This book started off with so much promise, but ended up becoming almost as messy as Chamber of Secrets. I was hoping that it was all uphill from here, but Rowling’s writing is still as bumpy and unpolished as ever. Here we go… This time I at leas made sure to write a not on the positive aspects as well as the negative. I wasn’t very happy with myself for loving the Prisoner of Azkaban and then proceeding to only talk about the negative parts. I’ve fixed that now.
Before Reaching Hogwarts
At the beginning, Harry races off to a world Quiddich match with the Weasleys. There isn’t really a purpose to this other than to introduce a few characters, and portkeys which are mundane items that when touched will transport people to a specified location. It’s a moderately interesting pre-Hogwarts event, and a nice change of pace. The characters introduced is the thoroughly under-developed Viktor Krum, the Minister Cornelius Fudge, Bagman, and Crouch. We also learn about portkeys, and apparition becomes more commonplace. Honestly, I’m scared of the plot pitfalls that come with apparating, but I’ll touch on that later when I talk about the most evil curse.
The Quiddich game was fairly interesting, but I was more interested in what happened after, Death Eaters came to the campsites and harassed some non-wizards. Harry’s wand was found in the hands of a house elf, and the Dark Mark of Voldemort was summoned. Spooky!
The issue with J.K. Rowling using the same phrases or adjectives over and over throughout the book not only continues, but gets worse here. It might just be because this book is fairly long though. Characters “went pink” or “turned red” five or six times throughout the book. I get that people are getting flushed a lot, but maybe describe it in a different way once or twice? I’m really not sure if this is an editing issue, or if it’s a writing issue, but it is very irksome. Sadly, this minor quibble of mine continues in the next book, which is a real drag.
After Reaching Hogwarts
The trip to Hogwarts remained as interesting as ever, the sorting is done, and all that. Right away I noticed that the description in this book had improved compared to previous entries, what with people sitting on hedgehogs and swimming in the lake. I really liked the personality of the new Defence against the Dark Arts teacher, Mr Moody. He seemed really friendly, almost too friendly really… CONSTANT VIGILANCE!
Moody teaches Harry’s class about the three forbidden curses. One is a mind control curse, the other tortures, and the last one kills. That’s avada kedavra. And now it’s time to talk about all the easy ways out in J.K.’s writing.
My Fears about Potentially Plot Harmful Devices
Avada kedavra is guns, and guns are the worst. In a story of magic, killing, even in a swift manner, can be so much more interesting than saying an obvious play on abracadabra, the magic word. It’s not a draw from the story yet, and I’m tentatively hoping it never does. I’m a bit through Order of the Phoenix right now, and so far we’re good, but I have my fears that when the fights break out, this spell will ruin battles the same way guns run fight scenes in action movies. Nobody wants that!
Next up is appartition. Teleporting can become another easy way out, for obvious reasons. An apparator can leave when they want, but enemies can also poof in wherever they’re needed without the reader batting an eye at the lazy setup.
I hope my fears prove wrong!
Okay, let’s see. A lot of times in this book, Malfoy gets what’s coming to him, being yelled at or scolded a few times at the beginning.
The Goblet of Fire
At first I was mad, as I often am with things that come out of nowhere to further the plot. Now I know better. Every time something big comes out of left field, it always ends up getting a thorough and logical explanation. Harry Potter’s name being pulled out of the Goblet as an unexpected fourth champion in the Triwizard Tournament ended up making sense, it was part of someone’s plan!
Although a thought still comes to my mind. If Harry was entered as a Champion for some mysterious fourth school, wouldn’t that mean that his win was not in Hogwart’s name?
It seemed that Hagrid’s class, what with all the Skrewts that provide no deep relevance to the plot, isn’t really a class and more of an excuse to get Harry and his friends close to Hagrid. They have a lot to talk about, what with Harry competing in and fretting about the Triwizard Tournament.
Ron is actually jealous of Harry. All of the legs up Harry has had on him have built up and he doesn’t talk to Harry for the first few chapters after the Golbet draws Harry’s name. “Everything seems to happen to you.” Was a statement that not only Ron, but a few other people said to Harry during the story. It was a really meta thing to say more than once, and I have no idea why. Ron and Harry’s conflict was a decent idea for a subplot, but again, it really didn’t do much for the overall plot.
I think this is going to become a theme throughout this review, there are a lot of moving parts to this story that don’t really fit. They’re interesting enough that they don’t ruin the story, but I believe that the narrative is weaker for their lack of contribution.
During Ron and Harry’s fallout, a whole lot of bad things happen to Harry. It reminded me of the overbearing feel-bad beginning to Chamber of Secrets. Didn’t add much to the plot and just made the reader feel bad for Harry, but with no result, no payoff! Rowling, you know that this kind of thing works best before a climax, right?
The Trials of the Triwizard Tournament
The four champions are Cedric, Fleur, Viktor Krum (the quiddich guy), and of course Harry.
The first of three trials comes up. Harry gets help from Hagrid, who shows him that the first task is dragons. He also gets aid from Moody, who gives him hints on what spell to use to get past it. During the trial, Harry summons his broom and flies around the dragon, and gets the special golden egg in good time. He gets a decent rating, but Cedric comes out on top. The next trial has a clue from inside the golden egg, but the egg seems to scream.
While we’re here, at chapter twenty, I’ll just say that this is when the book full caught my interest. Not right away like Azkaban, not after eight or thirteen chapters like the first and second books. It took twenty this time. I’ll admit that the build up was a little more interesting, but after chapter nine the tension died, and I got a little bored. That’s eleven dead chapters.
The Yule Ball
Harry has to find a date to the ball that goes with the tournament. Not sure why. Side plots, am I right? Hermoine ends up going with Krum, so she’s not an option for Harry or Ron. Harry asks Cho Chang at the last minute, but too late! She’s going with Cedric. Harry and Ron end up going with some girls whose names I forget. No kidding.
The ball doesn’t go that well, Harry dances once but then his date moves on. Ron is actively rude to his date, and she also leaves. Ron and Harry move on to the garden outside to talk. They overhear Hagrid and Maxime, the teacher from Fleur’s school who is also very large. They seem to be getting on alright, really close now, until Hagrid starts talking about his parents, wizard father, giant mother! Hagrid is a half giant! With the negative reputation that giants have, Hagrid asking Maxime which of her parents was a giant doesn’t go over well. She gets mad, and it seems like their relationship is over now.
The Second Trial
This time his opponent Cedric helps him out, saying he should take a bath with the egg. And so he was right! The egg’s screams become singing underwater. He gets his clue, some form of underwater retrieval. He searches far and wide for a way to stay underwater for an hour. In the end, Dobby helps him by giving him exactly what he needed, Gillyweed to give him gills.
Anyway, needless to say Harry does well on the second trial, saving Ron from underwater merpeople. He also saves Fleur’s sister, as Fleur seemed to have gotten captured, or failed somehow. The merpeople tell the judges of his valiant actions, and his score is increased. He’s now tied with Cedric for first.
Harry goes to Dumbledore’s office after having a vision of Voldemort. Dumbledore has to search the grounds, so Harry is left in his office. Harry snoops around, finding a well of Dumbledore’s memories and losing himself in it. He’s in a memory Dumbledore had of the Death Eater trials.
I’d accuse this of being another unneeded sub-plot, but it’s actually fairly important for future books. Just not this one.
The Final Task
The last task is a maze. Harry gets through it with almost no resistance. He hears Fleur scream, apparently defeated again. He encounters a sphinx. Instead of giving him a deep, insightful riddle, Harry get’s a combination of puns instead. Later in the maze he finds Krum fighting with Cedric. Harry stuns Krum and saves Cedric, then they go their separate ways. Harry finds the cup, but is attacked by a giant spider. Cedric swoops in and the defeat it. They then grab the cup.
The cup is a portkey and it sends them to Voldemort in a cemetery. Voldemort orders his lackey, Wormtail to kill Cedric, and he does using his master’s wand. Cedric is dead. It really chilled me, I don’t like thinking back on it now. Harry gets tied up and Wormtail ties Harry to a tombstone. He makes a potion from Harry’s blood, Wormtail’s hand, and bones from Voldemort’s father.
Voldemort is revived to his true form! He summons his Death Eaters, yells at them, and then takes an infodump all over the entire chapter. (30 mins of my audiobook.) What is with the writer and having long infodumps before the final fight? Unlike in the Chamber of secrets, this one wasn’t even good! It was boring, and filled with information we already knew!
Voldy then unties Harry and challenges him to a duel. He will prove that he was not bested by a boy! He casts gunshot, I mean avada kedavra, and Harry casts something that I can’t seem to remember. The spells hit each other, and the two are locked in a kamehameha battle. Harry holds on to his beam as hard as he can. As the fight extends (and both sides do almost nothing other than hold wands and maintain their beam.) After a while, spectral images of his recent victims come out of Voldemort’s want, Cedric, then others, including Harry’s parents. Harry’s father helps him break the bind, and Cedric asks that he take his body back. Harry escapes, grabs Cedric’s body and summons the portkey using the same spell he used to get his broom in the first trial.
After he gets back, Moody takes him away in Dumbledore’s absence. This is what gives him away. Moody had been helping Harry all along. He turns to Harry angerly and prepares to kill him. Dumbledore breaks into his office and stuns him. Snape and McGonagall follow.
Turns out Moody was actually Crouch Jr. (Crouch was one of the judges, a top dog at the Ministry of Magic.) There’s another huge infodump as they interrogate him with infodump sauce. I mean truth serum. I mean Veritaserum. If you want to know what it was about, you’ll have to check out the book, or a summary. I really didn’t find it that interesting.
In the end, Harry goes home, no one believes that Voldemort is back except Dumbledore and his supporters. The Ministry of Magic’s Minister seems to be too cowardly to accept it, and so he begins the process of discrediting Dumbledore and Harry Potter via the newspaper. This thread continues into the next book.
The Antagonist’s Plot to get Harry’s Blood
Really, I have no idea what Crouch Jr. was thinking. If all he needed to resurrect “Voldetort” (as Mr Dursley called him if I’m not mistaken) was Harry Potter’s blood, he could have just stunned the boy, taken a vial, and then cast a memory charm on him.
Or maybe Voldy wanted to have him delivered so he could duel with him and prove his supremacy? Okay, that makes sense, but why enchant the cup? Why not literally use Harry’s egg? Maybe pop the enchantment on it when you pick it up on the night Harry is caught on the staircase?
The Pacing in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is even worse than that of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I can’t believe this book really, the pacing was so odd that it put me off two or three times.
This book was more emotionally impactful than the last three. The most emotional scene before this was when Sirius offered Harry a home away from the Dursleys, but that idea was killed off when Sirius was never able to prove his innocence.
Now, we can add to the list the still chilling death of Cedric.
Additionally, we can add the sheer joy felt by the reader (at least by me) when Harry Potter gave the Weasley twins his 1000 gallian prize for winning the cup.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a step backward, and I can only hope that like the Chamber of Secrets, this step back was made in order to get a running start forward toward the next book. It’s slightly better than Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, so I give it a 67/100. I hope that as I continue I don’t keep finding every even numbered book to be so off.
You might have noticed my reviews have gotten longer and more in depth. That’s because I’ve started taking more notes, I take this pocket notebook (NOT an affiliate) to work with me and jot a note any time something sticks out to me.
You can find all the reviews at the Harry Potter Table of Contents.
I have a lot of good jotted down about the next book so far, stick around. It starts off with Harry feeling about as angry and angsty about his situation at the Dursleys as I feel now about this book.
Interested in getting the book yourself despite all I said? Or maybe because of all I said? You can buy it here, Goblet of Fire. (Amazon Affiliate)