Voldemort's resurrection potion from Goblet of Fire reads:

Bone of the father, unknowingly given, you will renew your son!
Flesh – of the servant, willingly given, you will revive your master.
Blood of the enemy, forcibly taken, you will resurrect your foe.’
Goblet of Fire - pages 556-557 - Bloomsbury - Chapter thirty-two, Flesh, Blood and Bone

It seems like a pretty simple spell and is ancient Dark Magic (According to Voldemort in Goblet of Fire in the chapter Blood, Bone and Flesh.). Dark Magic is Voldemort's specialty:

'You call it “greatness”, what you have been doing, do you?’ asked Dumbledore delicately.

'Certainly,’ said Voldemort, and his eyes seemed to burn red. ‘I have experimented; I have pushed the boundaries of magic further, perhaps, than they have ever been pushed –'
Half-Blood Prince - Page 415 - Bloomsbury - Chapter twenty, Lord Voldemort's Request

Why did it take Voldemort thirteen years to figure out the components of the resurrection potion?

I'm looking for an answer grounded in canon (the 10 Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling interviews or quotes). A subjective answer in the spirit of canon is also very welcome. I am not looking for an answer from the HP Wikia.

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    Who said it took him 13 years to figure out? He didn't have a servant to perform the ritual before then. – Kevin Jan 24 '15 at 18:05
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    @Kevin - Also, he wants Harry to be the instrument of his resurrection. It took him a good while to arrange that. – Valorum Jan 24 '15 at 18:10
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    “I was as powerless as the weakest creature alive, and without the means to help myself… for I had no body, and every spell that might have helped me required the use of a wand….” << I’d be surprised if he didn’t have some plans up his sleeve (whether it was this specific plan or not), but overestimated his strength in death. – alexwlchan Jan 24 '15 at 18:48
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    @Kevin - he had Qirrell and wants to use Harry's blood after he learns about the protection that lies in it. Wormtail tries to talk out Voldemort out of the complex plan by mentioning that any wizard would do (since too many consider Voldemort an enemy) – vap78 Jan 24 '15 at 20:23

I think that the question is making an unwarranted assumption, that he didn't know of this spell earlier.

There's really no mention in canon that he didn't know the spell before (and pottermore seems utterly empty on the topic of "Resurrection Potion").

However, there's enough evidence to surmise that knowing the spell wouldn't have helped him until Year Four.

  • First, he was a ghost in Albania, with no access to, or ability to use, the wand (thanks @alexwlchan for the quote):

    I was as powerless as the weakest creature alive, and without the means to help myself… for I had no body, and every spell that might have helped me required the use of a wand (GoF)

    That takes care of all but 4 of those "thirteen" years you mentioned - he only met Quirrell the year before Harry was to attend Hogwarts.

  • Then, he didn't have access to his father's bones

  • Then after he met Quirrell, he may have had some means to get his father's bones... BUT, he got distracted by shiny Philosopher's Stone, which was clearly a far more superior pathway for him, being something that can grant immportality and not just new body. So, he lacked both "blood of the enemy" (or the means to obtain it, as Harry was under Dumbledore's protection) AND a chance to work on the body as he was too busy Quirrelling and trying to get the sorcerer's Philosopher's Stone.

  • Then he lost his servant again (and with it any ability to do magic) - until Year Four, when Wormtail found him again.

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    I like this answer. Ooh, shiny :-) – Valorum Jan 24 '15 at 23:09
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    @DVK -- Is there info on exactly when Wormtail found Voldemort again? Could he have reconnected with Voldemort while he was on the lam from Ron in PoA, or even when he was Percy or Ron's pet at the Burrow? After all, he had to find time, as well, to salvage Voldemort's wand from the wreckage of the Potters' house; JKR does not specify when this occurred, as least as far as I know. Do correct me if I'm wrong. Am I forgetting a major quote that states when Wormtail actually reconnected with Voldemort? – Slytherincess Jan 25 '15 at 0:09
  • @Slytherincess - given that he traveled as a rat, I'm not sure he had enough time to travel all the way to Albania and back during the year. So I'm guessing that was after final escape. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 25 '15 at 1:55
  • @DVK -- I think you're probably right. I ask only because there was a question about me making assumptions, and I want to ensure no assumptions are made regarding when Wormtail rejoined Voldemort. JKR said that he salvaged Voldemort's wand while in rat form; she doesn't say when this happened. Could it be said that once Wormtail salvaged the wand he was aligning himself with Voldemort? Dismissing the time frame surrounding Wormtail's return would make for a second "unwarranted assumption", don't you think? It matters toward the question. – Slytherincess Jan 25 '15 at 3:16
  • In chapter 1 of GoF Wormtail says: “It could be done without Harry Potter, my Lord.” and Voldemort confirms it. So the missing "blood of the enemy" was not the reason. – vap78 Jan 25 '15 at 20:24

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