Book 31: Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban

Book Title: Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban
Author: JK Rowling
Published: 1999
Pages: 317
Category: fiction: fantasy

I love Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s easily my favourite of the seven. I love the Marauders, I love the backstory, I love the Marauder’s map, I love Moony, Padfoot, and Prongs, and I especially love Sirius Black and Remus Lupin.

It’s great to see the students at Hogwarts actually be taught something in Defense against the Dark Arts. Maybe this is what first endeared me to Lupin, or the fact that he is present on the train ride to Hogwarts, and actually knows how to handle a dangerous situation. We meet Buckbeak, Harry blows up his Muggle Aunt, we discover that wizards have a way to manipulate time itself, and we are introduced to Trelawney’s hilariously dark and dangerous predictions – and that there are real prophecies.

The Weasley Twins gift Harry with the map that changes everything. The map written by Harry’s father, his godfather, his professor, and a traitor. I just can’t get enough of the Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s probably the Harry Potter book I’ve re-read the most times.

There are passages that I can’t read in Prisoner of Azkaban, without thinking or hearing the words written into song by a movement called simply ‘Wizard Rock.’ I blame Justin Finch-Fletchly & The Sugar Quills for the fact that “massive sherbert balls that make you levitate…” (61) is only ever read in tune by me. Or that “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good” often appears in my head in a melody created by Alex Carpenter of The Remus Lupins.
There are more poignant reasons why I love this book as well, the notion that whenever Harry encounters a Dementor he hears his parents’ dying words? What a horrendous thought to have a 12 year old boy who hears his parents’ murder? And how guarded Lupin is when Harry tells him that he knew his parents – I can never understand why Lupin goes through such lengths to keep his history with Harry’s parents a secret. Its a character choice that I wonder about throughout the series, especially after the events of Order of the Phoenix.

It’s hard to discuss the Harry Potter books as separate entities, when they all run together in my mind, wound into one giant story spanning years (of Harry’s life and mine). I read the books not necessarily, more closely, as I read them looking for any clues of the last book until 2007, but now I read them for other things, looking for quintessential moments of certain characters who I now know perish, or change over the years. I notice things like why Lupin “…looked both shaken and pleased.” (194) after seeing the shape of Harry’s corporeal patronus. He was seeing once again the animagus form of one of his best friends, dead for the last 11 years. Things you miss on a first reading can be just a discovery on subsequent re-readings – especially when you know what you are looking for.
With Prisoner of Azkaban we are shown so much more of the history, backstory and context of Harry’s story, and it is, for me, where the series really takes off. With mystery, and the big picture. We know so much more after finishing this book, and there are four left to read.

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4 Responses to Book 31: Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban

  1. Elise says:

    This was always my favorite as well! I’m tempted to stop reading Deathly Hallows (i’m at the battle right before people start dying) and just go back and read PoA.

    • Pippa says:

      I barely made it through the end of Deathly Hallows on this re-read. I’m still emotionally drained really. I don’t want them to die!

  2. Jenn Zee says:

    Oooh, POA.

    DEFINITELY my favorite of the original three…really, it remained my favorite right up until Deathly Hallows came into play, and I would still rather reread POA than DH most of the time. I really think that has to do with the introduction of two of my favorite characters: Sirius and Lupin. My original copy of POA is actually held together with duct tape, I read it so many times.

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