The Prisoner of Azkaban
Series: Harry Potter
Published in: 1999
Age Range: General
Setting: Hogwarts School for Witchcraft & Wizardry
- Harry Potter is the 13-year-old who discovers that his dead father's one-time best friend is a murderer, now escaped from prison, and apparently after him.
- Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger are Harry's stalwart friends.
- Sirius Black was the Potters' Best Man but has just escaped from the Wizard Prison Azkaban where he is serving a life sentence for killing thirteen people and betraying the Potters to Lord Voldemort.
- Remus Lupin is the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, once a friend of Sirius Black and James Potter.
The whole wizard world is on the alert after Sirius Black escapes from Azkaban, the wizard prison. Harry discovers that Black is probably looking for him. The Ministry of Magic has placed Dementors as guards near Hogwarts. Dementors affect Harry strongly, reminding him of his parents' death.
Slowly, Harry, Ron & Hermione learn the truth about Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and the other friends Harry's father had at school. But when the Ministry of Magic refuses to credit their story, they must find some way to set things right.
See The Harry Potter Series for general comments.
The principal characteristics of this third book in the Harry Potter canon remain the same as the previous two: the appreciation of simple friendships and humour, the recognisable foundation of a school setting with the attractive elaboration of the magic world Harry moves in, plus now the first signs of some of Harry's own history and of what happened 12 years ago when his parents were killed.
There are also continuing signs of Harry's intent to flout school rules, for instance using an invisibility cloak to sneak into the nearest village, Hogsmeade. On this occasion, however, Lupin covers up for him but then tells him: “Don't expect me to cover up for you again, Harry... Your parents gave their lives to keep you alive, Harry. A poor way to repay them — gambling their sacrifice for a bag of magic tricks.”
For the first time, the pupils study Divination, a subject which the author ridicules, having the classroom decorated like a fairground fortune-teller's booth, and depicting the teacher, Professor Trelawney, clearly as a charlatan.
Professor Trelawney, however, did not sit down; her enormous eyes had been roving around the table, and she suddenly uttered a kind of soft scream. “I dare not, Headmaster! If I join the table, we shall be thirteen! Nothing could be more unlucky! Never forget that when thirteen dine together, the first to rise will be the first to die!”
“We'll risk it, Sybill,” said Professor McGonagall impatiently. “Do sit down, the turkey's getting stone cold.”
Professor Trelawney hesitated, then lowered herself into the empty chair, eyes shut and mouth clenched tight, as though expecting a thunderbolt to hit the table.
Professor McGonagall poked a large spoon into the nearest tureen. “Tripe, Sybill
Saturday 19th July 2003