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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K Rowling

By / October 5, 2011 / no comments

The fourth book in the Potter series begins more than fifty years before the present day, with the strange death of the Riddle family, wealthy land owners and their older son, Tom. The family’s groundskeeper, once suspected of murdering his employers, now looks after the abandoned house. One fateful night he notices a light within the house that has been abandoned for years; and goes to investigate assuming it is local youths. He is mistaken however and it is the last mistake poor Frank ever makes.

Somewhere in Surrey, Harry Potter, a fourteen year old orphan who lives with his aunt and uncle, wakes with a throbbing pain in the scar on his forehead.

The real story begins at the Quidditch World Cup, where wizards have gathered in their hundreds to support their various teams. However, in the middle of the night there is a disturbance when a group of Death Eaters, wizards who supported the dark wizard Lord Voldermort when he was in power fifteen years previously, attack the local muggles. This all culminates in someone inscribing the “dark mark” – the symbol Lord Voldermort would always leave after committing a murder – in the night sky.

As ever Harry and his two best friends Ron and Hermione find themselves caught right in the middle of all the action. When they return to school they are greeted by their new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, All-star “Mad-Eye” Moody; a one-eyed ex-aura whose replacement eye has the ability to see through walls. They also learn that for the first time in several years Hogwarts will be hosting the “Tri-Wizard Tournament”; a competition between three of Europe’s biggest magical schools that involve a series of trials that must display both physical and magical ability.

Only contestants over a certain age may compete in the tournament however, by some strange twist of fate Harry’s name is chosen by the enchanted Goblet of Fire listing him as the fourth contestant in the tournament. Also taking part are the beautiful French student Fleur Delacour, the famous Quidditch player Viktor Krum and the handsome Hogwarts student Cedric Diggory, who readers will have met briefly in the previous book.

Harry is truly put through his paces in the subsequent trials, however he eventually finds himself in the lead upon entering the maze that signifies the final task. Upon completion the winner must pick up the coveted Triwizard Cup, they will then be transported out of the maze and crowned winner.

However, the cup has been tampered with and when Harry, accompanied by Cedric in an effort to ensure that they are both winners, touches the cup he is transported to a place that will change the wizarding world forever.

The Goblet of Fire is the first really long Harry Potter book, where there seems to be a constant stream of action and drama and the tension is almost permanently high, which really takes the edge off the book’s length. Rowling kicks the suspense off from the word go, with the murder of Frank Bryce and the revelation that Voldermort is already far more powerful than any one would have expected, thanks to his servant Wormtail, who has been disguised as the Weasley’s pet rat for over a decade. The suspicion and tension stay high throughout the Quidditch World Cup and into the first term at Hogwarts, where tiny confusing incidents and the huge mystery of who put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire, all entwine to help develop this surprisingly complex story.

The Triwizard trials are interesting to read and a few are certainly very exciting, but personally I found the whole maze and Voldermort bit a little anti-climatic. Cedric’s death is a swift and heartless incantation, the shock of which is more likely to catch you out than genuine grief is. Although this part of the book is of infinite importance, the ritual that raises Voldermort is skimmed over and it just seems as though Rowling could have made more of it: she doesn’t utilize the setting and darkness of the ritual enough to truly demonstrate the terror that Voldermort is supposed to incite.

The story of Barty Crouch Jr is the more intriguing story in my mind, and his deception and Rowling’s construction of the All-star Moody character are both so well thought out and intricate that you will never see the revelation coming. The emergence of the Moody character allows Rowling the opportunity to bring together several separate and seemingly insignificant strings and begin the weave them into the story so that they become core parts of the construction of the story and the magical world.

As with all the Potter books there are some brilliant comedy moments, including Hermione’s new love of house elves and the “Society for the Protection of Elfish Welfare” (SPEW), which throws up – excuse the pun – loads of brilliant one liners from Ron and Harry, and in fact becomes notably important in the development of a certain relationship.

Also, Ron’s sheer ignorance and jealousy surrounding the Yule Ball is one of the best parts of all the Potter books, as it is, as ever, the characters that carry Rowling’s series. Otherwise her writing is adequate, and shows significant development in this book and the previous one, when compared to the first two, but it is still not the books best asset.

The Goblet of Fire is when things really begin to heat up in Harry’s story, his relationships with friends and peers become more complex, his sense of duty and courage become more defined and the plot line itself begins to move in a more certain and structured direction.

About the author

Ben

Blog editor, admin and founder of BestFantasyBooks.comYou'll find me on the BestFantasyBook forums and spending my spare time reading fantasy books and writing lists for this site. In fact, I have no spare time -- running this site IS my spare time!

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