By the time Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was published in 2000, the series had become sufficiently popular for its publication to be a really big deal, even in countries outside the UK. Newspapers and various websites talked a lot about it, going over the hints that JK Rowling revealed in interviews: when she stated that a character was going to die, odds were offered on who it would be. (One newspaper article I saw had Fred or George Weasley, or Neville Longbottom, as the favourites.)
I bought Goblet of Fire as holiday reading for a family trip to Majorca that year. I can’t remember how quickly I finished it, but within a year or two, I had read it so many times that my original hardback fell apart and I had to get a new paperback one, pictured above. As previously stated, I have long regarded it as my favourite book of the series. So, will I still feel that way upon finishing the re-read?
I apologise for changing my format again, but when I began copying up the notes I had taken through reading this hefty book, I felt that it would be quicker, simpler and more appropriate to cover it chapter-by-chapter as with Philosopher’s Stone, rather than pulling my notes together into an overall review as with Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban.
Chapter 1 – The Riddle House
- This is certainly an unexpected and effective way to open the story, covering events that our protagonist Harry is not directly present for. It allows the reader to know things that the main characters aren’t privy to – most importantly, that Lord Voldemort is back, with Wormtail to support him. Their mysterious conversation, with a lot of details left out, is certainly tantalising.
- I like how Rowling doesn’t spell everything out for her readers. We can figure out for ourselves very quickly who the pale, dark-haired boy seen by Frank Bryce was, and why there were no clues as to the cause of death on the Riddles’ bodies.
- What kind of snake is Nagini? She is at least twelve feet long, diamond-patterned, and has venomous fangs – no real snake matches that description. However, there are vipers in Albania (where Voldemort presumably came into possession of her) whose patterns could be described as ‘diamond’, though more typically as ‘zigzag’: Vipera ammodytes, Vipera berus and Vipera ursinii – Nagini could be one of these species, magically increased in size.
- Frank Bryce is certainly admirable in his final moments, telling Voldemort to face him like a man, even if he doesn’t really understand the situation.
Chapter 2 – The Scar
Not much to say here – it’s another exposition-heavy chapter with Harry in his bedroom at Privet Drive, just as Prisoner of Azkaban started. I do like Harry’s image of Dumbledore on the beach, one of many comedic images that this book’s prose creates.
Chapter 3 – The Invitation
- After the promise of darkness to come in the first and second chapters, things are much lighter and more fun for the next several chapters. Even Harry’s life is as good as it ever gets at Privet Drive: he is allowed more freedom due to Sirius’s indirect influence on the Dursleys, and Dudley is being denied his usual indulgence.
- I love how the Weasleys are going to come for Harry regardless of whether the Dursleys give him permission. Firstly, it’s very nice that they’re so determined to see that Harry enjoys the World Cup along with them. Secondly, I would have liked to see the conversation in the Burrow when the decision was made – I don’t think Ron would have to pressure his parents into it.
Chapter 4 – Back to the Burrow
- This is an uncomplicated but very funny chapter, as the Weasleys force their way into the Dursleys’ neat and tidy lives for a few chaotic minutes.
- The image of Mr Weasley driving a Ferrari – there’s another one.
- Rowling likes her animal similes: Vernon and Petunia turn on Harry “like a pair of angry wolverines” and Vernon bellows “like a wounded hippo”.
- The Ton-Tongue Toffee does seem considerably more dangerous than most of Fred and George’s pranks, given that Dudley almost suffocates on it and Petunia trying to pull it out of his mouth must have been very painful.
Chapter 5 – Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes
- There are several points in this book where we get a good look at things that have been mentioned but never properly seen – as in the beginning of this chapter, where Harry meets Bill and Charlie Weasley for the first time.
- It’s very good how, rather than just being one-note fun-loving troublemakers, Fred and George have a proper motivation – they want to apply what they know best and open a joke shop.
- So England can’t even do well in magical sports – typical. Also, Transylvania’s not a country in its own right, or do the borders of its magical society work differently?