My sister, Jenny, and I are spending the summer revisiting the Harry Potter series, some of the most read and most anticipated books of our childhood. You can catch up with our thoughts on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (we read the British version) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, or just jump right in with us on book three.
Jenny: For the first time in the re-reading of the series I actually forgot things that happened relating the major plot-line of the story. I did not remember a few key parts about what happens in the Shrieking Shack and when Snape showed up I was just as dumbfounded as I was the first time I read it (or at least I imagine that I was). I love Lupin’s character as well and I wish he did not have to go because I will miss him. He was an awesome teacher and would have proved to be real asset for Harry at the school moving forward.
I really liked this book after I was done with it. I think it is my favorite so far just because it had some of the lighthearted school moments I was looking forward to in the first couple of books and just didn’t find as much of.
My first question for you what did you think overall, and did you catch or notice anything from this book that related to the overall story like you did in the last book?
Kim: I loved this one so much. It was funny — when I talked to a couple different people about reading it, they said it was their favorite book in the series. I can’t say for sure if it’s my favorite just yet, but I loved it a lot more than I did the first two. I think the whole story takes a big leap here — the plot is more sophisticated and Rowling really sets the stage for the conflicts in the next several books even if Voldemort isn’t in it at all.
That was one thing that surprised me. After having Voldemort make an appearance in the first two books, he’s not even really a presence here (other than wondering who his servant is and when they will come back). Other than that, I didn’t pick up on too many hints. But I did forget all about the Snape stuff too, in particular why he hates Sirius (because of the prank) and James (for saving him). Snape’s story has always surprised me, but I think she’s planting the seeds for it early.
Gosh! There is so much to talk about! What do you want to dive into next? Sirius Black? That seems obvious. What do we think of this dude now and into the future?
Jenny: Sirius Black has always bothered me a little bit as a character. He seems like everything you want for Harry and everything you don’t all at the same time. He is there to love Harry and be his family support, and yet he encourages Harry to act recklessly. He encourages him to go out of the safety of school and to grow up quickly. I always wanted him to be a parent but he acts more like a friend. I see why he is this way and how he is using Harry to replace James but he always comes across as shady and reckless — his behavior as a student and his treatment of Snape included. Harry has others in his life to act like parents (Arthur Weasley, Remus Lupin, Professor McGonnagal, Dumbledore, Hagrid, etc.), I just wish Sirius was not such a bad influence.
I read somewhere once that Rowling thought about killing Arthur Weasley instead of Sirus which I am glad she didn’t. While his death saddens me greatly I can honestly say I think it is good for Harry in ways Arthur’s would not have been.
What do think? Do you agree the Sirius is a bad influence and not always a great person for Harry to have as his only wizard family?
Kim: It’s a tough one. My friend Jenny wrote a really interesting post about this in defense of Sirius, pointing out that he’s the only person (of all the adults you mentioned) who consistently makes Harry the most important person in the world. Lots of the other adults try to be parent-like, but they have other priorities that interfere. Sirius does not.
In this book, it’s hard to know yet what to make of Sirus. Clearly he has revenge on his mind and that clouds some of his judgment, but he also tries to be there for Harry and even offers to let him come live with him. I think that’s pretty wonderful. Another wonderful thing about this book is Lupin. I just can’t get over how much I adore him, right from the first moment on the train and then in the first class where he lets Neville — the butt of jokes by everyone — really succeed at something. He might be my favorite character at the moment.
What other characters surprised or interested you in this book?
Jenny: I do love Lupin. He was always one of my favorite characters in the books he is just AWESOME. I read the blog post you recommended and she made some good points and I agree that Sirius is an important character and an important person in Harry’s life.
Other characters who surprised me… Dumbledore surprised me a little, and maybe surprised is not the right word. I think this is the first book where you start to see the personal interested Dumbledore has taken in Harry and how is trying to let Harry live his life, but he knows more then he is letting on. It is also the first time we see him defy the Ministry of Magic and take on authority and power outside of Hogwarts, by helping Harry ad Hermoine set Buckbeak and Sirius free. I think this is a great part of Dumbledore’s character, that he shows Harry how to stand up for what is right and what he believes in even if people around him in authority positions disagree.
I also just want to express my love for the Weasley family as a whole! I love that bunch of crazy redheads!