Ossus Library Index
Fantasy Index


A novel by J.K. Rowling
(1999, Bloomsbury)

Harry Potter, book 3

When the man who betrayed Harry's parents escapes prison, everybody is on edge trying to protect him, and security is a great distraction to his tough third-year studies.


-- Second reading (trade paperback)
October 28th to December 1st, 2018


The third book in the Harry Potter series starts out well, but the twist is so complicated that it takes way too long to explain it, with unnecessary meddling by Snape. I’ve always liked time travel, and that aspect of the book was quite enjoyable. But most of the school year is a little slow, aside from the excellent Defense Against the Dark Arts lessons, which finally amount to something. I understand the need for Divination, based on the prophecy in book 5, but it was rather boring, and not just for Harry. Thank goodness for Ron’s sarcasm. I still don’t understand why Snape changes his story about Harry and his friends. True, he is the only one who sees Harry for the troublemaker that he is (truly his father’s son), but why did he say they were under a powerful spell by Black? Was it to cover up his own cowardice? This book is more notable for the new characters it introduces, like Black and Lupin, and getting to know a little more of Harry’s past. As with the other books, re-reading the Harry Potter series to my younger son is a lot of fun, as the realizations come to him for the first time.


-- First reading (trade paperback)
September 25th to October 5th, 2014


As the book went on, it grew more and more interesting, until it was very difficult to put down in the last several chapters. Even though I have seen the movie, the descriptions of the last scenes were really well-done, and it was as if I was getting to know the story for the first time -again.

Spoiler review:

I didn't remember much of this movie going into the book. But every page I turned brought memories back. I think just about everything in this book was actually represented in the movie, which is quite impressive.

Harry's third year at Hogwarts starts in fear, of course, as the person who was found guilty of killing his parents escapes from prison. The element of fear was quite real while outside Hogwarts, but within, it was less so, and the story was kept very interesting by learning more about magic, and the classes that Harry, Ron and Hermione were taking. As Harry points out several times, Professor Lupin is the best defense against the dark arts teacher they've had so far, but alas, he is forced to leave because of his secret -that he is a werewolf. He was also great friends with Sirius Black and Harry's father, until Valdemort came for them.

Harry's classes culminate with him learning how to cast a spell that will keep the dementors at bay, since the guardians of Azkaban are so drawn to him, even when he is playing Quiddach. He also learns a prophecy, that Valdemort's spy will return to him. And so as he learns Hermione's secret (she was time travelling in order to take so many classes), he also time travels, in order to save himself by casting the spell across the lake, and rescue Black from the castle prison chamber upon Hagrid's poor Hippogrif, which was also sentenced to death before he and Hermione rescued it. But Peter Pettigrew, who was masquerading as Ron's rat for twelve years, and is the real person to have betrayed Harry's parents, escapes, and eventually returns to Valdemort.

I only have two real complaints about the plot in this book. One was Lupin not mentioning Harry and Hermione's double-location when he sees them on the map, as obviously the time-travel loop was there when he first saw them, otherwise Harry would never have survived his encounter with the Dementors -it could have easily been a tease by the author, a throwaway line. The other part is the treatment of Snape, which is really poor, I think. After the things that are done to him here, especially having the three kids disarm him and petrify him, and then having Dumbledore dismiss it with no punishment, I'm sure he would quit. He often yells at Hermione (in capital letters) and really goes into hysterics. It seems uncharacteristic.

Regardless, this book was impressive; it started off slow, but built steadily to a point where I couldn't put it down at the end.


Back to Top

All reviews and page designs at this site Copyright © 1999 -  by Warren Dunn, all rights reserved.