Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third book in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. It was published in 1999 by Scholastic. For all things Harry Potter, check out the Lexicon (spoilers)! Also, check out the #1 Harry Potter fansite, mugglenet.com.
Will contain spoilers for the series.
Genre: Fantasy, Children’s, Realistic
“For twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort.
Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter’s defeat of You-Know-Who was Black’s downfall as well. And the Azkaban guards heard Black muttering in his sleep, “He’s at Hogwarts…he’s at Hogwarts.”
Harry Potter isn’t safe, not even within the walls of his magical school, surrounded by his friends. Because on top of it all, there may well be a traitor in their midst.”
“Lumos,” Harry muttered, and a light appeared at the end of his wand, almost dazzling him. He held it high over his head, and the pebble-dashed walls of number two suddenly sparkled; the garage door gleamed, and between them Harry saw, quite distinctly, the hulking outline of something very big, with wide, gleaming eyes.
Harry stepped backward. His legs hit hist trunk and he tripped. His wand flew out of his hand as he flung out an arm to break his fall, and he landed, hard, in the gutter—
There was a deafening BANG, and Harry threw up his hands to shield his eyes against a sudden blinding light—
“On the count of three, Neville,” said Professor Lupin, who was pointing his own wand at the handle of the wardrobe. “One—two—three—now!”
A jet of sparks shot from the end of Professor Lupin’s wand and hit the doorknob. The wardrobe burst open. Hook-nosed and menacing, Professor Snape stepped out, his eyes flashing at Neville.
Neville backed away, his wand up, mouthing wordlessly. Snape was bearing down upon him, reaching inside his robes.
“R—r—riddikulus!” squeaked Neville.
There was a noise like a whip crack. Snape stumbled; he was wearing a long, lace-trimmed dress and a towering hat topped with a moth-eaten vulture, and he was swinging a huge crimson handbag.
“Gryffindor leads by eighty points to zero, and look at that Firebolt go! Potter’s really putting it through its paces now, see it turn—Chang’s Comet is just no match for it, the Firebolt’s precision-balance is really noticeable in these long—”
“JORDAN! ARE YOU BEING PAID TO ADVERTISE FIREBOLTS? GET ON WITH THE COMMENTARY!”
Recommended Age Range: 10+
What I Liked:
I love the Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s so welcoming after the boring drudge I find Chamber of Secrets. It’s also got quite a unique plot, as, for the first (and only) time in the series, Lord Voldemort is not the main antagonist; that is, the plot doesn’t have much to do with Voldy directly. It’s also quite unique because of the cool mechanic that Rowling uses at the end. It’s quite fun and brain-twisting, especially if you think that Dumbledore probably only suggested it to Harry and Hermione because of what he witnessed throughout the course of the night (i.e., Buckbeak’s mysterious disappearance). This becomes especially awesome/mind-bendy when you think about his reactions at Hagrid’s—he must have realized what was going on instantly, and acted accordingly. Why else would he be amused instead of puzzled? Unless, of course, Dumbledore just enjoys watching other people flounder, especially people of whose actions he disapproves (which is also true).
Rowling didn’t much like writing about Quidditch (I think), which is why she is always coming up with reasons to not include it. I’ve always enjoyed the Quidditch scenes, though, especially the ones in this book. These matches, especially, show Harry’s determination and grit. Plus, Lee Jordan’s commentary, and McGonagall’s “interruptions,” is some of the funniest dialogue in the series.
I had forgotten how…angry Snape gets at the end here. “A severe disappointment,” indeed. His reaction makes a little sense if you take into consideration the small bit of back story revealed in this book, and it will make more sense in future books when more is revealed. I want to discuss Snape in way more detail, but I will refrain from doing so until the last book. There’s a lot to his character, both positive and negative, and I want to be sure to explain both sides adequately.
First instance of selfish rule-breaking: Harry’s trips to Hogsmeade. Notice that he gets punished, of a sort, for it (as in, he’s caught).
What I Didn’t Like:
I’ve always found Ron and Hermione’s arguments very annoying, petty, and stupid, but that’s the way Rowling is trying to portray them, I think. Get used to it, because there’s a lot more where that comes from.
Ginny speaks about one word here. In fact, I don’t think she really starts taking form as a legitimate character until the fifth book, which is sad, because then an event that happens in the sixth book comes from way out of the blue.
–Keep in mind Trelawney’s predictions involving Harry
–Keep in mind what Harry hears when dementors are near
–Keep in mind Dumbledore’s mention of Trelawney’s two real predictions
–Keep in mind the life debt that Wormtail owes Harry
The Prisoner of Azkaban is one of my favorite, and, in my opinion, one of the best books in the series. It has a unique (for the series) plot and an interesting mechanic is used. Professor Lupin is a wonderful new addition to the cast, and Dumbledore is as awesome and mysterious as ever. There’s some great moments of tension, realization, conflict, and mystery in the book and it’s a wonderful read that more than makes up for the often-boring, slow Chamber of Secrets that came before.
You can buy the book here: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
And the movie here: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Single-Disc Widescreen Edition)
Coming Up Next: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire