Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling

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The 3rd installment, and the first book that really starts setting up a world of characters and story lines that are outside of Harry’s immediate relationships. This wasn’t my favorite book the first time that I read it, and I sort of thought that most of it was more complicated than it needed to be. Reading it this time, though, I liked it quite a lot better. Sets up a ton of Harry’s relationships going forward, of course, and gives a lot of clues to his character and how it’s going to grow through the rest of the books. The 4th book, which I’ll read shortly, has a lot more plot movement than this one (and is a little bit simpler). The other thing that I’m struck by is that as the books progress, Harry obviously gets more mature, the subject matter gets more mature, and the structure of the books get more mature. This is a pretty amazing thing that Rowling has done, which is to create a series of books that grows up along with the reader. I tend to undervalue these books sometimes because of the incredible hype that they’ve received — re-reading them reminds me that they’re just terrific.

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