Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The penultimate volume in the Harry Potter series from J.K. Rowling not only sees our hero and his classmates enter their second last year at Hogwarts School but also the continuing unfolding metanarrative of the return of Lord Voldemort, He Who Must Not Be Named. There is fear spreading through the magical community in the face of disappearances, maimings and deaths, which also spill over into the non-magical, or Muggle, world, precipitating a change at the top of the Ministry of Magic, and an approach to Harry’s ongoing education that is entirely singular.
Harry, Ron and Hermione, who we have watched grow and mature since the very beginning of the series, now confront their own coming of age, along with all that comes with that. They are faced with death, love, loyalty, injustice, adventure, misdirection and homework. And in all of that – and in the face of things that could tear them apart so readily – our three heroes, and those around them, are drawn together with bonds that will last a lifetime.
The death of a well-known and well-loved character at the end of this volume, a character whom Harry has always viewed as a mentor (even he wasn’t prepared to admit it) changes the dynamic of what is to come, and the direction not only of Harry’s life but that of all who know and are bound him. It is only through the discovery of one he loves, and the one who for the sake of his love for her he must part from, that Harry is able to envision the future and what must be done to finally overcome Voldemort and all that Voldemort symbolises.
This is by far my favourite volume in the series, showing not only a maturing understanding of the world in which the story is set but also a maturing sense of the characters we have come to know and love. Rowling storyline has become something I’ve appreciated more as I’ve listened to this audio version of these marvellous books. The voicing of these volumes by the inimitable Stephen Fry, with his quintessential British accents, only adds to the power of Rowling’s wonderful words.
I am, almost, reticent to move onto the last book in the series, knowing that this revisiting of the life, world and storyline of the series will ‘end’ when I finish it. That may sound sentimental and mawkish but the characters have made an impact on a great number of people beside me, and have done so not only because of the characters and the storyline of these books but because of the grand themes that have been woven into the pages.
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