Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter is facing another summer at the Dursleys, but it’ll all be over soon as the World Cup looms on the horizon! There, he enjoys the expert flying of the world’s best Quidditch players, and sees the Dark Mark cast into the sky the first time. It’s a bit of a grim start to a new school year, which should be exciting because the Ministry of Magic and a coalition of magical schools have resurrected an exciting wizarding tradition – the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Harry joins the three other champions and with the help of Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, Dobby, his new DADA teacher, and just about everyone else, he competes for the pride of Hogwarts and the thousand galleon prize. Not to mention eternal fame and glory, as though he needed more. Of course, nothing goes according to plan and Harry’s scar seems to be aching him again…. After Sibyl Trelawny’s prediction last year, is it possible the Dark Lord will rise again? (Spoiler: yes)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is my second favorite of all the Potter books, and for good reason – it’s filled with action, new characters, and it’s the turning point of the series. Listening to the audiobook just made it better. Narrator Jim Dale continues to improve his voices. I particularly enjoyed his choice for Madame Maxime. I also continue to enjoy his choices for the Weasley twins, Professor McGonagall, and Professor Snape. I think a good narrator really brings the characters to life.
As for the story itself, I think that GoF is most enjoyable because it is different. Yes, yes, it’s still a story about Harry fighting Voldemort, but the nature of it is much different than the previous three. Harry’s routine classes start to slide into the back seat as the three tasks take prominence. Having daily life at Hogwarts in the rearview mirror instead of front and center is a theme that will continue through the rest of the series. Although I really enjoy walking through Harry’s classes, it’s very much essential that these things fade away to focus more prominently on Voldemort’s rise.
GoF challenges the relationship between Harry and his friends. We see the first real fracture between himself and Ron, and the bitter seed planted here will continue to root and grow for the rest of the series. In addition, the dance between Ron and Hermione as a future couple begins to get interesting at the Yule Ball. But outside of the regulars, we also get to see a bit of development in Hagrid’s story, which is a wonderful treat, as well as some background on Neville Longbottom. Both these characters have been hovering supportively near the trio since book one, and it’s nice to see they’ve not been forgotten.
Despite the shifting focus of the story, Rowling continues to outline the beauty and wonder of the magical world, and she never fails to add comedy to the edges. Life, after all, is not always busy and grim. While our usual comedians, the Weasley twins, are a bit busy this book, they still have their moment. Add to that Dobby’s socks, the awkwardness of the Yule Ball, and the notorious Amazing Bouncing Ferret… and despite the dark turn of things, I still found myself chuckling.
All in all, I’d say Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire still holds its place as my second favorite of the Potter books and as one of my top 25 Desert Island books… It’s captivating, engrossing, fun, action-filled, witty, beautifully written, and dear to my heart. It was good fun to renew my memories of this story, and I love looking back in retrospective and finding all the bits and pieces I’ve managed to miss in previous readings that the audio book really illuminated. All the points to Gryffindor!
I don’t get any brownies points for this (I just like sharing) but if you want to check out Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in a bit more detail, I got my audio book from Audible, but you can also check out the official LibraryThing page or Goodreads for all your many options in acquiring this book in hard copy, ebook, or audio… as well as other review and fun data.
And, because I feel the need to defend my audio book listening… I do have a lovingly time-worn hard cover copy of this book I got for Christmas as a kid, as well as the whole Harry Potter collection in ebook format from Pottermore. I love me some Harry Potter.