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What We're Reading Now"Maybe reading isn’t the right word; ‘dismantling’ would perhaps be more accurate, because what makes this book so special is its mechanism... Rowling has a genius for structure. There’s structure on a grand scale, carried through seven books, with practically every page containing a load-bearing plot component, each separate assembly engineered to drive the narrative forward. There’s structure in miniature in each scene, so cunningly and intricately fitted that all the important things we need to remember later snag in the memory like vine-tendrils. Even by Rowling’s standards, though, Prisoner of Azkaban is a tour de force of literary engineering. One of her trademarks is the multiple false ending - one apparent climax sideslips into another, so that by the time the book actually ends the narrative pressure is at bursting point. Here, not only does she produce a breathtaking sustained real-time action sequence that draws together a sackful of carefully hidden clues apparently leading to a knockout suspense-novel-type finale (all made possible by the introduction of the Marauders as a counterweight to Harry and his gang) ; she then, by a masterly use of the time-travel trope, repeats the whole sequence over again, but seen at ninety degrees to itself, and in such a way that the two versions interlock perfectly like the halves of a scallop shell... Anybody with any pretensions to writing fiction in any genre should sit down, take the back off this book and take a long, careful look at the cogs and wheels. It’s what the craft of writing is all about. "Tom Holt - Author For twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort. Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter's defeat of You-Know-Who was Black's downfall as well. And the Azkaban guards heard Black muttering in his sleep, "He's at Hogwarts... he's at Hogwarts. " Harry Potter isn't safe, not even within the walls of his magical school, surrounded by his friends. Because on top of it all, there may well be a traitor in their midst.

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