Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
By: J.K. Rowling
Narrated by: Jim Dale
734 pages (21 hours)
My Copy: Borrowed from library (I own the book)
When I first began the Harry Potter series, it was on the recommendation of my best friend, Kristina. She and I were hanging out at the library one day (we were doing some research for a college class we were both in), and she suggested I try reading Harry Potter, a series I'd heard of, but hadn't had much interest in exploring.
"Aren't those kids book?" I scoffed. "Yes," she said, "but you'll love them!" And, fellow readers, was she ever right.
I read straight through Philosopher's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, and Prisoner of Azkaban, before settling in to read what was the largest volume of the series at the time, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Of course, I adored the first three books in the series, but Goblet of Fire is what really got me hooked. I talked before about how desperately I love "hinge novels," and Goblet of Fire is one of my favorites. The world becomes so much bigger, the story so much more political, the evil so much more dangerous and present.
It's no accident that the story begins with Harry travelling to the Quidditch World Cup and learning about wizards and witches from around the world and then, later, the Triwizard Tournament brings those very same people to his door. Harry's world is expanding and, as everything gets bigger, we see that danger looms from everywhere. Rowling sets the stage for the rest of the series by resurrecting Voldemort at the of Goblet. Evil is no longer hiding in the shadows and scattered in the outskirts, it is alive and poses a clear and present danger to our hero and, indeed, the world at large. The actions of the entire series seem to hinge on that scene in the graveyard and now everything can be said to be either before Voldemort was back or after he came back. The series also gets serious, killing off a main character at the end. The first death for us in a long line to follow.
The political message of the story also becomes crystal clear in this volume. Hermione's new found interest in the plight of house elves. Prejudice in the magical world. Themes we have touched upon in other stories, but which are placed front and center here. As Harry learns about the intolerance in his world, we learn as well and become just as resolved as our hero to fight these injustices.
When I had the honor of meeting J.K. Rowling in 2007, I wore my S.P.E.W. shirt because, for me, S.P.E.W. embodies everything I love about the series. It conveys the author's fervent desire for us to see inequality in the world and to do something about it, with her acute sense of humor. House elves, after all, do not very much want to be free, but that doesn't stop Hermione from doing her best to convince them of it. It's fitting that Ron and Hermione's first kiss should take place in book seven when he finally expresses his support for her efforts to overturn the injustice of house elf enslavement.
Speaking of S.P.E.W, I do sorely miss having it in the movie version. In fact, though Goblet of Fire is one of my favorite of the series, the movie version is easily my least favorite of the adaptations. I think there was just too much to include and it just wasn't done well enough. That and Ron and Harry's hair is just too scruffy. Maybe they should have started breaking the movies into two at this point (no, I'm actually glad they didn't... too many movies to see!).
The first time I finished Goblet of Fire, I realized that I would have to wait until who-knew-when to read the next chapter in the series. At the time, J.K. Rowling was still hard at work on the not-yet-titled Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and she had simply left me and the rest of the world to wait with baited breath to see where her story would go from here.
After all is said and done, it was certainly worth the wait.