Hello dear readers. We continue our journey into the wizarding world with the third book in the Harry Potter franchise.
If you’ve missed the first two books in the series that I reviewed, then check them out here.
Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts is full of new dangers. A convicted murderer, Sirius Black, has broken out of Azkaban prison, and it seems he’s after Harry. Now Hogwarts is being patrolled by the dementors, the Azkaban guards who are hunting Sirius. But Harry can’t imagine that Sirius or, for that matter, the evil Lord Voldemort could be more frightening than the dementors themselves, who have the terrible power to fill anyone they come across with aching loneliness and despair. Meanwhile, life continues as usual at Hogwarts. A top-of-the-line broom takes Harry’s success at Quidditch, the sport of the Wizarding world, to new heights. A cute fourth-year student catches his eye. And he becomes close with the new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher, who was a childhood friend of his father. Yet despite the relative safety of life at Hogwarts and the best efforts of the dementors, the threat of Sirius Black grows ever closer. But if Harry has learned anything from his education in wizardry, it is that things are often not what they seem. Tragic revelations, heartwarming surprises, and high-stakes magical adventures await the boy wizard in this funny and poignant third installment of the beloved series.
Title: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author: J.K. Rowling
Loss of Innocence
With the Prisoner of Azkaban, I felt like there was a loss of innocence for the Harry Potter franchise. The first two books, even with their tense action moments, were so lighthearted and fun. We were exploring the Wizard World as we went on adventures with Harry, and we got to see some really cool ideas pop out of Rowling’s head.
I will admit, that Rowling continues to impress me with her creativity with things throughout the series, but you can really tell that PoA is where the story isn’t about Harry discovering the magical world any more.
It instead becomes the beginning of a decades long war between good and evil, and all of the new characters we meet have a big role to play as the war progresses.
Voldemort Plot Thread
Voldemort is obviously the big bad guy throughout the series. Other than book 3, 5, and 6, he is the physical evil that must be beaten at the end of each books in some shape or form.
With PoA, we don’t get Voldemort any more, and to me that kind of sucks.
We think we get someone that betrayed the Potters and helped murder them – Sirius – but that’s not how it pans out.
Instead we get a glimpse at Pettigrew, who does betray the Potters, but we get almost no build up. No emotional connection. No hatred toward the man.
Sirius turning out to be a good guy was a bit of a twist that went off decently well. It wasn’t mind-blowing or anything, but I think it did a good enough job.
But the lack of Voldemort in this book is the most prevalent because in every other book we get Harry fighting against Voldemort or some of his followers. In PoA we get Harry proving that Sirius is innocent – which he doesn’t even manage to do.
It feels like a bit of a throwaway in terms of the overall plot structure. I think Rowling could have had the Sirius story line still tell the same story but as a sub-plot to something bigger.
Harry Still Kinda Sucks
Yes, I said it. Harry is a pretty shit wizard when it comes down to it. He’s really only good at three things. Being lucky, getting help, and being half-decent at casting two spells.
He would literally get nowhere without his pseudo-family and friends beside him, saving his lucky butt more than once a book.
I get he is the chosen one, and the symbol that he represents is almost as important if not more important than his abilities, but the guy could try a bit harder.
PoA is where Harry really suffers. Sure, he shows some good skills with Quidditch, but that has so little to do with the overall story that it really doesn’t matter.
If it wasn’t for the adults around him using him for the symbol that he is, and protecting him from most harm, Harry would have been dead during the first book, and at least a few times in every other book.