Intricate And Simple At The Same Time. It's Simply Wonderful!
Reviewed in the United States on 30 August 2006
"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" is the fourth book in J.K. Rowling's beloved "Potter" series. It's also the fourth Potter book that I've read. It's the best of the lot that I've read so far, and that's saying a lot in my book since I really loved "Prisoner of Azkaban." "Goblet" starts off with something quite adult--a murder. Then, Harry is brought onto the scene with the familiarly miserable Dursleys. He's whisked away from them by the Weasleys in a humorous series of events. Eventually, Potter, Hermione, and most of the Weasley gang end up at the Quidditch World Cup. At this point, we are introduced to a number of characters such as Winky, Ludo Bagman and Viktor Krum. It is also at this point that Rowling takes the reader into a new arena of writing. Her play-by-play description of the Quidditch match is simply breathtaking. You can easily picture yourself at the event and watch it unfold before your eyes. After the game, a terrible event occurs which sets up they underlying "evil" feel of the rest of the book.
Harry and his friends return to Hogwarts and learn that the Triwizard tournament will be taking place there. Two other schools, Durmstrang and Beauxbatons, send their top students to the school in order for a chance to compete in the tournament. Competitors are chosen by the Goblet of Fire, one from each school. The aforementioned Krum is chosen to represent Durmstrang. The alluring and somewhat pompous Fleur Delacour will serve as the Beauxbatons competitor. Finally, Cedric Diggory, a character only briefly mentioned in earlier books, is chosen as the Hogwarts champion. A fourth competitor, amazingly, is also chosen by the Goblet. Harry Potter is chosen to compete even though he is underage and nowhere near the expertise levels of the other champions.
The champions are given three tasks to complete over the school year. Along the way, we see how Harry, Ron, Hermione, and the other students at Hogwarts are beginning to grow in maturity. There's a huge Yule Ball that poses a seemingly greater threat to Harry than any of the Triwizard tasks. He has a falling out with Ron, must deal with being popular/unpopular, and good ol' Malfoy and his thugs, Crabbe and Goyle, are still around to kick Harry when he's down. Oh, and Harry's starting to fall for Ravenclaw beauty, Cho Chang.
We are also introduced to a new Dark Arts teacher, Mad-Eye Moody, a nosy reporter named Rita Skeeter, and Karkaroff and Madame Maxime, the heads of the visiting schools. Ron and Hermione begin to develop more independently of Harry. Hermione begins a fledgeling campaign to liberate house elves. Ron has to come to terms with the fact that he'll probably remain in Harry's shadow for a long time and his interest in girls starts to bother him more than his silly twin brothers, Fred and George. Mentioning those two, they, along with most of the other Weasleys, are given a larger amount of page space. Hagrid gets a little more page time as well, and we learn some great truths about certain other characters who've been present throughout all of the books.
The book concludes with what I consider to be the most terrifying ending for younger readers. Harry has definitely grown up, and his fan base will also after reading this book. Readers are forced to deal with vicious murders, surprising revelations about certain characters, and an ending that leaves the reader hanging on for Harry's fifth year at Hogwarts.
This is a highly enjoyable read that I recommend to children who've already read the other books and are around the same age as the main characters (Harry is fourteen in this book). Younger kids may find parts of this tale to be too scary to read, and the violent and almost non-chalant death of one particular character may be too much for younger kids to handle. Parents should definitely read this one before letting their younger kids have a go.
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