Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Summary

  • Last updated on March 25, 2021
"Infobox Book"
name Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
author J. K. Rowling
country United Kingdom
language English
series Harry Potter
subject Young adult, fantasy
genre Fiction
publisher Bloomsbury (UK), Scholastic Press (US)
release date July 8, 1999 (UK), September 8, 1999 (US)
media type Hardback and paperback
pages 435
preceded by Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
followed by Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban follows Harry's adventures in his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This year Harry is up against murderer Sirius Black, and also learns more about his father's past.

Character Summaries

Harry Potter

Harry is the protagonist of this novel, and of the series in general. In this installment he learns of the existence of his godfather, Sirius Black, and also how his parents were betrayed to Lord Voldemort. He also becomes close to one of the Potters other friends, werewolf Remus Lupin.

Ron Weasley

Harry's best friend. Ron owns the rat Scabbers, who later turns out to actually be Peter Pettigrew in disguise.

Hermione Granger

Harry's other best friend. She owns the time-turner that helps her and Harry go back in time to free Buckbeak and Sirius.

Albus Dumbledore

The headmaster of Hogwarts.

Sirius Black

An alleged murderer, it turns out that Sirius Black was framed. He has returned to Hogwarts to track down Peter Pettigrew, the person who really betrayed the Potters to the Dark Lord.

Cornelius Fudge

The Minister for Magic.

The Dursleys

Harry's awful relatives who he's forced to live with over summer breaks.

Minerva McGonagall

Head of Gryffindor House.

Remus Lupin

Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, and friend of the Potters and of Sirius Black. He teaches Harry how to cast the Patronus Charm.

Peter Pettigrew

A former friend of the Potters, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin. He is really the one who betrayed them to Voldemort.

Rubeus Hagrid

The gamekeeper at Hogwarts. He owns Buckbeak and is devastated when the beast must be killed.

Professor Trelawney

The Divination teacher. Her predictions actually seem accurate a few times.

Severus Snape

The potions master and boyhood enemy of Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew and James Potter.

Chapter Summaries

Chapter One: Owl Post

Harry is again spending the summer holidays with the Dursleys. He is forced to conceal all trace of his magical abilities, meaning he has to do his homework in secret at night. Harry hasn’t heard much from his friends over the summer, as Ron and his family are in Egypt, and Hermione and her family are in France.

Harry receives a letter from Hogwarts telling him all the things he needs for the new school year.

Chapter Two: Aunt Marge’s Big Mistake

Aunt Marge, Vernon’s awful sister, comes for a visit. She treats Harry even worse than the Dursleys do, and Harry gets angry and uses magic on her – even though underage wizards are not allowed to do so. He then runs away.

Chapter Three: The Knight Bus

Harry is at a loss for what to do. He senses an unknown presence behind him – something big, with shining eyes. At that moment, the Knight Bus pulls up. Harry takes this peculiar mode of transport (which shows up whenever a witch or wizard is stranded) to Diagon Alley. On the way, he finds out about Sirius Black, a wizard mass murderer who has escaped from Azkaban. Before getting the bus, Harry feels like a strange presence is staring at him.

When Harry arrives at the Leaky Cauldron pub, he is met by the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge. Harry is worried he’ll be in big trouble, but unexpectedly, Fudge tells him the Ministry are going to waive any charges. Harry also thinks it strange that Fudge was already at the Leaky Cauldron, and that he would get involved in Harry’s case.

Harry also tries to get Fudge to sign the permission slip he needs to visit Hogsmeade Village (as Harry has blown his chance of getting his uncle to do it), but Fudge won’t.

Harry then goes up to his room in the Leaky Cauldron and goes to sleep.

Chapter Four: The Leaky Cauldron

Harry is at the Leaky Cauldron for a few days, and enjoys his freedom. He is eventually joined by Ron and Hermione when they come to purchase their school supplies from Diagon Alley. Hermione in particular needs a lot of supplies for all of the classes she’s taking this year.

Ron has to take his rat, Scabbers, to be looked at, as the old rat seems to be acting strangely. Hermione buys a new pet, a cat named Crookshanks.

Arthur Weasley informs them that the Ministry is investing a lot of time and effort into looking for Sirius Black, who is still on the loose.

Harry overhears a conversation between Arthur and Molly Weasley, debating if Harry will be safe at Hogwarts with Sirius Black on the loose, and if they should tell him some things that are apparently big secrets. Arthur is convinced that Sirius wants to murder Harry to get back in favour with Voldemort. Harry realises that this is why Fudge was being so lenient before – when he found Harry, he was just relieved that he was still alive.

Chapter Five: The Dementor

The time comes for Harry and the other teenagers to board the Hogwarts Express and return to school. Arthur makes Harry swear that he won’t go looking for Black, despite what Harry might hear about the man.

On the train, Harry, Ron and Hermione share their compartment with a sleeping stranger. This stranger turns out the be Remus Lupin, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.

Harry explains to Ron and Hermione what he overheard Molly and Arthur saying about Black, and what Arthur made him swear to. Ron and Hermione both seem frightened at the news. Ron’s sneakoscope (a device that detects an untrustworthy presence) starts to go haywire.

Hermione and Ron then start taking about all the delights of Hogsmeade Village, but Harry tells them that he can’t go. The trio then have an annoying encounter with their enemies, Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle.

The train suddenly stops and everything goes dark. Everything turns cold as Harry is attacked by a Dementor from Azkaban, but thankfully, Lupin rescues him. The Dementors are there to protect the school from Sirius Black.

They eventually resume the journey and arrive at Hogwarts for the commencement feast. Dumbledore introduces Lupin as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, and Harry notices that Snape seems to treat Lupin with utter loathing. Hagrid is also revealed as the new Care of Magical Creatures teacher.

Chapter Six: Talons and Tea Leaves

Classes begin, and Hermione’s schedule seems so overloaded it’s as if she’s taking three classes at once. The trio have their first Divination lesson with Professor Trelawney. They are tasked with reading tea leaves, and Harry’s seem to contain the omen of a Grim (a black dog), meaning he’s apparently going to die soon.

The three of them are worried, until Professor McGonagall tells them not to put too much stock in anything that comes out of Divination classes.

Care of Magical Creatures is next. Hagrid shows them a Hippogriff named Buckbeak. Malfoy doesn’t follow Hagrid’s instructions and is injured. The Slytherins seem to be trying to sabotage Hagrid’s class.

Chapter Seven: The Boggart in the Wardrobe

Malfoy’s arm has been injured by Buckbeak, and Harry, Ron and Hermione are worried that his father, Lucius, will try to get Hagrid fired.

Harry and Ron continue to wonder how Hermione is able to attend so many classes. The trio have their first Defence Against the Dark Arts class. Lupin is an excellent teacher, and shows them how to deal with a boggart.

Chapter Eight: Flight of the Fat Lady

Harry’s other classes are nowhere near as interesting as Defence Against the Dark Arts. Hagrid is trying to play it safe in Care of Magical Creature, so all the lessons are now boring.

Harry’s Quidditch training begins, and Ron and Hermione argue over Hermione’s cat Crookshanks, who keeps trying to eat Scabbers.

Harry tries unsuccessfully to get McGonagall to sign his permission letter so that he can go to Hogsmeade. Because he can’t go with his friends, Harry runs into Professor Lupin and has a cup of tea with him. Snape interrupts the conversation to bring Lupin a strange potion that Lupin apparently needs to drink immediately, and for a few days.

Ron and Hemione tell Harry about their time at Hogsmeade, and he tells them about his conversation with Lupin. Harry tells them that he wonders if Snape is trying to poison Lupin so he can have Lupin’s job, but Hermione doesn’t think so.

On their way to the Gryffindor common room, Harry, Ron and Hermione find out that the Fat Lady, who guards the entrance to the room, is missing – her portrait apparently destroyed by Sirius Black.

Chapter Nine: Grim Defeat

Dumbledore gets the teachers to search the castle. The Gryffindors spend the night in the Great Hall. Everyone is in a flurry, wondering how Sirius Black was able to get into the castle.

Harry, Ron and Hermione overhear a conversation between Snape and Dumbledore. Snape reminds the headmaster that he, Snape, does not think it was a good idea to make a recent hire, and that maybe Sirius Black had help getting into the castle. Dumbledore doesn’t believe that anyone inside Hogwarts would have helped him, though.

Lupin is unexpectedly absent from class. Snape takes the lesson instead.

Gryffindor and Slytherin verse each other in Quidditch. Harry sees a black dog’s silhouette against the sky. Gryffindor lose the match when Dementors go onto the field and attack Harry, causing him to pass out. Making things even worse, Harry’s broomstick is destroyed by the Whomping Willow.

Chapter Ten: The Marauder’s Map

Harry recovers from his accident, but doesn’t tell anyone about having seen the Grim in the sky. Lupin returns to class and lessons become interesting again. Lupin also agrees to teach Harry how to fight the Dementors.

Fred and George give Harry the Marauder’s Map. It’s an enchanted map that shows Hogwarts and all of its secret passages, along with where everyone is at all times. It was created by four unknown people: Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs.

Harry uses it to sneak into Hogsmeade with the help of his invisibility cloak. In Hogsmeade, Harry overhears a conversation between McGonagall, Flitwick, Hagrid and Fudge. Fudge is there to investigate Black’s whereabouts. Harry finds out that Sirius Black and his father were best friends. Most believe that when Sirius Black turned Dark, he betrayed the Potters to Voldemort. Harry also finds out that Sirius is his godfather. Next, Harry finds out about another of the Potter’s friends, Peter Pettigrew. Pettigrew was supposedly murdered by Black after allegedly confronting him. Black was then arrested and taken to Azkaban.

Chapter Eleven: The Firebolt

Harry is distraught at what he has just learned. He wants to do something in retaliation against Black, but his friends advise him not to. In the end they decide to seek more information from Hagrid. However, when they get to Hagrid’s hut, Hagrid has bigger concerns – Buckbeak is to be executed for the attack on Malfoy. The trio then set about trying to save the creature.

Christmas comes and Harry receives a Firebolt broom from someone anonymous. Scabbers seems to be becoming more and more unwell. Harry, Ron and Hermion, who all have stayed at Hogwarts over the holidays along with a few other students, have a Christmas feast with the teachers. Trelawney reveals that she’s seen Lupin not staying at Hogwarts, but most of the other teachers dismiss her visons.

Hermione, thinking the broom Harry received may have been sent by Sirius Black, tells McGonagall about it, and McGonagall takes the broom so it can be checked for jinxes.

Chapter Twelve: The Patronus

Lessons resume. Hermione seems to know what is wrong with Lupin and why he’s absent every month, but she won’t tell Ron and Harry.

Lupin begins to teach Harry the Patronus Charm to ward off Dementors. Harry also finds out that Lupin and his father were school friends, and that Lupin also knows Sirius Black (but is under the impression that Black betrayed the Potters). Harry has trouble with the Patronus Charm, as it is advanced magic.

As the lessons continue, Harry is eventually able to produce an indistinct Patronus. Harry also learns more about Dementors themselves, and how dangerous they are. A Dementor can suck out a person’s soul with a Dementor’s Kiss.

Harry’s Firebolt is finally returned to him. Ron and Hermione’s friendship seems to end when it appears that Crookshanks has finally eaten Scabbers.

Chapter Thirteen: Gryffindor versus Ravenclaw

Ron and Hermione refuse to talk to each other. The Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw is played. Harry is able to perform a proper Patronus to ward off the Dementors.

Ron wakes up in the middle of the night claiming Sirius Black destroyed his curtains. The Gryffindor common is destroyed too.

Chapter Fourteen: Snape’s Grudge

All of the Gryffindors are scared Sirius Black is returning. Harry discovers a secret passage out of the castle that hasn’t been blocked off. Harry also wonders why Sirius Black attacked Ron’s bed and not his own.

Hagrid invites Harry and Ron down for tea. It turns out he’s trying to get them to reconcile with Hermione, but Ron refuses to be her friend again unless she gets rid of Crookshanks.

Harry and Ron go to see the Shrieking Shack, so badly haunted even the ghosts of Hogwarts don’t want to go there. They are discovered by Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle, who tell Snape that Harry has been to Hogsmeade without permission. He’s about to get in serious trouble, but Lupin bails him out. Snape discovers the Marauder’s Map. Lupin is disappointed that Harry would be so reckless as to go to Hogsmeade when Sirius Black is still on the loose.

Hermione tells them that Hagrid was unable to plead his case, and Buckbeak is to be killed.

Chapter Fifteen: The Quidditch Final

Ron and Hermione reconcile. Hermione disappears after slapping Malfoy for being rude to Hagrid. It turns out she’s asleep, feeling very overloaded from all of the work she’s been doing. Hermione then quits Divination after Trelawney says she doesn’t have the mind for it.

Harry sees the big black dog again – the Grim, he thinks. The Quidditch final arrives, and Gryffindor win.

Chapter Sixteen: Professor Trelawney’s Prediction

Hermione’s exam timetable seems strange, as she has exams on at the same time. Everyone is busy revising for their exams. Buckbeak’s execution seems to be going forward unimpeded.

During a Divination exam, Professor Trelawney has a strange vision that Voldemort will rise again, and that his servant will “break free” to join him. Harry takes this to mean that Sirius Black will re-join with Voldemort.

The trio go to be with Hagrid during Buckbeak’s execution. To his surprise, Ron finds Scabbers. In Hagrid’s hut, in terrible shape, Scabbers keeps trying to escape.

Sadly, the chapter ends with Buckbeak being executed.

Chapter Seventeen: Cat, Rat and Dog

Scabbers runs away, chased by Crookshanks. Suddenly, the big black dog that Harry has been seeing chases after them both. Ron follows Scabbers, but is bitten by the dog before he can get to the rat. The dog then drags Ron off through a large gap in the roots of the Whomping Willow.

Hermione and Harry follow them through the tunnel, which ends up in the Shrieking Shack. The dog turns out the be an Animagus (a person who can transform into an animal), and is none other than Sirius Black himself.

Harry confronts Sirius Black, still believing him to be a murderer. However, it turns out that Scabbers is an Animagus too – Peter Pettigrew.

It’s also revealed that Lupin, Sirius, James and Peter Pettigrew wrote the Marauder’s Map.

Chapter Eighteen: Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs

It’s revealed that Pettigrew, along with Sirius Black and James Potter, were unregistered Animagi. That’s why nobody realised Peter was still alive – he had been hiding in rat form for twelve years. Lupin also reveals himself to be a werewolf, but now is able to keep it under relative control with a potion.

Harry also finds out that Snape did not get along with James Potter and his friends at all. At the end of the chapter, Snape turns up in the Shrieking Shack.

Chapter Nineteen: The Servant of Lord Voldemort

Snape confronts Sirius and Lupin. He has told Dumbledore that Lupin was the one helping Sirius into the castle, and he tells them that they will both be going to Azkaban. Sirius is going to receive the Dementor’s Kiss. He keeps trying to explain the truth, but Snape won’t let him. In the end Harry, Ron and Hermione disarm Snape and unintentionally knock him out.

It turns out that the reason Sirius was at Hogwarts was to find Peter Pettigrew. He knew Pettigrew was posing as Ron’s rat Scabbers because he’d seen the Weasley family photo from Egypt that the Daily Prophet had published.

Pettigrew was really the one who betrayed the Potters and framed Sirius for both that crime and the deaths caused afterwards. It also turns out that Crookshanks is highly intelligent. He recognized Pettigrew wasn’t a rat and Sirius wasn’t a dog, and has been trying to help Sirius get Pettigrew.

Sirius wants to kill Pettigrew, but Harry won’t let him. They decide then to shackle him and take him to be tried and sent to Azkaban.

Chapter Twenty: The Dementor’s Kiss

Sirius asks Harry is he wants to live with him, and Harry is overjoyed.

Lupin transforms into a werewolf, as it’s a full moon and he hasn’t taken his potion. In the diversion caused by this, Pettigrew transforms back into a rat and escapes. Sirius transforms into his dog form and tries to stop Lupin from hurting the others.

Sirius is injured and cornered by Dementors, but he isn’t strong enough to fight them off himself. A stranger fights off the Dementors with a strong Patronus, before Harry faints.

Chapter Twenty-One: Hermione’s Secret

Harry, Hermione, Ron and Snape are returned safely to the castle. Snape takes the credit for rescuing the students. Fudge still thinks Sirius is a criminal. Harry and Hermione desperately try to plead Black’s innocence, but Fudge won’t believe them.

Dumbledore arrives, and advises Hermione to use her Time Turner – a device that can turn back time, and which Hermione has been using with special permission to attend extra classes. Ron can’t go with them because he’s still recovering from his injuries, but Harry and Hermione are able to travel back in time to rescue both Buckbeak and Sirius. It also turns out that the stranger Harry saw produce the magnificent Patronus was really him all along.

Chapter Twenty-Two: Owl Post Again

Sirius successfully escapes on Buckbeak. Dumbledore talks to Harry about the events that have transpired, and the school year ends.

Categories: Fiction

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