Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’: Chapter 3

In the third chapter of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the narrative finally focuses on Harry Potter, whose life is in a slight disarray due to the events at the end of the last book. However, things are immediately set into rapid motion by the arrival of Dumbledore. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.


Everything’s changed. So much.

I’m not going to turn this into an AIM chat with Kasper, though there’s a part of me that thinks it would be the best joke that only I would find hilarious if I made every review of this book an AIM conversation. Point being, I was talking to Kasper and he had just read my very first review of this series. I pulled it up and laughed a lot and then…man.

It seems like a million years ago that I first read that chapter of The Sorcerer’s Stone and I thought how I genuinely had no goddamn clue what I was getting into. My feelings in that review are true: it all seemed pretty silly to me and I figured I’d just joke my way through the first few books.

I’ve made a lot of (really bad) jokes along the way, but I’m still shocked by how much I’ve grown to adore this world and how much the events of these pages have moved me, and in a way more than just entertainment.

This chapter is a reminder to me that this journey has also traveled quite far. The appearance of Dumbledore marks a change in the way these characters interact. We’ve lived with the worlds of Harry and Dumbledore being so separate and here, at the beginning of this novel, the two are coming together.

Not only is this a sign that Harry’s growing up, becoming more of an adult that Dumbledore is ready to treat as one, but it’s also a sign that Rowling sees these last four novels as parts of one large story instead of separate, independent pieces.

Rowling gives us a lot more information on the brief time between Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince. Through the use of newspapers in Harry’s room, we learn much more about the world at war: There are rumors of the prophecy of Harry Potter. There’s the news of Scrimgeour’s new position, of a possible rift between him and Dumbledore, of the massive new security measures being taken at Hogwarts, and even get a glimpse at a guide for the Wizarding community to follow to protect themselves against a possible Dark Forces.

Dumbledore’s arrival at the Dursley residence, however, signifies life at war. For Harry, at least. We ended Order of the Phoenix with Dumbledore’s confession that he made a grave mistake and by keeping Harry out of the loop, by thinking it wouldn’t hurt him if he lied to him, he ended up hurting him in ways he could not even imagine.

So we meet Dumbledore as he enters Harry’s temporary place of residence and doing what he does best: killing people with kindness.

  • “Judging by your look of stunned disbelief, Harry did not warn you that I was coming,” said Dumbledore pleasantly. “However, let us assume that you have invited me warmly into your house. It is unwise to linger overlong on doorsteps in these troubled times.”

Dumbledore, please be my best friend for all times until the end of time forever.

  • “It is a long time since my last visit,” said Dumbledore, peering down his crooked nose at Uncle Vernon. “I must say, your agapanthus are flourishing.”

You know what the best part of this is? I bet Dumbledore is 100% serious about this compliment.

  • “Ah, good evening Harry,” said Dumbledore, looking up at him through his half-moon glasses with a most satisfied expression. “Excellent, excellent.”

    These words seemed to rouse Uncle Vernon. It was clear that as far as he was concerned, any man who could look at Harry and say “excellent” was a man with whom he could never see eye-to-eye.

    “I don’t mean to be rude–” he began, in a tone that threatened rudeness in every syllable.

    “–yet, sadly, accidental rudeness occurs alarmingly often,” Dumbledore finished the sentence gravely. “Best to say nothing at all, my dear man. Ah, and this must be Petunia.”

Having Dumbledore here at the Dursleys allows someone to finally call them out on their shittiness but without the emotional fire of Harry. How can you be angered but such polite language? DUMBLEDORE, YOU ARE AMAZING.

Harry follows Dumbledore, along with the rest of the Dursley family, into the sitting room, and shit immediately gets so real IT HURTS.

  • As he replaced his wand in his pocket, Harry saw that his hand was blackened and shriveled; it looked as though his flesh had been burned away.

    “Sir–what happened to your–?”

    “Later, Harry,” said Dumbledore. “Please sit down.”


  • “Madam Rosmerta’s finest oak-matured mead,” said Dumbledore, raising his flass to Harry, who caught hold of his own and sipped. He had never tasted anything like it before, but enjoyed it immensely.


Ok, also I LAUGHED WAY TOO HARD at the imagery of the mead glasses banging against the heads of the Dursleys.


Dumbledore tells Harry, in front of the Dursleys, that he needs some help; actually, the Order of the Phoenix needs help. But first, he brings up a rather uncomfortable subject for Harry.

  • “But first of all I must tell you that Sirius’s will was discovered a week ago and that he left you everything he owned.”


  • “Our problem,” he continued to Harry, as if there had been no interruption, “is that Sirius also left you number twelve, Grimmauld Place.”

    “He’s been left a house?” said Uncle Vernon greedily, his small eyes narrowing, but nobody answered him.

    “You can keep using it as headquarters,” said Harry. “I don’t care. You can have it, I don’t really want it.” Harry never wanted to set foot in number twelve, Grimmauld Place again if he could help it. He thought he would be haunted forever by the memory of Sirius prowling its dark musty rooms alone, imprisoned within the place he had wanted so desperately to leave.

Well, are you trying to make me start crying again, Rowling? Ugh, I miss Sirius, guys. 🙁

There’s a complication, though. Turns out that the Order of the Phoenix have vacated Sirius’s house because his family only wanted a pureblood descendent to inherit the house. However, it may now be enchanted if someone who is not a pureblood descendent tries to take it.

Dumbledore, as always, has a plan.

He brings Kreacher to the Dursleys, which, not surprisingly, makes the Muggle family freak out. His test is to see if Kreacher will take an order; if so, then Harry has indeed inherited number twelve, Grimmauld Place.

  • “As you can see, Harry,” said Dumbledore loudly, over KReacher’s continued croaks of “won’t, won’t, won’t,” “Kreacher is showing a reluctance to pass into your ownership.

    “I don’t care,” said Harry again, looking with disgust at the writhing, stamping house-elf. “I don’t want him.”

    “Won’t, won’t, won’t, won’t–“

    “You would prefer him to pass into the ownership of Bellatrix Lestrange? Bearing in mind that he has lived at the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix for the past year?”


  • “Give him an order,” said Dumbledore. “If he has passed into your ownership, he will have to obey. If not, then we shall have to think of some other means of keeping him from his rightful mistress.”


  • Kreacher’s voice had risen to a scream. Harry could think of nothing to say, except, “Kreacher, shut up!”

    It looked for a moment as though Kreacher was going to choke. He grabbed his throat, his mouth still working furiously, his eyes bulging. After a few seconds of frantic gulping, he threw himself face forward onto the carpet (Aunt Petunia whimpered) and beat the floor with his hands and feet, giving himself over to a violent, but entirely silent, tantrum.

BOOYAH. Also, why did I just use that word IS IT 1996 AGAIN. just….what.

There’s also some more good news: Harry decides to give Buckbeak back to Hagrid!

  • “Hagrid will be delighted,” said Dumbledore, smiling. “He was thrilled to see Buckbeak again. Incidentally, we have decided, in the interests of Buckbeak’s safety, to rechristen him ‘Witherwings’ for the time being, though I doubt that the Ministry would ever guess he is the hippogriff they once sentenced to death. Now, Harry, is your trunk packed?”

I must say I prefer Buckbeak more. But at least Hagrid will be happy.

What happens after Harry packs, though, is monumental for this series. Dumbledore speaks candidly to the Dursleys about what has happened over the past 16 years:

  • “Now, as you already know, the wizard called Lord Voldemort has returned to this country. The Wizarding community is currently in a state of open wwarfare. Harry, who Lord Voldemort has already attempted to kill on a number of occasions, is in even greater danger now than the day when I left him upon your doorstep fifteen years ago, with a letter explaining about his parents’ murder and expressing the hope that you would care for him as though he were your own.”

And which, I might add, the Dursleys didn’t really do. But what am I saying? Dumbledore totally upstages any thought I might have with an unbelievable little lecture.

  • “You did not do as I asked. You have never treated Harry as a son. He has known nothing but neglect and often cruelty at your hands. The best that can be said is that he has at least escaped the appalling damage you have inflicted upon the unfortunate boy sitting between you.”


  • “The magic I evoked fifteen years ago means that Harry has powerful protection while he can still call this house ‘home.’ However miserable he has been here, however unwelcome, however badly treated, you have at least, grudgingly, allowed him houseroom. This magic will cease to operate the moment that Harry turns seventeen; in other words, at the moment he becomes a man. I ask only this: that you allow Harry to return, once more, to this house, before his seventeenth birthday, which will ensure that the protection continues until that time.”

Can I just say that not only do I love Dumbledore calling out the Dursleys, but I love how Rowling has given this powerful reason for why Harry has suffered all these years. Despite that Harry’s life has been riddled with tragedy, suffering, neglect, abuse, and trauma, Dumbledore planned long ago to make sure that Harry was protected from fatal harm. And these moments in this chapter show how he’s ready to start to take responsibility for these plans and how they’ve affected Harry’s life. Because, as we saw at the end of Order of the Phoenix, when Dumbledore lived in secrets and hoping he could avoid accountability, it ended with heartbreak.

I am so excited to see where they head to next.