Here we go. I’ll say that I enjoyed this book thoroughly. The Chamber of Secrets was really an experimental mess of a book. But what comes from experimentation? Progress! And the Prisoner of Azkaban is proof that that experimentation paid off. Let’s get right into it.
You might remember in my previous reviews that one of my big gripes with Harry Potter is that the books took so long to get of the ground. Eight chapters for the Philosopher’s Stone, and thirteen for the Chamber of Secrets. This time, things get started almost immediately, and I’m really happy that Rowling has realized the flaw in her other two and fixed it!
Is Hogwarts Really Safe?
At first I thought this book would take place in Azkaban, maybe rescuing Hagrid or something. Instead, Rowling has brought a little bit of Azkaban to us. In The Philosopher’s Stone, Hagrid tells Harry that Gringots Bank is the safest place to store something, except maybe Hogwarts. I think he was wrong. Hogwarts is possibly the most dangerous school in fiction.
In the first book, maybe it’s safe, if you don’t consider the fact that there’s a Cerberus guarding something inside the castle. Why not somewhere else? Further, there’s the woods just outside full of dangerous creatures. And what about the whomping willow? I’m sure that’s harmed a student or two. The real proof though, is in this and the previous book. In the Chamber of Secrets, there’s a giant killer snake that has access to all the waterways. Real safe, right? And then here, despite large amounts of security, a man with a knife breaks in without issue multiple times! Hogwarts isn’t safe!
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was actually very interesting, and I enjoyed most of the middle portion. Not much to criticize until the end parts. I really enjoyed learning more about Harry’s past, about Harry’s father and his three friends.
I loved Professor Lupin, I think he’s my favourite Harry Potter character. In fact, I might do a sketch of him, because my imagination conjured something much different then the movie’s actor. He taught in a practical manner, and helped Harry out a lot. Also, I’m a huge fan of the shabby casual air he had. Quite the opposite of Malfoy, don’t you think? I’d love it if Mr. Lupin returned in the future, although knowing what little happens to Lockheart, I’m not getting my hopes up.
This is where the weak point is. Honestly, I loved the Prisoner of Azkaban from start to finish, but the climax stood out. Something was wrong. Then I realized, it had the exact same issue as the Chamber of Secrets, the climax was a huge infodump! The information was far more interesting, and I was mostly engaged, but holy! The dump was twice as long this time, and there was no actual action scene afterwards, not a real one anyway.
Worse, it takes forever to get started. The kids meet up with the infamous Sirius Black (a suspicious name for an antagonist), and he just wants to explain himself. He says something along the lines of, “You’ve got it all wrong.” Then for a page or two, Harry and his friends interrupt him and flail their wands threateningly. This scene dragged on until Lupin shows up and the exposition begins.
Look, I don’t have a problem with exposition. My favourite book is probably over 30% infodump, but it’s never used as a way to drive the plot forward, just to explain what’s happening. What is happening in Harry Potter, for books two and three, a lot of the climax is being told, not shown. This is poor writing at its most basic definition.
Look, I know I’ve been ragging on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but as I said before, I really liked this book. I think Sirius Black was great character, and I loved the twist involving him, and how the book began straight away instead of halfway through. I’m giving this book fourteen extra points on the previous. Fourteen points for Gryffindor! That’s 76/100! Awesome, if this were a movie, that would be a bit over four stars. I hope it’s all uphill from here, because I’m really starting to enjoy myself.
You can find all the reviews at the Harry Potter Table of Contents.
Interested in getting the book yourself? You can buy it here, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. (Amazon Affiliate)