J.K. follows up her first mature story with a bit of a departure to the past. One last shout-out to a young child’s story, but at over 700 pages, she stretches this jaunt to previous elements somewhat too long. Thankfully the beginning and ending harkens us back to the edgier Potter we get for the rest of the series. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling is another transition book.
To start with, what did not thrill me. The games of the Triwizard tournament really do not hold my interest that much, or at all. While she does an admirable job of expanding the wizarding universe and make the magic more sensible and workable, the actual tournament just strikes me as another plot device to facilitate her “Year In The Life” structure. So often a new challenge would pop up, and my interests would wane and wait for the real story to kick into high gear. Another idea started, and thankfully ending here, is Ron being a compete dolt. For those Potterheads about to argue here, Hallows was a different reason because Ron was noticeably under the influence. His character turn to jerk comes out of nowhere and is only resolved when he realizes Harry is yet again in mortal danger. Yes, I know Ron has an inferiority complex, but hating your best friend simply because you believe life sucks is not how the Weasleys raised him.
As for what worked in Goblet? The very beginning, with the horrors of the history of the Riddle house, has all the hallmarks of J.K. hitting her stride. The absolute gothic despair mixed with urban legends and topped by exotic folklore all fill the pages with dread. It just feels like a stew of evil was always boiling in Tom Riddle’s life, and we see further along in this series, the roots of this goes even further. We move from this onto our characters merrily journeying to the Quidditch World Cup and having an absolute blast. Seeing the sights, enjoying the tastes of the world they are being exposed to, and experiencing Quidditch played on a massive scale, are all wondrous times to remember forever. And then J.K. does the unthinkable and daring. She plunges us headfirst into a full fledged terrorist attack. For no rhyme or reason, Death Eaters disrupt the festivities, and cause immense emotional and physical damage. Just because. Any illusions that a war is in the offing are shattered by these opening salvos. And this utter destruction is just the beginning. By the end of Goblet we face the inevitable.
For Voldemort is back. In the grand theatrical style that this fake Lord often employs, the entire rigging of every aspect of the Triwizard tournament was all to bring himself back to form. The sheer terror of this resurrection, followed by Voldemort’s bullying of Harry, speaks volumes of the villainy represented. He wants to humiliate and demoralize Harry before he destroys him. This extremely powerful wizard still feels the need to tarnish a young boy in order to bolster a damaged ego. Anyone who hates bullies cringes at this part. This was harsh to read.
With Voldemort now back and Harry preparing for war, the next leg of this journey is about to commence. Winning the hearts and minds of his allies. We embark on the dark path again. Time for some Order.
P.S. Harry Potter is copyright 2012 to J.K. Rowling. Her newest book, The Casual Vacancy, is due out on Thursday, September 27th, 2012.