Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

2000, British hardcover Bloomsbury edition that's not the first but at least pre-Order-of-the-Phoenix, American paperback Scholastic edition from 2002
J. K. Rowling
American edition illustrated by Mary Grandpre
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
British edition possibly bought for 14.99, American originally $8.99 but purchase price unknown
British edition in good shape except for torn dustjacket, American worn with broken spine

Before the release of Deathly Hallows, this was my favorite in the series, but I'm finding the books to be all roughly on a level, so far.  Yes, this moves us into YA territory (although I'd say more middle school than high school), and the Yule Ball stuff is still among my favorite sections-- the Skrewts made me laugh out loud, too-- but I'm not entirely sure it was a wise choice to make the books longer.  (It's not till Chapter Eleven that we're "Aboard the Hogwarts Express," 140 pages in, and we were almost up to Christmas at that point in the first book.)  It's not that there are any seriously weak spots (unlike a certain chapter in the next book), but I don't know that we need to go into so much detail on everything.  On the one hand, it's nice to spend extra time with the characters, especially anything with Percy (the "Weatherby" stuff is great), but on the other, you've got Voldemort doing a Villain Monologue, and there's probably too much of logistics overall, like exactly how to get to the World Cup.  That's right, too much is explained, or over-explained anyway.

As for that move to young-teen territory, there are the first serious hints of romantic tension between Ron and Hermione.  (He now 14, she now 15, although I don't remember if her birthday is ever explained in the books.)  Ron continues his crush on Madam Rosmerta and also falls for quarter-Veela Fleur, although she's eying his brother Bill later on.  (Grandpre's illustrations are again mostly forgettable, although the one of Ron and Fleur is funny.)  And Harry gets tangled in romantic triangles, real and imaginary.

Also, while there is violence and "darkness" in every book, the torture of Harry, and of course the killing of Cedric, are more intense than anything in the first three books.  Even Dumbledore's look of almost-triumph is disturbing.  (Not explained till late in the last book.)  When he says that Snape is no more a Death Eater than he is, I once had a theory that Dumbledore would turn out to be secretly evil.  (The truth about him, and Snape, would turn out to be more complex.)  As a symbol of this being the midpoint of the series, we don't have Gryffindor winning the House Cup-- Harry not only doesn't take finals, but he doesn't play Quidditch except at the Weasleys'-- and instead black banners hang for Cedric.

I was hooked by the series when I read this book in I guess mid-2001.  It would be another two years, very long it seemed then, before the fifth book came out.  Much would change in the interval, partly as a result of September 11th.  On a brighter note, we got the first two movies, and I could finally visualize Quidditch.

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