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The Big ReadHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

J K Rowling

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (5 Reviews)
Book Details

Publisher : Bloomsbury

Published : 1999

Copyright : J. K. Rowling 1999

ISBN-10 : PB 0-7475-4629-0
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-7475-4629-0

Publisher's Write-Up

Harry Potter, along with his friends, Ron and Hermione, is about to start his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry can't wait to get back to school after the summer holidays. (Who wouldn't if they lived with the horrible Dursleys?) But when Harry gets to Hogwarts, the atmosphere is tense. There's an escaped mass murderer on the the loose, and the sinister prison guards of Azkaban have been called in to guard the school.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Nadine (230706) Rating (10/10)
Review by Vex (011201) Rating (8/10)
Review by Nigel (011001) Rating (8/10)
Review by Chrissi (310501) Rating (7/10)
Review by Ray (280201) Rating (8/10)

Review by Nadine
Rating 10/10
After reading the first two books in the series one would expect to have high expectations of Prisoner of Azkaban, but I confess I had doubts about how long Rowling could keep it up. After all, I don't think I have ever come across a series that didn't lose something along the way, becoming protracted and self-indulgent as the author got complacent. That's not to say that I didn't think it would be any good... I just thought it wouldn't be as good as the first two. Once again, I stand thoroughly corrected.

The story of Harry's third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry begins with a mishap, an unexpected journey, and a most unwelcome discovery... A convicted mass murderer is on the loose, and those in the know suspect that he has a new target: Our Harry. The convict - one Sirius Black - is considered so dangerous that Dementors (terrifying, soul-sucking creatures that guard the Wizards' prison of Azkaban) are brought in to patrol the school entrances.

Harry is particularly fearful of Dementors because their presence stirs up suppressed memories of his painful past. He also has to deal with recurring omens that seem to foretell his death. On top of all this, he gradually learns the truth about how events from Black's past are connected with his own... and it's quite an unpleasant revelation.

As always, the simple, easy-reading style belies a dark and complex plot. I think this was the volume that made me stop thinking of the Harry Potter books as children's books. They are written in a style that appeals to children, and with the magic and monsters theme it was doubtless a profitable move to market them as children's books. But the plots are clever enough to entertain the pickiest of adult readers... and Book Three is a prime example.

I had to stop after a few chapters because it was driving me nuts trying to remember where I'd heard of Sirius Black before. A brief scan of the first book reassured me that it wasn't my imagination, and for the first time I realised that Rowling had been laying the groundwork for future volumes ever since the first chapter of The Philosopher's Stone. I found the prospect rather exciting, because this meant that she wasn't just making it up as she went along. There was a grand plan!

It was almost impossible to put down once it got going. When I developed a heavy cold and was sent home from work to recover, I couldn't have been more delighted. I spent the day wrapped in a blanket with the phone unplugged, happily oblivious to my sore throat. I got thoroughly lost in Harry's world, fascinated by all the new creatures, magical artefacts and spells... gripped by every frightening or mysterious event... and utterly besotted by my favourite new character - the world-weary but benevolent Professor Lupin.

I didn't even try to piece together all the clues this time. There was way too much going on to waste time analysing it all. Anyway, I didn't really want to work it out... the first two books taught me about the pleasure of being surprised and I didn't want to spoil it for myself.

I needn't have worried. I'd never have guessed the ending in a million years. I had an inkling about one or two revelations, but these were comparatively minor points. The overall outcome was completely unexpected. And it didn't stop there... the book finished with a startlingly clever and exciting sequence that had me positively bouncing in my seat.

One piece of advice to anyone planning to read it: When you get to chapter seventeen, either make sure you have time to finish it in one go, or stop until you do. Because there's no turning back!

I didn't want it to finish, but all good books have a disobliging tendency to do so. I think I sat and grinned at the last page for a while, filled with a kind of warm delight because there is a book this good in the world. My pleasure was, however, tinged with the sadness of knowing I would never again read it for the first time.

It's rare for me to give a book full marks. For me, ten out of ten means that it absolutely couldn't be any better. I apologise for the gushing review, but in all honesty, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban fits the bill.
Nadine (23rd July 2006)

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Review by Vex
Rating 8/10
I reckon this is the best of the three Harry Potter books I've read so far. I won't go into the story as its already been covered, but I will say that I loved the twists and turns this book took.
Definitely scary, definitely a more 'adult' book, and definitely a good read.
Vex (1st December 2001)

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Review by Nigel
Rating 8/10
I'm not sure if it's deliberate but I got the impression this instalment of the Harry Potter series was slightly more 'adult' than the previous two novels. This may be that Ms Rowling is writing the stories for the target audience knowing her readers are growing up at the same pace as Harry (when they were originally released a year apart). If this is the case well-done... if not, perhaps it's just me.

Anyway, The Prisoner of Azkaban sees Harry starting his third year at Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft after his traditional miserable summer with his Aunt and Uncle. He does however reach breaking point this time and runs away two weeks before term starts, staying at The Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley.

A very dangerous convict, Sirius Black, has escaped from Azkaban and both the wizard world and the muggle world are on the look out for him. Sirius was sent to Azkaban for causing the death of Harry's parents when he betrayed them. As you can imagine Harry is none to pleased about this and wants revenge.

Dementors, the guards of Azkaban who drain the life energy from anyone who is near them, are sent to protect Hogwarts. These creatures have a nasty affect on Harry, and along with him thinking he is seeing a Grim (a portent of death) things are not looking good.

This is by far the creepiest Harry Potter story so far and while I was reading late at night it sent a slight shiver down my spine at times. I can imagine a few children having nightmares with this one before all is revealed. One very funny part to watch out for is Lee Jordan's 'unbiased' commentary during the Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Slytherin... excellent stuff.
Nigel (1st October 2001)

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Review by Chrissi
Rating 7/10
This is the third of the Harry Potter books, and sees Harry at the start of his third year at the Hogwarts School. Harry has spent the summer with his horrible aunt and uncle, and has not been allowed to practice any of his lessons, so no wizardry.

The prison of Azkaban is where bad wizards and abusers of magic are sent, to be guarded by horrible things which steal your energy. The prisoner Sirius Black, believed to be a servant of Harry's archenemy Lord Voldemort has escaped, and Harry is told that he has escaped and intends to harm Harry, so Harry is unable to leave the school grounds. This is hard for Harry, and when everyone else leaves for a trip to the local town, he is left behind.

This story continues with Harry growing up, and the lessons are as interesting as ever, who would not like to look after strange animals and learn how to defend themselves against dark magic?

I liked Harry Potter anyway, and this book sees Harry learning things about himself and his real parents that help him to understand what really happened. J K Rowling must have planned further than just the first book, to be able to find new things for him to learn, rather than telling all right at the beginning, and it makes you care more for Harry, because you can see him coping with things as he grows up.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is, as the rest of the series, very well written, and you just get dragged into the story, you want to know how Harry is getting on. I can really see why children love him, he would be a great friend to have, and his friends would make great friends for you as well. Isn't that what children really like about him?

Note about the Harry Potter books
I have been careful not to give away too much of the story, because even the cover jackets are very light on details. It would be a shame to spoil the story by doing this. They do it on the blurb for most adult books, and it annoys me, so I have not done it here.
Chrissi (31st May 2001)

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Review by Ray
Rating 8/10
Harry's in his third year of school and it's going to be the worst of the lot. The Dementors are guarding the school, ancient beings that leech all the happiness out of you (sounds like my old Ancient History Teacher).
A killer is on the loose and is he after Harry?

Azkaban is a wizards prison. No-one has ever escaped until now... Harry has every right to fear this as the person who managed it killed his parents. Do we know the full story and are the people around Harry telling him everything?

The plot gets more and more adult in this book but the subplots remind you that its not all serious and there's fun to be had, usually at some bad guys expense!

More and more twists and turns and just some plain darn surprises keep you guessing up until the end.

The Harry Potter series is getting better and better and I'm finding it hard to support my habit. More books Miss Rowling... quickly!!

But seriously, you'd be a fool to not read this if you are fan. Why should kids have all the fun ? :)
Ray (28th February 2001)

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