Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for the earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels [here], [here] and [here].

Hey, guess what? This post marks my 350th review on this blog. Yay for me! Thank-you everyone for your support over the last few years. I suppose that means that I really should take a celebratory look at J.K. Rowling’s masterpiece once again. Be warned, I’m kind of assuming that most of you have already read this novel, so this review will contain massive spoilers.

As I’m sure you probably already know, Harry Potter is a massively popular series about the adventures of a young wizard. It consists of seven main novels – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007). The series is supplemented by a number of short-stories and scripts that further expand the world.

Harry’s fourth year has gotten off to an exciting start as the Weasleys invite him and Hermione along with them to the Quidditch World Cup. However, the huge event ends in disaster as a group of masked wizards start a riot. Harry soon discovers that they are the Death Eaters – supporters of Lord Voldemort – and their sudden appearance worries him. Their master has been gone for thirteen years. Why would they choose that moment to come out of hiding?

However, Harry quickly forgets about this as he returns to Hogwarts. This year, his school has been chosen to host the Triwizard Tournament – a dangerous contest that pits a champion from Hogwarts against those of two rival schools: Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. The three champions are chosen by a magical artefact known as the Goblet of Fire which has been enchanted to prevent anyone under the age of seventeen from taking part. However, as the Goblet reveals who has been chosen, something unexpected happens. It spits out the name of a fourth champion: Harry Potter.

Suddenly, Hogwarts does not seem so welcoming to Harry. Not only does a jealous Ron turn against him, but he must also face the very real possibility that someone wants him dead. The Triwizard Tournament is incredibly dangerous and he is three years younger than his rivals. It seems likely that Voldemort is in some way responsible but, if that is the case, who could possibly be helping him from inside Hogwarts?

If you read my previous review, you’ll remember that I thought that Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was the best entry to this series so far. I’m pleased to say that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is equally as good. However, I feel that I should begin with a word of warning. This novel is by far the darkest instalment of the series to date. While it’s obviously not graphic, this story depicts both the death of a major character and several scenes of torture. Be warned that younger readers may find it to be a bit scary in places.

At 636 pages in length, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the longest novel of this series to date. While I criticised earlier instalments for feeling a little rushed in places, that is certainly not a complaint that I could make this time around. In fact, I sometimes felt as though it had gone a little too far the other way. It takes 152 pages for Harry to set foot in Hogwarts, and the three tasks are well spread out across the novel’s remaining length. While the story is never boring, it is slow burning and felt a little over padded in places.

I personally felt that this could largely have been remedied by cutting out some of the subplots. Hermione, in particular, is very busy in this story. A surprising amount of the novel is devoted to both her attempt to liberate the House Elves that work in Hogwarts’ kitchens and her budding relationship with the Durmstrang champion, Viktor Krum. Neither of these ultimately go anywhere and certainly could have been trimmed to better streamline the novel.

However, pacing issues aside, the plot of this book really is excellent. The Triwizard Tournament serves as the main device which keeps the story flowing, and it really spices up the school year as it means that far less time is spent following Harry from lesson to lesson. While the story is still packed with whimsy (the Quidditch World Cup in particular is massively imaginative), it also piles on the action as Harry competes in the escalating challenges that lead up to his nail-biting duel with Voldemort.

The twist of the novel was also pretty effective, however I didn’t feel that it was quite as well integrated as that of the previous book. While there are certainly clues throughout the story that indicate that Mad-Eye Moody isn’t who he appears to be, the story withholds one key piece of information that allows the reader to deduce his identity until very close to the end of the novel. This is also something that I found problematic with the way that Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was structured and, while Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire wasn’t quite as frustrating as this, I still found this to be a little lazy.

My biggest issue with the plotting of this story was, randomly, the Portkey. As anyone who knows me well will probably be sick of hearing, I absolutely hate Portkeys. Yes, this is another of my personal nitpicks, but hear me out. At the start of this story, we are told this about Rowling’s new method of wizard transportation:

“For those who don’t want to Apparate, or can’t, we use Portkeys. They’re objects that are used to transport wizards from one spot to another at a prearranged time.”

Quite simple, isn’t it? In the climax of this novel, Moody turns the Triwizard Cup into a Portkey when he places it at the centre of the maze for Harry to reach. Only, how does this work? Moody can’t possibly know when the exact time that Harry will touch the cup will be. For that matter, if anything can be a Portkey, why does it even have to be the cup? Moody could have turned a sheet of parchment into a Portkey and asked Harry to pass it to him on day one. Job done.

It’s a small gripe, but for me it’s also a really annoying one. I can’t see any reason why Moody would have to wait for so long to spring his plan. So much could have gone wrong. Harry could have died at any point during the contest and then Voldemort would have been buggered. As the plot kind of hinges on this point, it makes it all the more irritating for me and I just can’t let it drop! Gah!

Okay, rant over. I’ll behave now. Let’s talk about one of Rowling’s greatest strengths: the characters.

This is still where I think that the Harry Potter series on the whole really shines. While Harry didn’t receive the same level of personal growth that he gained over the course of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, in this novel he started to really feel like a teenager. For the first time, he has started to notice girls and his daft argument with Ron, while frustrating, still felt very realistic. He is a fourteen-year-old boy, and teenagers don’t get on all the time. However, the characters in this story are still able to pull together when it counts. The themes of friendship, loyalty and teamwork are still strong in this book, even though Ron and Hermione are disappointingly absent during the climax this time around.

Family has also always been an important theme within the Harry Potter series, and for the first time we begin to see just how similar Harry and Voldemort are. Both Harry and Voldemort were orphans who were raised by muggles who did not treat them kindly. While this lead Voldemort down a very dark path, Harry has managed to rise above this and become a half-way decent human being.

As with previous instalments, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire also introduced a new selection of colourful and memorable new cast members. The best of these is probably Mad-Eye Moody, who really does steal the show. He’s unpredictable, rebellious and more than able to put Malfoy in his place, which is always entertaining to read. The vile reporter, Rita Skeeter, is also certainly unforgettable. She is one of the most loathsome characters of the series to date, and it was very satisfying when she finally got her comeuppance at the hands of Hermione.

Anyhow, this review is getting long and I should probably wrap it up. Portkey related grievances aside, I did really enjoy this book. I’m not sure if it’s quite as good as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban but it certainly comes very close. I look forward to getting to my 400th review so we can see if things get better still in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire can be purchased as a Paperback, eBook and Audio Book on Amazon.co.uk

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The Sobeks 2017 – Part 4 | Arkham Reviews
  2. Trackback: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix | Arkham Reviews
  3. Trackback: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince | Arkham Reviews
  4. Trackback: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows | Arkham Reviews

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