on 13 August 2005
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is definitely a pivotal point in the series. The first 3 books managed to get by on the novelty of Harry joining the wizarding world, coupled with the fact his life becomes under an ever increasing threat. This hasn't been exhausted, but isn't enough on its own to sustain a forth book or indeed the rest of the series. JK Rowling appears well aware of this and decided to really expand not only Harry as a character, but also the world he operates in. This really allows the reader to be drawn into the fact we are observers in a world that is no less complicated than our own, and the dynamics within it are not black and white.
Harry begins the 4th years in dramatic fashion, a visit from the Weasley family doesn't quite go to plan, much to the dismay of the Dursley's, but this does not stop Harry from attending the Quidditch World Cup. For the first time Harry grasps the size of the wizarding world he is apart of, realising there must be many other schools all over the world to accommodate all the wizards that clearly must exist. Harry's enlightenment is short lived however, resulting in his trip being cut short, this though is forced to the back of Harry's mind as the elder male Weasley's are being delicately evasive with Harry, Ron and Hermione...
Harry returns to Hogwarts buoyed by his time at the Weasley's and just like everyone else at Hogwarts is instantly fascinated by the prospect of a replaying of an old school tournament played between the 3 greatest European Schools. Each school can only have one champion and to ensure fair play, the Goblet of Fire is used to big the entrants. Does someone have it in for Harry though?
This book really begins to highlight the strengths Harry is developing, highlighting his bravery and loyalty, whilst also showing that at times he is fallible, and when all said and done he is just a 14 year old boy...
The writing in this book is superb, the pace is spot on and although the book is lengthy you will race through it as if it was half the length. I really cannot give this book enough superlatives, the writing of JK Rowling has clearly improved and isn't as simplistic as the earlier books, maybe its because it's the middle book that this transformation has happened, or maybe it's just coincidence but whatever the reason, I am so glad it happened as this book really makes the series so far.
on 21 August 2001
We took this on holiday with us. We travelled from Aberdeen to Norfolk with hardly any complaints from either children or adults. Stephen fry kept us all rapt by his superb story telling. It is wonderful hearing the voices he has for all the different characters. We now have all four of these books on audio and they have been worth every penny.
on 18 July 2000
I now know I am not alone among thirty-somethings, who look forward excitedly to each new Harry Potter, and then feel something akin to a sense of loss upon finishing each book. I 'discovered' Harry in April, and since then have been waiting expectantly for book 4, which I read in just a few days (it would have been less, but my husband has started to feel a little neglected when Harry's around). This book did not seem to me to be any longer than the others, and it was just as enjoyable, if not moreso than all except perhaps book 3. I found it a gripping read, quite scary in places, although the sure knowledge that there are three more books to come, means that we can rest assured Harry will survive, and good will overcome evil.
JK Rowling's grip on her characters and the constant references to small details from the previous three books which help provide context and explanations as the stories unfold, are testimony to a brilliant mind in my view. Having read all four books now, like many other fans, I am eagerly awaiting the next book, and the one after that... I wonder do other readers feel like me, a sense of real friendhip with the three main characters? I really care what happens to them, and have even begun to hope fervently that Ron and Hermione are able to overcome their adolescent embarrassment and realise their true feelings for each other! Is there any hope for me? I have no children yet, but one on the way in February, and, boy or girl, I will be reading Harry Potter to them as soon as they are old enough to understand and enjoy as much as I do.
on 24 August 2001
This kept two children enthralled and two adults entertained on a journey from Wales to Scotland and back even though the boys and I had already read it. Anything that suppresses the 'Are we there yet' enquiries from the kids and all other whingeing and squabbling in the back of the car without boring me to desperation fully deserves a five star rating.
It is excellently read and well characterised. Yes, it is expensive, but will be used repeatedly and passed round to other desperate parents so is good overall value.
The fourth book in the "Harry Potter" series, "The Goblet of Fire" was first published in 2000 and deals largely with Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts. As the book begins, Harry is spending his holidays at Privet Drive. Although things have improved for him there since he started attending Hogwarts, the holidays are still far from enjoyable. He is thankfully rescued with an invitation to spend the last few weeks with the Weasley family at the Burrow. Better yet, the Quidditch World Cup Final - between Ireland and Bulgaria - is being played in England, and Harry, Hermione and most of the Weasley clan will be going to it. Mr Weasley, who works at the Ministry of Magic, had used some contacts at work to get the tickets. Some of his colleagues are at the match as well - for example, Barty Crouch (who is also Percy's new boss at the Ministry) and Ludo Bagman (a former professional Quidditch player). While Harry finds the event hugely enjoyable, it all goes pear-shaped : the celebrations are ruined by the appearance of a group of Death Eaters (supporters of Voldemort) torturing some Muggles and the appearance of the Dark Mark (Voldemort's symbol) in the sky.
The international theme is kept up throughout the book - on reaching Hogwarts, the pupils find out that a Tri-Wizard Tournament will be held during the school year. This is a very famous competition between the three largest European Schools of Wizardry and Witchcraft - Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. One champion is selected to represent each school and - due to the difficulty and danger of the tasks involved - only students of 17 and over will be allowed to enter. Naturally, this means that - if the rules are adhered to - Harry won't be allowed to enter. Among the visiting students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang are Victor Krum - who played Seeker for Bulgaria in the World Cup Final - and the highly attractive Fleur Delacour. Naturally, they don't arrive unsupervised - the Headmistress from Beauxbatons is Madame Maxime (who, incredibly, is around the same height is Hagrid) and Professor Karkaroff, from Durmstrang (where, they say, pupils actually study the Dark Arts).
Inevitably, there's another new Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts. This year, it's an ex-Auror by the name of Mad-Eye Mooney. An Auror is a Dark Wizard Catcher, and Mooney is widely regarded as one of the best ever. He is now, however, considered a little paranoid - for example, he drinks only out of his own hip flask. 'Mad Eye' is a pretty apt description - he has one 'normal' eye and one magical eye, which can see through doors, walls, invisibility cloaks and even through the back of his own head. There's more to be coped with than new teachers though - teenage hormones are now starting to affect our hero and his friends. Harry has taken a shine to Cho Chang (Ravenclaw's very pretty Seeker), while Ron - FINALLY - notices that Hermione is actually a girl.
"The Goblet of Fire" is comfortably the longest one to date - at no point, however, does the story drag or feel 'stretched'. J.K Rowling has written another excellent book, and has given Harry and his friends another very enjoyable mystery to solve. Like all the other books in the series to date, it's very easily read and will be enjoyed by both children and adults. It probably would be better reading the series in order - certain things about the wizard's way of life and other characters are covered fully in the previous instalments. However, that shouldn't be too much of a burden, as the previous books are also very enjoyable !
on 9 June 2001
There were all sorts of little things that made me love this book. I work in a bookshop and on the day it came out we, like many other places had "Harry Potter Day". The games and costumes, however were not as good or as amusing as the sight of people of all ages and backgrounds poring over the book, unable even to take a break from reading for long enough to buy it and go home! I think we sold over 450 copies in one day? quite a stunning amount anyway.
The reason I am writing this was to point out a lot of the little touches that turn the books from great adventure stories into classics. To begin, though, this book is great. I would not agree that it is "too long" and think the criticisms about JK Rowling moving away from her "target audience" are daft. Would these same people cristicise The Lord Of The Rings for not being for the same "target audience" as The Hobit?! Why do we have to think about classic books in terms of "target audiences"? Even The Chronicles of Narnia dealt with gradually more adult themes throughout the books, ending with the death of all the main characters!
Little things that I really enjoyed in this paticular book were...
1. The ongoing love/hate relationship between Ron and Hermione, especially Ron's phrase "Hey Hermione...you're a girl..."
2. Harry and Ron's way of talking about the magical world's equivalent of "gear" i.e the Firebolt's aerodynamic perfection-this is so like some of my best friends that I laughed out loud.
3. The cartoonish world of the Dursleys has been dismissed as "cartoonish" but hey, cartoons are fun, and these episodes of the book really are funny. ("We didn't give it to him because he's a Muggle, we gave it to him because he's a great bullying git!") Without this humour, these scenes could be really quite dreary and void of hope, but we see things through Harry's eyes, and his defence against the Dursleys is to laugh at them.
4. The complex circle of relationships of Harry's parents' friends that emerges mainly in Azkaban, but develops further in this book.
5. Hermione's championing of the house-elves. I don't think it detracts from the plot. I also love the scene in which Winky becomes an alcoholic-very funny.
6. Hagrid's crush, arguement with and later friendship with Madame Malkin.
7. The whole Rita Skeeter thing-a nice satire.
8. One of my favourite scenes is when Harry goes to see Dumbledore and falls into the Pensive. Neville's background is something that most readers, like Harry and the others, would have taken for granted. Good reading.
9. The brilliant ending, of course. Can't wait to see that as a film, if it's well made. It seems silly to see the death of Cedric as a "cop-out"-if anything, the tension between Harry and Cedric over Cho throws Harry's feelings over the death into sharper relief. 10. However probably the thing that made me laugh most in the whole book was the fact that England didn't even qualify for the Quidditch World Cup but "went out to Transylvania in the first round. Bloody embarassing!".
Excellent entertainment, combined with deeper issues. Full marks.
on 20 March 2003
Let's get this straight:
*I am male
*I am 16
*My favourite band is Rage Against the Machine
*I like metal music
Sound like a profile for someone who wouldn't like Harry Potter?
The series are the best 4 books I have read, Goblet of Fire being the best!
The best peice of literature (in my opinion) and a true example of the wide audience that this book appeals to.
on 15 August 2000
"Wow." That was the one word I could get out after finishing and finally closing the covers of the massive and long-awaited "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." It was everything I've been eagerly waiting for and *more*, and not just because of its hefty 734-page length. I *won't* summarize the plot here in my review--there are just too many delights, shocks, and surprises that you should discover yourself. This is by far the most involved, detailed, and most of all *dark* Harry Potter novel--Harry's life becomes far more complicated, with friendship problems, romantic difficulties, and far more deadly threats to his life and happiness than ever before. But don't be put off: there's as much of the usual fun, silliness, and delight to J.K. Rowling's wonderful writing that definitely had me laughing out loud even in some of the darker moments. Rowling has planned the general structure of her entire seven-book saga beforehand, and it shows in the care and attention to details that pick up plotlines and characters from previous books (Tom Riddle, Dobby the House-Elf, Sirius Black) and take them in dramatic and exciting directions, as well as adding innovative twists and startling new characters ranging from the frightening to the humorous. As great as the first books were, Book Four is more mature, more involved, and more personal. She has, with this book, taken the Harry Potter saga halfway through its full seven-volume story, and I found myself thinking of another favorite saga: conceived as a single structure but broken into parts that captured the imaginations and hearts of kids and adults around the world: The "Star Wars" movies. And what is generally considered the best of all the Star Wars movies?--the *middle* one, "The Empire Strikes Back." On the 20th anniversary of that, my favorite Star Wars movie, I sat and read the new Harry Potter, halfway through Harry's saga, and was amazed at how much it reminded me of "Empire," not specifically in plot but rather in theme. At the end of both "Harry IV" and "Empire," the villain has shown himself to be more powerful than imagined, our heroes have suffered a serious blow, and dark, dark times are coming. We know they'll triumph...but half the fun is accompanying them on their adventures. We know how it all worked out for Luke Skywalker...and I can't wait to see how it will come out for Harry Potter. I'm already counting the days until Book Five, but in the meantime I think I'll read Books One through Four all over again. Harry Potter is not likely to look back on his fourth year at Hogwart's with much fondness...but I, and his millions of fans, *will*.
on 14 August 2001
This fourth volume makes you hope there will be many more. By far, so far, the best, and the thickest. The book is packed with events and a tremendous level of creativity and imagination. At the same time the references to the previous volumes are still numerous, giving to this new episode a perfect continuity in the story.
The first element that jumps out is the fact that Harry Potter has been growing in age from one volume to the next, and in this volume he really has his age, thirteen. This is the mark of a very good writer who is able to follow the maturity or the maturation of the characters, so that the story is realistic. Never in the four volumes, and particularly in this volume, are the characters older than they should be. Hermione discovers social consciousness and gets interested in the fate of elves, as well as she discovers the difference between friendship and love. Ron Weasley discovers the need to believe his friends and the first pangs of love or sexual awareness. Harry Potter opens his eyes to the necessity to assume his responsibilities by learning what he needs to accomplish his tasks and the sense of honor and human solidarity even within a competition in which he tries, and he is not the only one, to remain human, with his challengers or co-competitors, instead of being an unsensitive and selfish winning machine. This is done with great subtlety and delicacy. Fred and George Weasley are older and they discover the need to have a social and economic position in society that brings in an income based on a creative project for the whole community : this is known as business in any society.
The second element is that the confrontation between Potter and Voldemort finally comes to a direct face-to-face one-on-one duel whose stake is life or death for Harry Potter as well as life or death for his direct friends and the whole community. The battle leaves the level of individuals to reach the level of society, a real universal value, a cosmological dimension. And in this progressively built up, and non-final because undecisive as for the life of death of Voldemort himself, frontal shock, the writer shows a level of imagination that has no limits. She uses older elements in an unforeseen or at least partially unpredictable way, and she adds new elements that are totally undeductable from the previous volumes. Suspense is absolute and never, at this level, loosened or weakened.
The third element is The widening of the national and ethnic scope of the book. The author introduces a competition that brings into the picture two schools from abroad : one from France and another one from eastern and central Europe. Hence there is a play on the particular « dialects » of those foreigners in their use of English, a play on food variations, on clothing variations, on transportation variations, etc. This is supposed to widen the scope of the students' consciousness and awareness of the differences that exist between and among humans to bring out a wider accepting of national and international cooperation. But she also widens the scope by introducing several other communities, particularly some that are traditionally rejected by wizards and witches on the basis or pure prejudice, that is to say racism : merpeople, elves, goblins (a little), giants (only a beginning). The aim is always to show that cooperation between different ethnic groups is necessary to give the future some stability and predictability.
The fourth element has to do with political power and its abuses. Power for the sake of power (Lord Voldemort), or for the sake of stability (The Minister of Magic, Fudge), or for the sake of lawfulness (that always covers some unlawful element and some inhuman attitudes to impose the law), or for the sake of personal privileges (like the power to show off, to get publicity, to bet and gamble) leads to abuse and cecity, at least shortsightedness, the incapability to see how the future will change and warp those principles or objectives, those ambitions, those values : to be a real leader you have to keep in mind the unification of your people and the wider longer aims of human life, of social life, of history. Lord Voldemort and his followers find themselves on the wrong side of history, just the same as the Minister of Magic who only wants to protect what has achieved, which is the past, and to prolong it into the future. This idea that the future needs moral commitment and the accepting of change is essential in this book. There is a real mirror in the book that gives us a picture of our own society that uses democracy in order to capture power in the name of change and progress, and then defend it in the name of stability. Any political leader is led to conservativeness, I am even inclined to saying conservation.
We thus wait for the next volume that will have to deal with the fight against the revived Lord Voldemort and also with some fundamental issues that have not yet been solved : love and its outcome, the fate of Harry's godfather, the need of justice and to avoid injustice or to repair cases of injustice, when injustice occors, etc. We can trust the writer to bring in new elements that will constantly feed the mill of suspense and imagination.
on 8 May 2004
Having been told many times of J K Rowling's fourth installment of the Harry Potter series being considerably darker than the first three, I was simultaneously skeptical as to whether or not the effect would be successful, and at the same time eager to experience the change in her storytelling technique. I wasn't disappointed. Yes, it's a long book, and although that seems to put some people off, let me assure you that the effect has the author drawing the reader in to an enchanting and many-layered plot like never before. The level of detail is far more enhanced than the previous books containing Harry's adventures: The author seems aware that the original Harry Potter fans have now matured along with the young wizard, and are now capable not only of understanding the changes Harry is experiencing, but also able to take on board a more complex storyline than is usual within the set of books.
The first hundred or so pages see Harry suffering at the hands of his wretched relatives - the Dursleys - before finally being released for long enough to enjoy the exciting atmosphere of the Quidditch World Cup. Upon returning to Hogwarts, Harry and his fellow witched and wizards learn of a once-annual tradition known as the Triwizard Tournament. It is at this point that J K Rowling unleashes information about magic schools in other countries: Durmstrang and Beaxbatons are the names of the other two schools that compete against Hogwarts for the Triwizard Cup. Times are stressful for Harry during the competition, and it is then that we glimpse changes in his personality and angry outbursts caused by his awkward adolescant phase.
There are, of course, plenty of new characters introduced to the reader: The new Defence Agsinst the Dark Arts teacher - the eccentric and - some believe - dangerous 'Mad-Eye' Moody. We also come across some familiar faces, such as the amusing house-elf Dobby, formerly seen in book two - The Chamber of Secrets. Not only this, but surprising facts are uncovered about characters such as Neville Longbottom, and sinister pasts of thoses working for the Ministry of Magic. There is plenty of excitement within the Goblet of Fire, and suspense during difficulties Harry must overcome during tests of friendship between himself, Ron and Hermione. There are lots of surprises in store, plenty of twists and several weepy moments. It is my personal favourite in the series, and I urge you to give it a read.