Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’: Chapter 22

In the twenty-second (and final) chapter of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry and Hermione manage to escape from creating a time paradox. Snape’s furious that Black has escaped (surprise?), and Dumbledore offers some sage advice. Then, on the way back to the Dursleys, Harry gets the best letter of his entire life. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.


I didn’t feel the same gripping sensation of suspense at Harry and Hermione’s time traveling dilemmas as much as the previous chapter. Whereas chapter 21 forced our favorite people ever to confront having to relive a fairly traumatic experience and NOT intervene, this chapter only really deals with the two of them returning to the infirmary without being spotted.

And let’s be honest here: there are four more books left and I highly doubt that they’re going to deal with the intricacies of time travel. So they’re going to get back in the room.

Suspense doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t know the endgame. A great example: I grew up obsessively watching The X-Files, which, by the way, is the single greatest television show to ever air. And every week, you knew that Scully and Mulder were going to survive. They had to! But the suspense came from the method: How were they going to survive? How were they going to make it out of this specific situation?

I’m not that interested in dicing and criticizing Rowling that much in this chapter, but I felt like she was just going through the motions to get Harry and Hermione back in that room. But there was one really cool part at the end of it.

  • Dumbledore backed out of the room, closed the door, and took out his wand to magically lock it. Panicking, Harry and Hermione ran forward. Dumbledore looked up, and a wide smile appeared under the long silver mustache. “Well?” he said quietly.

    “We did it!” said Harry breathlessly. “Sirius has gone, on Buckbeak….”

    Dumbledore beamed at them.

    “Well done. I think–” He listened intently for any sound within the hospital wing. “Yes, I think you’ve gone too–get inside–I’ll lock you in–“

I love time travel loops. This means Dumbledore saw them before they ever left the room. Oh god, did I mention I love time travel? Guys, I love time travel.

This also presents a wonderful opportunity to enrage Snape beyond comprehension. He obviously knows that Black could not have simply disappeared out the castle, so he, naturally, blames Harry Potter.

  • “OUT WITH IT, POTTER!” he bellowed. “WHAT DID YOU DO?”

    “Professor Snape!” shrieked Madam Pomfrey. “Control yourself!”

    “See here, Snape, be reasonable,” said Fudge. “This door’s been locked, we just saw–“

    “THEY HELPED HIM ESCAPE, I KNOW IT!” Snape howled, pointing at Harry and Hermione. His face was twisted; spit was flying from his mouth.

    “Calm down, man!” Fudge barked. You’re talking nonsense!”

    “YOU DON’T KNOW POTTER!” shrieked Snape. “HE DID IT, I KNOW HE DID IT–“

    “That will do, Severus,” Dumbledore said quietly. “Think about what you are saying. This door has been locked since I left the ward ten minutes ago. Madam Pomfrey, have these students left their beds?”

    “Of course not!” said Madam Pomfrey, bristling. “I would have heard them. “

    “Well, there you have it, Severus,” said Dumbledore calmly. “Unless you are suggesting that Harry and Hermione are able to be in two places at once, I’m afraid I don’t see any point in troubling them further.”

    Snape stood there, seething, staring from Fudge, who looked thoroughly shocked at his behavior, to Dumbledore, who eyes were twinkling behind his glasses. Snape whirled about, robes swishing behind him, and stormed out of the ward.

Oh god, IN YOUR FACE, SNAPE. I love you deeply, Dumbledore.

The book moves at a much quicker pace to close the narrative, but I wanted to point something out:

  • Sitting near the lake, watching the giant squid waving its tentacles lazily above the water, harry lost the thread of the conversation as he looked across to the opposite bank.


Hagrid shows up and reveals that Professor Lupin is packing to leave the school because Snape publicly revealed that he is a werewolf.

  • “No, Professor Dumbledore managed to convince Fudge that I was trying to save your lives.” He sighed. “That was the final straw for Severus. I think the loss of the Order of Merlin hit him hard. So he–er–accidentally let slip that I am a werewolf this morning at breakfast.”

Thanks for being a mature adult, Snape. UGGGGGHHHHH.

My love affair for Lupin continues, though I was pretty sad to see him go. Ugh, please come back in a future book?

  • “Here–I brought this back from the Shrieking Shack last night,” he said, handing Harry back the Invisibility Cloak. “And…” He hesitated, then held out the Marauder’s Map too. “I am no longer your teacher, so I don’t feel guilty about giving you back this as well. It’s no use to me, and I daresay you, Ron, and Hermione will find uses for it.”

My heart is swelling.

Dumbledore arrives to bid Lupin goodbye, and his conversation with Harry is seriously nuts. Not only does he help Harry deal with the guilt of possibly letting Pettigrew get away, but he also helps Harry deal with the lingering desire to see his father, not just a Patronus shaped like his Animagus.

  • “It was stupid, thinking it was him,” he muttered. “I mean, I knew he was dead.”

    “You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don’t recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble? Your father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him. How else could you produce that particular Patronus? Prongs rode again last night.”

    It took a moment for Harry to realize what Dumbledore had said.

    “Last night Sirius told me all about how they became Animagi,” said Dumbledore, smiling. “An extraordinary achievement–not least, keeping it from me. And then I remembered the most unusual form your Patronus took, when it charged Mr. Malfoy down at your Quidditch match against Ravenclaw. You know, Harry, in a way, you did see your father last night….You found him inside yourself.

    And Dumbledore left the office, leaving Harry to his very confused thoughts.

This is so particularly beautiful that I could weep.

And I do like that, despite that the past two books ended on such a high note, Rowling is ok allowing Harry to explore some more depressing thoughts:

  • It wasn’t only Professor Lupin’s departure that was weighing on Harry’s mind. He couldn’t help thinking a lot about Professor Trelawney’s prediction. He kept wondering where Pettigrew was no, whether he had sought sanctuary with Voldemort yet. But the thing that was lowering Harry’s spirits most of all was the prospect of returning to the Dursleys. For maybe half an hour, a glorious half hour, he had believed he would be living with Sirius from now on…his parents’ best friend….It would have been the next best thing to having his own father back. And while no news of Sirius was definitely good news, because it meant he had successfully gone into hiding, Harry couldn’t help but feel miserable when he thought of the home he might have had, and the fact that it was now impossible.

Cannot frown any more than I already am. Seriously.

But Rowling knows how to turn my frown upside-down. And in a completely bittersweet way.

I’m going to republish sirius Black’s letter in whole because it might just be my favorite part of this whole book. I’m filled for hope that he’ll return and that we can explore his character further. The joy he’s given Harry is unparalleled to anything he’s experienced at Hogwarts and…is it bad that I just want Harry to be happy?

Anyway, here’s Sirius’s letter, which utterly breaks my heart in every way imaginable.

  • Dear Harry, I hope this finds you before you reach your aunt and uncle. I don’t know whether they’re used to owl post. Buckbeak and I are in hiding. I won’t tell you where, in case this owl falls into the wrong hands. I have some doubt about his reliability, but he is the best I could find, and he did seem eager for the job. I believe the dementors are still searching for me, but they haven’t a hope of finding me here. I am planning to allow some Muggles to glimpse me soon, a long way from Hogwarts, so that the security on the castle will be lifted. There is something I never got around to telling you during our brief meeting. It was I who sent you the Firebolt. Crookshanks took the order to the Owl Office for me. I used your name but told them to take the gold from my own Gringotts vault. Please consider it as thirteen birthdays; worth of presents from your godfather. I would also like to apologize for the fright I think I gave you that night last year when you left your uncle’s house. I had only hoped to get a glimpse of you before starting my journey north, but I think the sight of me alarmed you. I am enclosing something else for you, which I think will make your next year at Hogwarts more enjoyable. If ever you need me, send word. Your owl will find me. I’ll write again soon. Sirius

    P.S: I thought your friend Ron might like to keep this owl, as it’s my fault he no longer has a rat.

He also encloses a permission slip so that Harry can attend Hogsmeade.

Excuse me while I SOB FOR HOURS.

I love the final sentence of this book:

  • And, grinning broadly at the look of horror on Uncle Vernon’s face, Harry set off toward the station exit, Hedwig rattling along in front of him, for what looked like a much better summer than the last.

On that note, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ends in the polar opposite in the way it began. Bathed in disappointment, grief, and disgust at living with the Dursleys, he’s returned to their house on Privet Drive full of the one thing that can combat all of that:


I suppose that The Prisoner of Azkaban deals mostly with how fear and hope intersect. Harry’s forced to deal with the demons (literal and figurative) of his past, even though it’s full of people he never knew and actions he never committed.

Sure, there are some narrative problems throughout the book. But I’m definitely in the camp that feels that Rowling’s storytelling far surpasses her weaknesses as a writer. The game has completely changed. We’re left with some open ends that will surely be visited in future books. And, most importantly, our characters changed. A lot.

If you remember from my final review of Breaking Dawn, one of my main gripes about the series was that the characters did not progress even the slightest bit. No one lost anything, matured, grew up, changed their outlook…it was all the same.

That isn’t the case with these characters. Hermione had to deal with the physical and mental effects of her own overachieving brain; she actually is choosing to tone down the amount of studies for the following year. Ron had to deal with his petty, immature clash with Hermione and how much his words and actions could affect his friends.

The main characters in this book are all multi-faceted, flawed, and far more realistic than I expected for a fantasy series. And siriously, must I bring forth the example of Sirius Black as possibly the best character transformation LIKE EVER? Y/Y?

I will definitely say that you guys were right: if I hadn’t enjoyed Harry Potter up to this point, the third book would cement me as a glorious fanboy. This is simply fantastic. I am hooked on this series and I can’t wait to read more.

And, because I can’t finish this any other way…

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a flawed, but generally fantastic book that deals with facing your fears in an intelligent and fascinating way, and is now my favorite book in the series. Bring it on,Goblet of Fire.

PS: DON’T FORGET! Liveblog of the third movie is TOMORROW at 12pm PST!