Monday, January 25, 2010

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Summary

Continuing our series of literature is a summary of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling.

Plot introduction

Throughout the five previous novels in the Harry Potter series, the main character, Harry Potter, has struggled with the difficulties that come with growing up and the added challenge of being a famous wizard. When Harry was a baby, Lord Voldemort, the most powerful evil wizard in living memory, killed Harry's parents but mysteriously vanished after trying to kill Harry. This results in Harry's immediate fame, and his being placed in the care of his muggle (non-magical) Petunia Dursley/Aunt Petunia and Vernon Dursley/Uncle Vernon.

Harry enters the wizarding world at the age of 11, enrolling in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He makes friends with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, and is confronted by Lord Voldemort trying to regain power. In his second year, several attacks on students take place at Hogwarts after the legendary "Chamber of Secrets" is opened. Harry ends the attacks by killing a Basilisk and defeating another attempt by Lord Voldemort to return to full strength. The following year, Harry hears that he has been targeted by escaped murderer Sirius Black. Despite stringent security measures at Hogwarts, Harry is confronted by Black at the end of his third year of schooling and Harry learns that Black was framed and is actually Harry's godfather. Harry's fourth year of school sees him entered in a dangerous magical competition called the Triwizard Tournament. At the conclusion of the Tournament, Harry witnesses the return of Lord Voldemort to full strength. When the next school year begins, the Ministry of Magic appoints Dolores Umbridge as the new High Inquisitor of Hogwarts. After forming an underground student group in opposition to Umbridge, Harry and several of his friends face off against Voldemort's Death Eaters, a group of Dark witches and wizards, and narrowly defeat them, though Sirius is slain in a rescue attempt. In the battle's aftermath, Dumbledore reveals Voldemort tried to kill Harry because of a prophecy that indicates he will destroy Voldemort.

Plot summary

Harry Potter accompanies Albus Dumbledore on a trip to persuade retired Hogwarts professor Horace Slughorn to return to teaching, before arriving at The Burrow.

At Hogwarts, Severus Snape is named the new Defence Against the Dark Arts instructor, with Slughorn becoming the Potions teacher. Harry and Ron are able to enrol in his class, but Harry's borrowed book has notes and corrections that yield better results than the textbook's instructions, winning him a vial of Felix Felicis, a luck potion, on his first day in class. The book formerly belonged to "The Half-Blood Prince".

Harry becomes suspicious of his rival Draco Malfoy, after overhearing several of his conversations, and when Katie Bell is almost killed while attempting to deliver a cursed necklace under the influence of the Imperius Curse. Meanwhile, Ron is displeased with his younger sister Ginny dating anybody, forcing Harry to ignore his attraction. After an argument with Ginny in which Ron's dating inexperience is made clear, Ron takes up with Lavender Brown, creating a divide between him and Hermione. This rift is only mended when he accidentally consumes a love potion attracting him to Romilda Vane, and then poisoned mead which almost kills him.

Dumbledore privately tutors Harry, using his Pensieve to show Harry memories of Voldemort's past. Dumbledore asks Harry to retrieve a key memory from Slughorn regarding Slughorn's conversation with a sixteen-year-old Tom Riddle. Harry uses some of his Felix Felicis to acquire the memory.

The memories reveal that Voldemort splintered his soul into six fragments attached to objects called Horcruxes, while leaving a seventh piece in his body, in order to achieve immortality. As long as any of the Horcruxes exists Voldemort cannot be killed. Two Horcruxes have been destroyed - Tom Riddle's diary, by Harry in the Chamber of Secrets four years earlier[HP2]; and Marvolo Gaunt's ring, by Dumbledore during the summer before this school year. Three of the remaining Horcruxes are a locket formerly owned by Salazar Slytherin, a cup formerly owned by Helga Hufflepuff, and the snake Nagini. Dumbledore speculates that the sixth unidentified Horcrux may be something associated with Gryffindor or Ravenclaw, as Riddle would have wanted something from each of the houses of Hogwarts, which he regarded as his home.

After seeing Harry cast an unusual curse, "Sectumsempra" (a dark curse which leaves deep gashes) against Draco Malfoy, Snape attempts to confiscate the Half-Blood Prince's Potions book, but Harry gives him Ron's copy instead and hides his copy in the Room of Requirement. Harry gets detention from Snape and misses the Quidditch finals, but Gryffindor wins the Cup. During the victory celebration Harry spontaneously kisses Ginny, and with Ron's grudging approval they begin dating.

Dumbledore locates another Horcrux and asks Harry to accompany him to destroy it. They travel to a cave and retrieve a locket, but Dumbledore is weakened after drinking a potion to obtain the Horcrux. Harry then successfully apparates to Hogsmeade with Dumbledore. After they return to Hogsmeade, they see the Dark Mark over the Astronomy Tower at Hogwarts and hurry back to the school. Dumbledore and an invisible Harry are confronted atop the tower by Draco Malfoy. Draco admits that he was behind two attacks on Hogwarts students, with both objects intended for Dumbledore, whom Voldemort had ordered Draco to kill. Dumbledore offers Draco protection from the Death Eaters, and Draco cannot bring himself to kill Dumbledore, even with the urging of fellow Death Eaters once they arrive. Instead, Snape kills Dumbledore. Harry, enraged and freed from immobility by Dumbledore's death, pursues Snape, who reveals that he is the Half-Blood Prince and fends off Harry's attacks (and Buckbeak who joins in to help Harry) until he gets outside Hogwarts grounds and Disapparates.

Harry recovers the locket from Dumbledore's body, only to discover it is a fake left by someone with the initials R. A. B., who stole the real Horcrux and left a note about his opposition to Voldemort. McGonagall tries to question Harry about what he was doing with Dumbledore and he refuses to say. McGonagall calls a meeting of the Heads of House (with Slughorn taking Snape's spot) to decide what to do. They decide to close the school, but at Harry's suggestion, agree to wait until Dumbledore's funeral so the students can say goodbye. The Minister arrives and McGonagall lets Harry leave so he can avoid the Minister. The school year ends with Dumbledore's funeral. He and his wand are buried in a tomb beside the lake on Hogwarts's grounds. Harry vows not to return to school but to hunt for the remaining Horcruxes instead. Harry breaks up with Ginny to keep her safe from danger during his quest, and Ron and Hermione pledge to accompany him.

From Wikipedia

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