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

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewschildren'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

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy and science fiction book reviewsAwesomely 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

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

~Kat Hooper

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsThe 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

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsThis 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....

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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MARION DEEDS, with us since March 2011, is retired from a 35-year career with county government, where she met enough interesting characters and heard enough zany stories to inspire at least two trilogies’ worth of fantasy fiction. Currently she spends part of her time working at a local used bookstore. She is an aspiring writer herself and, in the 1990s, had short fiction published in small magazines like Night Terrors, Aberrations, and in the cross-genre anthology The Magic Within. On her blog Deeds & Words, she reviews many types of books and follows developments in food policy and other topics.

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  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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