Tuesday, May 6, 2014

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

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

If you've been a regular reader this year, you know Kevin and I have been slowly working our way through the incomparable Harry Potter series. 

For the most part, we only do audio books when we are traveling, so a trip to Michigan for Easter proved the perfect opportunity to finish up the third tome.

Rowling definitely improves with each book, diving deeper into characters and the consequences of good vs. evil. Still, to me, Prisoner of Azkaban falls in line with the first two books. The trio feel much more like a children's series than the deep story they develop into.

That progression either shows a growing writer or growing characters. Probably both. 

In Azkaban, Harry begins to learn even more about his real history. Lupin and Black are able to give him a much more clear picture of his parents and help prepare him for the fight ahead.

I have to say - I really like Lupin. He is, without a doubt, the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher the students have in the whole series. I love that he pulls Harry aside to personally train him in the Patronus charm. It's evident that he understands the very real need for these students to be prepared. He knows about the real world and doesn't think textbooks or fictional stories are good enough preparation. Maybe because he's a werewolf....

Ok, we do have to talk about the big issue in this book. Really, it's probably the biggest flaw in the series as far as I'm concerned. Hermione's Time Turner.

Rowling goes into relatively few details about this little magic necklace. Hermione talks some about the consequences of messing with the past, but not with the depth that many, many, many fictional time travel stories do. It's obviously a rare piece, but if that's the case, why was the Ministry of Magic so apt to let a 13-year-old student use it every day for a year? I mean, right? I know she's Hermione and she's no regular student (as evidenced by McGonnagall arguing on her behalf), but the Ministry doesn't know that!

If the Time Turner has been at Dumbledore's disposal throughout his time at Hogwarts, is this really the moment he has chosen to support its use? Sure, there could have been more times in the past, but how about when Voldemort killed Harry's parents? That didn't warrant the use of the Time Turner to find out who really let their secret out? 

And later in the series? Does this magic device just disappear? It seems like there are about a million times in the last four books that it could come in handy. Instead, let's only use it to rescue a hippogriff and a convict. It just doesn't make sense to me. I know I'm not alone in this complaint.

It likely would have solved a lot of this discussion if Rowling had written more details about the Time Traveler. Can it only travel back a few hours? Are there other rules or limitations to its power? Answers like that could go along way in fitting this detail into the overarching story line.

Thoughts? Am I being too picky? 

Pages: 435
Date Completed: April 20, 2014


  1. Rowling agrees with you about the time turner. “I went far too light-heartedly into the subject of time travel in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." - from a posting on Pottermore. Online article where they discuss the posting about a year ago [http://www.hypable.com/2013/07/31/jk-rowling-harry-potter-time-turner/]

    1. Thanks for sharing. That was really interesting. I had forgotten about the other Time Turners getting smashed.