Harry Potter has become famous as the fastest-selling book in recent publishing history. It is reported that at one point Barnes and Noble was selling an average of 105 copies per second in the first few hours of the book's release. The book was released on July 16, 2005, and it is the sixth volume in the Harry Potter series. The book made over 100 million dollars just in its first weekend in release, which is more than all the top movies combined that were also released that weekend.
Many readers and critics have noted that Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince has a much darker tone than some of the previous books in the series. The book's setting opens barely two weeks after the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In this volume, Rufus Scrimgeour is announced as the new minister for magic. This benefits the Weasley family as Arthur Weasley receives a promotion that helps to improve the family's financial situation.
Back at Hogwarts, security measures are heightened because of increased death activity. Snape is finally promoted to defense against the dark arts teacher, and Harry and Dumbledore help convince Horace Slughorn to come out of retirement in order to become potions teacher. Harry and Ron sign up for Slughorn's advanced potion classes, and Harry uses an old textbook that once belonged to the half blood prince. The prince left notes in the book that allow Harry to exceed in the course, even getting better grades than Hermione. Slughorn gives Harry a vial of good luck potion as a reward. Harry suspects that Draco may be a death eater, but Dumbledore does not seem concerned.
Ron begins to date Lavender Brown just as he and Hermione appear to be developing a romantic relationship. He even kisses Lavender in public to spite Hermione after he hears that she had kissed Viktor Krum in the past. Meanwhile, Hermione gets her own form of revenge by inviting Cormac McLaggen to accompany her to Slughorn's Christmas party. Her plan to make Ron jealous backfires when Ron is accidentally poisoned, which causes their feud to end. Ron breaks up with Lavender. Harry also finds himself with romantic troubles. Many girls are drawn to him, but he cares only for Ginny Weasley. But he is afraid that starting a relationship with her may put his friendship with Ron under strain. However, Ron gives his approval after the victorious Quidditch match when Harry inadvertently kisses Ginny.
Dumbledore and Harry attempt to rescue a lost memory from Slughorn's past. Dumbledore tells Harry that he believes Voldemort has split his soul into seven parts. They set off to find another of Voldemort's horcruxes, which they believe is hidden in a secret cave. They retrieve the locket, but Dumbledore finds himself very weakened by the process. They find that the dark mark is hanging over Hogwarts. Draco Malfoy attempts to ambush them as they investigate. Draco announces that the death eaters have infiltrated Hogwarts. Snape kills Dumbledore by using the Avaa Kedavra move that causes Draco to fall to his death from the astronomy tower. Harry pursues Snape, who calls himself the half blood prince. When Harry takes the locket from Dumbledore's body, he discovers that the locket is not real. There is a note inside with the initials R.A.B. The year at Hogwarts ends somberly with Dumbledore's funeral. Professor McGonagall is appointed as the new headmistress. At the end of the novel, Harry decides that he must not return to Hogwarts the next year, but instead search the world for the horcruxes that he must find in order to destroy Voldemort. He ends his relationship with Ginny Weasley in order to protect her from Voldemort, and Hermione and Ron insist upon helping him find the horcruxes.
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