Friday, 22 August 2014

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 
JK Rowling

   Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for his fourth year. When he and his friends arrive, an announcement is made that the Triwizard tournament, a fierce competition held between three rival magic schools, will be held at Hogwarts that year.
   Harry is not eligible to enter, being too young, but is surprised when the Goblet of Fire, the magical cup that chooses each schools competitor, selects him, forcing him to enter the tournament.
   The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up this book, is how long it is compared to the previous three books, from here on, the series goes from books averaging 250 pages, to ones averaging 500-600. The increased length makes a lot of sense, as Harry ages, the plots of the books grow more complex and there’s a lot more to fit in. As a result, The Goblet of Fire rarely feels over-long.

   That said, there are a few moments that make the book drag a little. The early chapters of the book see Harry, Ron and Hermione attend the Quidditch world cup final. It’s a lengthy segment that I can’t help but feel could be dropped or at least shortened drastically to the benefit of the book.
   I’ve never been much of a fan of the Quidditch sections in the books anyway, but having such a long chapter dealing with the match just makes the opening for the book drag on, you’re desperate for Harry to get to Hogwarts and for the story to begin proper.

   For the most part though, the book doesn’t feel padded, in fact, apart from the world cup, I don’t really have any complaints. I like the Triwizard Tournament, the intense challenges it presents and the clues that Harry must unravel to learn what the next task will be.
   I like the expansion of the Wizarding world, most notably, the two other schools competing in the tournament and the interesting characters that come along for the ride. A personal favourite is Madame Maxine, the half-giant headmistress of Beuxbaxtons, who becomes something of a love interest for Hagrid.
   I like Rita Skeeter, the infuriating journalist for the Daily Prophet who continually prints malicious lies and rumours about Harry Potter as the tournament goes on. As a portrayal of a slanderous journalist she’s admittedly a little cliché, but seeing the trope transformed into a character who can use magic to get her scoops and has a quill that deliberately misquotes people is fantastic and she makes for a great love-to-hate villain as the book goes on.

   Most of all, I like the progression in the character of Harry himself. This is the novel which sees Harry grow up and experience all of the problems that face any teenager at that age. Most notably, he begins to notice girls and becomes incredibly awkward around them, the Ravenclaw Quidditch seeker, Cho Chang in particular.
   Harry also begins to experience some self doubt. It’s been a massive subject of debate over the years as to how proactive a character Harry actually is. After all, he doesn’t really defeat Quirrell in the first book, he dies just by touching him. He receives the sword to kill the basilisk through what is perhaps the most obvious Deus Ex Machina in the series and his success in The prisoner of Azkaban owes as much to Hermione as it does to Harry himself. What’s great about this book is that Harry begins to admit that himself, he worries that, through all of his adventures so far, he’s just been lucky.
   Rowling manages to cram all of this in very convincingly and walks the fine line of tipping the book too much toward teen romance or melodrama perfectly. There’s just enough of both, but never too much.

  Ok, I just have to talk about the ending so, put on your spoiler goggles if you haven’t already read the book.

   So at the end, Harry and fellow Hogwarts champion Cedric Diggory reach the conclusion of the tournament together. They decide to share in the glory and both grab the Goblet of Fire, which symbolises the end of the tournament.
   Upon doing so however, they are immediately transported to a graveyard, where Wormtail performs a ritual, using Harry’s blood…to resurrect Lord Voldemort.
   Voldemort climbs back into the world, alive and well and kills Cedric Diggory without a second glance.

   Reading this for the first time I was absolutely shocked and that feeling stays with me to this day. Despite lingering in the background for three books, seeing Voldemort fully returned to power is a terrifying thing, and his flippant murder of Cedric sets the bar for the rest of the series. From there on, the fun and games are over. Voldemort is back and the wizarding world will never be the same again. Dark times are coming.
   This final scene may be my favourite moment in the whole series. It just sends chills down my spine and it leaves you demanding to know what happens next. It’s such a massive cliff hanger to leave off on.

   Overall, the Goblet of Fire may not be quite as enjoyable as the previous book, but it’s close. It’s a much bigger story that could come across as a little filler heavy at times until the final twist is revealed. As soon as that hits however, you realise you’ve been played, lured into a false sense of security only to have the rug pulled out from under you. It puts you right in Harry’s shoes and for that, it deserves massive props. 

JK Rowling
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