“The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.”
The strongest of the first three, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban opens the same way the others did - Poor Harry in the hideous house he's grown up in, but he doesn't stay there as long this time. He escapes in a moment of rebellion - yay! take that, horrible Dursleys! - gets picked up by this bizarre wizard bus I wish we'd have for convenience, and then finds that all is not as it was in the world of wizardry. A dangerous criminal has escapes the prisons, and people are all aflutter, worried not only about his eventual plans to release the dark lord, but of his more immediate plans to get revenge on Harry.
By now the characters have taken their footing in my heart, so I was almost as happy as Harry to reunite with Ron and the Weasly clan, Hermione and her ambitions, Hagrid and his animal woes, and the majestic Hogwarts that sounds like perhaps the best school ever invented. There's much familiar ground to retread - that annoying bully Malfoy and his overriding father, Snape and his sinister schooling, new experiments that sound as dangerous as they do educational...but also some new issues arises, namely wondering when Black will show his face and what will happen when that showdown finally strikes.
It's frustrating a little to not see more of Voldemort yet (so much build up and I'm already eager for appearance), but the book delves further into the history of 'that night' when Harry's parents were viciously slaughtered. It was written well into the form of the dementer's eliciting memories in Harry's psyche, and there's a twist in the story that shows there's more to the legends and stories than previously known. As usual, misconceptions and half-truths for crimes.
I do have to say the wizarding world loses a brownie point from me because of the dementers. They're awesome villains, creepy inventions that serve the story well, but it disturbs me prisoners are constantly tortured by them. The magical world is certainly not to be respected for having that occur at their awful prison.
As I've said before, you'd think it would get dull going with the kids to a classroom of all things, but it stays fascinating. The lessons this time are perhaps the best of the first three - especially with another new Dark Arts professor, who shows nifty tricks tricks to Harry. Finally he seems to be learning some interesting things. This new professor is a welcome addition to the book; he plays a lot into the story, being easy to get attached to.
Familiar focuses are brought clearer, like the Willow Tree and Invisibility Cloak, but we also get new goodies like that amusing Map, deeper journey into Diagon Alley, and of course Hogsmeade and it's delightful shops. Dumbledore has always been awesome, but he's even better here while he stands up for Hagrid and actually listens to Harry and others with sanity and reasonable instead of hilarity and prejudice.
It was frustrating at the end when there was so much time people struggled to convince of a truth; it's a pet peeve when a main character won't listen for a second, or if someone is trying to tell the truth but isn't believed. I end up wanting to slap people around over that, but it's a small annoyance in the midst of greatness. There's a surprise at the end that I didn't see coming in the form of fur (I had suspected one surprise, the other I didn't.) The rescue of a surprising hero was also well done and crafted by Rowling, who has proven herself to be incredibly inventive.
The series continues strong, getting better with each installment.
“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”
Check out the full list of Harry Potter Featured Posts for Harry Potter Week
- Book Reviews: The Sorcerer's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows
- Book-To-Film Comparison: The Sorcerer's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows
- Site Features: Mailbox Monday, Cover Crush, Tune-in Tuesday, Universal Studios Trip
- Themed Posts: RIP Alan Rickman, Philosophers Versus Sorcerers, Magical Quotes