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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third book in the Harry Potter series of children's books by J. K. Rowling. A film based on the book is currently in production and due for release on June 4, 2004.

Table of contents
1 Plot of the book
2 The Film
3 Rumours
4 Reference
5 External link

Plot of the book

The book begins, as usual, during the summer holidays, where Harry is again at the Dursley's, celebrating his birthday alone. This time however, he has received gifts and cards from his friends at Hogwarts, among them a book from Hagrid, The Monster Book of Monsters, which is literally, a monster. With it is a note saying he may find it useful in the coming school year. He also receives a newspaper clipping from Ron; Ron's father had won the Daily Prophet Grand Prize Galleon Draw, and the family were using the money to travel to Egypt.

The news is filled with warnings about an escaped prisoner named Black, though the news Harry finds most horrifying is the news that Aunt Marge, Vernon Dursley's sister, is coming to stay. As Harry is now in his third year, he is allowed to make occasional visits to Hogsmeade, a village close to Hogwarts, provided he can provide a signed permission slip. To get this, he bargains with Vernon, who expects him to say he attends "St. Brutus' Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys". Though Harry attempts to play along with this, Marge enrages him with the suggestion that his father was drunk in the "car crash" that killed his parents, and inadvertently causes her to swell like a balloon.

Having received a warning from the Ministry of Magic over underage use of magic in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (though it was a house-elf, Dobby, and not he who had used magic), and fearing both his expulsion from Hogwarts and Vernon's retribution, he gathers his things and runs away from the Dursley's home. As he puzzles over what he is to do, he feels he is being watched. As he uses his wand to provide light, he is startled to see a large black dog staring at him, and as falls he is again startled by the appearance of the Knight Bus, the wizards bus. While he is on the bus, he notices that the wizarding news also features Sirius Black, a follower of Lord Voldemort, who has escaped from Azkaban, where he was sent after killing thirteen people.

The Knight Bus takes him to Diagon Alley, where he is greeted by Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic. Harry is surprised by Fudge, who shrugs off the suggestion of punishment and suggests that Harry take a room in the Leaky Cauldron. Harry spends the remainder of his holidays around Diagon Alley, before he is joined by the Weasley family and Hermione. While shopping for their school things, Ron decides to get something for Scabbers, who had been sick since returning from a holiday in Egypt. While in the magical creatures shop, Hermione buys a cat, Crookshanks, who takes an immediate dislike to Scabbers.

On the night before returning to Hogwarts, Harry overhears Arthur and Molly Weasley arguing; Arthur wants to tell Harry that Black is after him. The next day, Arthur calls Harry aside to tell him this, but Harry explains that he overheard this. Arthur then asks Harry to not go after Black.

On board the Hogwarts Express, Harry, Ron and Hermione share a coach with a sleeping Professor Lupin, who they presume to be the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. The journey goes as normal at first, but the train comes to an unexpected stop, and hooded figures enters their compartment. After getting a brief glance at the creature, Harry faints; when he comes to he is told that while everyone else felt as though they would never be happy again, no one else had fainted. Professor Lupin, while handing out pieces of chocolate, informs them that they were Dementors.

At the feast, Professor Dumbledore announces that the Dementors will be standing guard at the gates of Hogwarts while Sirius Black is on the loose. He also welcomes two new teachers—Professor Lupin, who receives a look of loathing from Snape, and Hagrid, as the Care of Magical Creatures teacher.

Harry, Ron and Hermione begin some new subjects chosen at the end of the previous school year, though Hermione has chosen to take all of the available subjects. Her timetable is a conundrum to Ron and Harry, listing several subjects for the same time periods. The first new class they attend is Divination, with Professor Trelawney. Hermione takes an instant dislike to both professor and subject, while Harry begins to fear that the black dog he had seen is a Grim—an omen of death.

Their first lesson with Hagrid is a failure—Hagrid attempts to teach them how to approach a hippogriff, but Draco Malfoy is bitten by one after insulting it, despite Hagrid's warning. Malfoy plays up this injury, and Harry is given the task of preparing his ingredients in potions class. As he is doing this, Malfoy tells Harry if he were Harry he'd want revenge on Black. Harry dosen't know what he's talking aout as he dosen't know that it "was" Black who betrayed his parents to Voldemort. More successful was their first Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson with Professor Lupin, a practical lesson, where the class learn how to banish a boggart. Harry is disappointed when Lupin prevents him from facing the boggart, which turns into a floating white orb for him, leading some of the students to wonder why Lupin is afraid of crystal balls.

Harry gets his chance to ask why he was prevented from facing the boggart when the first Hogsmeade visit comes up, when Lupin invites him to have a look at a grindylow; Lupin replies that he assumed it would appear as Voldemort for Harry—this would have been upsetting for all of the students, defeating the purpose of the exercise. While there, Snape comes in with a potion for Lupin; Harry is shocked to see Lupin drink it, thinking that Snape would try to poison him. After the visit, later in the evening, the Gryffindors find themselves locked out, the Fat Lady's portrait has been shredded by Sirius Black, and she has fled to another portrait. While Black is on the loose, the Fat Lady's place is taken by Sir Cadogan, a slightly mad knight.

The class are surprised one day to find Snape teaching in place of Lupin, who has taken ill. They are also shocked when he skips to the end of the book to make them study werewolves, setting them an essay on the ways of recognising and killing them.

Gryffindor's first quidditch match, against Hufflepuff, ends in a loss when Harry falls from his broom—the Dementors were drawn to the game—though the Hufflepuff captain, Cedric Diggory insisted on a rematch, because of the circumstances. Worse still for Harry is that his broom was destroyed by the whomping willow. Lupin promises to teach Harry how to drive them away.

When the next Hogsmead visit comes up, Fred and George Weasley come to Harry's rescue by providing him with the Marauder's Map and showing him a secret passage from Hogwarts to Hogsmead. Using his Invisibility cloak, Harry goes to the Three Broomsticks with Ron and Hermione. While there they overhear a conversation between Fudge, Hagrid, Professors Flitwick and McGonagall, and Madam Rosmerta, proprietor of the Three Broomsticks. Fudge reveals that Black had been James Potter's best friend, best man at his wedding and Harry's godfather—and the Potter's secret keeper at the time Voldemort was looking for them. He also tells that Black killed Peter Pettigrew, another friend of the Potters.

Over the Christmas holidays, Harry, Ron and Hermione are reassured to hear that Hagrid will not be charged over the Hippogriff's biting Malfoy; Hagrid, however, is distraught because of the decision that the Hippogriff, Buckbeak, is to be destroyed. They vow to help him in his appeal. On Christmas Day, Harry is surprised to receive an anonymous gift of a Firebolt, the most advanced broomstick available. Hermione, however, feels it may have been sent by Black as a trap, and Professor McGonagall takes it away to examine it. This leads to a rift, with neither Harry nor Ron speaking to Hermione.

As the new term begins, so do Harry's anti-Dementor lessons with Professor Lupin. Harry learns how to use the Patronus charm, though his progress is slow. Eventually his Firebolt is returned to him, and he prepares for his next quidditch game. The rift with Hermione is healed, but temporarily; Ron finds blood stains on his sheets, and Scabbers missing, and blames Crookshanks. During the game against Ravenclaw the Dementors make a reappearance, but his patronus is strong enough to allow him to win the game—he later finds out that it was Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle dressed as Dementors. All seems well, but later Ron wakes in the middle of the night, seeing Black standing over him with a knife, having gained entry using a list of passwords Neville had lost.

At the next Hogsmeade visit, Harry narrowly avoids being caught by Snape. He visits a local haunted house, the Shrieking Shack, with Ron when Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle turn up. Under his Invisibility Cloak, he throws mud at them, but the cloak slips, revealing Harry's head. When he returns to Hogwarts, Snape calls him aside. Snape tells him that his father was arrogant, and Harry loses his temper, telling him that he knows his father saved Snape's life. Snape tells Harry that his father saved him from a joke played by his friends, which would have lead to his death. Snape tells Harry to turn out his pockets, and finds the Marauder's Map along with some items from the joke shop. When he tries to determine the maps purpose, he receives a list of insults from the map's creators: Padfoot, Prongs, Moony and Wormtail. On seeing this, he calls in Professor Lupin, who tells him it's a joke. At this, Ron bursts into the room, saying he bought the items for Harry; Lupin declares the matter closed, calling Harry and Ron to follow him. Lupin then admonishes Harry for using the map, and that he thinks the creators would find it amusing to lure him out of Hogwarts with it.

After Lupin leaves them, they bump into Hermione, who tells them that Hagrid has lost his case. Ron offers to help her with the appeal, ending their fight. Harry and Ron are surprised when she misses Charms; having walked with them to the class. Later in Divination, she has an argument with Professor Trelawney, and quits the class.

The night before the game against Slytherin, Harry spots Crookshanks with the Grim, though both disappeared before he could rouse Ron. The game itself was won by Gryffindor, though Harry had to refrain from catching the Snitch, as Gryffindor needed to beat Slitherin by a large margin to win the House Cup.

Exam time comes, and the day of the final exam is also the day of Buckbeak's appeal. Harry's final exam is Divination, where he has to use a crystal ball. He makes up a prediction about a Hippogriff flying away free. As he turns to leave, Professor Trelawney speaks, but in a different voice, and predicts that Voldemort's servant will return to him, and aid his return; when he asks her about it, however, she insists he must have fallen asleep. After the exam, Harry is told that Hagrid lost his appeal, and that Buckbeak is to be executed. Using the Invisibility Cloak, they go to Hagrid's house. While they are there, Ron finds Scabbers, alive and unharmed, just before they hear the executioners approach. As Hagrid lets them out the back door, they hear the axe fall.

Walking away from the hut, Scabbers escapes, and Ron runs after him, and both Harry and Hermione follow him, discarding the cloak. As they gain on him, the Grim appears again, leaping on Harry. The dog grabs Ron, dragging him away through a gap in the roots of the Whomping Willow, followed by Harry and Hermione. At the end of the tunnel, they find themselves in a house—the Shrieking Shack. They hear movement upstairs, and find Ron, who tries to tell him that the dog was Black, an animagus. Though Black gets their wands, Harry catches him by surprise; as the three surround him, he tries to get Harry to listen to the whole story of what happened to his parents.

While facing him, considering what to do, they are startled—Professor Lupin has entered the room. At first relieved to see him, they are shocked when he disarms them. He starts speaking to Black, asking "Where is he?"; Black points to Ron. Lupin continues speaking to Black, puzzling out loud, before embracing Black, shocking Harry, Ron and Hermione, who instantly begin accusing him of being Black's accomplice. Hermione in particular felt betrayed, she had been hiding Lupin's secret, which she had known since doing Snape's essay—that he is a werewolf. Lupin explains that he had seen them go to the Shrieking Shack using the Marauder's Map, the map he had helped write as "Moony."

Lupin tells them that Pettigrew is an animagus, but Hermione points out that animagi are registered with the Ministry of Magic; Lupin counters that there were three illegal animagi during his time as a student at Hogwarts—James Potter, Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew. They became animagi after learning that Lupin was a werewolf, so they could keep Lupin in line enough to go on adventures. He then tells them of his regret, for leading his friends to break the law, and of deceiving Dumbledore, who had trusted him, and given him chances others would have denied him; to become a student, and by giving him a job. As he tells them this, Snape enters the room using Harry's cloak, casting it aside with his wand aimed at Lupin and Black—he had seen the map on Lupin's desk. Hermione tries to explain that he hasn't heard the whole story, but he is interested only in revenge against his school time foes. Harry tries arguing with him, but realises that it's in vain, so disarms him—both Ron and Hermione had decided to do this at the same time, the force of their combined charms leaving Snape unconscious.

Black and Lupin continue to explain about Pettigrew/Scabbers; Black explains that he saw Scabbers in the picture accompanying the article about the Weasley's prize and recognised him. Lupin notices that Scabbers has a missing toe—the largest part that had been found after Pettigrew's "death" was a finger, which he had cut off himself. The pair prove Scabbers' true identity by forcing Pettigrew to resume his human form. Once restored, he attempts to keep the finger of blame pointed at Black. Black explains that, at his suggestion, the Potters switched secret keepers to Pettigrew, as it would have been too obvious that he, James' best friend, was their secret keeper. Though Harry now believes Black, he won't allow Black and Lupin to kill Pettigrew; his father wouldn't have wanted his best friends to become murderers over Pettigrew.

They leave the Shrieking Shack, Ron and Lupin tied to Pettigrew, the still-unconscious Snape floating magically. Sirius tells Harry that his parents appointed him Harry's guardian, and asks if Harry would like to move in with him, an offer Harry eagerly accepts. As they leave the tunnel, the clouds part, revealing the full moon, and Lupin, not having taken the potion Snape made for him, began to transform. Black immediately transformed, and attacked him, dragging him away from Ron and Pettigrew. In the commotion, Pettigrew seized Lupins wand, attacking Ron and Crookshanks. Though Harry manages to disarm him, he cannot stop him from transforming, and cannot follow him in the dark. Sirius goes in search of him, but soon gives out a yelp. When Harry follows, Hermione close behind, he sees Sirius in human form, crouched with his hands on his head.

The Harry sees the Dementors, in huge numbers, closing in on them. Though he tries to conjure a patronus, he can form only a silvery mist. As he passes out, he sees a fully formed patronus chasing away the Dementors before crossing the lake to a figure he thinks is his father. When he comes to, he hears Fudge congratulating Snape on his capture of Black. He finds himself in the hospital wing, and upon hearing that the Dementors are going to perform the kiss on Sirius, he tries to convince Fudge of Sirius' innocence. Snape, however, has done a better job of convincing Fudge that he, Ron and Hermione have been bewitched.

Dumbledore enters, and seeks to speak privately to Harry and Hermione. Though he can't help them to convince Fudge of Sirius' innocence, he tells Hermione pointedly that they need more time, as well as where to find Sirius. He finishes by saying that if all goes well, they can save more than one innocent life. After Dumbledore locks the door to the hospital wing, Hermione produces an hour glass from around her neck—a Time Turner—and uses it to transport herself and Harry three hours backwards in time.

It occurs to Harry that Dumbledore means them to save Buckbeak; they head towards Hagrid's hut, and after waiting for the executioners to see Buckbeak tethered outside, make their rescue attempt. Harry frees Buckbeak, who is reluctant to leave Hagrid. Hermione and he hide Buckbeak in the forest, waiting for Sirius to be taken to the castle. Keeping watch, Harry sees himself run to Sirius' aid, and runs to where he thought he had seen his father. While waiting, he realises that he had in fact seen himself, and conjures a full patronus. At the return of the Patronus, he sees that it's a stag, and the meaning of his father's nickname, Prongs, becomes clear to him.

Finally, they see MacNair, the executioner, set off to fetch the Dementors, and seize their opportunity, freeing Sirius, and sending him away on Buckbeak. Harry and Hermione then race to the hospital wing, before Dumbledore locks them in. They meet him as he is about to lock the door, and take to their beds. A few minutes later, Snape bursts into the ward, accusing Harry of having set Sirius free, but with both Dumbledore and Madam Pomfrey to provide alibis, he can only storm out in fury.

The next day, they meet an overjoyed Hagrid, and feign surprise when he tells them about Buckbeak's escape. Hagrid also tells them that Snape told the Slytherins about Lupin being a werewolf, and that Lupin had tendered his resignation that morning. Harry makes an unsuccessful attempt to talk him out of it, and Lupin returns the Invisibility Cloak and the Marauder's Map. Dumbledore enters, to wish Lupin farewell, and remains after Lupin's departure to speak to Harry. He reassures Harry that his sparing Pettigrew was for the best; that having Pettigrew owe him the debt of his life may prove valuable. Harry tells Dumbledore about Professor Trelawney's prediction, and Dumbledore agrees that it was a true prediction.

On the Hogwarts Express, Harry finds himself in low spirits, returning to the Dursleys when he had been so close to having a new life with Sirius. Ron promises to convince his parents to invite Harry to stay for some of the summer, to go to the Quidditch World Cup. His spirits are raised further when a tiny owl appears at the compartment window, carrying a letter from Sirius. Sirius confirms that it was he who sent the Firebolt, and gives Harry his bank vault to make up for 13 years of birthday presents. He also enclosed a permission slip for Harry to visit Hogsmead, and in a postscript to the letter offers Ron the owl in place of Scabbers. When Harry reaches to station and is met by Vernon Dursley, he is swift to inform him of his godfather, whom he tells them is a convicted murderer who expects regular letters, and looks forward to a more pleasant summer than usual.

The Film

The film is being directed by Alfonso Cuaron, and stars all the same actors, except for Albus Dumbledore, who was replaced with Michael Gambon after Richard Harris died. One trailer has been released for the film.


Warning: Spoilers Follow

Of the many rumours on the net relating to points brought up in this book, the possibility of time travel recurring is one of the most plausible, and J. K. Rowling has declined to comment on it [1]. Partly, this is connected to a misprint in some editions of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets—which, though corrected, was later reinstated—where it was stated that Voldemort was the last remaining ancestor of Salazar Slytherin, coupled with the large amount of details in the warnings against misuse of time travel in this book [1].


Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Paperback (British edition, 'child') ISBN 0747546290

External link

Preceded by:
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter Series Followed by:
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire