Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Published in 2000
Genre: Fantasy, magical realism
“The villagers of Little Hangleton still called it “the Riddle house,” even though it had been many years since the Riddle family had lived there.”
In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, our eponymous hero finds himself in yet another harrowing year at Hogwarts. This year, Hogwarts plays host to the Triwizard Tournament which is a competition between the three wizarding schools: Hogwarts, Durmstrang, and Beauxbatons. Due to the danger of the tasks, only seventh year students are allowed to enter their names. However, true to Harry Potter’s track record of luck, his name is chosen and he finds himself the fourth champion.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has the most complicated plot yet. Though mystery is a common aspect of the series, there are quite a few more serious questions that float around in the air. Who put Harry’s name in the Goblet? Was Harry’s dream about Voldemort and Wormtail real? How will Harry get past the first/second/third task? These questions and more are answered by the end of the book, but it is the winding way in which these questions connect with each other that brings the mystery to a different level.
There is some serious character development present as well, especially in the relationship between Ron and Harry. Harry’s celebrity status never seemed to bother Ron much, and that’s saying something considering he went through three books worth of being friends with the most famous wizard before finally succumbing to jealousy. Ron has enough to live up to given the accolades of (most of) his older brothers without trying to compete with his best friend.
While that isn’t the whole reason for the hiatus between the two friends, it definitely plays a part. The final straw for Ron is when he believes Harry entered into the tournament without telling him first. The main cause of the schism is the fact that Ron believes Harry lied to him. This lack of trust puts up a large barrier between the two friends and it is a testament to the growth of both as individuals. They eventually put aside their differences, but I believe this is the first we’re seeing of a confrontation that might spring up again in the coming books.
While the plot and characters keep developing, Goblet of Fire also continues the thread of delving into the dark past during Voldemort’s reign of terror that was started in Prisoner of Azkaban. We learn of the three unforgivable curses, one of which causes immense physical pain and was used on Neville Longbottom’s parents, causing them to be so mentally scarred that they no longer recognize him. The second allows one to control someone else as though they were a marionette and the third, which Voldemort attempted to use on Harry when he was a baby, kills and cannot be blocked by any other spell.
Death holds a heavy presence over the fourth book as it shows the first time that *SPOILER ALERT* Voldemort is at his full power and attacks Harry, it is during this confrontation that we see the fruits of Voldemort’s murderous labors come back to bite him. When Harry and Voldemort’s wants connect, the echoes of those that Voldemort has killed come from the tip of his wand and speak words of encouragement to Harry, giving him an edge and the ability to escape with his life and Cedric’s body.
The duel between Harry and Voldemort is prefaced by a monologue that Mr. Incredible would have definitely taken advantage of if he were in Harry’s shoes. It must be a requirement as a Death Eater to learn how to monologue and reveal your evil plans through multiple pages of dialogue, because both Voldemort and Barty Crouch Jr. do so. This is one aspect of the book that did get to me and it is probably just because it is a literary pet peeve of mine, but when villains explain their entire evil plan or how they outsmarted the good side, it just nags at me.
Rowling does a good job of giving these monologues natural causes; Voldemort is asked to recount how he came to have a new body and Crouch is given Veritaserum which is a powerful truth potion that makes him confess to the crimes he committed and how he infiltrated Hogwarts. These are legitimate catalysts that allow the villains to revel in their maniacal genius, but whether it still bothers me even when it is done so well because while we need to get the information and a viable way to do that is through character dialogue, having a character spew out a confession over the course of multiple pages just gets on my nerves.
Despite my small critiques, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a great read and the pacing of the action and revelations makes the 700 plus pages fly by. Rowling continues to grow as a writer and the story is engaging and easily identifiable. As with the previous book, I can’t wait to continue on and fear the day I finish the series.
Verdict: 4 Blast-Ended Screwts out of 5
Recommended for: You, me, us, we, them, her, him, and people who enjoy teenagers competing in dangerous competitions.
Not recommended for: Barty Crouch Jr., Draco Malfoy(Damn it Malfoy! What did I say last time!? Stop reading these books!), Cedric Diggory, Winky, or Viktor Krum.