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Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J K Rowling
Harry Potter #4

Bloomsbury 2000
Hardcover
636 pages
Children’s Fantasy/YA Fantasy

This review contains spoilers.

This is one I’ve only read once, when it first came out, and I’ve only seen the movie once too, so there was lots of “new” details for me on this re-read. This isn’t the copy I originally bought back in 2000 (it was first released in paperback; book 5 was the first hardcover edition on release); I had to put that one in the recycling bin and buy a new copy (and I was shocked at how expensive it was: at $32, it’s much more than the other children’s/YA hardcovers) because it had water damage and black mould on the bottom from the time when my brother stored some boxes of my books under his house – on dirt, on a steep hillside – while I was in Japan. Idiotic thing to do. I also lost my original copy of Philosopher’s Stone too, which is why I have the Raincoast (Canadian) edition of it now.

The Goblet of Fire starts, as usual, at the end of the summer holidays before Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts. Because Harry now has a godfather – escaped mass murderer Sirius Black – the Dursleys are being, not nice, but careful not to overtly abuse Harry less this mad protector hears about it. So when Harry is invited to the final match in the Quidditch World Cup by his best friend, Ron Weasley, Uncle Vernon reluctantly agrees.

The World Cup final is between Ireland and Bulgaria, and the Weasleys have seats in the top box. After the game, several Death Eaters – supporters of Lord Voldemort – make an appearance, as does the Dark Mark in the sky. It’s just the beginning of the signs that Voldemort is on his way back, and when Harry’s name comes out of the Goblet of Fire, making him a fourth school Champion in the Triwizard Tournament, it’s clear that something foul is afoot.

I tend to think of this book as the end of Harry’s childhood, because things get extra serious, Cedric Diggory is murdered, and Lord Voldemort returns. The next three books are noticeably darker in tone and deed, and unlike in Chamber of Secrets, people – Harry’s friends – start dying. I always felt more tense, here on out (in a good way).

The ending of this book always makes me cry. Cedric’s death is one of those horrible, senseless deaths. Rowling makes sure you’re going to have a personal stake in Harry’s drive to defeat Voldemort, after Cedric’s death, for Cedric was a genuinely good, likeable boy. Dumbledore’s memorial speech at the end is incredibly moving – truly, Dumbledore gets some of the best lines, and is a phenomenal character and role model. To be honest, this series is as good for children learning about right and wrong etc., as the fairy tales used to be. (Fairy tales are cautionary tales using analogies to impart warnings etc.) If children learn morals from books, this series has lots to impart.

Goblet of Fire is a busy book, with a great deal happening over the course of a school year. We also learn more about Snape, though we’ve barely scratched the surface with this complex character. I love Snape as a perfect example of someone who seems bad but fights for “good” – not black and white, in other words. The introduction of two other wizarding schools – Beauxbattons and Durmstrang – as well as learning about Hagrid’s giantess mother, also introduced issues of race and prejudice (further from the Muggle and Mudblood prejudices) into the story, as well as some fun new characters.

We not only get this wider scope of the wizarding world in terms of learning about other schools, we also get a more political novel – ministry officials not only make an appearance but have important roles in the plot, their “adult” politics filter into Harry’s world and awareness: that awareness that adult decisions have huge impact on a child’s world, their life, and that adults don’t always make the right decision or know everything; that it’s more than okay to question an adult. Because, just because adults are adult, doesn’t make them irreproachable, or wise, or unquestionable. And when kids realise that, they’ve taken the first step into the adult world of disabused notions, unfairness, hypocrisy and ulterior motives.

And Hermione’s determination to make the school’s house-elves see that they’re slave labour and insist on fair wages and freedom, raises questions not only about workers’ rights but also misguided assumptions and placing your own views and beliefs on others just because you’re sure you’re right, regardless of other “people’s” culture and belief system. (Yes they are technically slave labour, but it was more interesting reading it as an analogy for colonialism and/or religious preaching/missionary work in “uncivilised” parts.)

The events in this book make it one of the more exciting ones, as well as its climactic ending, but there’s still some very nice character development going on. Ron’s insecurities, as coming from a large family that overshadows him, comes out again and you have to feel for him, his reaction is understandable (as someone who comes from a family of five kids, all of whom are much louder than me, I know the feeling!).

One of the things I noticed this time ’round, knowing who the enemy at Hogwarts is (who put Harry’s name in the Goblet), was how much Harry learnt off Moody, who, yes, was making sure Harry won the Tournament, but in doing so taught him much, gave him the tools or motivated Harry to get them for himself (all the hexes and jinks he learns, for instance), to battle Voldemort and defend himself. It’s quite ironic really. I always felt equally betrayed by Moody/Barty Couch, because I liked him so much as Harry’s teacher and mentor! The real Moody I feel you never really get to know, in comparison.

It’s funny, I’ve only seen the movie once too but I was surprised, when reading the book, that it’s Dobby who gives Harry the gillyweed and solves that problem for him – Moody plants the information with Neville but Harry never asks around for help. In the movie, Neville does help him in this task, and I loved that. I love it when Neville gets appreciated, he’s one of my favourite minor characters and more important than you ever realise. The movie did a good job in changing that around, it worked well for the screen. But I had completely forgotten that it’s Dobby who helps Harry, in the book!

Overall, the story becomes more complex and more gripping, with this fourth instalment. Things are chugging along at a fine pace, the stakes are higher than ever, Voldemort is a real threat now and the wizarding world continues to be developed and added to so that it’s hard (or simply more fun) to remember that it’s not real. Now I’m off to watch the movie again! 🙂

___________________________

If you read this book as part of the read-along (or if you’ve reviewed it at any time!), leave me a link to your review and I’ll add it here.

Lucybird’s Book Blog

Sky Ink

Live Through Books

Discussion Questions:

1. What did you think of the movie adaptation of this book, and how well the changes they made worked?

2. What was your favourite scene in this book?

3. What are your thoughts and opinions on the heftier political aspects of this book?

11 comments to Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

  • I think the adaptation of this book was wonderful – I would even go so far as to say I think it was the best adaptation out of all of the movies. The changes they made were barely significant enough to register on my radar, but I am pretty forgiving about making changes in movies. Let’s face it, its a movie adaptation, completely different medium so there will have to be some challenges. The important this is do they still capture the essence of the story. This book definitely does that.

    My favourite scene in the book is probably Harry fighting with the dragon. So exciting and scary at the same time!!

    Heftier political aspects – I definitely don’t want to cloud my enjoyment of Harry Potter by thinking about things like that. I am there for the magic alone 🙂

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Becky (Page Turners), I haven’t had a chance to watch the movie again yet, but I’ll do it soon even if I have to watch it during the day (shudder)! I actually don’t mind it when they make changes for a movie, though not all changes work well, because like you say, it’s a different medium, and they’re adaptations. I like it when a really good filmmaker has brought something new to the story, rather than just putting it in picture form. That way you can enjoy both the book and the movie but for different reasons!

    [Reply]

  • I’m reading Harry Potter for the first time, and I finished Goblet of Fire about two months ago on vacation. I grabbed what I thought was the correct movie, but I ended up bringing the wrong one so I haven’t watched it yet. Once I got home, I got wrapped up in other things, but I’m definitely going to watch it this weekend. It’s fun to reward myself with the movies once I’ve completed the book.

    I must agree that Dumbledore has some of the greatest lines. What Dumbledore says about Cedric brings tears to my eyes every time.

    What remains memorable for me is the Hogwarts gang preparing for the dance. Rowling has captured the age group, the insecurities, the confusion so well. Harry wonders why the girls travel in packs (funny, yet so true & how frightening for boys), Ron’s embarrassed by his dress robes, and doesn’t believe he’ll ever find a date, and his surprise and jealousy over Hermione getting asked by his hero, Victor Krum, is priceless. The confrontation between Ron and Hermione is priceless. I simply adore Hermione. She’s the one that studies, knows the spells, and gets them out of jams. She’s one tough witch! But I understand she’s book learned, and Harry is street smart 😀 There was a time when I thought Hermione and Harry would end up together, but I’m hoping that Ron and Hermione get together in the end, as they seem to have feelings for each other that they don’t realize/don’t want to admit, and they’re just so very sweet together.

    Voldemort’s transition is a frightening thing.

    There are numerous lessons in this book, and with proper discussion with an adult, children can really learn a great deal about the world from HP, like the house elves and S.P.E.W. (?), racism, prejudice. The books are so multi-faceted and well written that it can be enjoyed on multiple levels, and upon a reread can turn out to be almost an entirely different book. What stands out most for me politically, is the on-going theme of mudbloods being inferior, & how they should be destroyed so pure wizards can rule the world. How very Hitler. Even the skull symbol in the sky is the death eater version of the swastika. (is Death eater what they’re called? I can’t remember now. Anyway, Voldemort followers.)

    Right now I’m reading Order of the Phoenix, and it’s very s l o w going. Hagrid has just gotten back from his long mysterious journey, so I’m hoping it picks up. Thus far, this is the most difficult book to read, but I’m told I will be enthralled by what is to come. I hope so. After only a few pages, I’m sound asleep!

    Happy Reading. Love your blog. I’m hoping to start reading Haruki Murakami soonly soon!

    Evie

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Evie, Your thoughts on the party – spot on! I hadn’t really thought too much about it before but I really enjoy that section too, for those reasons. Rowling has written it with great skill, now I think of it, because I’ve read other YA books where this stuff is treated like so much drama and just has me rolling my eyes.

    Yep, that’s right, Death Eaters! Charming aren’t they? 😉

    I actually love The Order of the Phoenix, but it’s probably the slowest of the lot. Has a very climactic ending though, and I think the saddest ending too.

    Hope you like Murakami!

    [Reply]

  • […] Potter Reading Marathon 2011 hosted by Shannon at Giraffe Days Here is Shannon’s post about Goblet of Fire. Here are two more reviews: Lucybird’s Book Blog and Sky […]

  • I watched the movie as soon as I finished the book. I actually quite dislike the movie (which is pretty rare since I love nearly all the HP movies). I thought the movie moved the plot way too fast and didn’t explore the political aspects of the 4th book as well as the book.

    My favourite scene has to be Cedric’s death and Dumbledore’s memorial speech. Not because I liked the fact that Cedric died or anything, but because it’s one of the few scenes from *any* book that has moved me to tears. Always loved Cedric Diggory, I would have loved to have seen more of him in the series, but alas, his life was cut short.

    I loved the political aspects of the book, of course, seeing how I was upset that (I felt) a lot of it was removed from the movie. Makes the wizarding world feel more well built and realistic!

    That Skeeter woman REALLY made me angry though!

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Jinny (SkyInk.net), No I totally understand, I felt/feel the same way about poor Cedric. For a character that didn’t appear all that much, Rowling really made us care deeply – he was just such a lovely boy, and seemed so genuine and good. When Harry brings his body back and won’t let go, and Mr Diggory is calling out for his boy … there’s such real anguish in those few, sparsely-written lines, it breaks my heart. And again, when Harry wants to cry in the hospital wing, and with Dumbledore’s speech… It’s all so raw.

    Oh wow I can’t believe I forgot to say anything about Rita Skeeter! She’s such a dreadful, unscrupulous liar! I loved the idea of Hermione carrying her around in a jar! (Fancy having a beetle as the creature you can urn into! Still, it clearly served her well!)

    [Reply]

  • Didn’t think I would get this months review up, just about made it. here

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    Well done! I’m only halfway through! I’ll be a few days late …

    [Reply]

  • […] JUNE: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone JULY: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets AUGUST: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban SEPTEMBER: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire […]

  • […] nor good intentions. He becomes determined to save Cedric (he of the incredibly tragic ending in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) by going back in time – more than once, causing disturbing changes in the […]

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