After an exciting summer attending the Quidditch World Cup game, Harry, Ron and Hermione return to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to discover that the school is playing host to the newly reinstated Tri-Wizard Tournament for the first time in over a century. Young witches and wizards from two other schools converge upon Hogwarts to vie for the Tri-Wizard Cup, and unexpected occurrences abound. When a string of mysterious disappearances seem to be linked to Harry and the tournament, a pall is cast over the festivities, but the greatest danger to the young wizard is yet to come as the one responsible for all the baffling events is revealed, leaving Harry in a struggle between life and death.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is yet another fabulous installment in J. K. Rowling's blockbuster fantasy saga. As with the other books in the series it starts out a little slow and gradually builds to a nail-biting conclusion. The first half of the book has lots of humorous moments. I love how Harry conveniently forgot to tell the Dursleys that Sirius was innocent, and it was hilarious how they are also terrified of the Weasleys who are about the nicest family ever. Readers finally get to meet the much-talked-about Bill and Charlie Weasley, and now that I have, I think I have a crush on Bill because of his rebel personality complete with long hair and earring.;-) Harry, Ron and Hermione get to experience all the excitement of the Quidditch World Cup game. I thought the scenes with the witches and wizards who attended the game trying to dress like Muggles in an attempt to go undetected was LOL funny too.
Once back at Hogwarts, the students receive the surprise of a lifetime when it is announced that the Tri-Wizard Tournament is being reinstated and will be held there for the first time in a century. There is a lot of excitement surrounding the three events that the champions must face, but certain events leading up to them, bring out some uncharacteristic tension between Harry and Ron. The antagonism between Malfoy and Ron seemed to grow a bit in this one too. Readers also get to meet the newest Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, who I actually liked which made certain things that happened surrounding him all the more shocking. I still find myself pondering why there is a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher every year, and I think I might be starting to make some headway on that puzzle. It seems that Harry gets to meet new magical creatures every year too, and I have a strong feeling that they will become important allies in the books to come. In fact, there were lots of mysteries to mull over as this book progressed, and there were many twists and turns that I didn't see coming.
To entertain the more mature readers like myself there was some fascinating social commentary on several fronts. One was witch reporter, Rita Skeeter, and her distasteful brand of tabloid journalism. Another was Hermione's campaign to free house elves from perceived enslavement, although it seems that the house elves see things quite differently. This was the only sub-plot I can think of that didn't have a clear conclusion, so I have a feeling the debate may continue into future books. Last but not least there was the reaction of certain individuals to the climactic events at the end of the book which in my mind just went to show that some people simply won't be persuaded even if the evidence is right in front of their faces. All of these events really helped to engage my adult mind in pondering deeper things.
There is an abundance of new characters introduced and old ones who return, including some surprises. Readers are introduced to two new wizarding schools, their headmaster/mistress, and students as they come to take part in the tournament. Cedric Diggory who was first seen in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban returns to show what a good sport, perfect gentleman, and all-around great guy he is, and Harry's crush Cho Chang gets her first lines too. The other two Tri-Wizard champions were interesting characters as well. Harry, Ron and Hermione get their first dates in this book which was a lot of fun. Watching Harry and Ron trying to build up the nerve to ask a girl out and then the end results were absolutely hilarious, but led to lots of jealousies all the way around. I couldn't help but laugh at Ron and Hermione arguing like an old married couple.
Overall, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire really advanced the fantasy story arc to the next level in a big way. There were lots of shocking revelations, some mysteries solved and others just begun, new allies formed and enemies revealed, along with plenty of action, adventure, danger, intrigue, and of course, magic. This book does move into darker territory than what was covered in the earlier books with the unexpected death of one character as well as some torture and a few other scenes which might be frightening to younger or more sensitive readers, but my eleven-year-old loved it and was fine with reading it both alone and aloud with me. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was definitely a keeper for me just like all the others so far in the series. It ended with a huge bang, and I absolutely cannot wait to see where things go from here.
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