Rereading Harry Potter: ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’

09/09/2018 Discussions, Reading, Reviews 6

Rereading Harry Potter: 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban'

Warning: Spoilers for the ‘Harry Potter’ series.

And on to one of my favourite Harry Potter books: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban!

I’m still assuming my absolute favourite will by Order of the Phoenix, but I guess I’ll find out when I read it.

Anyway, if you haven’t already caught up on my ‘Rereading Harry Potter’ series you can check out the first two posts here:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

So let’s talk about Prisoner of Azkaban:

My Thoughts Whilst Rereading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:

  • I love Ron’s attempt at a phone call!

You forget that wizards won’t have used phones before, but you’d think it would have been obvious you didn’t need to yell!

  • The newspaper cutting of the Weasleys and its significance later on…

I love how Rowling always manages to put in small, seemingly insignificant moments at the start of the books that then turn out to be huge later. In Chamber of Secrets it was the encounter with Lucius Malfoy in Flourish and Blotts, and in Prisoner of Azkaban it’s the cutting of the Weasleys in the paper that Ron sends to Harry.

That picture, of course, leads to Sirius Black deciding to escape Azkaban, as he notices Scabbers (aka Peter Pettigrew) on Ron’s shoulder and knows he’s at Hogwarts with Harry.

  • Rowling’s descriptions are just so incredibly vivid!

You get a wonderful image of Aunt Marge with her moustache, and Dudley’s bow tie barely visible beneath his many chins…

  • Aunt Marge kind of deserved what she got.

Whilst it’s never nice to blow your Aunt up like a balloon, Marge really does seem to deserve it! I had forgotten just how unpleasant she was, telling Harry his mother was a bad egg, and his father was a ‘a no-account, good-for-nothing, lazy scrounger’, and comparing Harry to a runty dog who has ‘bad breeding’.

I don’t blame you Harry!

  • I love the Knight Bus, and Stan Shunpike is hilarious!

”Choo fall over for?”

  • The Weasley twins are still hilarious!

The twins are typically funny throughout this book, but my favourite twins moment has to be their mocking of Percy’s sense of self-importance over becoming Head Boy, and his pompous manner:

’”Harry!” said Fred, elbowing Percy out of the way and bowing deeply. “Simply splendid to see you -“

”Marvellous,” said George, pushing Fred aside and seizing Harry’s hand in turn. “Absolutely spiffing.”’

  • Everyone dancing around the issue of Black being after Harry…

I had forgotten that no one wants to outright tell Harry that Black is believed to have escaped to kill him. From Fudge to the Weasleys, no one tells him, so he ends up overhearing it (although Mr Weasley eventually decides to tell him right before the train leaves).

I understanding them not wanted to scare a thirteen year-old, but surely it’s better to know, and then you can exercise ‘CONSTANT VIGILANCE!’ as Moody would say (Sorry, I’ve now started Goblet of Fire and I’m loving Moody’s paranoia all over again…but that’s for next week!).

  • Yay Lupin!

I’ve always really liked the character of Lupin, and I love his introduction in this book, sleeping on the train and looking typically shabby. Then waking up and fighting off a Dementor (then handing out chocolate…I immediately like anyone who passes out snacks!).

  • The Dementors are actually horrifying!

Rowling has never seemed to flinch away from including quite scary things in this children’s series (the basilisk’s voice in the walls in Chamber of Secrets, for example), but I think the Dementors are one of her most terrifying creations.

From their appearance (‘a cloaked figure that towered to the ceiling…there was a hand protruding from the cloak and it was glistening, greyish, slimy-looking and scabbed, like something dead that had decayed in water…’) to their affect on those around them, they are seriously scary. And later in the book you find out they can remove people’s souls with a kiss…

  • I had forgotten all about the painting of Sir Cadogan…

…but he is so funny!

(He agrees to lead them to Divination class): ‘We shall find our goal, or else shall perish bravely in the charge!’

‘Be of stout heart, the worst is yet to come!’

One of the things I’m loving so much in my rereads is all these funny little moments I had forgotten!

  • Ah, Professor Trelwaney, before we knew you predicted people’s deaths on a regular basis!

I love the initial description of Trelwaney as a ‘glittering bug’, and when she tells Parvati ‘beware a red-headed man’ and she gives Ron the evils… A lot of the Divination stuff is pretty funny, until she starts predicting Harry’s death.

Rereading it, it doesn’t seem too serious given she goes on to predict Harry’s death in pretty much every lesson onwards, but I remember thinking it was kind of creepy the first time round! Especially because Ron seems to believe it, and because I didn’t yet know the black dog Harry kept seeing was Sirius, and not the Grim.

  • You’re really rooting for Hagrid and his first lesson…shame about Malfoy!

Whilst there’s a certain level of satisfaction in Malfoy getting savaged by a hippogriff, it sucks that poor Hagrid’s first lesson went so badly wrong.

But yay for meeting Buckbeak! I think hippogriffs are an ingenious invention of Rowling’s!

  • I love Lupin’s first lesson!

Particularly the Boggart Snape wearing women’s clothes!

Plus, when they’re on their way to the staff room, and Lupin shoots gum up Peeves nose…that’s the point where you’re like – ‘I’m going to like this guy!’

  • Black’s first attempt to break into Hogwarts.

Sirius makes his first attempt to get into the dorm by slashing the Fat Lady’s portrait, which is pretty violent to say he technically turns out to be a good guy…I guess to get at the person who helped kill your best friend and put you in prison for 12 years (and is a danger to your godson) you’d go to extremes!

Snape suggesting someone in the castle had something to do with it makes more sense once you have the full facts at the end – that Lupin was once close friends with him.

  • First Cedric Diggory mention!

Did anyone else forget that he was even a character until the fourth book? But yeah, he is the Hufflepuff seeker and Quiddich captain in the unfortunate first Quiddich match of the season.

Same with Cho Chang – she is the Ravenclaw seeker in a later match, and I had forgotten she appeared as early as this!

  • Harry literally does have the worst luck in Quiddich!

In the first three books, Harry literally has a disaster at every Quiddich game! In the first book he has his broom cursed and nearly falls off (but luckily almost swallows the snitch and wins the game in the process!), in the second book he is attacked by Dobby’s rogue bludger and then breaks his arm (and then has the bones completely removed by Lockhart!), and in this first match in the book the Dementors show up and he faints.

Seriously, we need at least one match where everything goes swimmingly (thankfully we finally get that later in the book!)!

  • The sound of his mother trying to protect him from Voldemort (that he hears when Dementors are close) is heart-breaking.

‘Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead-‘

This bit literally always gives me chills, it’s just so heart-breaking! And you can really understand Harry’s mixed feelings – he’s horrified by his mother’s screaming and obvious distress, but at the same time it’s the only time he’s ever actually heard her voice. It really impresses on you how much he has lost, and what he has missed out on in his life.

Whilst you know from the start his parents died, to hear their final moments gives it so much more weight. I never get why Lupin doesn’t tell Harry for so long that he knew them…when Harry tells him what he hears when Dementors are close, he goes to grip his arm and comfort him, but thinks better of it… Just tell him they were your friends Lupin! Come on!

  • The passing on of the Marauders Map!

From one set of mischief makers to another, I love Fred and George Weasley giving the map to Harry!

  • Harry finding out the full story of Sirius Black…well, the widely known version.

I remember reading the conversation in the Three Broomsticks between Professor McGonagall, Fudge, Hagrid and Rosmerta for the first time and it being a huge deal. This really is the book where Harry’s parents’ deaths become real, and to find out a close friend betrayed them has you feeling angry along with Harry.

Although upon rereading, you just get angry that Pettigrew is spoken of as a hero…

  • Woohoo for the Firebolt!

The poor Nimbus Two-Thousand may have met its end at the hands (or branches!) of the Whomping Willow, but the Firebolt is a worthy replacement…it’s a shame Hermione has it confiscated almost immediately, but I understand her reasoning. And to be fair, it did end up having been sent by Sirius Black!

  • Ron and Hermione’s falling out.

The one thing I’ve always not liked about this book is the falling out between Ron and Hermione. In fact, the various fallings out in the third and fourth books have always frustrated me. Like, get it together you guys! You’re all besties!

Although to be fair, I feel like this is Rowling showing realistic friendships, especially amongst teenagers. Sometimes you fall out! And Harry, Ron and Hermione are still the characters who taught me most about friendship growing up, and they’re still my favourite book friendship!

  • I love the Marauders Map insulting Snape!

‘Mr Padfoot would like to register his astonishment that an idiot like that ever became a Professor.’

  • Poor Buckbeak!

Poor Buckbeak being sentenced to death is one of the worst things Malfoy does (until the later books, obviously)! And poor Hagrid!

Though Hermione slapping Malfoy is still one of my all time favourite Harry Potter moments. You go Hermione!

  • The Quiddich Cup final is such a joyful moment!

The lead up to it is so tense, and you’re so rooting for the Gryffindors, especially considering all the disasters that have kept them from the Quiddich Cup two years running. So it is such an incredible and uplifting moment when they win, especially because they beat Slytherin!

  • Sirius’ real life description is genuinely horrifying, even though you know when rereading that he’s a good guy!

‘The waxy skin was stretched so tightly over the bones of his face, it looked like a skull. His yellow teeth were bared in a grin.’

Not to mention his croaky voice! I always feel like in the films they didn’t make him scary enough.

  • It’s kind of emotional seeing Black and Lupin reunited!

Lupin has spent twelve years thinking one of his best friends betrayed the Potters, but to see him realise the truth and be reunited with one of his group of four friends is pretty emotional! Especially when he ’embraced him like a brother’, even though, it rather understandably freaks Harry and co. out. I remember reading this for the first time and being like NOOOOO!!! Lupin can’t be a traitor!

  • Snape interrupting the telling of the true story of the Potters betrayal is so annoying!

Like seriously (or siriously, haha!), you kind of just want to hear the end of the story once it gets going, but then Snape interrupts. You’d think Snape would want to know the truth about who betrayed the Potters to be fair, since you later learn about his history with Lily.

It does show you how Harry’s trust is beginning to shift though, seen as he makes the decision to disarm him (and accidentally knocks him out, with the help of Ron and Hermione), and hear Sirius and Lupin out.

  • Pettigrew’s appearance confirms the story!

Pettigrew comes across as such a disgusting, grovelling specimen…urgh!

But I love where Harry finally accepts Sirius’ version of events though! I especially like when Sirius tentatively invites him to live with him when they’re leaving the Shrieking Shack, and how his face lights up when Harry says yes. It’s such a lovely moment for Harry too, to finally have a family member…and imagine how different things would have been if Sirius’ name could have been cleared!

  • Why did this all have to happen at the full moon?

Lupin turning into a werewolf is what disrupts the plan, and literally it’s the worst timing. The moment where he freezes and starts to change is literally a moment where your stomach drops, and you realise things aren’t going to go to plan. Even rereading this, knowing what happens, I felt like, ‘please, no, not now!’

  • I love all the Time-Turner bits!

The idea of the Time-Turner, and all the rules it involves, and how tricky it is to make everything work out exactly…I’ve always loved that bit of the book! It is pretty miraculous really how they manage to do what Dumbledore says, and there are definitely some really tense moments, like where Harry is struggling to move Buckbeak, and where they’re waiting for the saviour to appear across the lake.

Overall Thoughts:

  • This is still one of my favourites!

I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why this book has always been one of my favourites, there’s just so much to love about it.

I’ve always particularly liked the backstory of Padfoot, Prongs, Moony and Wormtail which is first introduced into this book (I always wish Rowling had written a book about their school days!), and Sirius and Lupin became favourite characters after this book, so maybe that’s it? Plus it was a little longer than the first two, and felt more meaty, and the friendships between Harry, Ron and Hermione became more complex…I just love Prisoner of Azkaban!

  • I think this book is the first step towards the series becoming darker. 

I think this book is darker than the first two, and seems like the first real stepping stone towards what the series eventually becomes.

Learning more about the deaths of Lily and James Potter really hammers home to you the level of terror that reigned when Voldemort was in power, and the many lives he ruined, and it feels like the stakes become much more personal for Harry.

So what are some of your favourite Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban moments? 

6 Responses to “Rereading Harry Potter: ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’”

  1. Catherine

    I love re-reading all the marauder bits in this one too (except the Snape stuff, which makes me a bit uncomfortable.) Think my favourite is where Harry is in a Patronus lesson and tells Lupin he heard his dad that time, and how James tried to give his mum time to run for it at the end. When you’re reading it back, you see how hard it hits Lupin.

    I love how you’re using well-loved paperbacks for your pictures 😀 Some of mine don’t even have covers anymore, they’re just like big manuscripts. Don’t know how people keep theirs so pristine!

    • Laura

      I loved that bit too where he tells Lupin about hearing his Dad! It just hits you so much emotionally reading it back, because you can definitely tell how upset Lupin is.
      And thanks! I didn’t know if using battered old paperbacks would ruin the pictures, but actually I kind of like the well-loved effect! I have no idea how people manage to keep their so pristine either! 🙂

  2. Inge

    Oh my god, I could talk with you all day about Harry Potter and how much I love Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s really one of the best, such a leg up from the earlier ones (which I also love with all my heart, but still, PRISONER OF AZKABAN).

    I love how Rowling sneaks in little details that turn out to be a huge plot point at the end of the book or even three books later. And yes to Sirius and Lupin and Fred & George and Ron yelling down the fellytone and the Marauder’s Map and Hermione punching Draco.

    I also love how Dementors are a metaphor for depression, and how chocolate will make you feel better. I just really love that.

    • Laura

      I’m glad you love Prisoner of Azkaban as much as I do! It really does take a step up from the earlier ones, as good as they are.
      There’s just so many great moments, and I love all those little details Rowling slips in that go on to have more significance. It’s just so cleverly plotted.
      And I love that too, that Dementors are a metaphor for depression and that chocolate makes you feel better! 🙂

  3. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    And now you’ve read my favourite! I think I liked this one as there was a bit more action and it was beginning to get a little more mature. Rowling wasn’t scared to talk about death and make her characters flawed when this was a children’s book. These books aged so well along with me when I was reading. I always felt for Hermione during the big fall out, especially as I thought Ron was being so mean. I always had an issue with Ron, in the end, he is a good friend but he had a lot of his own issues to work through too. I just loved this book and Lupin and Sirius were some of my favourite characters and you finally get hints of Harry’s parents and who they actually were!

    • Laura

      I always felt more for Hermione too, as Ron definitely has his own stuff to work through, and was kind of mean. You see it again in Goblet of Fire where he falls out with Harry because he is Hogwarts champion.
      I like finally getting to see more of who Harry’s parents were in this book too, and Sirius and Lupin are favourites of mine! I kind of wish we got to know even more about them.

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