Sirius escapes again

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, chapters 20-22

A Dark Ending

Every time I read this book I almost let myself think it is going to have a happy ending. Like Harry I spend just a few moments basking in the idea that Harry could have a different life. That an innocent man’s name would be cleared and the real party responsible will be held accountable. But of course it is not to be. Lupin forgets to take his potion on the full moon and turns resulting in Pettigrew getting away and Sirius getting captured. Harry and Hermione are able to go back in time (that is a separate topic for discussion) and save him from getting the dementor’s “kiss”, breaking him free once again. But he is still a man on the run. In no better position than he was at the beginning of the book except now Harry knows the truth. Which probably does mean a great deal to Sirius. It certainly means a lot to Harry to have a connection to his parents in his life. Even if the relationship is logistically difficult.

This is the first Harry Potter book that doesn’t end in Harry triumphantly defeating a bad guy. In my mind I typically group the first three books together and then the last four. The next book not only increases greatly in length but it starts the series trend towards getting more mature and much darker. But really the transition begins in Prisoner of Azkaban. There really isn’t a happy ending other than Harry now has Sirius looking out for him. And he gets to go to Hogsmede next year.

Issues of Time Travel

Oh the time travel chapter. J.K. Rowling probably regrets including this device considering in two books she conveniently destroys all of the time turners when Harry and company break into the Ministry. Obviously introducing time travel is a sticky situation because it brings up the question of why not use it to solve so many other problems? But aside from that it is also just a really boring chapter. Basically Harry and Hermione are just watching themselves go through the last five chapters over again. It is not exactly the exciting, adventurous ending that HP books typically have. Maybe since so much of this book’s climax was a long conversation Rowling felt the need to add something more. Personally I find the conversation much more exciting.

Evaluation

Time travel issues aside (and a ridiculous number of quidditch games), Prisoner of Azkaban is one of my absolute favorite HP books. It opens up Harry’s world by introducing his parents generation. Not having ever had a family of his own, Harry has had to find his. He already had the Weasleys but now he has Lupin and Sirius to add to it. I like when Harry Potter gets dark and so I am excited for this shift in tone. Sirius is also probably my favorite character in the series so I am definitely a little more inclined to like the books that he is in. He has a lot of flaws but he had his life stolen from him at a young age. It isn’t really explicitly stated how old Harry’s parents were until the final book but they were only 21 when they died. Which means that Sirius was 21 when he was wrongly convicted. And the entire wizarding world thinks he turned on the people he cared about most. So I tend to be forgiving.

The Marauder’s as a group are pretty tragic. As soon as they graduated from Hogwarts they were dealing with the war against Voldemort. Lupin may be free but he is the only one left from their friend group. And he is a werewolf and thus a societal outcast. I love that this book introduces us to these new characters who aren’t just gone in the next book. They are important to the series and to the development of Harry’s character. He initially worships them as his dad’s best friends and then has to learn that they are flawed just like everyone else. So I guess I could say I like this book primarily for what it introduces more than the plot in general.

Miscellaneous

  • Snape being lifted like a corpse and his feet hitting every stair definitely should have been in the movie.
  • Harry is a little too eager to live with Sirius when he has only just met him and Sirius has only just gotten out of prison after 12 years. Maybe see if you like the guy first.
  • Snape is really hoping Harry will get expelled this time. He made sure to ruin Harry’s credibility with Fudge by getting to him before Harry.
  • At least Dumbledore believes him.
  • But as Dumbledore points out, Sirius’s flair for the dramatic has not helped him since he has been out.
  • Snape tells the entire school about Lupin being a werewolf because he is super petty.
  • First Mentions/Foreshadow:
    • The executioner is named McNair, I would assume this is the same McNair that is later mentioned as a Death Eater
    • Dumbledore tells Harry that sparing Pettigrew was a good idea because even if he returns to Voldemort he’ll be indebted to Harry which may come in useful.

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