Author: J.K. Rowling
|via Barnes & Noble|
The Triwizard Tournament is to be held at Hogwarts this year, the fourth for Harry Potter at the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This means students from two European wizard schools, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, will be at Hogwarts for the year. It also means Harry will once again be put in mortal peril.
When my wife and I first started reading the Harry Potter books, the first three had already been published. As such, the release of Goblet of Fire was our introduction to the publication craze. We didn't go to the midnight release party (my wife is a morning person) but we did pre-order our copy and pick it up the next day.
Goblet of Fire is the book in which the series loses its innocence. More on that in a bit. It's also abundantly clear Rowling is writing with the films in mind by this point. A lot of the exposition reads like a story board.
- This fourth book provides the first deep exploration of a wizarding world beyond the UK. Even before the Triwizard Tournament, we visit the finals of the Quidditch World Cup, contested by Ireland and Bulgaria (neither normally significant players on the world sport stage).
- It's another good food book as we see Molly Weasley cook with magic and learn of the mostly invisible House Elf staff who cook all of the amazing meals at Hogwarts.
- As powerful a wizard as Harry may be, he's a terrible date. If anything, Ron's worse.
- We get the first hints that Hermione's and Ron's feelings for each other might extend beyond platonic.
Once again, my favorite part of the story involves the Weasleys and their affection for Harry. I got quite emotional when Molly and Bill turned up as Harry's "family" for the final task of the Triwizard Tournament. Mind you, I was less impressed by Molly's passive aggression towards Hermione when she believed Rita Skeeter's article claiming that Hermione was Harry's manipulative girlfriend.
!!! SPOILER ALERT !!!
It's impossible to discuss the significance of The Goblet of Fire without addressing the book's ending. The story is 18 years old. I'm not sure what the statute of limitations on spoilers is but I'm pretty sure we haven't reached it.
Cedric Diggory, Harry's fellow Hogwarts representative for the Tournament, is murdered by Wormtail, right in front of Harry. It is not the first time the series addresses death and loss but it is the first time a student dies. A big part of why the Harry Potter story works through seven volumes is that we are taught to see Hogwarts as a sanctuary from the evils of the broader world and then feel the loss deeply when that safety is compromised. With Cedric's death, the citadel begins to crumble.
!!! END OF SPOILER !!!