Liveblogging Harry Potter, Part 2

Well, I suppose this hardly qualifies as liveblogging anymore, as I’ve read over 300 pages since my last update, but such petty details notwithstanding, below are some more thoughts I’ve had while reading.

  • Liveblogging Harry Potter, Part 1: My first post covers initial thoughts and approximately the first 200 pages.
  • Magic Security: A tongue-in-cheek, yet strangely serious evaluation of a security measure suggested by the Ministry of Magic, using a muggle method of analysis.
  • Two more Harry Potter conventions have made an appearance at this point: Quiddich and teenage romance. I’ve never been too impressed with the game of Quiddich, but its appearances are brief and they do play a role in some of the subplots, so as not to be disconnected or boring (as I sometimes felt they were in previous books). Since Goblet of Fire, the Potter books have had more and more romantic encounters. There is, of course, the romantic tension between Ron and Hermione, which is alive and well in this sixth volume of the series, despite Ron’s boneheaded pursuit of Lavender Brown (and the resulting row with Hermione that results). It’s getting increasingly obvious that they’re going to get it on pretty soon (and it was obvious two books ago, so we’re getting darn close to definite here). Harry, too, has a new love interest, but he honorably realizes that she is “out of bounds,” and we have thankfully not had to endure much about that just yet. Harry, for his part, seems to have become quite mature and genuinely seems to have gained at least some self-confidence and composure, even under fire (a welcome change from his hyper-grumpy days in the last book). As the Michelle Pauli at the Guardian notes (warning: many more spoilers there than here) about the romantic storylines, Rowling is forced to compromise between raging hormones and a younger audience. It works reasonably well enough, but it perhaps leaves something to be desired. But at least she seems to be hitting a better tone with this book than with her previous effort (in terms of love interests and just about every other aspect of the story).
  • Am I the only one who finds the characterization of the Vampire Sanguini at Slughorn’s Christmas party absolutely hilarious? It’s but a few paragraphs (on page 316 in my edition), but I honestly would like to know more about that situation…
  • About 500 pages in, and it seems that Rowling isn’t really going to tell a self-contained story here. I mentioned before that numerous sub-plots and mysteries had presented themselves, and that is very true (none more compelling than the glimpses into Voldemort’s fascinating past), but there doesn’t seem to be much of a narrative here. Oddly, it’s working. This book feels like it’s simply laying the groundwork for the seventh and final book, which one assumes will contain the penultimate confrontation with Voldemort. But again, it works and I find the pages flying by. The only reason I haven’t finished is that I’ve intentionally been trying to draw out the reading of the book. Of course, much could happen with 100 pages to go. It’s not as if we’ve learned very much about this titular half blood prince (though we’ve been given certain disturbing hints). I expect to be finished tomorrow night.
  • Horcruxes! An interesting, if not especially novel, concept. It strikes me that, unlike some other series, Rowling actually did have some sort of plan for these books. The Horcruxes don’t seem tacked-on in the way that, for example, some things were in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. (Or, grandaddy of all tacked-on mistakes: midi-chlorians.)

More to come! I anticipate finishing the book off tomorrow night. Until then…