Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Rating: 4/4 (Another un-put-downable creation from Rowling!)

Sirius Black, a much feared murderer and crony of Lord Voldemort has escaped from the prison of Azkaban and is out to kill Harry Potter in the third book Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. In their year 3 at Hogwarts, Harry, Ron and Hermione are settling in well. There have been some changes in their teachers. Lupin, a shabby but competent new entrant is their new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher and Hagrid debuts with a class on Care of Magical Creatures. Dementors, the soul sucking prison guards from Azkaban believe that Sirius is in Hogwarts, so they hang around the school casting a dark shadow on the students and causing trouble to Harry. To be capable of fighting them, Harry learns the difficult Patronus spell from Lupin. The lives of Harry, Sirius and Lupin come to a head one fateful night, when time itself becomes the protagonist.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Rowling can write, and write well! Book 3 is slim and about the same size as the previous 2 books. Using mostly the characters we already know from the previous books, she is able to churn out a twister of a climax. The use of time and of Harry’s Patronus charm by the lake is one of the coolest parts of the book. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a breezy, addictive read. Keep your bag of chips close by! 🙂

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Rating: 4/4 (A thrilling followup to The Philosopher’s Stone)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second title in the Harry Potter series where Harry returns to Hogwarts for his second year of study. The plot structure of the book is almost the same as the first one, only darker. Much like the first book, a secret that is hidden away inside Hogwarts is revealed pretty early on (i.e., The Chamber of Secrets). J. K. Rowling shows some confidence and ups the gore factor for her series a bit here with several near-deaths (called petrification) and writings in blood. If I were a kid, I would be thrilled and scared reading this book! 🙂

The most interesting plot device is Tom Riddle, the top student from Slytherin who would go on to become Lord Voldemort. Introducing him, Rowling mixes into the story the idea that Harry and his nemesis are very much alike. They both are brilliant, like to break rules, learn new tricks, can speak to snakes, and even the Sorting Hat had selected them both for Slytherin. The similarity of the hero and the villain, or put another way the thin line between good and evil is probably one of the strongest plot ideas in fiction (ever), which will never lose its appeal. Memorable is how Dumbledore solaces Harry about this:

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a good followup to The Philosopher’s Stone. The plot is gripping, even though I was not reading it for the first time. Maybe the only gripe I have with this book is that it is a bit too much similar to the first one. Thankfully, Rowling does not repeat that mistake with her later books.

Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone

Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone

Rating: 4/4 (A great start to a magical journey!)

I started on Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone having decided that I should reread the entire Harry Potter series before the release of the final 2 movies (which are based on the last book.) Though I had read this book a long time ago, it turned out to be a refreshing experience thanks to the ravages of time on my memory and the influence of the Harry Potter movies on my imagination. J. K. Rowling opens the book with the aftermath of a calamity in the world of magic. Voldemort, the super villain wizard has been vanquished while trying to kill infant Harry Potter. Harry is left to grow in the human (muggle) world at his uncle’s home, where he is subjected to years of bad treatment. Finally, when he comes of age, he is invited to the world of magic to study at Hogwarts, the school of magic. At Hogwarts, Harry forms strong friendships with Hermione and Ron. He studies the various forms of magic, learns to fly, to play the wizard sport of Quidditch and has plenty of adventures. Finally, the search for a secret philosopher’s stone pits Harry against his nemesis Voldemort in an epic battle.

Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone

I love beginnings, both in books and movies. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone is a delightful read, for the dreamy world of magic and wizards it throws open to the reader. Rowling shows great finesse in creating compelling characters like Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore and Snape. The school aspects of the book remind me of the Malory Towers and St. Clare’s series of books by Enid Blyton. In her own unique approachable style, Rowling explores aspects of justice, fairness, racism and discrimination in the book. Now that I know what happens in the later books in this series, it is quite satisfying to note the various plot elements that Rowling has thrown into her first book for later use. (Scabbers, the strangely behaving mouse owned by Ron is one example.) The book is a short quick read (I was left wishing it was longer) and is full of humour from cover to cover. Though written for children, the book was a great read and I am eagerly looking forward to rereading the rest of the series.

A bit of trivia:

“Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus”, the Latin motto seen below the Hogwarts coat of arms (seen on the title page of the book) means “Never tickle a sleeping dragon” 😉

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