Book review

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (2000)

Harry Potter is growing up! If you were 11 when you first read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone then, like Harry, you will now be 14. Quite honestly, life is tricky enough when you are 14. Harry is surprised to discover that while Hermione is simply a jolly good friend to him, she is the most important thing in the life of Viktor Krum, the international quidditch star. Harry's mate, Ron, is jealous of Hermione for going off with his favourite quidditch player, but perhaps Ron would actually prefer Hermione's company to Viktor Krum's (even if Ron doesn't quite realize it yet)? Harry has become almost painfully aware of Cho Chang of Ravenclaw House, but dithers for too long before inviting her to the Yule Ball, and so he has to watch her go with Cedric Diggory, who is older than him, better looking, and a prefect. Meanwhile, Ron is quite often jealous of Harry for being richer than him, and more popular than him; famous, that is.

Ah! but on top of all that Harry is, of course, the object of Lord Voldemort's hatred. Lord Voldemort - the Dark Lord himself - is slowly recovering his powers and calling to his side all his helpers of old. All he needs is a new body to occupy and he will become an irresistible force for evil. To build his new body he needs Harry Potter's blood.

Which servant of the Dark Lord succeeds in penetrating Albus Dumbledore's defences at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? Just how much danger is Harry in when his name is put forward for the Triwizard Tournament? Harry's a decent sort, and that can get you a long way when you are up against the forces of evil, but can he really face up to the Dark Lord in a duel, and come out alive?

This is a very long book. There are over 600 pages. The first 400 are little more than an account of everyday life in a magical landscape. The story wanders gently on. That's fine if you like your Harry Potter books to be a way of life, but if you like a tightly-told story you may feel a little impatient with it. On the other hand, when you finally get to the dramatic climax of the story, it is brilliantly told. Voldemort is revoltingly evil. Harry is pathetically vulnerable. And when their two wands link together in a surge of magical energy during the final duel, I was spellbound myself:

The golden thread connecting Harry and Voldemort splintered: though the wands remained connected, a thousand more offshoots arced high over Harry and Voldemort, criss-crossing all around them, until they were enclosed in a golden, dome-shaped web, a cage of light, beyond which the Death Eaters circled like jackals, their cries strangely muffled now ...
'Do nothing!' Voldemort shrieked to the Death Eaters, and Harry saw his red eyes wide with astonishment at what was happening, saw him fighting to break the thread of light still connecting his wand with Harry's; Harry held onto his wand more tightly, with both hands, and the golden thread remained unbroken. 'Do nothing unless I command you!' Voldemort shouted to the Death Eaters.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was too long for me, but I did thoroughly enjoy it, once the story really got going. I enjoyed the girl-meets-boy aspect of the book: I felt it added interest to an otherwise rather one-dimensional story. And I found the final scenes powerful and rather moving.

What can I read next?

If you haven't already met Harry Potter face to face, you should read book one first, just to get the lie of the land. After that, it doesn't really matter, but Harry does grow up!

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

After Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire you may like to look at the Earthsea series by Ursula le Guin:

I think you might enjoy The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell:

Or possibly, for a more serious read about magic, the His Dark Materials sequence by Philip Pullman:

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