Thursday, November 11, 2010

Canon Book Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Today I continue with the review of the Harry Potter series as suggested by reading Maggie W. by reviewing the third book of the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. In Harry Potter in the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry is back for his third season at the famous wizardry school Hogwarts. Once again, things just can't go smoothly for Harry, as a man named Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban, the prison where wizards that have committed crimes go. Azkaban is a dark place run by dementors who prey on human happiness, and up until now, no one had ever escaped. To make matters worse, it is believed that Black, a supporter of Voldemort, has escaped for one reason and one reason only, to kill Harry Potter. A few notes about this book, and yes there are SPOILERS.

- It seems that as in the real world, the subject of fortune telling is also regarded as little more than a joke in the world of Harry Potter, as the divination teacher, Professor Trelawney, is not taken very seriously, even as she repeatedly predicts the demise of Harry Potter. Even Hermoine, whose thirst for knowledge has seemed to take an obsessive turn for the worst, by the way, starts to question Trelawney's credibility and eventually snaps after yet another prediction of Harry's impending doom. Come to think of it, Hermoine changed a good bit during the events of this book, becoming more aggressive (smacking Draco, for one) and more willing to rebel against authority when need be.

- There are a few new characters in this book, the most interesting being the new Professor of Defense of the Dark Arts, Professor Lupin. At first, Lupin is presented as just another teacher, although one that is quite a favorite with the students and with a mysterious illness. As it turns out, Lupin ends up taking a huge role in the main narrative involving Sirius Black, and it's interesting how Rowling works Lupin in and out of the main story and adding to the depth of his character.

- One of the more interesting aspects of this book is that we learn what type of person Harry's father was before meeting his demise. As it turns out, James Potter and his crew were masters of mischief. As it turns out, Harry becomes even more willing to bend and break the rules to fit his needs, an attitude that gets him in trouble with Professor Snape, and their feud deepens. For the most part, Snape takes over Draco's role as Potter's main nemesis, as Draco is little more than a harmless foil whom Potter is able to best easily on multiple occasions, especially on the Quidditch field. Anyway, back to Snape, even though he seems to despise Potter, Rowling does not portray him as an evil madmen. Rather, every action Snape takes against Potter and anyone else seems to be done for the best of Hogwarts, at least in his mind. After reading more about Snape's problems with James Potter while both were at Hogwarts, and the events of this book, I must say that I am interested in what role he will play in the next few books, and besides Potter and Dumbledore, I find Snape to be the most compelling character in the first three books of the Potter saga.

- If there is one fault that I have with the book, it is with the pacing. The book started out with a bang, but seemed to drag for the next 200 or so pages until finally the book reaches the climax. It seems as if some scenes, such as Harry hiding under the table at the bar in Hogsmeade, just took forever to go through. Also, although the final part of the book was filled with tremendous plot twists and suspense, the ending itself did seem to be too perfect, if you will. Then again, it is a book meant for younger readers, so I guess I can see why Rowling decided to give the book a mostly happy ending where the good guys prevail over impossible odds.

Overall, even though I heard more good things about this book than the first two, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was probably the least favorite of the three so far. The story took a while to get going, and too much time was focused on silly plots such as the fighting between Ron and Hermoine and the whole professor Trelawney story. However, the book was still more good than bad, and for the most part I found the book to be an entertaining read. Overall, I'd give Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban a 6.739 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any comments about this or previous posts, or ideas for future reviews or posts, than share them either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at

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