“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” J.K. Rowling

19 Nov

“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” by J.K. Rowling (636p)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was one of the most eagerly anticipated novel releases in history. By 2000, the first three novels had become an international success with sales smashing countless records, and a movie of the first novel was due for release the following year. This fourth in the series takes Harry and his friends back to Hogwarts for the return a famous wizards tournament against two foreign schools, but as always, something evil is lying just under the surface, waiting to strike when Harry is at his weakest.

The treacherous Peter Pettigrew and the soul of Lord Voldemort have occupied an abandoned house to plot the death of Harry Potter, but their presence is suddenly interrupted by a local muggle gardener, who Voldemort kills with the avada kedavra curse. Harry’s lightning bolt scar sears with agony as he sees it in a dream, but that he must forget because along with the rest of the Weasley family and Hermione, he is off to attend the final of the Quidditch World Cup. After the match, though, a pack of Death Eaters (Voldemort loyalists) storm the stadium grounds, creating fear and panic where they go. Harry stumbles upon the Dark Mark, Voldemort’s call sign, and it is initially thought he conjured the mark until it is discovered that Winky, the house-elf servant of a minister official, was at fault using Harry’s wand. The elf is sacked, thus beginning Hermione’s long-lasting passion for equality for house-elves that lasts several books.

Back at Hogwarts, Dumbledore announces that the school will be hosting the Triwizard Tournament, which consists of three champions from three schools (Beauxbatons’ from France and Durmstrang from somewhere in northern Europe) competing against each other in three difficult tasks. To select the participants, entrants put their name into a goblet and the most deserving winner is magically selected. Cedric Diggory represents Hogwarts, the beautiful Fleur de la Cour represents Beauxbatons and Viktor Krum, who also played in the Quidditch World Cup final, takes the place for Durmstrang. But the goblet inexplicitly selects a fourth champion: Harry Potter, despite Harry being three years below the minimum age requirement and him not actually entering himself. But he has no choice and must compete, which leads to a falling out with Ron, who believes Harry cheated to enter and is finally overcome with jealousy of Harry’s constant fame and attention. Harry is guided through the tournament by Alastor Moody, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, and he helps Harry find the clues needed to give him any chance of succeeding in the tournament – or surviving at all.

In the first task, the champions must retrieve a golden egg from a dragon – Harry curses his luck when he draws the Hungarian Horntail, the most aggressive breed of dragon to be found in Europe. With advice from Hagrid, Moody, and Hermione, Harry uses his broomstick to fly past the dragon and capture the egg, earning high marks. Ron realises Harry would not have cheated when he sees how dangerous the first task is, and they reconcile. Before the second round there is a break and a winter ball, the Yule Ball, is held which sees some of the funnier chapters of the novel as Ron and Harry try in vain to find dates, Harry’s preferably with his crush Cho Chang, but she has already been asked by Harry’s Triwizard Tournament opponent Cedric Diggory. As the ball looms ever closer Harry and Ron lump to go with twins Parvati and Padma Patil, while Hermione shocks everyone (especially Ron) by arriving with Viktor Krum.

The second task in the Triwizard Tournament required the competitors to retrieve something important to each champion hidden in Hogwarts’ lake; the chief impediment here because they must stay submerged for the time they are underwater without the aid of Muggle scuba gear. As the event is about to begin, Dobby gives Harry gillyweed so he can breathe underwater, and he successfully finds the four “important objects”: Ron, Hermione, Cho and Fleur’s little sister, Gabrielle. Harry stays on the spot to ensure that everyone is rescued, but Fleur never comes; he rescues Gabrielle in addition to Ron, which causes him to lose time but gain points for ‘moral fibre’. As the remainder of the school year passes, Harry regularly contacts Sirius Black, his godfather, still on the run for a crime he was wrongfully imprisoned for. One night, while talking with Viktor Krum, he finds a dishevelled looking Barty Crouch emerging dazed and tired from the forest, and runs off to find Dumbledore. While waiting in Dumbledore’s office for the headmaster’s return, Harry discovers a Pensieve, a method of storing memories one does not wish to be continually remembering, and enters it. It contains one of Dumbledore’s own memories: that of the trial in which Barty Crouch, Jr., a Death Eater, was sentenced to Azkaban by his own father for torturing Frank and Alice Longbottom (Neville’s parents) into insanity.

It was then time for the third and final task, which would decide the winner of the tournament. To win, they had to navigate their way through a complex maze full of magical obstacles, but eventually Harry and Diggory reach the trophy together, choosing to put their hands on it at the same time to share the prize. But unknown to them the trophy is a portkey and as soon as they touch it, they are transported out of the maze, landing in a deserted cemetery in the countryside with Peter Pettigrew and Lord Voldemort awaiting them. Voldemort instructs Pettigrew to kill Diggory and before Harry can do anything his friend is dead and he tied to a tombstone. Prone and helpless, Harry can do nothing to stop Pettigrew cutting his arm to take a sample of Harry’s blood, blood needed to break the defence charm protecting him and needed to restore Voldemort back to power.

For Voldemort has now come back with all his former powers and a new body. He summons his Death Eaters, and reveals that his servant at Hogwarts ensured that Harry would participate in the tournament, win it, and thus be brought to the graveyard. Voldemort challenges Harry to a duel, and punishes Harry with the cruciatus curse. Harry tries to disarm Voldemort with the expelliarmus spell, at exactly the same time as Voldemort uses the deadly avada kedavra curse. The two curses meet and interlock, causing an effect called priori incantatem to take place. This bond between the wands causes the spirits of Voldemort’s most recent murdered victims, including Cedric Diggory, Bertha Jorkins, and James and Lily Potter to spill out from his wand. The spirit victims provide protection to Harry, allowing him to escape with Diggory’s body and leaving Voldemort with his Death Eaters.

After Harry returns to the school grounds through the portkey, Harry is in a terrible state and he refuses to leave Cedric’s body. Amidst the chaos and woe, Moody takes Harry to his office immediately. He reveals that he has been helping Harry throughout the tournament so that Harry would reach the portkey, thereby going to the cemetery so Voldemort could be restored. Moody then attempts to kill Harry himself, but Dumbledore, Severus Snape, and Minerva McGonagall arrive on time; Dumbledore had realised that something was wrong when he saw Moody whisk Harry away from the maze so quickly, and followed them. Dumbledore feeds Moody three drops of Veritaserum, a truth potion, and they discover that “Moody” is actually Barty Crouch, Jr. He has escaped Azkaban and used a Polyjuice Potion to impersonate the real Alastor Moody, who is trapped in a magical trunk. Crouch Jr. entered Harry’s name into the Goblet of Fire, covertly ensuring that Harry completed each difficult task by supplying help one way or another, murdered his own father, transfigured his body into a bone, and buried it. Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge arrives at Hogwarts accompanied by a Dementor. Fudge refuses to believe Dumbledore’s and Harry’s word that Voldemort is back, and orders the Dementor to “kiss” Crouch Jr. as his punishment: Crouch no longer has a soul.

Harry is taken to Dumbledore’s office where he reunites with Sirius and he relives his story of his night. He is taken to the hospital wing and is crowned Triwizard Champion and awarded with 1000 galleons. That same night, Dumbledore revives “the old crowd”, seeing Fudge and the Ministry denies the resurrection of Voldemort. Days later, Dumbledore then makes an announcement at the gloomy Leaving Feast, telling everybody about Voldemort and saying to forget would be ‘an insult to his (Cedric’s) memory.’ Harry gives his winnings to Fred and George to start a joke shop and Harry sets off for another summer at the Dursley’s.

When this first came out I could not have been anymore excited. I had read all the hype on the internet, posted on message boards about it, and quite genuinely counted down the days until it was released. I had only just turned thirteen at the time and I thought a 636 page book would be far too long and take me months to read. It took me two days as I was off school during our mid-year holidays, I read the first four hundred pages from the morning it came out until I went to bed – it was the only reason I stopped as I figured I should sleep a few hours. Page after page of the Goblet of Fire enthralled me as the story was so captivating with an outstanding, yet simple plot that so many could relate to. I loved the parts leading up to the ball – what teenage boy couldn’t relate to that? We have all been through it or about to go through it as I was at the time, and I went through that part with a broad smile on my face.

I loved this novel, it is easily my favourite in the whole series1 and I think I have re-read it about six times. It is quick paced and thoroughly entertaining with a great cavalcade of new and old characters to bring the story to life. The imagery is great and, as I said, the plot is very simple but one that is guaranteed to hook a reader in. This also further deepened the gradual change into a more adult novel as opposed to the heavily children-oriented nature of the first two. The return of Voldemort is brilliantly captured and my favourite part of the book. For that reason alone I encourage anyone to read it as I am sure you will fall in love with Harry Potter after reading this one, if you hadn’t already.


1 For the record that goes: Goblet of Fire, Prisoner of Azkaban, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows, Philosopher’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, and Order of the Phoenix.


2 Responses to ““Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” J.K. Rowling”

  1. Jeff November 20, 2008 at 10:58 am #

    Perhaps the stand-out aspects of the novel are the challenges and the climax. Oh, and the I enjoyed the Yule Ball.

    If you base your judgement due to how withered the pages are, this would also be my favourite.

  2. Rhys November 21, 2008 at 6:36 pm #

    Mine aren’t withered because I bought the last four in hardback, and those last a lot longer. 😛

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