- "Out of the five books I've published, writing Azkaban was the easiest, and in some ways I think that shows.."
- —J.K. Rowling
To Jill Prewett and Aine Kiely, the Godmothers of Swing
Harry Potter is lucky to reach the age of thirteen, since he has already survived the murderous attacks of the feared Dark Lord on more than one occasion. But his hopes for a quiet term concentrating on Quidditch are dashed when a maniacal mass-murderer escapes from Azkaban, pursued by the soul-sucking Dementors who guard the prison. It's assumed that Hogwarts is the safest place for Harry to be. But is it a coincidence that he can feel eyes watching him in the dark, and should he be taking Professor Trelawney's ghoulish predictions seriously?
Chapter 1: Owl Post
- "Harry scanned the moving photograph, and a grin spread across his face as he saw all nine of the Weasleys waving furiously at him...Right in the middle of the picture was Ron, tall and gangling, with his pet rat, Scabbers, on his shoulder..."
- —Harry seeing the photography of the Weasleys in Egypt.
Harry Potter spends another horrible summer with the Dursleys in mid-1993. On 31 July (his thirteenth birthday), after midnight, he receives gifts and letters from Rubeus Hagrid, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger, each wishing him a happy birthday. According to Ron, his dad, Arthur Weasley, won a Daily Prophet Prize Draw for seven hundred galleons. Mr. Weasley then took the family to Egypt to visit his eldest son, Bill Weasley using the prize money, with the remainder being used to provide Ron with a new wand to replace the one that was broken last year. Harry also learns that Percy Weasley is entering his seventh year at Hogwarts and has been named Head Boy. According to Hermione, she and her parents are currently spending the holiday in France. Another letter arrives from Hogwarts, saying third years are allowed to visit the village of Hogsmeade and that their parent or guardian needs to sign the permission form in order for them to do so.
Chapter 2: Aunt Marge's Big Mistake
- "Bad blood will out. Now, I'm saying nothing against your family, Petunia, but your sister was a bad egg. They turn up in the best families. Then she ran off with a wastrel and here's the result right in front of us."
- —Marjorie Dursley, about Lily Potter.
Vernon Dursley's sister, Marjorie "Marge" Dursley, comes to visit her brother's home. Harry agrees to behave normally during her visit, if his uncle will sign his permission form. After a few days with her, she insults Harry by calling his father, James Potter, a drunk. Harry loses his temper and accidentally inflates her. She floats away, and Harry decides to take Hedwig and his school things and run away, fearing he will almost certainly be expelled from Hogwarts, after using magic outside school.
Chapter 3: The Knight Bus
He reaches Magnolia Crescent and sees a black dog staring at him. In his shock, Harry falls and the Knight Bus, a triple-decker bus designed for wizard transportation, arrives. The dog vanishes and is nowhere in sight. Harry meets the Knight Bus's conductor, Stan Shunpike and the driver, Ernie Prang. Harry departs with the Knight Bus to the Leaky Cauldron in London. He learns from the Daily Prophet, Sirius Black, a convict and a follower of Lord Voldemort, broke-out of Azkaban, the first person to ever do so. He was imprisoned for murdering thirteen people with a single curse in 1981, right after the Potters' murder. At the Leaky Cauldron, he meets the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, in person, though Harry has to pretend that he doesn't know him since Harry and Ron were technically breaking school rules during their previous school year when they saw him in Hagrid's Hut. After explaining that Marge has been restored to normal and her memory modified, to Harry's surprise, Fudge doesn't take any action against him. Fudge books a room for Harry, where he will stay for the rest of the summer, but refuses to sign Harry's Hogsmeade permission slip.
Chapter 4: The Leaky Cauldron
- "Are you planning to eat or sleep at all this year, Hermione?"
- —Harry referring to Hermione's number of classes.
Harry spends the rest of the holidays in Diagon Alley, and on the last day of the holidays, meets up with Ron, Hermione and the rest of the Weasleys. To Ron's displeasure, Hermione adopts a cat, Crookshanks, who harasses Ron's pet rat Scabbers. At some point during the night before 1 September, the day he leaves for Hogwarts, Harry overhears a conversation between Ron's parents, Arthur and Molly Weasley. From what he hears, he learns that when Voldemort met his downfall, Black lost everything, and is now trying to kill Harry. Harry realises that Fudge let him off because he was relieved to find Harry alive. He is unconcerned about Black, doubting that he could harm him at Hogwarts, with headmaster Albus Dumbledore around.
Chapter 5: The Dementor
- "I felt weird, like I'd never be cheerful again..."
- —Ron, about the Dementor.
The next day, shortly before he boards the Hogwarts Express, Arthur tried to warn him about Black and makes him promise not to go looking for Black no matter what he hears. On the train, Harry, Ron, and Hermione share a compartment with Professor Remus Lupin, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. After several hours, the train breaks down and a sinister, cloaked figure enters. It sucks the happiness out of Harry, who faints, possibly to kiss him, until Lupin drives it off with a spell.
Lupin explains that the creature was a Dementor, a guard of Azkaban, and that they were searching the train for Sirius Black. At Hogwarts, Draco Malfoy taunts him over his reaction to the Dementor. After the sorting ceremony, Dumbledore announces the two changes in staffing during the year: Lupin, and Hagrid, who has been made the Care of Magical Creatures teacher in lieu of the retirement of Professor Kettleburn. Dumbledore also announces that Dementors are to be stationed around the school, as a precaution against Black.
Chapter 6: Talons and Tea Leaves
- "Then you should know, Potter, that Sibyll Trelawney has predicted the death of one student a year since she arrived at this school. None of them has died yet. Seeing death omens is her favorite way of greeting a new class."
- —Professor McGonagall, about predictions.
Although initially nervous, Harry successfully approaches and then rides a grey hippogriff named Buckbeak. Later in the lesson, Malfoy, who had not been listening to Hagrid's lecture, insults Buckbeak, causing it to slash his arm with its talons. He is taken to the hospital wing, and Hagrid fears that he will take the blame for letting Buckbeak attack Malfoy, even though Malfoy provoked it in the first place.
Chapter 7: The Boggart in the Wardrobe
- "What would it have been for you? A piece of homework that only got nine out of ten?"
- —Ron, to Hermione about her Boggart.
Later in the week, in Potions, Malfoy returns with a heavily bandaged arm. Although it is implied that he is exaggerating the seriousness of the injury, there is no way to prove it. Harry learns that Black has been sighted near Hogwarts. During the lesson, Malfoy hints that Black may be connected to Harry's past. In Defence against the Dark Arts, Lupin teaches the third years about Boggarts, shape-shifters that take the shape of a person's worst fear. The class then take on the Boggart, forcing it to assume a shape they find amusing. When it comes to Harry's turn, the Boggart transforms into a Dementor and Lupin repels the boggart for him, which takes the shape of the moon. Harry is disappointed that Lupin does not let him fight the Boggart, thinking that Lupin feels he is not up to the task.
Chapter 8: Flight of the Fat Lady
- "Oh yes, Professorhead, he got very angry when she wouldn't let him, you see. Nasty temper he's got, that Sirius Black."
- —Peeves to Professor Dumbledore regarding the Fat Lady.
In October, third years visit Hogsmeade on the weekend, and only Harry isn't allowed, because his uncle did not sign his permission form. Harry then spends the day in Lupin's office, drinking tea with him. Lupin tells him that he didn't have Harry practise the spell, assuming his boggart would become Lord Voldemort. He learns that Lupin was an old school friend of Harry's father, James. Shortly afterwards, Snape appears with a mysterious potion for Lupin. Lupin claims to simply have an illness that is aided by the potion. A few hours later, Ron and Hermione return. They reach the portrait of the Fat Lady and see it slashed and the Fat Lady gone. When Dumbledore, Argus Filch, and Percy find her after Peeves reveals that he saw her fleeing through another portrait because she would not allow Sirius Black into Gryffindor Tower. Every student is moved in the Great Hall to sleep, while teachers search the castle. They fail to find any sign of Black, and Snape suggests that someone inside the castle helped Black enter it. Dumbledore refutes this argument.
Chapter 9: Grim Defeat
- "Well, you know the Whomping Willow. It - it doesn't like being hit."
- —Ron regarding Harry's Nimbus 2000.
Lupin becomes ill and Snape takes his place whenever he's absent. Oddly, he ignores Lupin's syllabus and instead gives a lesson on werewolves. The Quidditch season also begins during this time, but due to Malfoy's injury, Gryffindor are unable to play against Slytherin, so they play against Hufflepuff in the first match instead. It is raining badly, and Harry sees a large black dog in the topmost empty row of seats in the Quidditch stadium, which appears to be the grim. Dementors enter the match, causing Harry to faint and fall from his broomstick. Dumbledore saves Harry, but his Nimbus 2000 broomstick flies into the Whomping Willow and is destroyed, and Hufflepuff win the match shortly afterwards. After the match, Harry asks Lupin if he can give him private lessons on teaching him the spell to drive off Dementors in case another one arrives at the next match. Lupin says he will, but after the Christmas holidays citing his frequent illness.
Chapter 10: The Marauders' Map
- "This little beauty's taught us more than all the teachers in this school... Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs... We owe them so much."
- —Fred and George Weasley, about the Marauder's Map.
During the holidays, while the staying students visit Hogsmeade, Harry is yet again not able to go. To bring some Christmas cheer to Harry, Fred and George reveal they know, apart from Filch, secret passages in and out of Hogwarts. They give Harry the Marauder's Map as a Christmas present, and instruct him in using it. It shows Hogwarts' secret passages, corridors, classrooms, offices, common rooms, etc. and also shows every person's location within the castle and the grounds. Harry uses it to sneak into Hogsmeade. He then meets Ron and Hermione in Honeydukes where they were discussing what kind of candy to get Harry. Afterward they visit the Three Broomsticks, a pub run by Madam Rosmerta. When Cornelius Fudge, Minerva McGonagall, Filius Flitwick and Rubeus Hagrid arrive, Harry must hide underneath their table to avoid being seen and the trio overhear a conversation between them and Madam Rosmerta, in which they discuss how Sirius Black was the Potters' closest friend, to the point of making him Harry's Godfather. However Sirius betrayed the Potters to Voldemort, and how, when approached by another of the Potters' friends, Peter Pettigrew, he killed him and a street full of Muggles. After leaving the building, Harry vows that when he finds Black, he will kill him, avenging his parents and Pettigrew.
Chapter 11: The Firebolt
- "Dumbledore, Hagrid, Mr. Weasley, Cornelius Fudge... why hadn't anyone ever mentioned the fact that Harry's parents had died because their best friend had betrayed them?"
- —Harry mulling over what he heard about Black.
On the Holidays, Harry, Ron and Hermione go to visit Hagrid, find him distraught about Buckbeak 's hearing before the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creature. For Christmas, Harry receives a new broomstick, the Firebolt; the best model ever released. Hermione sends it to McGonagall to test it for tampering, because she suspects Black might have sent it to him and it could be jinxed. This causes Harry to cease speaking with her even though he knows she had good intentions.
Chapter 12: The Patronus
- "Oh no... Much worse than that. You can exist without your soul, you know, as long as your brain and heart are still working. But you'll have no sense of self anymore, no memory, no ... anything. There's no chance at all of recovery. You'll just -- exist. As an empty shell. And your soul is gone forever ... lost. "
- —Remus Lupin, on the dementor's kiss.
Ron and Hermione start to row often after Crookshanks begins attacking Scabbers non-stop. Meanwhile, Harry starts his lessons with Lupin. Lupin tells Harry that the spell to drive off Dementors is called the Patronus Charm, instructs him in how to cast one, and lets him practise on a Boggart. Harry cannot produce one at first. This, however, is to be expected; the Patronus Charm is well beyond O.W.L. standard. After a number of lessons, he becomes quite good, but doesn't master it entirely, Lupin soon explains the concept of a Dementor's Kiss.
Chapter 13: Gryffindor versus Ravenclaw
- "She was shorter than Harry by about a head, and Harry couldn't help noticing, nervous as he was, that she was extremely pretty."
- —The begining of Harry's interest in Cho Chang.
As March arrives, a new Quidditch match approaches: Gryffindor vs. Ravenclaw. A few days before the match, McGonagall gives Harry back the Firebolt allowing him to get some time to practice with it before the match begins. Harry and Ron go to make up with Hermione, but on the same day, Scabbers disappears, ruining any chance for Ron and Hermione's reconciliation. Just as Harry is about to catch the Snitch, Cho Chang, a fourth year Seeker for the Ravenclaw team, screams. Harry looks around and sees three Dementors in the stands. He reacts instantly, unknowingly sending a full-fledged Patronus at the dementors. Harry catches the Snitch, winning the match before Cho can. Lupin compliments Harry on his Patronus, and shows Harry that the "dementors" were really Draco Malfoy, Vincent Crabbe, Gregory Goyle, and the Slytherin team captain Marcus Flint dressed as dementors trying to sabotage Harry resulting in McGonagall taking fifty points away from Slytherin, and sentencing all four of them to detention as punishment. However, at night, Ron sees Black, slashing his curtains while sleeping, in the boys' dormitories. Everyone thinks it might be a nightmare, but the curtains were indeed ripped, and the replacement portrait, Sir Cadogan admits he let Sirius Black into the Tower as he had the password, which Neville Longbottom had written down and misplaced. Another search of the castle takes place, but Black evades discovery again. The Fat Lady resumes her duty guarding Gryffindor Tower.
Chapter 14: Snape's Grudge
- "Mr. Prongs agrees with Mr. Moony, and would like to add that Professor Snape is an ugly git."
- —The Marauder's Map writing the insult to Snape.
While on another Hogsmeade trip, Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle provoke Ron. Harry, under his Invisibility Cloak, attacks the trio and Malfoy catches a glimpse of Harry's head and later reports it to Snape, who interrogates Harry after he returns from Hogsmeade. He finds the Marauder's Map, but isn't able to discover its true identity as he doesn't use it properly. Lupin is summoned where he feigns ignorance about the map. Afterward, he brings Harry to his office where he confiscates the map, and reprimands Harry for not handing in a valuable source of information on Hogwarts, as well as risking his parents' sacrifice to sneak into Hogsmeade.
Via a letter from Hagrid, Hermione finds out that the Ministry has decided to execute Buckbeak. The event causes the friends to reconcile. After she sees Malfoy mock Hagrid, Hermione smacks him in the face. She then accidentally skips Charms. In Divination, Hermione finally explodes, and drops the class.
Chapter 15: The Quidditch Final
- Oliver Wood: "So you must catch it only if we're more than fifty points up... Only if we're more than fifty points up, Harry, or we win the match but lose the Cup. You've got that, Haven't you? You must catch the Snitch only if we're..."
- Harry Potter: "I KNOW, OLIVER!"
- — Wood constantly nagging Harry about the final Quidditch game.
In May, the Quidditch final approaches: Gryffindor vs. Slytherin, with Gryffindor needing to be more than fifty points ahead before Harry can catch the Golden Snitch to win not only the match, but also having enough points to overtake Slytherin in obtaining the Quidditch Cup. On the morning of the match, Harry catches another glimpse of the dog, with Crookshanks. In the match, Gryffindor take an early lead, and Slytherin resort to all manner of dirty tactics, which helps the Gryffindor team to have penalty shots allowing them to get further ahead. Eventually, Harry manages to win the match at the right moment, allowing Gyffindor to come in first in the overall points and earn the Quidditch cup.
Chapter 16: Professor Trelawney's Prediction
- "IT WILL HAPPEN TONIGHT."
- —The beggining of Professor Trelawney prediction.
The students take their end of year exams in June. After Harry's Divination final, Trelawney genuinely predicts that Voldemort's servant will return to him that night, and Voldemort will once again rise to full power. Meanwhile, Buckbeak's appeal fails, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione go to Hagrid's cabin even though he asks them not to, to console him before Buckbeak is executed. Hermione finds Scabbers in a milk jug and returns him to Ron. After the trio depart, Dumbledore, Fudge, a representative of the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures, and the executioner, Walden Macnair, arrive. Buckbeak is then apparently executed.
- Sirius Black: "Going to kill me, Harry?"
- Harry Potter: "You killed my parents."
- Sirius Black: "I don’t deny it... But if you knew the whole story."
- — In the Shrieking Shack.
Shortly afterwards, Scabbers escapes from Ron's grasp. Harry, Ron and Hermione run after him, where they see the black dog and Crookshanks. After Ron catches Scabbers, the dog grabs him by the foot (breaking his leg in the process) and pulls him in a passage under the Whomping Willow. Harry, Hermione, and Crookshanks follow after them. The passage leads them to the Shrieking Shack, where they find Ron, Scabbers, and Sirius Black, who was the dog that dragged Ron to the Shrieking Shack. Harry manages to overpower and subdue Black, who admits that he was responsible for the death of his parents. Lupin then arrives, and is accused by Hermione of being Black's accomplice, and a werewolf, revealing that she found out following Snape's lesson on werewolves, as well as a number of other signs: he was always absent on nights of the full moon which is also his Boggart. Lupin admits that he is a werewolf, but denies the charge of helping Black. He explains that he found out where Harry, Ron and Hermione went through the Marauder's Map , being one of the four writers of it. He also adds that he saw a supposedly dead person on the map with the trio; Peter Pettigrew , in the form of Scabbers. Sirius Black reveals that he is Harry's godfather.
- "But make it quick, Remus. I want to commit the murder I was imprisoned for..."
- —Sirius Black, about killing Pettigrew.
Harry, Ron and Hermione refuse to believe that Pettigrew is alive, pointing out that he was murdered by Black. Black denies this, and Lupin convinces him to tell Harry the truth of what happened. Lupin tells the story about his time at Hogwarts; he had been bitten as a child, and Dumbledore took precautions for his stay at Hogwarts, having the Shrieking Shack, and the passage leading to it built to provide Lupin with a safe place to transform. The Whomping Willow was planted on the entrance to the tunnel, to prevent anyone running into the transformed Lupin. Eventually, Lupin's friends, Sirius, Pettigrew and James Potter discovered Lupin's secret, and became Animagi to support him; Sirius became a dog, to keep Lupin under control with James, and Pettigrew became a rat, so he could disable the Willow. Lupin admits that he hasn't told Dumbledore about Sirius being an animagus, as it would have meant admitting that he had betrayed his trust, leading three students into becoming animagi. He also reveals the reason for Snape 's animosity towards him during the year; during their days at school, Sirius had played a near-fatal trick on Snape involving Lupin.
Chapter 19: The Servant of Lord Voldemort
- "I must admit, Peter, I have difficulty in understanding why an innocent man would want to spend twelve years as a rat."
- —Lupin, about Peter Pettigrew.
Snape arrives and tries to arrest Lupin and Black, but Harry, Ron, and Hermione, curious to hear the rest of the story, stun Snape. According to Lupin, Pettigrew was the Potters' Secret-Keeper, and he, not Black, revealed the whereabouts to Voldemort. He was a spy for Voldemort, and he is his servant. After the Potters' murder, Black confronted Pettigrew, who killed the twelve muggles and faked his own death by cutting his finger and turning into a rat and escaping, framing Black for the crimes. Black was innocent all along and means no harm to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. He broke out of Azkaban after seeing the Weasleys in Egypt in the Daily Prophet. He saw Scabbers and immediately recognised it was Pettigrew in his Animagus form (Pettigrew was missing a finger, Scabbers was missing a toe). He searched for Pettigrew to kill him and avenge the Potters. He and Lupin force Scabbers to turn into Pettigrew. Before Lupin and Black can kill Pettigrew, Harry stops them, saying that James would not want his two best friends to become killers. The group takes Pettigrew back to the grounds, where he will be handed to the Dementors.
Chapter 20: The Dementor's Kiss
- "Are you mad? Of course I want to leave the Dursleys! Have you got a house? When can I move in?"
- —Harry to Sirius.
Sirius and Harry talk about the former's friendship with his parents, before Sirius tells Harry that he can choose to live with him if he wishes. Harry quickly and happily agrees, knowing this would mean he would never have to the return to the Dursleys.
Unfortunately, the full moon rises, causing Lupin, who had not taken his Wolfsbane Potion, to turn into a werewolf and allowing Pettigrew to turn into a rat and escape. During Wormtail's escape he knocks out Ron. Harry and Hermione run after Lupin and Black (who is transformed into a dog). After seriously injuring Black, Lupin flees to the Forbidden Forest. However, a hundred Dementors arrive and suck the happiness from Harry, Hermione, and Black and attempt to perform a Kiss on Harry, Hermione and Black. Before they all faint, Harry sees a familiar figure across the lake, who conjures a powerful, stag shaped Patronus that drives all the Dementors away.
- "What we need... is more time... If all goes well, you will be able to save more than one innocent life tonight. But remember this, both of you: you must not be seen."
- —Dumbledore, instructing Harry and Hermione.
Harry, Hermione, and Ron are taken to the hospital wing, and Black is taken to West Tower, where he is sentenced to a Dementors Kiss. When Dumbledore arrives Harry and Hermione try to tell him what actually happened, but Dumbledore tells them that he cannot save Black, as the evidence against him is too great since Snape had lied about what happened earlier to Cornelius Fudge and that the Minister will not take the words of underage students seriously.
Dumbledore gives them instructions and bids them good luck. Hermione reveals she has a Time-Turner, a device that will take them back through time, which explains why throughout the year, there had been occasions of her taking multiple classes at the same time, and apparently disappearing into thin air. Harry and Hermione travel three hours into the past, watching themselves in the previous events. They manage to rescue Buckbeak before Macnair can execute him. While the "other Harry and Hermione" and Ron enter the Shrieking Shack, Harry and Hermione hide in the Forbidden Forest. During this time Harry tells Hermione about the man he saw across the lake and how he thinks it was his father who conjured the Patronus. After two hours, Harry goes to see himself, Hermione, and Black fainting from Dementors. He discovers that the silver stag he saw earlier across the lake was not cast by his dad, it was himself and conjures a powerful Patronus that drives all the Dementors away. When it returns to him, he pets it and realises that it was "Prongs", his father. He and Hermione fly on Buckbeak to West Tower , after Black has been sent there. They free him, and he flies on Buckbeak and escapes before the time restores itself to normal.
Chapter 22: Owl Post Again
- Vernon Dursley: "You haven't got a godfather!"
- Harry Potter: "Yes, I have. He was my mum and dad's best friend. He's a convicted murderer, but he's broken out of wizard prison and he's on the run. He likes to keep in touch with me, though...keep up with my news...check I'm happy..."
- — Harry telling Uncle Vernon about Sirius.
Lupin resigns, after everyone discovers that he is a werewolf. Harry feels bad for not letting Lupin and Black kill Pettigrew, realising that he was the servant of Voldemort that would aid his return that Trelawney mentioned. Dumbledore reminds Harry that he saved Black, an innocent man, from a terrible fate and that Pettigrew owes a life debt to Harry for saving him, which Dumbledore is sure will prove useful later on. Before departing, Lupin gives Harry back the Marauder's Map. Gryffindor wins the House Cup and the Quidditch Cup. Fudge agrees to remove the Dementors from Hogwarts due to the Dementors' attempt to perform the Dementor's Kiss on Harry the previous night. The students return to London aboard the Hogwarts Express. An owl from Black arrives on the train. On the letter , Black admits he bought Harry the Firebolt, and gives Ron the owl (later named Pigwidgeon by Ginny), as it's Black's fault Ron no longer has a rat. He also provides Harry with permission to visit Hogsmeade. After arriving at King's Cross, Harry heads back to Little Whinging with the Dursleys, and Ron says he will contact Harry about whether they are going to go to the final of the Quidditch World Cup. Harry is also happy he now has a true family member to depend on.
Behind the scenes
- Along with Half-Blood Prince, this is one of the books in the series in which the US and UK cover artwork depict the same scene and the same characters. In addition, all cover artwork for any edition in any country depicts this scene, with the exception of the Adult version, the Signature Bloomsbury version and the German version.
- The Prisoner of Azkaban is the only book to not have a chapter with the same name as the title of the book, apart from the Philosopher's Stone.
- Although somewhat darker than the previous two books, this one holds the distinction of being the only Harry Potter book where no one actually dies during the events of the book (with the possible exception of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, where the Basilisk, a magical creature of indeterminate sentience, was the only being to die).
- This is the only book where Voldemort is not seen, only mentioned, whether in past or present.
- This is the first of two books in which the title refers to a character, the other being the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
- This is the only book in the series whose name has a word completely original to the series, this word being "Azkaban".
- One of the biggest morals from the series is that it is not one's abilities that make them who they are; it is their choices. However, the climax of this book possibly creates a predestination paradox, which, essentially, negates the doctrine of free will.
- This is the only book where the main antagonist is not directly or indirectly (in the case of book 5) influenced by Voldemort or is Voldemort himself.
- There is some confusion about when Sirius Black escaped, and when Fudge went to meet him. Mr. Weasley is heard telling Mrs. Weasley that Fudge went on an Azkaban Inspection "on the day he (Sirius) escaped," and that the Dementors told him (Fudge) that Sirius had been saying "He's at Hogwarts," for some time now. But, later in the book, during his visit at the Three Broomsticks, he says that he gave Sirius his copy of the Daily Prophet on his 'latest visit' before Sirius's escape, and near the end of the book, Sirius says he realised that Pettigrew was at Hogwarts by seeing his picture in the Daily Prophet that Fudge gave to him.
- Possible Explanation: This isn't actually an error. Fudge is talking about two separate visits. The "latest visit BEFORE Sirius escape" and the "Azkaban inspection on THE DAY he escaped." As we find out in later books that Sirius escape which considered such a high breach of sercurity that Fudge even had to inform the muggle priminister it is highly likely that as soon as he heard news of Sirius escape he rushed to the visit prison to carry out an "inspection." An inspection under these dire circumstances wouldn't be considered a friendly visit.
- In early British editions of the book, as Harry does his summer assignment in the first chapter, "Owl Post", he uses the textbook A History of Magic by Adalbert Waffling. But the real author of the book is Bathilda Bagshot, as mentioned in other books and a point emphasised in Deathly Hallows. Or perhaps, Bathilda Bagshot improved or changed the book; she could also have written a later edition of the book. The American edition and later editions of the English version correct this error.
- When Harry, Ron, and Hermione board the Hogwarts Express, it is noted that they sit in the only available compartment at the end of the train. As the train continues however, it is said that students constantly pass by the compartment and back. This would be impossible as you can't go past the last compartment.
- Possible explanation: It was the last available compartment to sit in. There still could have been another compartment after used as a washroom or storage.
- Before Harry and Hermione go back in time, it mentions that Buckbeak is tied to a tree. But when they go back in time, Buckbeak is tied to a fence.
- When Harry is buying his books at Flourish and Blotts, it mentions that he is being served by the manager. But when Harry was staring at the book 'Death Omens,' it says that he is being served by the assistant of the store.
- The length of time Sirius has known Pettigrew is hiding at Hogwarts is inconsistent. From Mr. Weasley's conversation at the Leaky Cauldron in chapter four, Sirius has known about it for several months. But in the Shrieking Shack in chapter eighteen, Sirius says that he first learned about it the night he escaped from Azkaban. However, it is possible that Sirius may have been referring to someone else, perhaps Harry or Voldemort. Sirius would know that Harry is at Hogwarts by the time that he is reported to start talking in his sleep and he might have heard about the Chamber of Secrets incident when Hagrid was imprisoned here.
- When they first come out of the Shrieking Shack, the order is Crookshanks, Lupin, Pettigrew, Ron, Snape, Harry, Hermione, and Sirius. However, when they go back in time, the order is now Lupin, Pettigrew, Ron, Hermione, Snape, Harry, and Sirius. (This is corrected in later editions of the book.)
- In June, Fred and George Weasley find out they have scraped "a few O.W.L.s apiece". However, in subsequent books, it is firmly established that O.W.L. results are sent home by owl and are not received until August. A possible explanation for this would be that when Harry and company receive their results, the Ministry of Magic is at war with Voldemort which could have made test grades a lower priority.
- It says "Ron crawled to the four-poster and collapsed onto it". But when Professor Lupin comes in, it says "his eyes flickered over Ron, lying on the floor". This could not be, as Ron should still be on the bed. Crookshanks was on the bed, and 'on the floor beside him.... was Ron' Ron moves from this position to 'protect' Harry. 'If you want to kill Harry, you'll have to kill us too' at this point he is standing, 'clinging painfully to Harry to stay upright'.
- Mr. Weasley says that Ron and Harry have ended up in the Forbidden Forest twice. But only Harry has been in the forest twice. Ron went once to see Aragog with Harry in Chamber of Secrets, but the other time Harry went was for detention in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and Ron wasn't there (he was in the movie, but not the book). This error was corrected in later editions.
- When Harry and Hermione leave from the hospital wing using the Time-Turner, Dumbledore says it is ten minutes until midnight, but on the way back to the ward after they rescue Sirius, they hear Dumbledore say to the other versions of them that it is five minutes to midnight. (This could mean that they took five minutes extra to return to the hospital wing)
- In chapter fifteen, during the Quidditch match, three quarters of the crowd supported Gryffindor but it's also written that the other 200 fans supported Slytherin. This is impossible as there are not 200 Slytherin students or 800 students total at Hogwarts.
- Possible explanation: Actually in a 2000 interview Rowling said there were about 1000 students at Hogwarts. This explanation creates different errors, however, because if there's 40 students per year then the school should have only about 280 students total.
- Possible explanation: Harry's year may have just had a small number of students. There could be more students coming in during different years.
- Chapter sixteen (Professor Trelawney's Prediction) takes place in June 1994. In the beginning of that chapter, Harry Potter reads a note from Hagrid and says, 'Buckbeak's appeal — it's set for the sixth.' The night after the Hippogriff's appeal, Remus Lupin is forced into a werewolf form by the full moon, which means that this happened on the night of June 6th, 1994. The web page HP-Lexicon.org also backs this up. However, a brief look at lunar phase calendar sites such as 1994 and lunar phases in 1994 definitely shows June 9th, 1994, as a new-moon night, which means that a full moon could not possibly rise three days earlier. (It is possible that like dates and days not matching up in the Harry Potter series to the real world, JK Rowling slightly adjusted the moon's phases to fit the story.)
- On the American version of the cover, the front art is the night that Harry and Hermione save Sirius and Buckbeak. However on the back side of the cover, the moon is crescent when it should be a full moon.
- When Lupin looks at the Marauder's Map and sees Harry, Hermione, and Ron going to Hagrid's hut for Buckbeak's appeal, the Harry and Hermione from the future are not far behind them. Doesn't this mean that Lupin would have seen two sets of Harry and Hermione on the map? Also Snape saw the map and would have seen the same thing. (Professor Lupin claims the map never lies.) It could also be the case, however, that at the time of writing the map, the Marauders were unaware of the possibility of Time-Travel. Given that:
- Professor McGonagall went to a lot of trouble to acquire a Time-Turner just so that Hermione could study several subjects at once;
- Hermione's explanation of the disastrous consequences of ill-advised time-traveling;
- The fact that Time is studied in the Department of Mysteries and is therefore a top-secret subject known only to very few people.
- The cover depicts Harry and Hermione riding Buckbeak. Harry's legs are shown to be in front of Buckbeak's wings. However, when Harry was in Care of Magical Creatures and rode Buckbeak for the first time, Hagrid had told him to sit behind the wing joint (as he did in the movie).
- Sirius Black says that Voldemort has been in hiding for fifteen years. He's actually been in hiding for twelve years (almost thirteen at the time that he says it), about the same amount of time since Black was imprisoned. Voldemort went into hiding right after he was ripped from his body after failing to kill Harry. Of course, Black could just be rounding off to an approximated number (fifteen years), but this seems unlikely since he keeps talking about being in Azkaban for twelve years, being that the two time frames are almost exactly the same. Sirius also says to Pettigrew 'you haven't been hiding from me for 12 years, you've been hiding from Voldemort's old supporters'
- During chapter fifteen (pg. 308) it says, "A minute later, Katie had put another penalty past the Slytherin Seeker". When the correct word should have been "Keeper" not "Seeker".
- In Chapter 13, Ravenclaw versus Gryffindor, it is commented that all of the Ravenclaw team is on Cleansweep 7 brooms, but later, Lee Jordan comments that Cho Chang, the Ravenclaw seeker is on a Comet 260 broom. However, it is possible that the rest of the team are on Cleansweeps.
- ""He's friends with that dog," said Harry grimly"
- —chapter 17[src]
- There is possible foreshadowing at the Christmas lunch in chapter 11:
- Page 228 - "I dare not, Headmaster! If I join the table, we shall be thirteen! Nothing could be more unlucky! Never forget that when thirteen dine together, the first to rise will be the first to die!"
- Page 229 - "I doubt," said Dumbledore, in a cheerful but slightly raised voice, which put an end to Professor McGonagall and Professor Trelawney's conversation, "that Professor Lupin is in any immediate danger."
- Harry and Ron are the first at the table to stand up, doing so at the same time, and neither actually dies. Before that, however, Dumbledore "raised" his voice, and his is the first death mentioned of those in attendance.
- A similar bit of foreshadowing involves Sirius, whose animal form is several times mistaken for the grim, a creature connected with death, and Sirius is first to die.
- Another bit of foreshadowing takes place in the chapter "Aunt Marge's Big Mistake". When Uncle Vernon watches the news report about Sirius Black, he gets mad that the reporter didn't say where he escape from and comments, "Lunatic could be coming up the street right now!" He does not know that in a week, this will be true.
The book was also adapted into a film, the third Harry Potter film of the series. The movie Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was released on May 31, 2004 (UK) and on June 4, 2004 (US). It was directed by Alfonso Cuarón and the trio was starred by Daniel Radcliffe , Rupert Grint and Emma Watson.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (soundtrack)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (character index)
- Third year