The Ancient Wisdom of Harry Potter
- Published: Friday, 21 January 2011 03:00
Prof. Abditus Questor
Book 6: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
PLOT SUMMARY: Narcissa Black Malfoy is frantic with worry about her son, Draco, whom Voldemort has given the task of killing Dumbledore; so she gets Snape to take the Unbreakable Vow: to carry out the deed himself if it seems Draco will fail, and Snape cannot refuse because doing so would blow his cover as a counterspy. Dumbledore uses Harry as an inducement to recruit Horace Slughorn to return to Hogwarts as a teacher of Potions. Harry has to use a textbook from the Potions classroom, which has elaborate, innovative, and very successful marginalia by its former owner, the "Half-Blood Prince" (who we eventually learn was Snape, so called after his mother's maiden name, "Prince"). Harry learns from Dumbledore that Voldemort's mother was Merope Gaunt, the daughter of Marvolo Gaunt, the last direct descendant of Slytherin; she used a love potion to attract a handsome muggle, Tom Riddle, but was abandoned by him before she died bearing his child, Tom Marvolo Riddle (Jr.), anagrammed as "I am Lord Voldemort." The child was raised in an orphanage, whence Dumbledore brings him to Hogwarts. There Tom learned from Slughorn that a Horcrux is an object in which a wizard can hide a fragment of his soul, which is fragmented when the wizard commits a murder, which rips the soul apart. The wizard cannot be killed as long as any of the Horcruxes still exist. Voldemort (we eventually learn) deliberately splits his soul into seven parts, with six Horcruxes: his school-days diary (destroyed in book 1), a Gaunt family ring (destroyed by Dumbledore in book 6), a Slytherin locket, a Hufflepuff cup, a Ravenclaw diadem, and the serpent Nagini (all destroyed in book 7 by, respectively, Ron, Hermione, a magical Fiendfire started by Crabbe, and Neville Longbottom). In addition, Voldemort unintentionally and unknowingly also split his soul when he killed James and Lily Potter and attacked the infant Harry, making Harry a seventh Horcrux, which explains some of his abilities (such as talking with serpents) as well as his mind connection with Voldemort. Dumbledore, who is dying from injuries received when he destroyed the Horcrux ring and from poison he drank while attempting to recover the Horcrux locket, is disarmed by Draco, who cannot bring himself to commit the murder, so Snape (after a plea by Dumbledore to do it), kills the headmaster. Dumbledore's body is encased in a marble tomb at Hogwarts.