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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

by J.K. Rowling

This story starts once again at Harry’s relatives house over the summer. The summer is dismal but goes from bad to worse when Uncle Vernon’s sister Marge comes to stay bringing along her bulldog Ripper and the news announce that there is a serial killer Sirius Black escaped from prison on the loose.

Sirius Black is a name that appeared in the first book. He loaned his motorbike to Hagrid so that Hagrid could take Harry to the Dursleys. Kudos if you caught that when you read the book.

Also Hogwarts sends a permission form so that any 3rd year student can visit the village of Hogsmeade, the only all wizard village in England. Harry and Uncle Vernon come to an agreement, if Harry goes through the visit without having any magical mishaps Uncle Vernon will sign Harry’s form. It doesn’t happen. Aunt Marge is more verbally abusive than Uncle Vernon. On the very last day, Harry loses his temper and accidentally blows up Aunt Marge like a balloon. Convince that he will be arrested, Harry quickly backs his things and runs away. Once on the street, he inadvertently summons the Knight Bus (which picks up stranded witches and wizards). Once on the bus he finds out that Sirius Black in fact is a wizards and was sent to Azkaban for murdering 13 muggles; apparently Black was a big supporter of Lord Voldemort-2nd in command. The Knight Bus drops Harry off in Diagon Alley only for Harry to be confronted by the Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge who is extraordinarily happy to see Harry safe and sound. The Minister gets Harry a hotel room and makes a puzzled Harry promise to stay in Diagon Alley rather than explore London at large. The Weasley family along with Hermione end up in the same hotel a few days later. Unbeknownst to Harry, the Weasleys were sent to keep an eye on Harry. The night before leaving to go to school Harry overhears an interesting conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. The reason the Minister of Magic was so concerned about Harry, the reason Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were sent to watch over Harry is because Sirius Black is after Harry. Sirius has been obsessed with killing Harry because he’s deluded and he thinks that getting rid of Harry will bring Lord Voldemort back.

Well the trio- Harry, Ron, and Hermione end up on the train back to Hogwarts in the same compartment with their new Defense against the Dark Arts Professor Remus Lupin. They also have their first encounter with a Dementor, who are the guards of Azkaban prison looking for the escaped Sirius Black.

Dementor suck all the happiness of people. The force you to relive your worst memories over and over again. The author came up with the idea of Dementors from the Depression she suffered at one point being unemployed. Dementers breed like fungus, in case anyone was curious.

Another concept that is introduced this year is Animagus.

An Animagus is a wizard that is capable of transforming themselves into an animal. It is a dangerous form of Transfiguration and the Ministry of Magic requires all Animagi to register

.

Third year at Hogwarts is a little different. In preparation for post-school life the students take other classes in preparation for O.W.L.S. which is the Ordinary Wizarding Levels.

For clarity look up a description on the British school system.

In addition to core classes, Harry takes Care of Magical Creatures and Divination. Divination is taught by Sibyll Trelawney who seems to be a fraud.

******SPOILER ALERT************
During a weekend trip to Hogsmead Harry finds out what many believe is the truth about Sirius. As it turns out Remus Lupin was a childhood friend of Harry’s father James. As was Sirius Black. More of Harry’s back story is revealed. As it turned out, Lily and James Potter knew that Lord Voldemort was after them. They and a group of other people worked ceaselessly to defeat Voldemort They also knew that they would eventually be found because there was a traitor in their midst. So they used what is called the Fidelius Charm to hide. The Fidelius Charm works in the following fashion. It is the concealment of a secret inside a living soul. As long as the Secret Keeper does not reveal the secret it can never be found. So Lily and James made the location of their house a secret and gave it to the Secret Keeper who was presumed to be Sirius Black as he was James Potter’s best friend. The reason Lord Voldemort found the Potters was because presumably Sirius told him.

Back to Divination
During the final exam Trelawney make what appears to be a real prediction.

IT WILL HAPPEN TONIGHT. THE DARK LORD LIES ALONE AND FRIENDLESS, ABANDONED BY HIS FOLLOWERS. HIS SERVANT HAS BEEN CHAINED THESE TWELVE YEARS. TONIGHT, BEFORE MIDNIGHT… THE SERVANT WILL BREAK FREE AND SET OUT TO REJOIN HIS MASTER. THE DARK LORD WILL RISE AGAIN WITH HIS SERVANTS AID, GREATER AND MORE TERRIBLE THAN EVER HE WAS. TONIGHT… BEFORE MIDNIGHT…THE SERVANT…WILL SET OUT…TO REJOIN…HIS MASTER….

Shortly after this prophesy is made, we find out a great deal about Harry’s father James. Remus Lupin is a werewolf; he was bitten as a child.

In wizarding society werewolves are feared, mistrusted, and ostracized. This is another example of prejudice.

Generally speaking Lupin should have not been allowed to come to school as he would have been a danger to other students. However, Dumbledore as Headmaster of the school was sympathetic and felt there would be no danger if proper safeguards were taken. Well there were three other boys in Lupin’s year- Sirius Black, James Potter, and Peter Pettigrew. They discovered Lupin’s secret but rather than abandon him they became animagi (illegally). As animagi they could keep Lupin company because werewolves are not dangerous to other animals only humans. Sirius was a black dog (Padfoot), James Potter was a stag (Prongs), and Peter Pettigrew was a rat (Wormtail).

When these gents became older they were part of the group that was working against Voldemort. As mentioned before there was a traitor in their midst. Sirius and Lupin suspected each other of being the traitor. When it came to performing the Fidelius Charm Sirius was supposed to be the Secret Keeper. However, at the last minute Sirius convinced James and Lily to make Peter their Secret Keeper. Sirius believed that as Peter was a terrible wizard, Voldemort would never suspect that he would be chosen. Sirius was essentially using himself as bait to lure Voldemort in the wrong direction. However, Peter was the traitor in the midst and betrayed his former friends to their death. Sirius tracked Peter down to kill him, but Peter escaped framing Sirius for his murder. Well this was 12 years ago. In all this time, Peter had been masquerading as a pet rat. Wonder of wonders Peter had been masquerading as the pet rat of Ron- Harry’s best friend. Sirius was sent to jail for murders he did not commit. Sirius’ escape was amazing because no one had broken out of Azkaban before. Dementors drain a wizard of his power. However, Sirius had an obsession all this time- his innocence. And this prevented him from becoming mad. Shortly before breaking out, the Minister of Magic made an inspection of the jail and gave Sirius a newpaper. The newspaper had a picture of the Weasley family on the front with Ron holding his pet rat. This motivated Sirius to transform into his animagus form and slip through the bars. He was the only person who knew Peter was alive and therefore the only person who was in a position to protect Harry. Sirius was made Harry’s godfather.

Sirius and Lupin intended to kill Peter for his treachery on the spot; however, Harry intervened believing that his dad wouldn’t have wanted his friends to become murders. They intended to take Peter to the authorities but he ended up escaping. This is the servant of whom the prophesy spoke. So we know that Peter is returning to Voldemort shortly. Since Peter escaped, there is no proof that Sirius is innocent. So he goes on the run.

In the post- adventure chat Dumbledore tells Harry that saving a wizards life creates a bond between the two. Although Peter was going to flee to Voldemort, Dumbledore says that Voldemort isn’t going to want a servant who has a bond to his mortal enemy. Dumbledore also tells Harry that this brings Trelawney’s tally of real prediction up to two.

END OF SPOILERS

I think of all the Harry Potter books this was probably my favorite. I think it’s because I always had such burning questions about what happen the night the Potters were killed and this is really the first substantive information we have about that night. Also this is the first that we see that the author is making major plot points out of minor details. I did wonder when I read book 1 why Hagrid mentioned a “Sirius Black” who played no further part in book 1.

Questions to be Answered

1. What was Trelawney’s first prediction?
2. How is it that Sirius was sent to jail without anyone asking him his side of the story?
3. Why did Sirius and Lupin suspect each other if they had been childhood friends?
4. What was this group that James, Lily, Sirius, Lupin, and Peter were apart of?

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