Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Published by Scholastic on July 8th 2000
Series: Harry Potter #4
Genres: Children's, Novels, Science Fiction Fantasy
Length: 734 pages Source: Gift from Family
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You have in your hands the pivotal fourth novel in the seven part tale of Harry Potter's training as a wizard and his coming of age. Harry wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup with Hermione, Ron, and the Weasleys. He wants to dream about Cho Chang, his crush (and maybe do more than dream). He wants to find out about the mysterious event that's supposed to take place at the Hogwarts this year, an event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn't happened in a hundred years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen year old wizard. Unfortunately for Harry Potter, he's not normal - even by wizarding standards.
And in his case, different can be deadly.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is my second favorite of all the Potter books, and for good reason – it’s filled with action, new characters, and it’s the turning point of the series. Listening to the audiobook just made it better. Narrator Jim Dale continues to improve his voices. I particularly enjoyed his choice for Madame Maxime. I also continue to enjoy his choices for the Weasley twins, Professor McGonagall, and Professor Snape. I think a good narrator really brings the characters to life.
As for the story itself, I think that GoF is most enjoyable because it is different. Yes, yes, it’s still a story about Harry fighting Voldemort, but the nature of it is much different than the previous three. Harry’s routine classes start to slide into the back seat as the three tasks take prominence. Having daily life at Hogwarts in the rearview mirror instead of front and center is a theme that will continue through the rest of the series. Although I really enjoy walking through Harry’s classes, it’s very much essential that these things fade away to focus more prominently on Voldemort’s rise.
GoF challenges the relationship between Harry and his friends. We see the first real fracture between himself and Ron, and the bitter seed planted here will continue to root and grow for the rest of the series. In addition, the dance between Ron and Hermione as a future couple begins to get interesting at the Yule Ball. But outside of the regulars, we also get to see a bit of development in Hagrid’s story, which is a wonderful treat, as well as some background on Neville Longbottom. Both these characters have been hovering supportively near the trio since book one, and it’s nice to see they’ve not been forgotten.
Despite the shifting focus of the story, Rowling continues to outline the beauty and wonder of the magical world, and she never fails to add comedy to the edges. Life, after all, is not always busy and grim. While our usual comedians, the Weasley twins, are a bit busy this book, they still have their moment. Add to that Dobby’s socks, the awkwardness of the Yule Ball, and the notorious Amazing Bouncing Ferret… and despite the dark turn of things, I still found myself chuckling.
All in all, I’d say Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire still holds its place as my second favorite of the Potter books and as one of my top 25 Desert Island books… It’s captivating, engrossing, fun, action-filled, witty, beautifully written, and dear to my heart. It was good fun to renew my memories of this story, and I love looking back in retrospective and finding all the bits and pieces I’ve managed to miss in previous readings that the audio book really illuminated. All the points to Gryffindor!