Continuing my curiosity about Harry Potter, here’s another interesting article, by H. Chapman:

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince could have been called In Love and War, but I heard that one was already taken.

In Harry Potter’s sixth year at Hogwarts, tensions are running high: Harry and his friends are coming to grips with raging teenage hormones even as an increasingly powerful Voldemort wreaks havoc all over England.

[…]

So make no mistake: This is not a book for small children. As the original audience has grown, so has the reading level of the Harry Potter novels.

[…]

Though it’s nothing so bald as an allegory, Half-Blood Prince often brings to mind the so-called “war on terror” of recent years.

A new minister of magic has been elected who is strongly reminiscent of President George W. Bush in many ways. The minister is a rangy fighter, a wartime leader who came to power to help alleviate the fears of terrified wizarding folk.

In its rush to look like it’s doing something about Voldemort, however, the ministry is arresting and imprisoning many who are probably innocent (which brings to mind the controversy over prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba).

Using Voldemort and his followers, Rowling also explores themes of racial purity, ethnic cleansing and terrorist tactics with a deft hand.

But the book isn’t just about war. Over and over, the characters demonstrate how the more you love someone, the more you have the power to hurt him or her, whether purposefully or not.

That the resulting heartache doesn’t have to dictate your actions, that people are ultimately in charge of their own destinies, is another major motif in the book. For example, though Harry and Voldemort have much in common as orphans with great power, they used their talents differently: Voldemort to injure and dominate, Harry to heal and help.

Even the much-vaunted Prophecy is shown to be merely a prediction that is only bound to come true because of Harry’s almost certain choices in the future.

Harry isn’t the only one with tough choices, though. Harry’s schoolyard nemesis, Draco Malfoy, is a poignant example of the crushing power of living under the heavy expectations of one’s father (one of many father-and-son relationships examined in this book).

It’s also a reminder that evil isn’t absolute; there’s room for shades of gray, and sometimes even pity. But don’t think you know who’s evil and who isn’t at the end of this book.

Assumptions from previous books about certain characters have been turned on their heads, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the same was true of new assumptions in the next book, reportedly the last in the series. Rowling has raised the red herring to a fine art.

However, the pacing of the book feels rushed; there is a lot more telling than showing in parts that should have been expanded upon.

Though the Half-Blood Prince turns out to be a very important character, the subplot in which Harry and friends try to figure out who he is seemed unnecessary, as did the new addition to the faculty. Of course, they will probably come into play more in book seven.

Half-Blood Prince reminds me most of Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back. Though the book has its own discreet plot and climax, most of it seemed like a long setup for the finale, where the real action will undoubtedly start.

And I’m looking forward to it. In the Harry Potter books, Rowling has offered a world full of utterly believable people who, wizards or not, look a lot like the people next door. Or in the bathroom mirror.


hmmm… interesting.

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