Harry Potter &
the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter
& the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter & the Order
of the Phoenix

Harry Potter
& the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter &
the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
by J.K. Rowling
(Scholastic Inc, $29.99) ISBN 0-439-78454-9
The plot of the sixth Harry Potter book has been a well kept secret.  Even those in Canada who were sold early copies were ordered by a court injunction not to reveal anything.  Now the speculation has already begun for the seventh book.

The war against Lord Voldemort (a.k.a. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named) is not going well.  The Muggle world is even being affected.  Lord Voldemort’s activities are showing up as mysterious occurrences that Muggles can’t explain.  The entire wizarding world is taking precautions.  The Ministry has tightened security all over, especially at Hogwarts.

As Harry Potter starts his sixth year at Hogwarts, rumors of him being the “Chosen One” abound.  But Lord Voldemort isn’t Harry’s only worry, after all he still has classes and tests.  With their O.W.L. (Ordinary Wizarding Level) exams complete, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are now in N.E.W.T. (Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Test) classes. 

Like every year there is a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.  After years of trying, Professor Snape has finally gotten the position.  In Potions Harry’s book was previously owned by the Half-Blood Prince, who wrote suggestions and hints inside.  Harry’s been using these hints and acing Potions, much to Hermione’s dismay.  Who is the Half-Blood Prince?  Should Harry use the suggestions of an unknown person?

In addition to his classes, Harry’s getting private lessons with Headmaster Albus Dumbledore.  The goal of these lessons being to prepare Harry for his final battle with Lord Voldemort.  The lessons involve learning more about Tom Marvolo Riddle’s (Lord Voldemort’s real name) past. 

Harry, Ron and Hermione are another year older.  Like typical sixteen-year-olds, they are in the midst of teenage hormone hell.  Crushes, relationships, and jealousy affect the tight trio.  Hagrid is still the Care of Magical Creatures teacher, but this time without his three favorite students in attendance.  The Weasley twins’ magic joke shop is a huge success with all kinds of funny tricks (like a punching telescope).

 Readers learn more about Lord Voldemort than ever before.  Lord Voldemort’s family history, his life as child, and his death-eaters are revealed.  As are Voldemort’s Horcruxes, items with pieces of his soul, like the book from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.  How many horcruxes are there?  And where are they?

While it was highly engrossing, this book didn’t quite live up to the action of previous books.  Typically, there is one great mystery to solve amongst all the other activities of school.  The mystery of who is the Half-Blood Prince took a back seat to the rest of the story.   The focus of this book seemed to be the characters and setting the stage for the seventh book. 

J.K. Rowling’s writing and creativity make up for the lack of action.  In every book her creativity continues to impress.  Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is an entertaining read that all Harry Potter fans will enjoy.

--Terry Lawrence

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