Main Characters: again, the usual cast joins us again. And while we get a new potions teacher (Horace Slughorn) the defense against the dark arts teacher is someone that we already know (Snape). We see all the Weasley’s, including Bill and his now fiancee Fleur. We see all the Hogwarts students and professors we have met to date. We also see a bunch of Aurors, including Tonks, Dawlish and others.
Horace Slughorn – new potions master. Taught Voldemort when he was Tom Riddle and at Hogwarts. He is the one that has a conversation with Young Voldemort about the Horcruxes. He’s a sucker for power and being friends with influential or famous people.
Rufus Scrimgeour – new minister of magic (about time! Fudge was so annoying in OOP). He wants Harry to “work with the Ministry”. We don’t see much of him, but he shows up again in DH, so he deserves a mention.
Various members of the Riddle family – we meet Voldemort’s mom Merope, his father, Tom Riddle Sr., his Uncle Morfin, grandfather on the Slytherin side Marvolo Gaunt. We also briefly see a ministry of magic official who calls on the Gaunt’s becuase Morfin hates muggles and likes to assault them.
Misc. Deatheaters – and their families. We get a closer look at Draco’s mother Narcissa in the chapter where she goes to Snape for help. We also learn about some others who we have seen in passing and have become important to this particular installment because of the horcruxes – namely, Borgin (of Borgin and Burkes), Fenrir Greyback, and some of the death-eaters when they were young and pals of Voldemort when in school.
Main Premise: After OOP, everyone knows that Dumbledore and Harry were telling the truth. Voldemort is back. Harry joins Dumbledore on a mission to recruit Professor Slughorn and Dumbledore wants Harry to get to know Slughorn. This is because Slughorn has something they need – a memory of Voldemort when he was a student in school. Harry is to begin lessons with Dumbledore, privately. In those lessons, Dumbledore is preparing Harry for something, as they review memories that give an education on Voldemort’s life. Harry also ends up with a potions book that was “property of the Half-Blood Prince” and who ever that was, was stellar at potions. The search for who this was is part of the story.
How it ends: Harry learns all about voldemort; he gets a key memory from Slughorn and goes to find a horcrux with Dumbledore. They find what appears at first to be a horcrux, but when Harry and Dumbledore return to the school, they find that it has been invaded by Death Eaters. Snape kills Dumbledore. And Harry learns that the horcrux was a fake, replaced by “RAB”. Snape was the Half-Blood Prince.
Other important things to remember for later: Harry learned the following about the horcruxes:
- as long as one exists, Voldemort can not be killed.
- Voldemort thought splitting his soul into 7 pieces would be most powerful, meaning that he would have created 6 horcruxes.
- The diary destroyed in Chamber of Secrets was the first one we saw; the ring Dumbledore destroyed was #2 (the stone in the ring had the Peverell coat of arms engraved on it); Nagini, Voldemort’s snake is probably #3; The cup of Hufflepuff which Voldemort acquired for Borgin and Burke is probably #4; something that belonged to Rowena Ravenclaw or Godric Gryffindor is probably #5; the real locket, stolen by who ever RAB is is #6.
- Voldemort feels especially tied to Hogwarts, it being the only real home he ever had. He even went back to try to get a teaching job. Although Dumbledore felt he had to know that he would be turned down so there was probably another motive to why he visited the school.
Bill Weasley and Fleur are going to get married. Bill was bitten by Greyback during the battle after Dumbledore was killed but he won’t be a full werewolf because Greyback wasn’t turned when it happened. Harry doesn’t intend to go back to school.
Sirius’ younger brother, Regulus, died before Sirius. Number 12 Grimmauld Place, the former headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, passed to Harry. Kreacher then, is also Harry’s.
The protection on Harry, that exists while living with the Dursley’s, ceases the minute Harry turns 17. The Dursley’s, through their silence when Dumbledore visited them in the beginning, agree to allow Harry to return briefly before his 17th birthday to maintain the protection.
Harry thinks he needs to go visit Godric’s Hollow.
Snape’s mother was Eileen Prince, who married a muggle Tobias Snape.
Lupin is still resisting that Tonks wants to be with him.
Harry and Ginny got together, but broke up because of Harry doesn’t want her to be in danger. Ron and Hermoine are sort of together.