500 Words or Less Reviews: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

This entry is part 3 of 7 in the series 500 Words or Less Review: Harry Potter

First of all, poor, poor Aunt Marge. How the blazes was she to know Harry was a powerful wizard in training? Why did no one tell her before she made such a huge mistake? Such a horrible thing as being all blown up should never happen to such a kindly, good-natured soul. Kidding. Totally deserved it.

Anyway, although I do wish there had been a much greater appearance by the ghosts, this was probably on par with the second book but not as good as the first. There were many other interesting new plot points, characters, and creatures. These are a few of my favorite things: Professor Lupin, the time travel (I’m a sucker for time travel), and the Dementors.

For so many reasons my respect for Rowling’s creative genius has been bolstered by each of these three books. There were a lot of ingenious, creative touches in this current work. The Dementors as the embodiment of depression: Genius. I have read that as she was writing this book she herself began treatment for severe depression and that the Dementors were a direct inspiration of this. And the obvious cure to make you feel all better: Chocolate! Madame Pomphrey apparently keeps lots of it on hand, probably taking a nip now and then herself—for medicinal purposes, you understand.

Most of the dialogue in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is really good. However, there are two pretty sizeable dialogue wastelands in this one. Both are awkward portions involving the relating of a lots of information. The first occurs in the middle of the book. Harry overhears Cornelius Fudge, Minerva McGonagall, Filius Flitwick, and Rubeus Hagrid while they are hanging out at a bar in Hogsmeade. First of all, maybe it’s just me but these four don’t seem like they would hang out at a bar with each other. It just seemed awkward. Second, the dialogue of this portion seemed longer than it really was because it was not that well written. Same thing for another overlong dialogue wasteland toward the end of the book when Lupin, Sirius, Harry, Ron, and Hermione have another tedious and awkward “information-relating” conversation. While the information related in both was crucial to the plot, I wish Rowling had done it less awkwardly. Rowling is a superior author in many ways, but she is not J.R.R. Tolkien who can get away with long patches of information-relation dialogue (See “The Council of Elrond,” a chapter in Fellowship of the Ring which is almost entirely a long conversation of massive “information-relation).

Where Rowling particularly shines to me is the many small passing details like Harry’s mirror reflection talking back to him or the giant squid propelling itself dreamily across the surface of the lake or Dumbledore addressing Dereck, a first-year student, at a Christmas party, causing him to turn bright red. These are only three examples of what Rowling does best: Imaginative and insightful detail. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is rife with them. And thus, Rowling achieves another timeless victory.

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Ben Plunkett

Greetings from the booming metropolis that is Pleasant View, Tennessee. I am a man of constant spiritual highs and spiritual lows. I pray that I serve God at my highest even when I am lowest. Ben was a founding member of Rambling Ever On and a regular contributor and editor until his untimely death in April 2020. We wrote a tribute to him, but the best tribute you can give him would be to read all the wonderful poems, short stories, book reviews, theological essays, and ridiculous satire pieces he wrote for us. Pass them on to others and maybe allow Ben to inspire you to write something yourself.

3 thoughts on “500 Words or Less Reviews: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  • February 13, 2017 at 11:43 am

    The exposition dumps do get better in future books.

    Lupin is great. The Dementors are fantastic creations. Love the review Ben. Your best one yet of the series.

  • February 13, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    The huge portions explanatory dialogue bothered me the first couple to three readings as well. They exist in every book except 6, if I recall. Only in 7 was I not a little annoyed by how she used dialogue and not action to communicate the plot twists and stuff. Phill once mentioned something to me that helped explain it to where it bothered me less…Maybe something to do with how the first few books were definitely more for kids and explanatory dialogue suits them better. But even in 4 and 5, which were better, it was a tad much to me.

    I will say by the fourth reading or so they didn’t bother me. I just accepted them as part of the works and as I’ve said before: some things become like family to me and I love even their faults.

    I agree that the Council in FOTR does this much more masterfully than any of the HP books. Tho 7 is much much better.

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