HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE
by J.K. Rowling
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the eagerly awaited fourth novel in J.K. Rowling’s popular series of juvenile novels. Almost as long as all three previous novels, Rowling has given herself more time to set the story and mood without feeling rushed. Fortunately, the novel neither drags nor meanders. Events in the early pages which seem unrelated to the main plot are eventually brought back to explain what has happened.
Rowling has established a formula for the novels. Each book begins during the final weeks of summer when Harry is living with his abusive Muggle (non-Wizard) relatives. He leaves them to go to Hogwart’s, his school, where the rest of the novel details his classes and the adventures he gets into with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Although Rowling follows this formula in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, she is willing to stray.
Before traveling to Hogwarts, Harry and his group attend the Quidditch World Cup, which ends disastrously when a group of Lord Voldemort’s supporters go on a rampage, attacking the Muggles whose farm they are camping on. This scene of violence is quickly left behind when Harry, Ron and Hermione reach school to discover that the Triwizard Tournament will be held between Hogwarts and two foreign Wizard Schools.
The mood in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is darker than in previous novels. The stakes are higher and the humor is less frequent. Harry finds himself alienated more frequently and more fully than in the previous novels as Ron and Hermione branch out to follow their own pursuits.
Because Harry is involved in the Tournament, Rowling provides very little detail about his classes during his fourth year. They always exist in the background, but to a much lesser degree than in the previous novels. Furthermore, Harry doesn’t get to play quidditch in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The game plays an important role in the beginning of the novel, but Harry is only a bystander.
Naturally, the minions of Voldemort eventually make their appearance in a much more substantial way than in any of the earlier novels. Many openly profess their loyalty to the Dark Lord, but it also becomes clear that there is one who remains hidden and is the danger Harry must really beware of. When the villain is eventually caught, his confession seems a little contrived. Although fed with a truth potion, the monologue of his litany of crimes is a little too eagerly given.
Rowling is very aware of the world she has built up. Events which occurred or were mentioned in earlier novels are referred to an play important parts in the plot of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Characters whose backgrounds have been hinted at are more fully fleshed out and Harry and the reader begin to come to an understanding about why some of the characters are the way they are. At the same time, Rowling never reveals everything and refuses to paint her characters in black and white. Eventually, she may even reveal that Voldemort is not the epitome of evil he has been portrayed as.There is a reason for the Harry Potter phenomenon, and anyone who reads this, or the previous books, will understand that children love the books because Rowling expects them to be able to understand the shades of gray she introduces. She doesn’t feel that children need to be preached to or that books need to be “dumbed down” to appeal to kids, which is also why she has developed such a large adult following.
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