Best in Series

“You haven’t got a godfather!”
“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 if I’m happy . . .”

I do love it when people say such ridiculous things with a straight face.

Today was, obviously, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the last of the books I’m likely to finish in a single day.  I’m not saying the rest are impossible to read in one work day, but it’s significantly less likely.  Not to mention, none of them are my favorite.

This volume happens to be my favorite in the series.  Even if time travel hurts my head in nearly every incarnation.  I think part of the reason is because after this, there is a LOT of teen angst.  Which just pisses me off.  Yes, I understand it’s a normal part of growing up.  That doesn’t mean I don’t want to grab Harry’s shoulders and shake him until his teeth clack sometimes.  The fifth book is the worst for that, but it’s in all four of the latter half of the series.

What makes Azkaban so good?  Well, we have an expansion of Harry’s world in three ways.  Firstly, he gets to be independent for a short time: catching the Knight Bus and staying at the Leaky Cauldron until school starts.  Secondly, he starts taking new classes as the third years no longer have every single class with every other person in their year and house.  Thirdly, we add Hogsmeade to our Hogwarts geography and all that’s involved therein.

(I’m trying to remember which was built first at Universal: Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade, and failing miserably.  For the record, both are FANTASTIC and it was such a great trip.  Be sure to get some ice cream from Florian Fortescue’s.)

So we have the expansion of Harry’s world.  We also have Hagrid promoted to faculty from mere staff, we have one of the best Defense Against the Dark Arts professors in the series, we learn about James Potter and his school friends, and we screw with time a bit.  At least this time travel is handled fairly well in comparison to others.  (Looking at you, Acorna series.)  There’s a lot of danger and excitement, fascinating creatures and interesting lessons, and generally there’s no point in the book where you get tired or bored.  There is some teen angst in it, but it’s generally not noticeable in comparison to what will come later.

So much angst in the future.  I’m almost dreading starting Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  Then I remember how much of the angst is actually in the fifth book.

On an unrelated note, we all know that most books are released in hardcover and then, at a later point, rereleased in paperback.  By the time the book makes it to paperback, if it’s in a series, the author has usually made significant progress on the next volume, and so a preview is included at the end to entice readers to buy the next book.  This is normal.

However, Harry Potter has been out nearly twenty years, is a household name, and a pop culture phenomenon.  And these books came out of a box set.  WHY ARE THERE PREVIEWS IN THE BACK.  Also why are they numbered on the spine.  My Laura Ingalls Wilder books were never numbered!  In fact, most novel series don’t use numbering even when they don’t jump around the timeline.  True, when I’m tracking down an older series in bits in and pieces this can lead to me reading books out of order by accident.  But I just shrug it off; it hasn’t truly ruined any series for me yet.

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