This wraps up reviews of already-published Harry Potter novels. That also means I should be getting back to The Silmarrilion soon. (Man, I hope that gets better.)
Title: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Author: J. K. Rowling
Original Publication Date: 2000
Cover Price: $35 Can (hardcover)
Buy from: Amazon.ca
Harry Potter is growing up, and so are his books.
Some authors can write a great story, and then falter in the payoff in
the ending. (*cough* King *cough*) Rowling is not one of them. The
last few chapters, particularly Dumbledore’s actions in the hospital
wing, not only entertain, but they have the reader leaving the book on
a high note, ready and waiting for more. (The wait will be over in
just under three weeks; book five is out Saturday, June 21. My copy
was pre-ordered. Was yours?)
I usually don’t buy hardcovers, but I did this time because I’d
picked up the first three books at a “previously unsold” bookstore,
and wasn’t sure how much of the money I spent went back to
J. K. Rowling. (She should, of course, get a bigger cut than anyone
else.) I bought the hardcover of book four to compensate for that,
but those last two chapters sold me on the hardcovers for the last
three books, because I simply don’t want to wait.
Some of Harry’s solutions to the tasks seemed to have been
orchestrated for action rather than logic. For example, in the first
task, which makes more sense: “Accio Firebolt” or “Accio Egg!” He
could have at least tried the second option first, and then had it
blocked by some spell cast by the tournament makers to stop the task
from being too easy. (Similarly, “Accio Firebolt” would have been
remarkably useful in the third task.)
This book takes the series in some new directions, giving it an
original feel. The students are growing up (as we see with
the “Uranus” jokes, and the students behind the bushes Snape blasted),
and the stories are growing with them. Things are also getting a bit
darker, without the need to concoct reasons for a very lethal threat
to avoid killing anyone, as we found in the second book. I give it 5
out of 6 for the new direction.
The imagery is getting a little more detailed. It’s still
not extravagent, but it’s more than ample. I give it 5 out of 6.
The story‘s biggest failing is the lack of sufficient detail
to identify the villain. There’s just too much evidence being saved
until after the villain is identified for you to eliminate other
suspects. It’s compelling, but I suspect you’ll have to treat it as
an adventure book rather than a mystery if you want to really enjoy
it. Since the book bills itself as an adventure instead of a mystery,
I’ll grade it as one and give it 5 out of 6.
The characterization is showing some development of the old
cast, and showing more dimensions to the new characters than we’ve
seen in past books. It’s really picking up into a more mature story,
particularly with the developing relationships between our core cast
members. Again, I give it 5 out of 6.
The emotional response this produced was very potent. From
the third task on (with a slight dip in the long, expository portion
of chapter 35) I was being pulled through the book. The first portion
of the book has the same ups and downs that we’ve had in all the Harry
Potter books, but that last bit was a steadily increasing upswing. I
hope the momentum carries over into book five. I give it 6 out of 6.
The editing could use work, not just for the lack of details
in the low point, but to cut out some of the redundancy in interal
dialogues and revealing the back story. It seems that all seven
books were plotted before even one was published, however, which helps
to keep things restrained to some degree. I give it 4 out of 6.
Overall, this is the best entry in a steadily improving
series. I get the distinct impression that each book will be aimed at
an audience that is Harry’s “current” age, which could be
uncomfortable for the parents of children who are old enough for the
early books but not the later ones. Still, I suspect it’s not a
problem for our readers who are reading for their own enjoyment. I
give it 6 out of 6.
In total, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire recieves 36 out