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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.jpg
Cover art of the first UK edition
AuthorJ. K. Rowling
IllustratorCliff Wright (first edition)
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
SeriesHarry Potter
Release number
3rd in series
GenreFantasy
PublisherBloomsbury (UK)
Publication date
8 July 1999
Pages317 (first edition)
ISBN0-7475-4215-5
Preceded byHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 
Followed byHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a fantasy novel written by British author J. K. Rowling and is the third in the Harry Potter series. The book follows Harry Potter, a young wizard, in his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Along with friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, Harry investigates Sirius Black, an escaped prisoner from Azkaban, the wizard prison, believed to be one of Lord Voldemort's old allies.

The book was published in the United Kingdom on 8 July 1999 by Bloomsbury and in the United States on 8 September 1999 by Scholastic, Inc.[1][2][3][4] Rowling found the book easy to write, finishing it just a year after she began writing it. The book sold 68,000 copies in just three days after its release in the United Kingdom and since has sold over three million in the country.[5] The book won the 1999 Whitbread Children's Book Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and the 2000 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel and was short-listed for other awards, including the Hugo.

The film adaptation of the novel was released in 2004, grossing more than $796 million and earning critical acclaim. Video games loosely based on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban were also released for several platforms, and most obtained favourable reviews.

Plot[edit]

Thirteen-year-old Harry Potter spends another unhappy summer at the Dursleys. After Aunt Marge insults Harry and his deceased parents, an angry Harry accidentally inflates her. Fearing expulsion from Hogwarts, he runs away. On a dark street, a large black dog watches Harry. Startled, Harry stumbles backward, causing his wand to emit sparks. The Knight Bus, a vehicle that rescues stranded wizards, suddenly arrives. Harry goes to the Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley where Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic, is waiting. Harry is not expelled but is asked to remain in Diagon Alley until school starts. While there, Harry reunites with best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Mr Weasley warns Harry about the wizard Sirius Black, a convicted murderer who escaped Azkaban prison and is believed to be hunting down Harry.

Dementors, the hideous guards of Azkaban, board the Hogwarts Express train. As one approaches Harry, he relives his parents' deaths, then faints. The new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Remus Lupin wards off the creature with a Patronus charm. At Hogwarts, Professor Albus Dumbledore announces that dementors are patrolling the school grounds, hunting Black.

In Divination class, Professor Sybill Trelawney says the dog-shaped form in Harry's tea leaves is the Grim, a spectral death omen. She later predicts that Voldemort's servant will soon return. During a Quidditch match, Harry spots a black dog near the pitch, then faints and falls off his broomstick when dementors approach. Harry is uninjured but the Whomping Willow destroys his broom. Afterwards, Professor Lupin teaches Harry the Patronus charm to repel dementors.

Fred and George Weasley give Harry their Marauder's Map, a magical document created by four former Hogwarts students known only as, "Moony," "Padfoot," "Wormtail," and "Prongs." The map shows every person at Hogwarts and seven secret tunnels. Harry, who lacks guardian permission for school outings, sneaks into Hogsmeade. He overhears a conversation there that Sirius Black betrayed the Potters to Voldemort and killed their friend Peter Pettigrew. Also, Black is Harry's godfather. Black will later break into Hogwarts twice, though Harry is unharmed.

Meanwhile, Ron accuses Hermione's cat, Crookshanks, of killing his missing pet rat Scabbers, straining their friendship. When Harry receives an expensive Firebolt broomstick as an anonymous gift, Hermione, fearing Black sent it, gets it confiscated for testing. Ron and Harry are furious at Hermione, who is already stressed taking too many classes. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Magic has ordered Hagrid's hippogriff Buckbeak to be executed for injuring Draco Malfoy, who deliberately provoked the animal. Harry, Ron, and Hermione seemingly hear Buckbeak's execution as they exit Hagrid's hut. While there, Hermione discovered Scabbers hiding inside. Scabbers escapes Ron, who gives chase.

The black dog appears and drags Ron into a tunnel under the Whomping Willow. Harry and Hermione pursue them into the haunted Shrieking Shack. The dog is Sirius Black, an unregistered animagus. Lupin unexpectedly enters. He saw Pettigrew's name on the Marauder's Map and realised that he, not Black, betrayed the Potters. Hermione claims Lupin is a werewolf, which he admits. As students, Lupin (Moony), Black (Padfoot), Pettigrew (Wormtail), and Harry's father, James Potter (Prongs), created the Marauder's Map. The latter three secretly became animagi to tame Lupin during his werewolf transformations. Scabbers is Pettigrew in his rat form. He is Voldemort's servant and faked his death, framing Black. Black escaped Azkaban after discovering Pettigrew was alive.

Severus Snape arrives to apprehend Black. His deeply-rooted grudge against Sirius Black and James Potter for bullying him in school has biased him. Harry, Ron, and Hermione simultaneously stun Snape unconscious. Lupin and Black are about to execute Pettigrew but Harry wants him sent to Azkaban. As the full moon rises, Lupin transforms into a werewolf. He has forgotten his Wolfsbane potion, which now allows a werewolf to remain sane during transformations. Black, in his dog form, fights him off. Pettigrew escapes as dementors descend upon Harry, Hermione, and Black. A distant figure casts a powerful Patronus, scattering the dementors.

Dementors are about to suck out the captured Black's soul. Dumbledore instructs Harry and Hermione to save Black and Buckbeak by going back in time with Hermione's Time-Turner, a Ministry device she uses to attend multiple classes. They rescue Buckbeak and see dementors attacking their earlier selves. Harry casts a stag-shaped Patronus, scattering the dementors. Harry and Hermione ride Buckbeak to the tower and release Black, who escapes on Buckbeak.

Snape, enraged over Black's escape, intentionally lets slip that Lupin is a werewolf, forcing his resignation. Black writes Harry saying he sent the Firebolt and, as his legal guardian, gives Harry permission for school excursions.

Publication and reception[edit]

Pre-release history[edit]

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third book in the Harry Potter series. The first, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was published by Bloomsbury on 26 June 1997 and the second, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was published on 2 July 1998.[6] Rowling started to write the Prisoner of Azkaban the day after she finished The Chamber of Secrets.[7]

Rowling's favorite aspect of this book was introducing the character Remus Lupin,[8] Rowling additionally said in 2004 that Prisoner of Azkaban was "the best writing experience I ever had...I was in a very comfortable place writing (number) three. Immediate financial worries were over, and press attention wasn't yet by any means excessive".[9]

Critical reception[edit]

Gregory Maguire wrote a review in The New York Times for Prisoner of Azkaban: in it he said, "So far, in terms of plot, the books do nothing new, but they do it brilliantly...so far, so good."[10] In a newspaper review in The New York Times, it was said that "'The Prisoner of Azkaban' may be the best 'Harry Potter' book yet".[11] A reviewer for KidsReads said, "This crisply-paced fantasy will leave you hungry for the four additional Harry books that J.K. Rowling is working on. Harry's third year is a charm. Don't miss it."[12] Kirkus Reviews did not give a starred review but said, "a properly pulse-pounding climax...The main characters and the continuing story both come along so smartly...that the book seems shorter than its page count: have readers clear their calendars if they are fans, or get out of the way if they are not."[13] Martha V. Parravano also gave a positive review for The Horn Book Magazine, calling it "quite a good book."[14] In addition, a Publishers Weekly review said, "Rowling's wit never flags, whether constructing the workings of the wizard world...or tossing off quick jokes...The Potter spell is holding strong.[15]

However, Anthony Holden, who was one of the judges against Prisoner of Azkaban for the Whitbread Award, was negative about the book, saying that the characters are "all black-and-white", and the "story-lines are predictable, the suspense minimal, the sentimentality cloying every page".[16]

Awards[edit]

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban won several awards, including the 1999 Booklist Editors' Choice Award,[17] the 1999 Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers,[18] the 1999 FCBG Children's Book Award,[19] the 1999 Whitbread Book of the Year for children's books,[20] and the 2000 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel,.[21] It was also nominated for the 2000 Hugo Award for Best Novel, the first in the series nominated, but lost to A Deepness in the Sky.[22] Prisoner of Azkaban additionally won the 2004 Indian Paintbrush Book Award[23] and the 2004 Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award.[24] Additionally, it was named an American Library Association Notable Children's Book in 2000[25] as well as one of their Best Books for Young Adults.[26] As with the previous two books in the series, Prisoner of Azkaban won the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize Gold Medal for children aged 9–11 and made the top of the New York Times Best Seller list.[27] In both cases, it was the last in the series to do so.[28] However, in the latter case, a Children's Best Sellers list was created just before the release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in July 2000 in order to free up more room on the original list.[29] In 2003, the novel was listed at number 24 on the BBC's survey The Big Read.[30]

Sales[edit]

Prisoner of Azkaban sold more than 68,000 copies in the UK within three days of publication, which made it the fastest selling British book of the time.[5] The sales total by 2012 is said by The Guardian to be 3,377,906.[3]

Editions[edit]

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was released in hardcover in the UK on 8 July 1999[31] and in the US on 8 September.[31] The British paperback edition was released on 1 April 2000,[32] while the US paperback was released 1 October 2001.[33]

Bloomsbury additionally released an adult edition with a different cover design to the original, in paperback on 10 July 2004[34] and in hardcover on October 2004.[35] A hardcover special edition, featuring a green border and signature, was released on 8 July 1999.[31] In May 2004, Bloomsbury released a Celebratory Edition, with a blue and purple border.[36] On 1 November 2010, they released the 10th anniversary Signature edition illustrated by Clare Mellinsky and in July 2013 a new adult cover illustrated by Andrew Davidson, both these editions were designed by Webb & Webb Design Limited.[37]

Beginning on 27 August 2013, Scholastic will release new covers for the paperback editions of Harry Potter in the United States to celebrate 15 years of the series.[38] The covers were designed by the author and illustrator Kazu Kibuishi.[39]

An illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was released on 3 October 2017, and was illustrated by Jim Kay who illustrates the previous two instalments. This includes over 115 new illustrations and will be followed by Illustrated editions of the following 4 novels in the future.[citation needed]

Adaptations[edit]

Film[edit]

The film version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was released in 2004 and was directed by Alfonso Cuarón from a screenplay by Steve Kloves.[40] The film débuted at number one at the box office and held that position for two weeks.[41] It made a total of $796.7 million worldwide,[42] which made it the second highest-grossing film of 2004 behind Shrek 2. However, among all eight entries in the Harry Potter franchise, Prisoner of Azkaban grossed the lowest; yet among critics and fans, the film is often cited as the best in the franchise – in large part due to Cuarón's stylistic influence.[43][44] The film ranks at number 471 in Empire magazine's 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time.[45]

Video games[edit]

Three unique video games by different developers were released in 2004 by Electronic Arts, loosely based on the book:

Developer Release date Platform Genre GameRankings Metacritic
KnowWonder 25 May 2004 Microsoft Windows Adventure/puzzle 68.52%[46] 67/100[47]
Griptonite Game Boy Advance Role-playing game 69.58%[48] 69/100[49]
EA UK 29 May 2004 GameCube Action-adventure 69.74%[50] 67/100[51]
PlayStation 2 72.59%[52] 70/100[53]
Xbox 68.39%[54] 67/100[55]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]