The third book in the series opens with the story of a dangerous criminal wizard (Sirius Black) escaping the maximum security prison called Azkaban and going after Harry Potter. The action thickens with the arrival of new security measures at Hogwarts, Dementors -creatures that thrive on any sad and traumatic memory. Dementors are the keepers of Azkaban, ferocious creatures that can kill by sucking the soul out of a person.
Harry enters his third year at Hogwarts and finds himself highly protected against the threat of the escaping criminal, rumoured to be after him. Unfortunately he is very sensitive to the presence of Dementors that keep making him re-experience the night in which his parents were killed by Voldermort. Due to an accident when playing Quidditch (the most popular sport played in wizard world, and one at which Harry is extremely good) theyr professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts, Pr. Lupin, decides to help Harry conjure a Patronus, a charm that works against Dementors. Everyone in the school seems to have their watchful eyes on him, as he is considered Sirius target. Because the students are allowed to visit a nearby town of witches and wizards, Hogsmead, Harry resorts to his Invisibility Cloak and a gift from the Weasley twin, a Marauders Map, to join his friends there. Using this Map unveils to him the story of how his father was a close friend of Sirius, and how betrayal leads to the death of Harrys parents. With a surge of revenge, he wants to avenge his parent’s death.
The theme of this book seems to be overcoming the sadness of losing your loved ones and also finding resources to go through the sorrow and become optimistic about the present and the future. The lesson for me was that one should never let him/herself be stuck in the past, because only remembering the suffering and negative experiences will send you to your own personal prison. It is a powerful analogy that is spot on with how depression evolves and is maintained. Whenever we find ourselves stuck on our failures we are doomed to relive them and in doing so we experience the same level of sorrow and negative effect. Only when we focus on a positive experience we escape the sorrow of the past and live the present in peace, without any shadow of regret lurking upon us.
With the obvious help and courage of his friends, Hermione and Ron, Harry discovers the truth about Sirius Black, how he was his father’s best friend, and in fact didn’t betray them. He found out that his father, Black, Lupin, and Wormtail have created the Marauders Map, because they wanted to be all the time with their friend. Lupin is a werewolf and when studying at Hogwarts he had to go every month in a safe place to transform, and be secluded for the safety of other students. The other three friends wanting to show support for their friend decided that they would transform into animals and continue they adventure into different forms. So they became illegal Animagus, and roamed the school grounds in peace. But as they grew older, it was obvious that while James Potter, Sirius and Lupin were much more gifted at witchcraft than Wormtail, and the latter joined forces with Voldermort in order to achieve power and influence. It was him who had betrayed Harry’s parents, and upon killing about 20 wizards and framing Sirius for the murders he continued to live as Ron’s pet rat. Discovering this and seeing Wormtail transform into human form allows Harry to see his godfather in a new light and hopes of visiting him and living with him, instead of the Dursleys bright up his future. Unfortunately, even if they discover Sirius innocence they cannot prove it to the Ministry of Magic and Sirius is forced to flee into exile. Harry manages to conjure a beautiful powerful Patronus Charm that saves Sirius life and allows Harry to realize that he can be happy again and that he can indeed experience great happiness, not only sorrow.
As with the previous books, this one is superbly written and it is a pleasure to read it and reflect upon the fantastic adventures that the characters go through. I have presented a very short summary of the action, deciding to focus on only those aspects that I find important. One of which was the constant training on beeing aware of positive experiences when you are faced with recollections of bad events. This is an important ability to master, as it protects you from being enslaved in your own prison of sorrow and despair.