Thursday, June 25, 2009

The One Without Voldemort

"I see," said Lupin thoughtfully. "Well, well . . . I'm impressed. That suggests what you fear most of all is -- fear. Very wise, Harry." –Remus Lupin

J.K. Rowling claims that Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was the easiest book in the series to write. It certainly reads as if it were. At least for this reader, it is a sentimental favorite. To be sure, books four through seven are evidence of genius, but here are several reasons to love Azkaban:

First of all, for “the easiest write,” this book begins to show off Rowling’s ability to juggle complicated plots. She has about ten separate plotlines going in this book and never lets one drop. She ties them all together at the right moments and wraps the whole thing up perfectly at the end. She will continue to do this for the rest of the series, but here is where it really started.

“Azkaban” gives us the best Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher of the whole series. Lupin is the teacher that everyone wishes they had, and some are lucky enough to have had a teacher like him. He knows his subject completely, genuinely cares for the students he is teaching as people and not projects, and he can teach. Whereas every other DADA prof is either incompetent or evil or both, Lupin is one of the three best adult male figures in Harry’s life. Unfortunately, all three—well, see the climaxes of books five, six, and seven.

Rowling came up with the best monster of the series for this one as well. The Dementors are one of the best conceptual monsters ever. They prey on tragedy and emotional pain, so whenever they draw near you relive the worst moments of your life. Not only are they terrible on their own, but the fact that they are portrayed as a “necessary evil” used by the magical government in the books is a thought provoking move by Rowling as well.

Snape, after a couple mentions and no development in book two, is more involved in this book as the professor everybody loves to hate. He is developed in two directions. The reader discovers that he is not just a mean teacher, but that he really hates Harry particularly; and we see that he indeed has Dumbledore’s ear and trust. Not quite at “one of the best characters in literature” yet, but wait.

In sort of a minor point, this book also contains the best Quiditch season in the series. Oh, and to anyone with a love of maps, this book introduces one of the coolest magical artifacts of the series.

Harry and company start Divination this year. Anyone who has problems with the “magic” elements of the Harry Potter series needs to hear about this subject. Almost all the magic in Harry Potter is of a mechanical nature. Divination is the one area that most closely approaches “real magic” or that of a medium type. Yet we see that it is just as fake as in the real world. Predicting the future in Rowling’s magical world is just as much a scam as in ours. Occasionally a true prophecy is revealed, but no one controls that power.

Finally, we are beginning to see into Harry’s past. In Azkaban we begin to see into the school days of Harry’s parents. We find out more in book 5 (which relates closely to 3) but we get hints here.

1 comment:

  1. Ok, you reallly need to give up this series before I lose my will-power and spend the next three weeks rereading the books!

    Seriously though, great reflections!


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