Re-reading Harry Potter: 3# The Prisoner of Azkaban
Happy Halloween! (I should probably be doing a suitably themed post right now, but I suppose Harry Potter fits into that category anyway.) Last night I finished the third instalment in the series, as part of my big re-read before I go and see The Cursed Child. I had mixed feelings. The Prisoner of Azkaban has long been one of my favourites, and this time I appreciated anew just how much more complex and sophisticated both the story and the characters become at this point. This is definitely a good thing for the series, but at times I missed the lighter, more whimsical style of the first two books. This one is definitely darker - and you'd have to be a genius to guess the twist!
New thoughts this time:
Just how different in tone this book is to one and two. I always think of Goblet of Fire as the turning point, but really it's book three. Harry, Ron and Hermione are suddenly teenagers. They have to deal with a lot more on their own, with issues that aren't so black and white. We all know Voldemort is 100% evil and needs to be defeated, but the villains in this book are different. The dementors are horrible but employed by the Ministry for the schools' protection and Sirius Black is supposedly an escaped murderer but used to be Harry's dad's best friend.
I like that we start to discover the Marauders in this one, but with hindsight, this also makes for some uncomfortable reading. Harry yelling at Snape (although he is massively provoked on both occasions) that his father wasn't arrogant, or that Snape is pathetic for not listening to Sirius and Lupin just because they 'made a fool out of him at school' makes me want to slap him around the face. I know it's not Harry's fault that he doesn't have the whole story, but someone needs to tell him (other than Snape) that he doesn't know what he's talking about. However nice James turned out later on, Snape has good reason to hate the man. And to hate Sirius. And Lupin.
Saying that, the other uncomfortable thing about POA is that Harry and Ron spend a big chunk of time not talking to Hermione. I hate it when they fall out! It's mainly Ron causing the problems, but it gets so bad that Hagrid even invites the boys for tea so he can 'have a word'. Hermione has been down to see him a lot, and 'cried a fair few times' because she's been feeling lonely. It's painful because we love Hermione, but also, I think, because it's a realistic depiction of teenage friendships. People are always getting left out or falling out over stupid stuff. Anyway, I love that Hagrid steps in. Little things like that really show how the characters and their relationships are developing. I've also got this theory that Harry, Ron and Hermione each hit puberty (I know, I hate that word too) in a different book. Harry in book five (WHERE HE IS CONSTANTLY YELLING IN CAPITAL LETTERS) Ron in book 4 (he gets jealous and sulky, falls out with Harry and appears to finally realise he likes Hermione) and Hermione in this book. It could just be that she's got a lot of work on, but she is suddenly very emotional and having random flare ups of temper - slapping Malfoy, walking out on Trelawney etc.
There's so many! Hermione slapping Malfoy has got to be up there. I also love all the Quidditch in this one - the final match against Slytherin is properly exciting. I like how Lupin and Harry bond during those dementor lessons, how horrible Aunt Marge gets her just desserts and all the drama of the final few chapters. Also, Sir Cadogan is great comedy value.
Favourite forgotten moment:
Ron attempting to ring Harry at the Dursleys (and Uncle Vernon answering). And the 'tumultuous' applause, when Hagrid is announced as the new Care of Magical creatures teacher. It's touching to see it's not just Harry, Ron and Hermione who appreciate how great he is - even if things go wrong pretty quickly after that...
When Harry first plays Cho Chang at Quidditch...
'"HARRY THIS IS NO TIME TO BE A GENTLEMAN!" Wood roared, as Harry swerved to avoid a collision. "KNOCK HER OFF HER BROOM IF YOU HAVE TO!"'
The moment that Ron and Hermione make up (after the news that Buckbeak has lost his trial ...)
'"I can't see any hope...nothing will have changed."
"Yeah it will,' said Ron fiercely. "You won't have to do all the work alone this time, Hermione. I'll help."
Hermione flung her arms around Ron's neck and broke down completely. Ron, looking quite terrified, patted her very awkwardly on the top of the head.'
'"Godfather?" spluttered Uncle Vernon. "You haven't got a Godfather!"
"Yes I have," said Harry. "He was my mum and dad's best friend. He's a convicted murderer but he's broken out of wizard prison and he's on the run. He likes to keep in touch with me, though...keep up with my news...check I'm happy..."'
Is Prisoner of Azkaban one of your favourites? See also: