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Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Title: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
Author: J. K. Rowling
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (A Scholastic imprint)       Date: 2005

The dust jacket of this addition to the Harry Potter series maintains the dark colorscheme. This time, shades of green are used. On the frontpiece, we see our hero Harry Potter and his mentor Professor Albus Dumbledore standing at a basin upon a pedastal. A wispy light eminates from the basin illuminating the two faces peering into it. On the backpiece the characters of Ron Weasley, Hermoine Granger, and Ginny Weasley standing in a night scene with the infamous Dark Mark depicted in the sky. The artwork is clearly from the same person as the previous covers or from someone who is intimate with their work. The cover itself is a dark purple color with a harlequin pattern impressed on it. The spine is made from dark blue canvas with the lettering embossed on it in purple foil. The font used for the title and related details on the spine is again the same as is used for page headers and chapter titles. It is the same font that was used for the other books. Continuing the theme of the other books, a little depiction of a crucial element of the following chapter remains at the head of the first page of the chapter immediately beneath the chapter title. The paperstock used is middle of the road quality. If archival quality ink was used for this printing it is only because it has become so obiquitous in the industry.

The story begins with tensions pretty much everywhere. The problems in the Wizarding world has bled into the Muggle world in the form of freak weather and strange accidents. The Minister of Magic meets with the Prime Minister (of England, wherein the books are set) and very briefly summarize the events of note. It was a bit of a slap-dash way to recap the story thus far. At the same time, however, Rowling does a very good job of showing the rising sense of panic in both worlds in the face of Voldemorte's activity. The following scene shows Albus Dumbledore recruiting assistance and reminds the reader of Harry's place as a primary figure in the story (though I felt this was rather unnecessary given the title's obviousness). From here, we move to witnessing the division and tensions within the ranks of Voldemorte's supporters.

A theme is built of divisiveness, quarrels, and tension that runs through the whole story like a live wire. If we only focused on the angst of the teen characters coming of age, you could have a very full and complex story by itself. Focusing only on the war between Voldemorte and the Order of the Phoenix, the story itself is again complex and well rounded. Viewing the interpersonal tensions between Harry and Severus Snape makes for a surprisingly deep story as well. Rowling's genius in blending these dispariate elements together is not something to be denied. The fact that as this series progresses and the characters develop the story develops into greater maturity and complexity is a stroke of brilliance.