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.
I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.
This is my favorite Harry Potter book – at least to this point, and probably for the entire series. I’ll let you know if that remains true by the time I get through this re-read. They’re all so good that it’s really a matter of degrees, though.
This book remains one of the very few to ever completely surprise me. And not just to surprise me, but to have laid all the foreshadowing so cleverly that I could have guessed the truth, but still did not. Maybe I was caught up in the story, in the action and laughter, the drama and worry. It’s possible, but I highly doubt it. J.K. Rowling is a master story-teller – something that becomes more and more evident on re-reads.
Even now, so many years later, having read the series (well, at least these first few books) a couple dozen times, I find things that surprise me and make me go: “Oh! How haven’t I caught that before?!” The foreshadowing (for the entire series, including some revelations that shocked many in the end) is there.
Khanh brilliantly states in her review that:
This is the last Harry Potter book in which Harry is a child. Before his life – and this series – was visited by the spectre of death. I’m not talking about the long-ago deaths of James and Lily, of course Harry has experienced deaths before, but it was distant. I’m talking about the future deaths where Harry lost people he actually remembered, and respected, and loved. That’s what I mean when I say that this is the last book in which Harry is a child, because as hard as his life was until now, he still had his innocence.
Children believe that their heroes are unerring. One of the rites of passage to adulthood is the realization that heroes fall, like everyone else.
Harry realizes, probably for the first time, that those he always looked to for answers, to solve problems and right wrongs, aren’t always able to. This is the book where Harry takes control, knowing fully that he’s the only one that can do it.
He grows up a lot in this book. And I can’t help but feel badly for the little boy that deserved a much happier childhood. Still, Prisoner of Azkaban, and the series, isn’t devoid of fun and humor – there’s plenty here to balance out the growing darkness.
Some of my favorite moments:
- Knight Bus
- Crookshanks – So much that I named my cat after Crookshanks
- Chocolate: “Eat it. It’ll help.” – Yes, yes, it does.
- “Oh, it’s you, is it? I suppose you’ve been doing something dangerous again?”
- Sir Cadogan
- “You’re going to suffer but be very happy…”
- Professor Boggart Snape
- “…page three-hundred and ninety-four…” – <3 Alan Rickman (who will forever be Snape to me)
- Marauder’s Map
- Mooney, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs – <3 <3 <3 (I won’t say which I don’t love, but you probably know)
Here comes my only complaint: I know this isn’t a popular opinion, and perhaps people think I should be more forgiving, but I’m a Hufflepuff – loyalty is highly prized by me – and Ron can be an absolute ass. This is the first book where it’s really driven home for me, but it’s not the last.
Oh, and no matter how good you think the movie is (and it’s the first that takes real liberties with both the world and the story), the book is infinitely better.