SPOILER ALERT!

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince  - J.K. Rowling

The German review originally was written for amazon.de in July 2005.

The English part review and part speculation were also originally written in July 2005.

 

~~

 

"Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince" beginnt sehr spannend - und endet mit einer extrem intensiven Sequenz, die Lust auf mehr macht. Dazwischen aber tun sich leider ziemliche Längen auf, die mit jeder Menge an pubertärem Herumgeknutsche, langwierigen Erklärungen, einem Harry, der mit unbekannten Zaubersprüchen um sich wirft, Ron und Hermione, die Ewigkeiten lang um einander herumtanzen (inkl. Machogehabe und Eifersüchteleien) und leider viel zu wenigen der gewohnten und liebgewonnen Nebengeschichten gefüllt werden. Mit ein wenig mehr Mut zur Kürzung hätte dieser Band ein durchgehend tiefgehendes Werk à la "Prisoner of Azkaban" werden können. In der vorliegenden Fassung jedenfalls ist dieser Teil weit davon entfernt.

Zum Inhalt:

Harry erfährt zufällig, daß Draco eine Mission für Voldemort ausführen muß, in die auch Snape verwickelt zu sein scheint. Die Spekulation um die Natur dieser Mission läßt ihn nicht in Ruhe - genausowenig wie die Reisen in die Vergangenheit von Lord Voldemort, auf die ihn Dumbledore mitnimmt. Nebenbei wird er eines alten Schulbuches habhaft, das ihm die verhasste Potions-Stunde wesentlich erleichtert und auch sonst einiges an interessanten Dingen verbirgt.

Kommentar:

Harry wird in "Half-blood Prince" reifer und weniger emotional als noch in Band 5 dargestellt - einerseits gut, andererseits aber auch weniger positiv, da er dadurch an manchen Stellen zu abgehoben und kühl wirkt. Ebenso kann ich mich nicht mit dem Gedanken anfreunden, daß er ohne Wissen über die Natur eines Zauberspruches diesen sofort an nichts ahnenden, ihn störenden Schulkollegen ausprobiert. Damit ist er nicht besser als sein Vater und Sirius - oder auch Dudley -, die sich schwächere Kameraden herausnehmen, nur um ihre Langeweile zu bekämpfen. Ganz abgesehen davon, daß auch nicht ungefährliche Sprüche darunter sein könnten!

Hermione und Ron nehmen diesmal eigentlich in der 2. Reihe Platz. Sie sind für die überlangen romantischen Nebengeschichten zuständig - und Hermione leider auch wieder einmal für ziemlich nervendes Gemeckere, diesmal über das Buch, das Harry in die Hände bekommt. Denn was stört sie eigentlich? Daß Harry plötzlich unverdient ein Genie in Potions und damit besser als sie ist? Oder daß dieses Buch gefährlich sein könnte? Angesichts der Tatsache, daß schon einmal ein Buch von einer Person Besitz ergriffen hat in dieser Serie und Hermione auch bisher nicht davor zurückschreckte, Lehrer auf gefährliche Dinge aufmerksam zu machen (s. Firebolt), verstehe ich hier ihre Handlungen nicht.

Leider tauchen die alt bekannten Nebenfiguren wie Neville, Luna, Remus, Tonks oder auch Lehrer wie McGonagall nur sporadisch auf, was dem Buch ebenfalls ein wenig an Tiefe nimmt. Ganz zu schweigen davon, daß ich es gerne gesehen hätte, wenn Remus endlich mehr Kontakt mit Harry bekommt, nun da sie beide sozusagen gegenseitig die letzte Verbindung zu Freunden bzw. Eltern sind. Dafür übernimmt aber Dumbledore endlich eine stärkere Rolle in der Ausbildung von Harry, indem er ihm die Herkunft und Entwicklung von Voldemort zeigt. Auch diese Szenen hätten allerdings ein wenig gekürzt werden können, da das wirklich relevante Faktum eigentlich in nur einer Rückblende erklärt wird. Der Rest hätte nicht unbedingt einer szenischen Darstellung bedurft.

Anders als andere Rezensenten hier halte ich den Titel des Buches für sehr passend, vor allem wenn man bedenkt, wer sich schließlich als der Half-blood Prince herausstellt! Man kann zwar darüber streiten, warum diese Person sich gerade diese Bezeichnung gibt, allerdings nicht darüber, daß sie maßgeblich an der Geschichte beteiligt ist. Jedenfalls trifft dieser Buchtitel wesentlich besser den Punkt als es zB. "Goblet of Fire" oder auch "Order of the Phoenix" taten...

Die letzten 100 Seiten mit all der Action, Tragik (diesen emotionalen Paukenschlag hätte ich mir für Sirius gewünscht!) und den noch nicht ganz zu durchschauenden Wendungen machen vieles wett - selbst daß sich Harry schließlich als der klischeehafte Märtyrer fühlt, der alles im Alleingang erledigen muß, nur um ja nicht seine Herzallerliebste zu gefährden. Ist aber wirklich alles so, wie es zu Ende dieses Romans scheint? Diese Frage lädt zu Spekulationen ein, denn die definitiven Antworten gibt's erst in einigen Jahren. Einem hoffentlich spannenden und emotionalen Finale steht jedenfalls nichts im Wege.

 

~~

 

Now, is Snape evil? Or did he act on Dumbledore's orders? Let's for once presume the latter and go from there:

I think the curse Dumbledore suffered from since retrieving that first Horcrux was way more severe than just ruining his hand. Maybe his days were counted and they both decided to turn Dumbledore's impending death into something useful for the cause. Maybe even then, remember that he had Snape trying to cure this curse, it was decided that everything should be done to get Snape firmly settled in the good graces of Voldemort in sacrificing Dumbledore if/when needed. Then there's the discussion between Snape and Dumbledore Hagrid is listening to where Snape wants to back out but Dumbledore insists he do "something". Even further, Dumbledore is a great judge of character. If people are really themselves (not possessed by Voldemort like Quirrell or under the Polyjuice like Crouch, jr.) he never failed to judge someone correctly. His trust in Snape is infinite, maybe because he knows that Snape is the only one who actually would carry out all his orders - including killing him. Interestingly enough, taking Harry with him to fetch that 3rd Horcrux would indicate that his trust in Harry is as implicit as it is in Snape... that Dumbledore thinks no one else would actually feed him the poison than Harry. Otherwise, having Harry accompany him into the unknown still quite incapable of defending himself wouldn't make much sense. Another indication could be that Dumbledore finally gives the DADA-position to Snape, knowing that Snape could only stay one year in that position.

Then we shouldn't forget that Snape didn't respond to any of Harry's curses until he called him a coward. I think killing Dumbledore was the most courageous thing Snape could do - and having Harry call him a coward then was just too much. But still, he doesn't torture Harry but instead tries to teach him even at the end: "Shut up and close your mind"... Maybe he wants Harry to understand that he only stands a chance against Voldemort if he learns silent/wandless magic and finally masters Occlumency! At least, both Dumbledore and Snape (and Voldemort) are skilled Occlumens and able to perform silent spells.

He also didn't curse anyone else, he even removed Luna and Hermione from the battle by telling them to look after Flitwick. Instead of finishing the battle, he decided to leave after killing Dumbledore and thus preventing the Death Eaters from killing and/or torturing more of his colleagues/students. Would a real Death Eater pass up the chance to get rid of so many of the good guys?

Of course, it could be that Snape is really evil - and when I first read that scene on the Astronomy tower I had tears running down my face. Not because Dumbledore dies because that he would die within the series was obvious to me, but because of him facing the ultimate betrayal by Snape. On the other hand, Dumbledore does say "Severus, please" - not "No, don't" or something to the end that would suggest that Dumbledore really is surprised to find Snape on the other side.

Overall, while I liked Halfblood Prince it dragged out on some occasions. I could have easily done without all that romantic entanglement, Hermione's bickering about the book (well, why doesn't she turn it in if it bothers her so much or if she thinks it dangerous?) and Harry's obsession with Draco/Snape. I do realize that these people are adolescent and thus starting to explore their feelings. But quite frankly, I'm wondering why no one interferes in the public snogging sessions or why a younger Harry who was prowling the corridors even as an 11 year old never really mentioned finding people making out in empty class rooms. Since we see most of the series from Harry's point of view I'd have imagined the yuck-factor of seeing snogging to be strong enough to be worthy of mentioning. Secondly, I'm a bit annoyed to see everyone neatly paired off now. And having Harry play the martyr to save his beloved Ginny - well, quite honestly, what use is that? Does he really believe, just because he's staying away from her, that Voldemort wouldn't use her to get to him??? And let's not talk about the fact that I would have loved to see more of Remus - and not in his romantic entanglement with Tonks but him actually interacting with Harry!

The other thing that bothered me quite a bit was Harry's use of the spells he found within the book. It's one thing to practice spells you know on your fellow students - it's a whole different thing to use spells you haven't even heard of before and know nothing about. I won't even go into it that I find it quite appalling that Harry even considers cursing everyone that annoys him right and left. IMO this doesn't make him much better than James/Sirius in book 5 or Dudley who pick on weaker colleagues to battle their own boredom.

The third thing I didn't care for so much were the pensieve-sequences. While they were very interesting I'm not sure where Dumbledore was going with them. If he only wanted Harry to know about the Horcruxes, then why show him that Voldemort in fact *is* inherently evil? BTW, I don't believe that someone is inherently evil - and since the orphanage wasn't depicted as a place where children are routinely abused or belittled I would really like to know what turned Voldemort in this direction. But apart from that, wouldn't it be interesting if Harry in fact was one of Voldemort's Horcruxes? I always thought that this exchange of magic which gave Harry his Parselmouth-abilities sounded a bit fishy. We know that Voldemort likes to collect trophies, and we know that he used many of those trophies to act as collectors of parts of his soul. His soul is torn by killing people - and killing Harry was a priority on his list. Maybe he waited with his final Horcrux for after killing Harry! Uttering the killing curse already tore his soul apart... But then, when the curse rebounded back to him that part of his soul went into Harry. This would account for Harry's abilites, for the easy access Voldemort has to Harry's mind (and vice versa) etc. And it would add a new, quite ominous facet to the prophecy: "Neither can live while the other is still alive".

Just a little detail at the end: I think it's quite obvious who stole the third Horcrux - the initials R.A.B. would point to Regulus Black... and that would mean the locket could have been right under everyone's nose at Grimmauld Place. Let's just hope Fletcher didn't steal and sell that one as well!

One question remains, though, and that is why Sirius was seemingly exonerated after his death. There was no body, no one who saw him fight the Death Eaters in the Ministry apart from those who already knew about his innocence - and Wormtail didn't show up to tell the truth, either. I would have loved to know more about that, and I would have loved to see Harry's reaction to that news!

As I said, I loved the beginning, I adored the end of the book (Dumbledore's death was so much more poignant than Sirius') - but the middle dragged on and could have been much better if the editors had done a better job.