"Out of the five books I've published [so far], writing Azkaban was the easiest, and in some ways I think that shows."
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
8 July 1999
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third novel of the Harry Potter series. The book was published on July 8th, 1999.
To Jill Prewett and Aine Kiely, the Godmothers of Swing
Jill Prewett and Aine Kiely were JK Rowling's flatmates when she lived in Portugal. They used to visit a club/restaurant called "Swing" regularly. Because they spent so much time there, Jo called themselves its godmothers.
Book description Edit
Harry Potter is lucky to reach the age of thirteen, since he has already survived the murderous attacks of the feared Dark Lord on more than one occasion. But his hopes for a quiet term concentrating on Quidditch are dashed when a maniacal mass-murderer escapes from Azkaban, pursued by the soul-sucking Dementors who guard the prison. It's assumed that Hogwarts is the safest place for Harry to be. But is it a coincidence that he can feel eyes watching him in the dark, and should he be taking Professor Trelawney's ghoulish predictions seriously?
Behind the scenes Edit
- Along with Half-Blood Prince, this is one of the books in the series in which the US and UK cover artwork depict the same scene and the same characters. In addition, all cover artwork for any edition in any country depicts this scene, with the exception of the Adult version, the Signature Bloomsbury version and the German version.
- The Prisoner of Azkaban is the only book to not have a chapter with the same name as the title of the book, apart from the Philosopher's Stone.
- Although somewhat darker than the previous two books, this one holds the distinction of being the only Harry Potter book where no one actually dies during the events of the book (with the possible exception of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, where the Basilisk, a magical creature of indeterminate sentience, was the only being to die). Although it appears that Buckbeak dies, he was in fact saved by the time-travelling Harry and Hermione. What the trio thought was the execution was in fact Macnair swinging his axe into a stump out of frustration. (Although, technically Binky, Lavender Brown's rabbit, died in this book, but that was only mentioned in passing.)
- This is the only book where Voldemort is not seen, only mentioned, whether in past or present.
- This is the first of two books in which the title refers to a character, the other being the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
- This is the only book in the series whose name has a word completely original to the series, this word being "Azkaban".
- This is also the only book in the series in which the title is not referred to at all in the text (the phrase 'prisoner of Azkaban' never appears in the book.)
- One of the biggest morals from the series is that it is not one's abilities that make them who they are; it is their choices. However, the climax of this book possibly creates a predestination paradox, which, essentially, negates the doctrine of free will.
- This is the only book where the main antagonist is not directly or indirectly (in the case of book 5) influenced by Voldemort or is Voldemort himself.
- When Harry restrained Lupin and Sirius from killing Pettigrew, he (arguably) made the first mistake that led to the second rise of Lord Voldemort.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban introduces four different magical elements that take on a unique property based on the specific wizard—the Dementor (which causes a wizard to experience their worst memories), the Boggart (which takes the form of a wizard's greatest fear), the Patronus Charm (which creates an animal guardian specific to each wizard), and the Animagus transformation (in which a wizard may transform into an animal form that is unknown to them until they undergo the transformation for the first time.)
- Professor Lupin prevented Harry from confonting the Boggart in the cabinet because he feared that the Boggart would turn into Lord Voldemort. However, Harry didn't know what Voldemort really looked like, since his only encounter at this point with Voldemort was during the Sorcerer's Stone two years ago, when he was possesing Professor Quirrel, not to mention Harry had never seen any kind of drawing or photograph of Voldemort. So, the Boggart might have taken Quirrel's form if Harry's fear was Lord Voldemort.
- In early British editions of the book, as Harry does his summer assignment in the first chapter, "Owl Post", he uses the textbook A History of Magic by Adalbert Waffling. But the real author of the book is Bathilda Bagshot, as mentioned in other books and a point emphasised in Deathly Hallows.
- The American edition and later editions of the English version correct this error.
- Before Harry and Hermione go back in time, it mentions that Buckbeak is tied to a tree. But when they go back in time, Buckbeak is tied to a fence.
- When Harry is buying his books at Flourish and Blotts, it mentions that he is being served by the manager. But when Harry was staring at the book 'Death Omens,' it says that he is being served by the assistant of the store.
- The length of time Sirius has known Pettigrew is hiding at Hogwarts is inconsistent. From Mr. Weasley's conversation at the Leaky Cauldron in chapter four, Sirius has known about it for several months. But in the Shrieking Shack in chapter eighteen, Sirius says that he first learned about it the night he escaped from Azkaban. However, it is possible that Sirius may have been referring to someone else, perhaps Harry or Voldemort. Sirius would know that Harry is at Hogwarts by the time that he is reported to start talking in his sleep and he might have heard about the Chamber of Secrets incident when Hagrid was imprisoned here.
- When they first come out of the Shrieking Shack, the order is Crookshanks, Lupin, Pettigrew, Ron, Snape, Harry, Hermione, and Sirius. However, when they go back in time, the order is now Lupin, Pettigrew, Ron, Hermione, Snape, Harry, and Sirius.
- This is corrected in later editions of the book.
- In June, Fred and George Weasley find out they have scraped "a few O.W.L.s apiece". However, in subsequent books, it is firmly established that O.W.L. results are sent home by owl and are not received until August. A possible explanation for this would be that when Harry and company receive their results, the Ministry of Magic is at war with Voldemort which could have made test grades a lower priority.
- It says "Ron crawled to the four-poster and collapsed onto it". But when Professor Lupin comes in, it says "his eyes flickered over Ron, lying on the floor". This could not be, as Ron should still be on the bed. Crookshanks was on the bed, and 'on the floor beside him.... was Ron' Ron moves from this position to 'protect' Harry. 'If you want to kill Harry, you'll have to kill us too' at this point he is standing, 'clinging painfully to Harry to stay upright'.
- Mr. Weasley says that Ron and Harry have ended up in the Forbidden Forest twice. But only Harry has been in the forest twice. Ron went once to see Aragog with Harry in Chamber of Secrets, but the other time Harry went was for detention in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Ron wasn't there.
- This error was corrected in later editions.
- When Harry and Hermione leave from the hospital wing using the Time-Turner, Dumbledore says it is ten minutes until midnight, but on the way back to the ward after they rescue Sirius, they hear Dumbledore say to the other versions of them that it is five minutes to midnight.
- Corrected in later editions, making Dumbledore say "five minutes to midnight" the first time, instead of ten.
- Chapter sixteen (Professor Trelawney's Prediction) takes place in June 1994. In the beginning of that chapter, Harry Potter reads a note from Hagrid and says, 'Buckbeak's appeal — it's set for the sixth.' The night after the Hippogriff's appeal, Remus Lupin is forced into a werewolf form by the full moon, which means that this happened on the night of June 6, 1994. The web page HP-Lexicon.org also backs this up. However, a brief look at lunar phase calendar sites such as 1994 and lunar phases in 1994 definitely shows June 9, 1994, as a new-moon night, which means that a full moon could not possibly rise three days earlier.
- It is possible that like dates and days not matching up in the Harry Potter series to the real world, J.K. Rowling slightly adjusted the moon's phases to fit the story.
- On the American version of the cover, the front art is the night that Harry and Hermione save Sirius and Buckbeak. However on the back side of the cover, the moon is crescent when it should be a full moon.
- The cover depicts Harry and Hermione riding Buckbeak. Harry's legs are shown to be in front of Buckbeak's wings. However, when Harry was in Care of Magical Creatures and rode Buckbeak for the first time, Hagrid had told him to sit behind the wing joint (as he did in the movie).
- Sirius Black says that Voldemort has been in hiding for fifteen years. He's actually been in hiding for twelve years (almost thirteen at the time that he says it), about the same amount of time since Black was imprisoned. Voldemort went into hiding right after he was ripped from his body after failing to kill Harry. Of course, Black could just be rounding off to an approximated number (fifteen years), but this seems unlikely since he keeps talking about being in Azkaban for twelve years, being that the two time frames are almost exactly the same. Sirius also says to Pettigrew 'you haven't been hiding from me for 12 years, you've been hiding from Voldemort's old supporters'.
- During chapter fifteen (pg. 308) it says, "A minute later, Katie had put another penalty past the Slytherin Seeker". When the correct word should have been "Keeper" not "Seeker".
- This error is corrected in later editions.
- Trelawney tells Lavender, "Incidentally, that thing you are dreading- it will happen Friday the sixteenth of October." In 1993, when this happens, October 16 was a Saturday.
""He's friends with that dog," said Harry grimly."
- Another bit of foreshadowing takes place in the chapter Aunt Marge's Big Mistake. When Uncle Vernon watches the news report about Sirius Black, he gets mad that the reporter didn't say where he escape from and comments, "Lunatic could be coming up the street right now!" He does not know that in a week, this will be true.
The book was also adapted into a film, the third Harry Potter film of the series. The movie Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was released on May 31, 2004 (UK) and on June 4, 2004 (US). It was directed by Alfonso Cuarón and the trio was starred by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson.