up and apologized to Snape and actually tried being polite it might help - like if he'd had sorry for his accidental disemboweling of Malfoy. I mean, yes, Malfoy was trying to use the Cruciatus on him, but I'd been thinking if Harry just manned up and said to Snape, "Professor, I'm sorry I did that," without making excuses, that might make a different. But then after all of that it turns out that HOLY MOTHER OF JESUS HOWARD CHRIST ON A POGO STICK SNAPE BETRAYED THE POTTERS???? and I seriously rethought that idea.And then...and then after ALL of that, has he really been still working for Voldemort this ENTIRE TIME? I mean, I'd wondered if everyone circling you for all those years going Dumbledore trusts you but we don't and we just want to make that VERY VERY CLEAR could eventually crack you, and then--wha--wha--what? And Dumbledore DIED FOR A FAKE HORCRUX AND WHO THE FUDGE IS R.A.B.?? My brain has just waved a tiny white flag and crawled into the corner to cry. Dear J.K. Rowling: please cease and desist phunking with my heart.

Fred D

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!!! The Half-Blood Prince was easily the best book in the series up to this point. It kept me riveted. This book is right up there among the best fantasy I've ever read. Rowling has finally earned a place in my mind among the best fantasy writers. I know, I came to that realization kind-of late, but this was the first book of hers that really blew me away. It was fascinating to see the scope of the story expand and long-time mysteries be illuminated. In any great fictional story, the scope of the story expands as the story arc progresses. That was definitely the case with this book. The scope of the story expanded, and your knowledge of what's going on greatly increased. Everything that happened up to this point is seen in a larger context. Now that the Ministry is convinced that Voldemort is back, the real war against Voldemort has begun. People are dying every day. Has Snape betrayed the Order of the Phoenix? The book gets off to a suspenseful start. Then Dumbledore decides to give Harry private lessons, and each lesson is fascinating as they use the pensieve to explore memories of different people to try to figure out Voldemort's origins, motives, and plans. Dumbledore gives Harry an assignment to collect a memory from Professor Slughorn, one of the new teachers on the staff, that holds the key to understanding Voldemort's plans. Harry obtains the memory, and from that point forward I could not put the book down. Each chapter from that point on was riveting. Each one contained incredible, amazing events that expanded the scope of the story arc and expanded your understanding of what was happening. The chapter on on 'horcruxes' in particular blew me away. Finally we know how Voldemort achieved immortality! Now it was clear what had to be done to defeat him! It changed everything. That chapter defined the course of the rest of the series. Later, Dumbledore took Harry on a mission to destroy one of the horcruxes, and the account of that excursion was brilliant. I was totally riveted. It was so descriptive, so suspenseful. Upon their return to Hogwarts, they discovered that the school had been infiltrated by Death Eaters, and a full-blown battle erupted. Again, it was so suspenseful, I could not put the book down. Somehow I knew that Dumbledore had to die. Harry had been under Dumbledore's tutelage and protection throughout the whole series. I could see why Dumbledore dying was necessary for Potter's further growth and development. It sets things up so that Potter will have to face Voldemort one last time in the last book, alone. It had to be that way. One thing worries me though. Is Harry ready? After all, he hasn't completed his education and training. Harry was no match for Snape in their duel at the end of Half-Blood Prince. He still has a lot to learn. How can he ever track down and destroy 4 horcruxes, and then destroy Voldemort, all by himself? This is by-far the largest task he's ever had to face, and seems too much for him. Well, we'll just have to see, shall we?P.S.: Am I the only one that has a reasonable guess as to who R.A.B. stands for? Without having read Deathly Hollows yet or knowing anything about how things actually turn out, I think I have it figured out. Think about it: Who in the entire series do we know with a last name that begins with a B? Well of course, there's the Black family. Now there are lots of Blacks, but who among the Blacks has a first name beginning with an R, who opposed Voldemort? Of course! Sirius's brother Regulus! Who else could it possibly be? Regulus stole the horcrux, and soon after Voldemort killed him. It all makes sense. Why hasn't anybody else figured it out? Remember, this is just a theory. I haven't read Deathly Hallows and I know nothing about how things actually turn out. I'll have to read on and see if I'm right.

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