Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Our favorite Harry Potter novel

J.K. Rowling 1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallowschildren's fantasy book reviews Harry Potter 3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is easily my favourite of the Harry Potter books. Harry is in his third year at Hogwarts, and the big news is the escape of dangerous and deadly wizard Sirius Black from Azkaban prison. Harry learns that, for some reason, Sirius is after him. To increase security at Hogwarts, Dumbledore has reluctantly allowed the Dementors — ghostly cloaked beings that suck the happiness from a person’s soul and eventually drive them mad — to guard the castle. The book uncovers the mystery of who Black is and why he is so keen to find Harry at Hogwarts, while also dealing with the regular shenanigans of a Hogwarts school year.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is where J.K. Rowling tightens up her act. The plot is excellently written with not too many of the loopholes that characterised the first two books. The use of the Time Turner is not too much of a McGuffin, since Hermione had already been using it during the school year. The book is sleek and not too long. I enjoy reading the Harry Potterbooks, but the later books definitely suffer from being longer than a few hundred pages. Here Rowling is forced to be efficient with her story, and it is all the more effective for it.

By now the wizarding world is firmly established, but Rowling still manages to spice up the book with many lovely little details. We hear more about the lessons taken by the children, and some new classes are introduced, such as Care of Magical Creatures and Divination. Some of the little details are my very favourite moments in the book, such as when Hermione achieves over three hundred percent in her Muggle Studies class. I also love the throwaway line from during Ron and Harry’s Charms exam:

Hermione had been right; Professor Flitwick did indeed test them on Cheering Charms. Harry slightly overdid his out of nerves and Ron, who was partnering him, ended up in fits of hysterical laughter and had to be led away to a quiet room for an hour before he was ready to perfom the Charm himself.

This always makes me giggle.

The village of Hogsmeade is another charming addition to Hogwarts, what with the sweet shop and the pub serving Butterbeer (which sounds delicious!). I do wonder at the fact that Hogsmeade has never been mentioned in two previous books though! Sometimes Rowling decides to add in features that have never cropped up previously and it can be a little jarring.

And she does love the big reveal! Here we have Sirius and Lupin going over the events of twelve years ago AND covering some of their school days, including why Snape hates them so, in a long dialogue-heavy section. I feel that this could have been spread out across the book in a better way, so that it didn’t come across as much as an explanation to bring the reader up to speed.

There are some wonderful new characters, such as Professor Lupin. I have always wished that he could have continued as the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. However, I did not like Professor Trelawney much at all. The scenes in her classroom were dull and dragged for me.

Finally, I would comment on the fact that Rowling cannot seem to write an exciting Quidditch match — they all seem to be Lee Jordan commenting on players throwing the ball to each other, and then Harry catches the Snitch in some weird and wonderful way. Mind, I don’t think it would be easy to write an interesting football or rugby match into a novel either; they are just too dynamic for the written word.

These are very minor niggles. In my view this is a richly entertaining and imaginative story, in which the main characters really develop. I appreciated the strong plotline. I couldn’t wait to read the next one!

~Amanda Rutter

Awesomely twisty. This was the moment that my adult brain really got hooked on the series (my inner child was already over the moon).

~Kelly Lasiter

Unputdownable. Even my husband, who doesn’t read fantasy, couldn’t take a break to eat meals when he read this book.

~Kat Hooper

The Prisoner of Azkaban is by far my favorite of the HARRY POTTER novels. It is the tightest, most efficient of them all and doesn’t sacrifice emotional impact for all that it is several hundreds of pages shorter than the later ones. In fact, several of the scenes are some of the most moving in the entire series. The world is greatly enriched by the arrival of the Dementors and Hogsmeade and the cast of characters is similarly enhanced by the addition of Sirius Black (who adds suspense and menace to the narrative while also giving us a richly emotional vein to tap with regard to Harry) and Professor Lupin. This is the pinnacle I’d say of the Harry Potter universe and even if one doesn’t wish to devote the time to the entire series, it’s well worth it to read the first three so as to arrive here.

~Bill Capossere

This was the best book; not only the character development and the growth of the magical world, but the moment when Harry and the reader both learn that not everything is what it seems.

~Marion Deeds

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AMANDA RUTTER, one of our guest reviewers, used to be an accountant in the UK but she escaped the world of numbers and is now living in a fantasy world she creates. She runs Angry Robot's YA imprint, Strange Chemistry. And we knew her when....

View all posts by Amanda Rutter (guest)


  1. I loved all the HP books. This was my fave also until Order of the Phoenex and then Deathly Hallows.

    The plot for Azakaban was so original. No matter how many times I read this book, the tension created by the circumstances of the trio never lessened. JKR is simply a master story teller. :drink:

  2. Yeah, this one was crazy tense at the end. I read it before the movie came out, so I didn’t know what was going to happen. I had to skip dinner with the family because I couldn’t put it down.

  3. I watched some of the movies but plan on reading the series soon. Thanks for sharing.:choked:

  4. Anonymous /

    I have to agree that this was Rowling at the top of her game. She lost me by the middle of book five, but I will always have fond memories of Prisoner of Azkaban.

  5. I’m pretty positive it’s no coincidence that the best HP work (and I’d say this is the best by a good margin) is also the shortest. I wish JK had taken that to heart the rest of the way (or that her editors had).

  6. I agree 100% William. I still found much to enjoy about the later books, but I think the real strength of The Prisoner of Azkaban is that it positively snaps along to get all that story out in a brief but effective way. The later books are bloated and turgid in comparison.

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