Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the yet-to-be released sixth installment in the Harry Potter book series written by J. K. Rowling.
J. K. Rowling has said in an interview given as Book 5 (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) was first published that this book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, will not be as long as the previous two; she did however add that the final book in the series would be the longest, as she dreads having to finish writing the series, and will probably just keep "writing and writing" it.
A hidden letter placed on J.K. Rowling's web site on 20 December 2004 revealed that the latest book has been completed and that her publishers would announce the release date. On 21 December 2004, Bloomsbury and Scholastic jointly announced in a press conference that the book would be published in the United Kingdom & Ireland (as release dates for UK & Ireland always coincide), the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand on 16 July 2005.
Here is the transcript of Rowling's announcement:
|I know you all expected this to happen on Christmas day, but I was sure that those of you who celebrate Christmas have better things to on the day itself do than to fight your way into my study, whereas those of you who DON'T celebrate Christmas would definitely prefer not to wait until the twenty fifth so... |
'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' is COMPLETED and has been delivered to my English language publishers, who hope to announce the publication date within 24 hours.
Although I have joked about HP&THBP racing my third baby into the world, I have in fact had all the time I needed to tinker with the manuscript to my satisfaction and I am as happy as I have ever been with the end result. I only hope you feel that it was worth the wait when you finally read it!
Wishing everybody a wonderful holiday and a happy and peaceful 2005, With love from,
From J.K. Rowling's official website (August 16, 2004) :
[He] looked rather like an old lion. There were streaks of grey in his mane of tawny hair and his bushy eyebrows; he had keen yellowish eyes behind a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles and a certain rangy, loping grace even though he walked with a slight limp. (http://www.mugglenet.com/jkrcom/jkrdooropening2.shtml)
From J.K. Rowling's official website (October 31, 2004) :
- Chapter two: Spinners End (Widely speculated to be a reference to a location or street)
- Chapter six: Draco's Detour
- Chapter fourteen: Felix Felicis. "Felix Felicis" means lucky, fortunate, happy in Latin.
J.K. Rowling has not yet explained the meaning or significance of these chapters.
Reference: MuggleNet archive (http://www.mugglenet.com/jkrcom/jkrdooropening3.shtml)
Speculation based on the earlier books
Assuming that things take their usual course, here's some of what we can look forward to in the book:
- Harry will be in his sixth year at Hogwarts in book six. The events of book six will presumably take place between July, 1996 and the end of June, 1997.
- Neville Longbottom will need another wand to replace that which was broken in the Department of Mysteries.
- At the end of June 1996, Hermione Granger's year-long ban on Rita Skeeter's writing will end.
- New Prefects (in Ginny Weasley, Colin Creevey, and Luna Lovegood's year)
- Possibly visiting Weasley's Wizard Wheezes in Diagon Alley
- "Ministry...guides to elementary home and personal defence...will be delivered free to all wizarding homes [by the end of July] (OP38)." Depending on the definition of "wizarding home", this may come as a bit of a shock to the families of Muggle-born students such as Dean Thomas, who hasn't kept his family informed about the various dangerous happenings at Hogwarts in the last few years (OP11).
- In July 1996, each of the returning sixth year students will receive an owl with their Ordinary Wizarding Level (O.W.L.) results (OP31).
- If the Quidditch season takes place as usual, the Gryffindor team will hold tryouts for at least two Chaser positions and possibly the two Beaters—since Fred and George Weasley left Hogwarts during OP and their replacements (Jack Sloper and Andrew Kirke) were "terrible". If Harry has been reinstated as Seeker by then, Ginny Weasley plans to try out for Chaser at that point (OP). Gryffindor will also need a new team captain, who JK Rowling hinted may or may not allow Ron Weasley to stay as Keeper.
- We may find out more about the Sorting Hat, whose character JK Rowling said we would be most surprised to see evolve over the series.
- We will hear more from Narcissa Malfoy now that Lucius is indisposed
- Rowling has revealed that one of her characters will not survive this book.
The Harry Potter books follow a fairly predictable pattern. If HBP sticks with this pattern (and there is no guarantee that this will be the case), we'll see the following happen:
- Harry will spend some time in Privet Drive, but JKR has said that this will be his shortest stay yet. Harry's time spent with the Dursleys have been increasingly shorter from book to book. In addition, the Dursleys will likely be happy to see him go due to their intimidation by various Order members at the end of book 5.
- Harry will receive his O.W.L. grades in July and turn 16 on July 31. (Ron is already 16 years old at the end of OP and Hermione will turn 17 shortly after school begins, on September 19).
- Before classes begin, Harry will encounter or hear about someone who will be the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher (this has happened in each book so far).
- On September 1, Harry and his friends will travel to Hogwarts aboard the Hogwarts Express.
- At the Welcoming Feast, Harry and his friends will meet their new DADA teacher, find out if both Firenze and Trelawney will teach Divination, and hear a new Sorting Hat song
- Harry will start N.E.W.T.-level classes, which will include Potions (if his OWL grades permit or Professor Snape's refusal to teach N.E.W.T. Potions to any without the highest OWL grades is somehow circumvented), but not Divination. We'll also learn what career paths Hermione and Ron have chosen.
- In Transfiguration, the sixth years will start learning human transfiguration spells (GF26).
- The Gryffindor Quidditch team will probably include Harry (Seeker), Ginny (probably Chaser), Ron (Keeper), and Katie Bell (Chaser). The other players who were added last year might be back, although new players may need to be recruited. A new captain will be assigned.
- As June rolls around, Harry will find himself once again in a one-on-one confrontation with Voldemort or the Death Eaters.
Reference: Harry Potter Lexicon: About Book Six (http://www.hp-lexicon.org/about/books/hbp/book_hbp.html)
On jkrowling.com (http://www.jkrowling.com) from June 2004, the author of the series responded to many recurrent rumours, creating a clearer picture for fans of where the series will not go in the next two books.
The Half-Blood Prince
J. K. Rowling announced in the title confirmation message that the Half-Blood Prince referred to in the book's title is neither Harry nor Voldemort.
There has been wide speculation about the identity of this character, with suggested names including every male character of any significance whatsoever in the book that is not a pure-blooded wizard (or whose lineage is not known).
The character Mark Evans—mentioned briefly at the beginning of Order of the Phoenix—had been suggested, largely because Lily Potter's maiden name was "Evans" and fans could not believe that his name could be a coincidence. Rowling responded to this (http://www.jkrowling.com/textonly/faq_view.cfm?id=49) by saying his name is simply a coincidence and he will not play a significant part in the story.
Some even suggested Tom Riddle was a candidate, arguing that he has already been referred to separately from "Voldemort" in the books. However, this was dispelled by Rowling.
Following her appearance at the Edinburgh Book Festival it was reported on Mugglenet that Rowling revealed to two separate attendees that Hagrid is not the HBP.
Such rumours are unlikely to be quelled until the publication of the book, as Rowling has indicated she will reveal no more information on the character.
However, there is a new rumor going on that the Half-Blood Prince is Felix Felicis, one of the chapter titles that Ms. Rowling announced on her website. If these rumors are true or not Ms. Rowling still must confirm.
Assistant Professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts
A rumour was that Dumbledore will make Harry Assistant Professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts, infuriating Snape. Malfoy is maybe even more furious, since it was Harry who put his father in prison.
Rowling responded: "I'm not sure I see Harry in an academic career, he's seen so much action."
(There is apparently a rumour that the new DADA teacher will be called "Professor Bicycle". However, it was just a joke on her website.)
Revelations on relatives
- Rumour was that his late mother, Lily Evans, is still alive. Rowling commented "No, afraid not."
- Rumour was that Professor McGonagall was going to become headmistress of Hogwarts. Rowling replied "Where did they get that idea?"
- Rumour was that Professor Dumbledore is Harry's real grandfather. Rowling responded "Why on earth would he have been sent to live with the Dursleys?"
- Rumour was that Mark Evans (a very minor offscreen character in Order of the Phoenix) is a relative. Rowling initially refused to comment either way on this rumour, but later revealed on her personal website that "Mark Evans is... nobody".
- Rumour was that Voldemort is Harry's real father (in the same tradition as Star Wars). Rowling wrote "No, no, no, no, no ... James is DEFINITELY Harry's father."
There will not be an "Icicle"
"I have been told that I once promised a character with this name during an interview. I can only think that somebody misheard what I said because at no stage have I ever planned a character called 'Icicle.'"
Then on her official site, Rowling joked that "Professor Bicycle, on the other hand, will be a key figure in books six and seven."
New Minister for Magic
Rowling has said that there will be a new Minister for Magic. The most popular candidate among fans was Arthur Weasley until she contradicted this possibility in her Web site.
- This book, Rowling has stated, will be almost part one of a two-part book, the second half being book seven. The war has begun and the saga is now moving toward the ultimate confrontation.
- There will be a new character called McClaggan; role and occupancy remain unknown. He might be the new Minister of Magic, new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, etc.
- Grawp, Hagrid's half brother giant will be more controllable, as revealed by Rowling.
- The new headquarters to the Order of the Phoenix will be at Spinner's End (one of the chapter titles revealed by Rowling), since now Sirius is dead. Grimmauld Place will be unceremoniously abandoned. Note: this is a rumor, it has not been confirmed (or denied) by Rowling.
- There will be a Hogwarts Graveyard that will play an important part in the story, as Alfonso Cuarón mentions  (http://www.halfbloodprince.info/story/graveyard.cfm)
- A Bloombury insider has recently given information that the excerpt that was revealed on JKR's website is in the chapter Felix Felicis, also something that was revealed to Potter fans as a chapter title.
- J.K. Rowling's responses to various rumours (http://www.jkrowling.com/textonly/rumours.cfm)
- Archive of mysterious door openings (http://mugglenet.com/jkrcom/jkrcomdoorarchive.shtml)
- Unofficial Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince News & Info (http://www.halfbloodprince.info)
- HPANA's complete archive of book 6 news and rumors (http://www.hpana.com/newsbrowser.cfm?tid=108)
- Press Release (http://www.bloomsburymagazine.com/harrypotter/muggles/whassup/news.asp?s=1) announcing the publication date by British publishers Bloomsbury
- Press release (http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=109&STORY=/www/story/12-21-2004/0002672561&EDATE=) on PRNewsWire