Book/page totals

Top 10 Lists

Sunday, June 17, 2007

cover of The Prisoner of Azkaban

I feel sorry for the people who only watch the Harry Potter movies and don't read the books-- they are missing so much. I remember coming out of the third movie disappointed with the things that had been oversimplified (probably to fit it into two hours), and which added so much more depth-- and reading it again, I feel that again. In this book, you learn a great deal about Harry's dad and his friends, and the lengths they went to for each other, most specifically in learning to become animagi to be with their friend Lupin, and this comes together perfectly in the shape of Harry's Patronus (which is not the amorphous white shield portrayed in the movie). He finally sees the shape of it clearly near the end, when he fights off a swarm of dementors, and it is a great stag-- which was his father's animagi form and the reason his nickname was Prongs.

The Dementors are a powerful, dark creature in Harry's world. Perhaps it reveals a little something more about the wizarding world, that they tolerate these dreadful creatures, allowing them to torment those imprisoned at Azkaban, because it is a way to immobilize powerful wizards and make the rest of the wizarding world feel safe. Dumbledore makes it pretty clear how he feels about the dementors, and Lupin challenges Harry about the fact that anyone could deserve a dementor's soul-sucking "kiss."

Lupin is a great character-- the best Defense Against the Dark Arts that Harry has had, but, unfortunately for everyone, a werewolf. It was interesting to me how much Harry respects Lupin-- he values Lupin's opinion, and there are a couple of times when he's breaking the rules or doing something he shouldn't that he senses Lupin would disapprove, and this bothers him.

Re-reading the books, I'm more aware of how tightly-plotted they are. I've noticed before that Rowling is always careful to introduce magical ideas (such as animagi, or certain charms or potions) before they become central points in the plot. Time-travel is difficult to do, but Rowling is very careful and makes it work perfectly. Perhaps it's slightly easier that she makes it work so there is no alternate version of events (the time-travel always happened), but it is still perfectly done.

Not so relevant to the book, but-- the other thing that really bothered me with the movie-version of this book is that they made Lupin transform into some grotesque man-wolf, rather than an actual wolf, which makes the whole animagi thing (which they also mostly left out) completely illogical. Just dumb.

Read in less than two days (over the weekend).

Edited to add: I remarked something when I read the book that I forgot to include here. Harry spares Peter's life, asking Sirius and Lupin not to kill him (which they were ready to do)-- he does this more for their sake than for Peter, but Dumbledore later commends him for it. Dumbledore says that it's what his father would have done, but also that he may be glad of it later-- which reminded me of the pivotal role Gollum played in the Lord of the Rings, and the ramifications of the decisions of both Gandalf and Frodo to spare him.

Title:Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author:J. K. Rowling
Date published:1999
Genre:Children's Fantasy
Series:Harry Potter
Number of pages:435
Notes:repeat reading


Google Search