Rowling again graces us with another installment of the life of Harry Potter, our favorite wizard, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Set during Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts, a magical school for witches and wizards, we follow Harry as he begins to expand on his previous knowledge of magical defense and an increasing threat from You-Know-Who.
This year, Hogwarts is bestowed the distinction of being the host school for an inter-magical school championship called the Triwizard Tournament. Held for the first time in centuries, the tournament is comprised of three tasks that are meant to challenge the contestant’s magical skills and ability to perform under pressure. Typically, it is held with one representative from the three great magical schools: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, The Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, and The Durmstrang Institute, however, this year four champions get selected. After a student is picked from each of these schools, another name is surprisingly pulled from the cup, announcing the name of the fourth contender. This fourth champion is Harry Potter, who technically is not allowed to enter the contest because he is well under the 17 year age limit. However, he is eventually forced to enter as another representative of Hogwarts. Confused and nervous of what lies ahead, Harry bravely enters the tournament, facing the tasks under the guidance of Alastor Moody, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Moody, an ex-auror and famous soldier against Voldemort and his followers, seems to be a huge help to Harry’s cause as he helps him along the way. However, nothing can prepare Harry for what happens during the third and final task of the tournament. Will Harry make it out of the tournament alive? Will he be able to fight Voldemort’s seemingly inevitable rise to power?
What can I say about this book? It is far and away my favorite Potter book in the series. Of course, Rowling is a master at weaving multiple plot lines throughout all her novels, but she seems to do it especially well in this particular book. In addition to the tournament, we also explore Hermione’s quest to gain fair wages and representation for house elves, bringing in complex themes and ideas that we have to see and deal with in our own world. Also, we find out that Hagrid is half-giant, and we explore the implications this has on his career as Rita Skeeter does her expose on him. There is also the over-arching theme of “international magical cooperation”, as the separate schools strive to strike up a sense of unity in the magical community. This is important in the overall scheme of Voldemort’s rise to power, as the wizarding world must not only come to terms with his rise, but band together in order to defeat him.
Additionally, this book is important in that it is the first time which we see Voldemort’s true power as he takes control of his human body. Up until now his threat had been more distant, as he was too weak to pose any true and present danger to the wizarding world. Yes, he was becoming stronger, but we don’t totally take that into account until the final showdown of this novel. The interaction and subsequent battle between Voldemort and Harry at the end of the novel is epic in terms of what it means to Harry and his struggle to avenge his parents’ murder, as well as Voldemort’s rebirth. Harry now has a face and body to direct his anger towards, and Voldemort can finally try to destroy what almost destroyed him 14 years prior. It’s interesting that in the face of the evidence of Voldemort’s return that the wizarding world would rather fold and deny such a thing was happening instead of galvanizing to fight him, but Harry of course doesn’t take this path. His course is now set, and the final chapter of his fight against Voldemort can unfold. This book is the gateway to the final showdown between Harry and Voldemort, and it’s a crucial pivot point for the series. Rowling does an excellent job at accomplishing both of these tasks, and every time I read this book it makes me a Harry Potter fan all over again!
5 out of 5 Stars