Sunday, November 18, 2007

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling.

The fourth novel in the Harry Potter series, one of the first thing you will noticed about the book is how much thick it is compare to the earlier books in the series. But is bigger better? Not really.

The book starts off with a murder of a nobody caretaker by Lord Voldemort and Wormtail. It then showcase Harry's annual escape from the his uncle. The better part of the early going take place at the Quidditch World Cup. Following the finals, a group of Death Eaters, Lord Voldemort's servants, storm the venue, creating panic and mayhem. Then the Dark Mark, Lord Voldemort's sign, shot into the night sky. Upon investigating, the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement Barty Crouch's house elf Winky, is accused of conjuring the mark. Crouch is furious and fires Winky on the spot.

During the Welcoming Feast, Professor Dumbledore announced that Hogwarts will host the recently revived Triwizard Tournament. The tournament involves three difficult tasks which the competitors must complete. The competitors are chosen by The Goblet of Fire. A magical goblet that will chooses one student from each competing school. Only students 17 years old and above are allowed to enter. Cedric Diggory is chosen as Hogwarts' champion, Fleur Delacour is selected for Beauxbatons Academy and Durmstrang Institute is represented by Viktor Krum. As expected, The Goblet unexpectedly selects a fourth champion, Harry Potter.

Harry is helped throughout the tournament by Professor Alastor Moody, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. In the first task, the champions must retrieve a golden egg from a dragon. With advice from Hagrid and Moody, Harry decided to use his broom and outfly the dragon. The second task requires retrieving something important to each champion that is hidden in Hogwarts' lake. Dobby the house-elf gave Harry gillyweed so he can breathe underwater. Harry rescued Ron. He however waits for Fleur to show up and save her little sister Gabrielle, but when she does not, Harry rescues Gabrielle, losing time but awarding him additional points for "moral fiber". For the third task, the champions must navigate through a large maze filled with dangerous obstacles. Shortly before the event, Harry and Viktor Krum are startled when a dishevelled Mr. Crouch emerges from the forest, demanding to see Dumbledore. Harry runs for help, but when he returns with Dumbledore, they find Krum unconscious and Crouch missing. While waiting in Dumbledore's office, Harry peers inside a pensieve containing the professor's memories. In one, Harry sees a wizarding trial in which Barty Crouch, Jr., a Death Eater, is sentenced to Azkaban by his father, Crouch Sr. Harry also hears testimony that Severus Snape was once a Death Eater.

During the third task, Harry and Cedric successfully navigate the maze and, because they had helped each other earlier, they agreed to grab the Cup simultaneously. Unknown to them, the Cup is actually a portkey. Awaiting them is Peter Pettigrew carrying what appears to be a deformed infant, but is actually Lord Voldemort who orders Pettigrew to "kill the spare". Pettigrew kills Diggory with the Avada Kedavra curse and then ties Harry to a tombstone. He then uses Harry's blood, a bone from Voldemort's long-dead father, and his own severed hand in a bizarre ritual that restores Lord Voldemort to his full body and power. Voldemort now carries Harry's blood within him and is no longer affected by the magic that has protected the boy since infancy. Voldemort then reveals that his servant at Hogwarts ensured Harry would win the tournament and be brought to the graveyard. As their spells interlock, a Magic effect occurs, causing the spirit echoes of Voldemort's victims, including Cedric Diggory, James and Lily Potter, and others to spill out from his wand. The echoes momentarily distracted Voldemort, allowing Harry to grab the portkey and escape to Hogwarts with Diggory's body.

After Harry returns to the school grounds through the portkey, Moody takes Harry to his office immediately. He reveals that he was the servant the Dark Lord was talking about and had been helping Harry throughout all of the tournament's events. After the explanation, Mad-Eye attempts to attack Harry but is stopped by Dumbledore, Snape and Minerva McGonagall. When Snape feeds Moody a bottle of Veritaserum, Moody is exposed as Barty Crouch, Jr. who escaped Azkaban and used a Polyjuice Potion to impersonate the real Alastor Moody, trapped in a magical trunk. Crouch Jr. murdered his father and entered Harry's name into the Goblet of Fire, covertly ensuring that Harry completed each task. Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, arrives at Hogwarts accompanied by a Dementor. Fudge denies Dumbledore's claim that Voldemort has returned and before Crouch can repeat his confession his soul is sucked out by the Dementor.

At the end, Dumbledore urgently revives the Order of the Phoenix and against the Ministry's orders, tells students the truth about Cedric's death and that Voldemort has returned. Harry was crowned the Triwizard Tournament champion but felt that Cedric should have been champion. He then gave the one-thousand Galleons prize to Ron's twin brothers, Fred and George, telling them to use it to open their own joke shop, their life-long ambition.

Yes a lot of things happened in this book. However bigger is not better. When you need to set aside a whole chapter at the end for the villain to explain all that has happened, usually that's not good. Another thing is that the main villain came out of left field. Rowling likes to give us red herrings in the books, but overdid it this time. There were like 4-5 different people who could be the main villain, but none of them were it. I also find the Quidditch World Cup overly long and a tad unnecessary. The great thing was the fact that Rowling expanded the world Harry is in. Small little things that were dropped here and there (flying carpets trade disagreement) were most fun to read.

I can't help but think that a good editor is needed for this book. Parts of it work, other don't; usually because they went on too long. A good editor would and should have cut off parts of the book. The book could lose about 50-100 pages and would have been better off for it. Reports say that Rowling admitted that the fourth book was the most difficult to write as she noticed a giant plot hole half-way through writing. She rewrote the ninth chapter 13 times. It showed.

No comments: