Let me get right down to business: in my opinion, the Prisoner of Azkaban is the part of the Harry Potter series that defined the series and put it on solid ground, ensuring the critical acclaim of every book after it. It’s no coincidence that for the movie, the production team chucked out Chris Columbus and settled for Alfonso Cuarón. This book is just that good.

I’ll start by stating the following: this is the first book in which one gets the impression that Harry and his friends have grown. They’ve entered puberty, two years have passed since the start of the series and it shows. Suddenly, you can understand what it means that this series will span seven years in the end: that Harry will be seventeen by the end of it, and hence, well, a lot older and bigger than he is now.

The trend started in the Chamber of Secrets gets expanded on too: in part two, we found out that Tom Riddle was attending Hogwarts fifty years ago. For this part, we don’t have to dig that far back: his father and three friends shared a good deal of adventures back in their day a good twenty years ago. The series suddenly consists of two layers: Harry’s adventures and his father’s – which have their influence on the aforementioned.

This second layer gets its life from one person: Sirius Black. Sirius Black causes important plot elements to be described, such as Azkaban. He also has another important function: he links Harry to the rise and fall of his parents. Up till this point, Harry had always existed in a vacuum: he had no one, was completely oblivious towards the world around him – and that worked. But as soon as Harry’s godfather entered the stage, there was no more doubt: Harry hadn’t been a normal boy the first eleven years of his existence. He’s always been a wizard.

In All…

I could go on and on about The Prisoner of Azkaban. Its clue is one of the best ones in the series. You just never would have guessed that something introduced in the first novel would actually still matter. But it does, and I love it. Once again, Rowling succeeded in leading me in the completely opposite direction and then dropped a bomb shell. Enjoy it, it’ll be the last time…

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