Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’: Chapter 15

In the fifteenth chapter of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Ron and Hermione’s war of passive-aggression continues to irritate everyone involved. Then Harry overhears (again) a conversation between Snape and Draco that seems to suggest that things are not what they seem. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.



It’s now apparent that I have to say something about the Great Comment Battle of 2010, in which people actually thought that using my blog to discuss whether Ginny was a slut or not was a good idea? No, seriously, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING.

If it’s not obvious yet, I firmly place myself on the side of TEAM GINNY.

I should really stop making Blingees.

From here on out, can we avoid this kind of nonsense until I’m done with the series? Beyond the absurdity of having a slut-shaming fit in any context in the comments of my blog, it’s kind of spoilery to even talk about this. I mean, I still have no idea how the series ends, but to talk about Ginny so openly with and hint at who she might possibly end up with isn’t very fair to me. (PS: IT’S CALLED CHARACTER GROWTH. WHAT.)

The day I post my final Deathly Hallows review will not be the last day for MRHP. I have fanfiction to review, a couple movies to liveblog/review, and I’ll be doing an accelerated re-read of the series because I know I’ll have to. Plus, then we can have SPOILER FREE CONVERSATIONS. Which is so exciting to me because trying to live in a spoiler free world is REALLY REALLY HARD.

I think you guys will be very excited to see what I have in store for both Harry Potter and the future of the Mark Reads series.

So yeah. Please stop calling Ginny a slut and a whore ‘round these parts. It’s degrading, demeaning, and really irritating. KTHX NOW ON TO THE NORMAL REVIEW.


Ron is really grating on my nerves. And I know how biased I am, based on my true and everlasting love of Hermione STOP JUDGING ME, but he’s really starting to bum me out. He knows by now that what he’s doing is hurting his best friend and it drives me wild to know he continues to do it.

*Although Harry much preferred this new laughing, joking Ron to the moody, aggressive model he had been enduring for the last few weeks, the improved Ron came at a heavy price. First, Harry had to put up with the frequent presence of Lavender Brown, who seemed to regard any moment that she was not kissing Ron as a moment wasted; and secondly, Harry found himself once more the best friend of two people who seemed unlikely to ever speak to each other again.

*”I never promised Hermione anything,” Ron mumbled. “I mean, all right, I was going to go to Slughorn’s Christmas party with her, but she never said…just as friends…I’m a free agent….”

Oh, shut up, Ron. No one cares.

Hermione, on the other hand, is in complete denial to how much the situation bothers her:

*”He’s at perfect liberty to kiss whomever he likes,” said Hermione, while the librarian, Madam Pince, prowled the shelves behind them. “I really couldn’t care less.” She raised her quill and dotted an I so ferociously that she punctured a hole in her parchment. Harry said nothing. He thought his voice might vanish soon from lack of use.


(I’m going to skip over the bit about the gillywater/Romilda Vane bit because I’ll talk about the strangeness of love potions later.)

Ron and Hermione’s relationship does not get any better over the following pages. They continue to argue and do their best to harm each other:

*They had just embarked upon the immensely difficult topic of human Transfiguration; working in front of mirrors, they were supposed to be changing the color of their own eyebrows. Hermione laughed unkindly at Ron’s disastrous first attempt, during which he somehow managed to give himself a spectacular handlebar mustache; Ron retaliated by doing a cruel but accurate impression of Hermione jumping up and down in her seat every time Professor McGonagall asked a question, which Lavender and Parvati found deeply amusing and which reduced Hermione to the verge of tears again. She raced out of the classroom on the bell, leaving half her things behind; Harry, deciding that her need was greater than Ron’s just now, scooped up her remaining possessions and followed her.

Good for you, Harry. He finds her leaving the girls’ restroom with my favorite person ever, Luna Lovegood. After Hermione bolts off, they have a brief conversation that is a brief moment of joy in this otherwise frustrating chapter, especially when Harry asks her to go with him to Slughorn’s party.

*”Yeah,” said Harry. “We’re supposed to bring guests, so I thought you might like…I mean…” He was keen to make his intentions perfectly clear. “I mean, just as friends, you know. But if you don’t want to…”

He was already half hoping that she didn’t want to.

“Oh, no, I’d love to go with you as friends!” said Luna, beaming as he had never seen her beam before. “Nobody’s ever asked me to a party before, as a friend! Is that why you dyed your eyebrow, for the party? Should I do mine too?”

BLESS YOUR AMAZING SOUL, LUNA LOVEGOOD. Most necessary character in the entire series, Y/Y/Y?

But then it’s over and we’re back to Ron being a bumface:

*”You could say sorry,” suggested Harry bluntly.

“What, and get attacked by another flock of canaries?” muttered Ron.

“What did you have to imitate her for?”

“She laughed at my mustache!”

“So did I, it was the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.”

I’m super pleased with Harry’s behavior in this chapter, given that historically, he’ll always find a way to support Ron through most anything, even if it’s just suggested that he is. It’s pretty courageous of him to stand up to his best mate.

That being said, when Hermione loudly announces that she’s going to Slughorn’s party with Cormac McLaggen, I thought she steeped a little too low. Not that she shouldn’t fight back; I completely understand why she does. It’s just…she’s more prone to take the high road during moments like this:

*”No!” said Parvati, looking positively agog at this piece of gossip. “Wow, you like your Quidditch players, don’t you? First Krum, then McLaggen…”

“I like really good Quidditch players,” Hermione corrected her, still smiling. “Well, see you…Got to get ready for the party….”

OK, WE GET IT. I guess I’m not really upset by this, but my patience for this war is wearing thin.

Slughorn’s party provides Rowling another chance to further build Slughorn’s character:

*Whether it had been built that way, or because he had used magical trickery to make it so, Slughorn’s office was much larger than the usual teachers study. The ceiling and walls had been draped with emerald, crimson, and gold hangings, so that it looked as though they were all inside a vast tent. The room was crowded and stuffy and bathed in the red light cast by an ornate golden lamp dangling from the center of the ceiling in which real fairies were fluttering, each a brilliant speck of light. Loud singing accompanied by what sounded like mandolins issued from a distant corner; a haze of pipe smoke hung over several elderly warlocks deep in conversation, and a number of house-elves were negotiating their way squeakily through the forest of knees, obscured by the heavy silver platters of food they were bearing, so that they looked like little roving tables.

I like that she uses descriptions of physical space to describe a person’s character; only this sort of room could be used by Horace Slughorn and I appreciate that she shares this with us.

When Harry arrives and Slughorn sees him, his taken through the familiar routine of meeting those who Slughorn knows: the important people, the successful, the popular. I can’t imagine a more awkward situation, even for someone like myself. Harry’s offered to contribute towards a biography of his life; he smartly refuses to participate and continues to weave his way through the crowd. He runs into Luna and Hermione and we learn more about her attempts at irritating Ron.

*”Oh, I’ve just escaped—I mean, I’ve just left Cormac,” she said. “Under the mistletoe,” she added in explanation, as Harry continued to look questioningly at her.

“Serves you right for coming with him,” he told her severely.

“I thought he’d annoy Ron the most,” said Hermione dispassionately. “I debated for a while about Zacharias Smith, but I thought, on the whole—“

“You considered Smith?” said Harry, revolted.

“Yes, I did, and I’m starting to wish I’d chosen him, McLaggen makes Grawp look like a gentleman. Let’s go this way, we’ll be able to see him coming, he’s so tall….”

By the way…where is Grawp? What’s Hagrid up to?

Doesn’t matter, I suppose, because after a run-in with Trelawney, Harry also has to face Snape AND Slughorn at the same time.

*”Well, then, it’s natural ability!” shouted Slughorn. “You should have seen what he gave me, first lesson, Draught of Living Death—never have I had a student produce finer on a first attempt, I don’t think even you, Severus—“

“Really?” said Snape quietly, his eyes still boring into Harry, who felt a certain disquiet. The last thing he wanted was for Snape to start investigating the source of his newfound brilliance at Potions.

Foreshadowing? Anyway, Filch arrives at the party, dragging Malfoy by the ear: he’d been trying to sneak into the party. Malfoy briefly talks to Slughorn before Snape asks if he can have a word with him outside.

Now, I realize these sort of things need to happen, but I am kind of tired of Rowling using Harry, under his Invisibility Cloak, listening in on conversations in order to gleam information. It happens. I understand it. But PLEASE USE ANOTHER METHOD IN THE FUTURE thank you drive through.

What we do learn from this conversation is pretty important. ANOTHER LIST, YOU SAY???

· Draco insists he had nothing to do with the Katie Bell incident. Based on what he says after this, I’m actually inclined to believe him.

· Draco is also learning Occlumency specifically to block Snape’s attempts at reading his mind.

· Snape tells Draco outright that he made the Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa to protect him. Draco rejects this claim because he says he doesn’t need Snape’s protection while carrying out Voldemort’s plan.

· Snape tries to get Draco to tell him what the plan is. Draco refuses to tell him.

· Draco says he has “other people” on his side, but also will not tell Snape whom.

This leads me to believe that not only does Snape not know what’s going on, but he might actually be…spying for the Order? I mean, why else would he want to know these things? It explains his apparent bluffing in the second chapter. Perhaps I’m wrong; Snape isn’t a true Death Eater and he’s actually trying to do something good.

I’m stumped. Again, bravo, Rowling.