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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The third book in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.

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So far, the best in the series. . .

  • Feb 16, 2004
  • by
It's now been some years since the "Harry Potter" books first came out. Book 5 has now been published. In addition, two major motion pictures have now been produced, and a third is due out soon.

During this time, I have been repeatedly asked, as a parent, as a clergyman, and as a student of fantasy literature, what my "opinion" of the series is. After having read all five books, and having seen both movies, I am now prepared to comment.

Some people, especially those in the conservative Christian camp, decry the books as inherently Satanic, dealing, as they do, with "witchcraft", etc. As a conservative Christian father and clergyman, I must admit that I do NOT agree with this assessment -- an assessment made, all to often, by persons who have not actually read the books in question. Do I understand "why" some would suggest this? Of course I do. The difference, however, lies in the nature of fantasy literature. As can be seen in other fantasy series, (Katherine Kurtz' "Saint Camber" stories come to mind) the characters in the "Harry Potter" stories are endowed at birth with certain gifts, powers, etc., not typically applicable to ordinary persons. Much like "The Force" in the "Star Wars" stories, this power can be used for good or for evil and is, in and of itself, neither. It is this point which firmly seperates "Harry Potter" from those who actually believe in and seek to practice the Dark Arts -- activities which conservative Christians -- rightly -- condemn as anti-Scriptural.

Thus, it is within this deliberate "suspension of belief" that these stories must be judged. Are they good fairy tales???

"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban " is, in the opinion of this reviewer, the best of all five books so far. I'll grade it as follows:

Plot: B+ -- a serious perceived threat against Harry is maintained throughout the entire book. New characters are added, and old friends reunited. New professors and classes are introduced. The wider world of the magical community is explored. The climax is well handled and ends with a surprisingly human twist.

Character Development: B+ -- In the first story, Harry develops quite a relationship with Professor Dumbledore. In the second story, this relationship is poorly handled. In this third volume, the relationship is back to where it was in book one -- making sense! The (once again) new Defense against the Dark Arts professor is developed quite well.

Setting: B+ -- several cute additions: The Knight Bus and the village of Hogsmead give some additional venues for action and excitment -- and move the setting beyond merely Hogwarts.

Overall, an honest four stars.

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More Harry Potter and the Prisoner ... reviews
review by . January 11, 2010
My least favorite of the Harry Potter opus so far. The conclusion takes too long to unwind, without the eyes-glued-to-the-page excitement of the conclusion of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2). Some fun new concepts are introduced--the helpful Marauder's Map, the creepy Dementors, the powerful Patronus--and two well-drawn new teachers are highlighted--Divinations Professor Trelawney providing comic relief and Dark Arts Professor Lupin providing the most useful instruction Harry's …
Quick Tip by . February 22, 2011
This is the book where Harry and friends became "real" to me. The characters and the story are beginning to mature. This is particularly true when compared against the rank silliness that drives much of Chamber of Secrets.
Quick Tip by . September 29, 2010
The series suddenly got darker, and the characters deeper in this one. Not sure about the twist, but it worked.
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
i give a 5 because sirius black is my favorite character out of the entire HP series, and the idea of the marauders map was quite entertaining.
Quick Tip by . July 03, 2010
harry finds a long lost family member, hes not so alone anymore and he saves a hippogriff even better.
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
This book is one of my favorites of the series. I love the pace, the lack of Voldemort which was a good break, (no, I am not afraid to speak his name), and the unfolding of more secrets about Harry's life. Also, the final chapters had a flow and brightness I think none of the other endings had.
Quick Tip by . June 30, 2010
great book...... the movie DID NOT do the book any justice. I am SO glad that I read the book first..... but GEESSSSSSSS
Quick Tip by . June 26, 2010
a fan of Harry Potter. What else can I say?
Quick Tip by . June 22, 2010
My favorite Harry Potter novel!
Quick Tip by . June 17, 2010
The first book of the series that really leaves you craving more. This book was a game-changer for the series. Thank God for Harry Potter.
About the reviewer
David Zampino ()
Ranked #482
I am a 44-year-old historian and theologian.
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For most children, summer vacation is something to look forward to. But not for our 13-year-old hero, who's forced to spend his summers with an aunt, uncle, and cousin who detest him. The third book in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series catapults into action when the young wizard "accidentally" causes the Dursleys' dreadful visitor Aunt Marge to inflate like a monstrous balloon and drift up to the ceiling. Fearing punishment from Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon (and from officials at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry who strictly forbid students to cast spells in the non-magic world of Muggles), Harry lunges out into the darkness with his heavy trunk and his owl Hedwig.

As it turns out, Harry isn't punished at all for his errant wizardry. Instead he is mysteriously rescued from his Muggle neighborhood and whisked off in a triple-decker, violently purple bus to spend the remaining weeks of summer in a friendly inn called the Leaky Cauldron. What Harry has to face as he begins his third year at Hogwarts explains why the officials let him off easily. It seems that Sirius Black--an escaped convict from the prison of Azkaban--is on the loose. Not only that, but he's after Harry Potter. But why? And why do the Dementors, the guards hired to protect him, chill Harry's very heart when others are unaffected? Once again, Rowling has created a mystery that will have children and adults cheering, not to mention standing in line for her next book....

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ISBN-10: 0439136350
ISBN-13: 978-0439136358
Author: J.K. Rowling
Genre: Children's Books, Fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic
Format: Novel
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