Some Thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” by J.K. Rowling

Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.

What can I say about this book?

It was an okay read. I wasn’t overjoyed by it but I was hooked on the story as always. Well, I’m always hooked on anything J.K. Rowling writes. Of course, I will have to read The Casual Vacancy to prove this true. I love the Harry Potter series and I appreciate this installment, which is somewhat different from the previous two in that it deviates from including an appearance from Lord Voldemort. Instead, we are shown how much fear acts as a tool that aids Voldemort’s influence and power.

Fear is essential to Voldemort’s power. People fear him so much that they are afraid to say his name and instead refer to him as “He Who Must Not Be Named.” It’s as if by uttering his name he will immediately appear and wreck havoc on that unfortunate person’s life.

In this installment we learn what Harry fears. Naturally, we (and all the adults in the book) assume that Harry fears Voldemort. After all, Voldemort, though physically weakened, is powerful through influence and is immensely evil. Furthermore, he wants to kill Harry. But no; it’s not Voldemort. The next logical assumption would be the immediate threat, Sirius Black, since through much of the novel it is assumed that he broke out of Azkaban (the only wizard able to do such a thing) for the sole purpose of murdering Harry (completing his master’s wishes, supposedly). But no; not him either.

It turns out that Harry fears the dementors, evil beings that prey on people’s happiness and suck it out of them. Dementors are fear incarnate and wherever they are, they cause people to shudder and quake and think of the most dreadful things that has ever happened to them. Such is the case with Harry. Whenever he encounters a dementor, he is brought mentally to the moment of his parents’ death. He hears his mother’s screams, Voldemort’s high-pitched laugh, and his father telling his mom to run. It’s torture for him and so overbearing that he faints. We can’t help but feel sorry for him. But this shows Harry to be a true and wise hero for his greatest fear is fear itself.

Later, we sympathize with him. Though he tries his hardest to produce a Patronus, effective in repelling dementors, part of him yearns to hear his parents’ voices even if it’s during their last moments. The fact that Harry is an orphan is even more apparent in this book. Not only is he unable to get a simple parental consent form signed so that he can visit the village of Hogsmeade, he has no one to turn to for comfort: pissed off at his aunt and uncle, he leaves the Dursleys’ home but with no idea of where to go except the pub, The Leaking Cauldron. He wishes for some sort of connection with his parents so much so that he is willing to believe that his father saved him when the dementors nearly sucked the life out of him. Turns out he saved himself but the fact that his Patronus is a stag means that his father had something to do with it too, at least that’s what Dumbledore says.

That’s why I was elated to learn later that Sirius Black is Harry’s godfather. Finally some luck has swung his way and he would get away from the Dursleys. But no. Rowling crushed those hopes when she allowed Pettigrew (who has been living as a rat for a good 12 years in Ron’s bed; how sick!) to get away. As Lord of the Harry Potter universe, I blame Rowling for all things that upset me in the series, this being one of them.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I do understand, though, that this turn of events makes for a better story than the alternative. Part of the charm of the Harry Potter series is the fact that it’s his tortured existence that gives him the will power to survive all the obstacles thrown his way. People love stories like this because it makes them believe that such is also true for them. People love the underdog (and have you noticed that everyone on Harry’s team is an underdog: Weasleys – dirt poor and muggle-loving; Hermione – mudblood; Hagrid – half giant; Neville – clumsy, almost magic-less bumbling buffoon to some) and want to believe that the weak and downtrodden will triumph.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was another great read in the Harry Potter series. I loved the character development in this one as well as the breadcrumbs that Rowling continues to drop to lead us to the finale in the 7th book. For example, the first time I read this book I paid no attention to the “special bond” formed between Harry and Pettigrew because Harry spared his life. But now, having read all the books and knowing what will come, I am amazed at how deftly Rowling structures her books.

Next up is my second favorite in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.


10 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” by J.K. Rowling

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