Monday, November 22, 2010

Canon Book Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

I don't know if you've heard, but this weekend the new Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1 was released. As you might expect, it did quite well at the box office this weekend, as every Quidditch loving muggle went out and saw their man Harry and his pals battle the forces of evil or something. I don't know, I'm not that far into the Potter saga. I did not go and see this movie (although my sister did), so you may be wondering why I'm even mentioning Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1. Well, it's for the hits that come along with mentioning a popular topic like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1.

Now that that's out of way, today's review is actually of the fourth novel in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter saga, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In this novel, Harry Potter doesn't actually touch the Goblet of Fire, but it dramatically changes his life and nearly gets him killed anyway. Yes, once again, poor Harry tries to go through another year at Hogwarts, a school for wizards, without causing too much trouble, but trouble has a funny way of finding Harry Potter and his friends. For one, his wand gets jacked at the Quidditch World Cup, and is later used to summon the Dark Mark of Voldemort, the most evil wizard in the world and the man that killed Harry's parents. Also, this year at Hogwarts, an old tradition is restarted with the revival of the Triwizard Cup, a competition between a wizard or witch from three rival schools, Hogwarts being among them. Even though the competition is limited to students over 17, Harry somehow gets picked by the Goblet of Fire. This comes as a surprise to Harry, considering he didn't try to enter the tournament. So, in addition to all of his troubles with mastering magic, Harry now must compete in a tournament that requires him to complete tasks that are quite advanced for any wizard, much less a fourth year student at Hogwarts, and figure out who entered him in the tournament, as he has a feeling that once again, somebody wants Harry dead. All that, and more, can be found in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. A few notes about this book, and there are SPOLIERS ahead, so proceed with caution.

- The first thing I noticed about this book is that it is a lot longer than the previous three. At 754 pages, this book is nearly as lengthy as the previous two books in the series combined. However, like the previous three books, this book only covers one year in time. It just so happens that a lot more seems to happen this year than in the other three years.

- In the Goblet of Fire, there are many other subplots going on along with the main narrative (which is basically Harry vs. Voldemort) which expand the Harry Potter universe. For example, there's the Quidditch World Cup, which is pretty much like soccer's World Cup only without vuvuzuelas and concealed to most of the public by an insane amount of magic. Plus, there's the introduction of two new wizardry schools, Beauxbatons, which seems to be a French school, and Durmstrung, which seems to be a Russian or Eastern European school. This, I felt, was a welcome change to the story, as it showed that the world of magic is not just merely confined to Hogwarts. If anything, I would have liked a bit more information about these two schools, particularly Beauxbatons and their competitor in the Triwizard tournament, Fleur Delacour, as there really wasn't any depth to her character.

- There are many new characters in The Goblet of Fire. One of which is a nosy newspaper report for the Daily Prophet named Rita Skeeter. Skeeter is the worst kind of journalist, one that isn't above bending the truth or using espionage in order to write a more compelling story. Skeeter causes a lot of problems for Potter, particularly when Draco and his fellow Slytherins start feeding her information. If I were an ameteur psychologist, I'd say that the creation of Skeeter was the result of the author's frustration over her coverage by the media, but I'm not and besides, Rowling denied that notion. Still, I do wonder.

- Also, Hogwarts once again has a new Defense against the Dark Arts teacher. This time it's a former auror (basically, an investigator and capturer of dark wizards) named Mad-Eye Moody. Why do they call him Mad-Eye, you ask? Well, it's because he lost an eye during his career as an auror, and decided to replace it with a magically enhanced eyes that can rotate 360 degrees and see through anything, walls, invisibility cloaks, a dragon's belly, whatever. Perhaps an airport should hire Mad-Eye Moody as their security officer so they don't have to violently pat down passengers anymore.

- This book not only takes a turn in the length of the book, but also seems to take a more adult turn in general. For the first times, relationships and romance become a theme in the book, particularly with Hermoine and Ron. Harry and his cohorts act more like teenagers in this book rather than kids, and there are times where Harry feels uneasy about being so heavily protected, as if he thinks he knows all the answers like any other teenager. Also, there are more disturbing scenes in this one, such as, well basically everything that happens after the third stage of the tournament begins. Also, this was really the first Potter book that ended on a definite down note.

- One thing that kind of annoys me about the Harry Potter books is that most of the student body at Hogwarts seem to have a short memory. Once again, Harry finds himself in a perilous situation not of his doing, and once again, most of the school hates him for it. Never mind that Harry's saved their sorry butts on more than one occasion. This time, even Ron gets into the spirit, as his jealousy over Harry rears its ugly head after Harry is announced as the fourth member of the tournament. Sure, Harry could have handled himself better in their mini-feud, but is it too much to ask for a little understanding, Ron? In fact, even when they were getting along, Ron grated on my nerves for most of the book, as his new favorite hobby seemed to be complaining.

Overall, this wasn't too bad of a story, although I did find a couple of plotholes, and everything just seemed to wrap up a little too conveniently, if you will. Nevertheless, the story itself was very suspenseful, and kept me wanting more. Overall, I'll give Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire a 7.02950 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any comments about this or previous posts, or ideas for future reviews or posts, than share them either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at

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