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AN ORPHAN FUND OF MAGIC
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Book 4 - J.K. Rowling
Member Name: marandina
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Book 4 - J.K. Rowling
Date: 05/08/03, updated on 09/08/03 (209 review reads)
Advantages: Easy to read, Great chracters
Disadvantages: May not be substantial enough for some
Well, it was something like that although I suspect many an adult has found themselves shifting from foot to foot at the thought of succumbing and buying a Harry Potter book. So it was that I recently joined the enraptured millions who have tried and tasted the schoolboy adventures of the be-spectacled phenomenon that is Harry Potter.
***J K Rowling***
I guess it's worth touching on a bit of background about the writer, Ms J K Rowling.
In terms of awards, the megastar author has won the Hugo Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the Whitbread Award for Best Children's Book, a special commendation for the Anne Spencer Lindbergh Prize, and a special certificate for being a three-year winner of the Smarties Prize amongst other honours.
The humble origins of Rowling's creation are spawned from riding a train back in 1990. "Harry just strolled into my head fully formed." Or so JKR claims. Renowned for her fastidious approach, Rowling worked on the book for several years, finding quiet moments while her daughter napped. Commonly for the literature industry, several publishers turned down the finished manuscript before one took interest.
Things took off in 1998, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was published in the United States leading to wide spread Harry-mania in a book sense, of course. Thus the dynasty was established leading to further volumes in the epic tale.
With little if any logic, I decided to embark on my HP adventure by choosing the fourth in the series "Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire". This volume sees Harry
and friends in their fourth year at Hogwart's school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As ever, Harry is having a generally miserable time at his adopted parents, The Dursleys (Harry was left on the Dursley's doorstep as an abandoned infant after the controversial death of his parents at the hands of....shhhhh...tell you later). While counting the days to the start of term, Harry gets invited to the Quidditch (a kind of handball at several hundred feet whilst flying on broomsticks) World Cup courtesy of his faithful allies, the unfashionable Weasleys.
During the jamboree, an unknown source projects the dark mark into the sky (sort of like the Batman sign) much to the shock and consternation of the good folk attending the festivities. This is significant in that it represents the one who cannot be mentioned i.e. Lord Voldemort (damn it, did it anyway). By this stage, the reader is aware from the opening passages that the unspeakable one is back in business aided and abetted by his evil sidekick, Wormtail. Needless to say, his latest plot is a bit like the previous plots in that it involves a return to power whilst rubbing out the unfortunate Mr Potter who Voldemort has taken a bit of a dislike too, especially as he's got the better of him in all of the other books.
Just in case you'd become a little blinkered in thinking that Hogwarts was the only home to wannabe wizards, the reader is introduced to the notion of other schools in the world of wizardry including Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. It seems that in years gone by, there has been a traditional tri-wizard tournament involving the champions of each 3 schools pitting their wits against each other via a series of challenges albeit the competition had been halted a number of years earlier on the ground of being too dangerous. Having been chosen, despite an age restriction, by the Goblet of Fire, Harry makes up an extra candidate in the latest competition and is left to take on older
exponents of the mystical arts whilst the onlookers ponder how it is that Harry was chosen at all.
Familiar Harry fans will no doubt be enthralled by the plot strands centred on the ticking time bomb of Voldemort's inevitable re-appearance, the main characters long running feud with Dracos Malfoy and the potions master, Snape, along with the ups and downs of the tri-wizard tournament.
It doesn't take long to realise just why these books are so popular. I found this an easy read although terribly difficult to imagine any of the characters without referring mentally to the spin-off movies. Within that, therein lies a big strength in that the pen-pictures of the different individuals is done in such a way that the reader can't help but empathise with Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger et al. Each has their own mannerisms, which Rowling carefully contrives and builds on.
Rowling's writing style is punchy with a flow to it that keeps the story flowing. There's even several hanging sentences denoted by trailing full stops implying pause for thought e.g. "Harry sat there staring at Snape as the lesson began, picturing horrific things happening to him...if only he knew how to do that Cruciatus curse...he'd have Snape flat on his back, like that spider, jerking and twitching..." Humour is never very far away with the writer enjoying playing on a number of character's accents in Goblet of Fire whilst introducing yet another Defence Against the Dark arts master in the form of Mad-Eyed Moody who provides the rock on which a lot of humour founders.
For those that have read the series from inception, each new instalment has both a stand alone quality whilst building like a popular soap opera. It's here that we get a clue as the main influence on Rowling's work. Those facets made up of the presence of more than one orphan, clever plays on surnames (Crabbe, Goyle) and the self-containe
d stories accumulating into something much bigger all hark back to a Dickensian approach that's something of a homage to Dickens even if the intention was subliminal.
I'm not sure that this would be most people's first impression when both classical mythology and common folklore are the most striking components of these stories. The contradiction of a enchanted world of exotically named creatures such as blast-ended skrewts and Hungarian Horntails set against an ebony night sky of sinister figures like Voldemort provide a precarious tightrope for the reader to traverse.
This Arthurian feel is still belied by the intricacies of a nineteenth century style. Maybe herein lies the books weakness i.e. political machinations played at a very surface level in what is essentially a children's story. That warm chums and rotters scenario played out on a horizon of towers and turrets so reminiscent of Tom Brown's schooldays and other school driven escapades (swap Hogwart's for Greyfriars, maybe?) seems a little at odds with the underlying Machiavellian machinations of Voldemort the villain hell bent on something akin to totalitarianism whilst the liberalistic headmaster figure of Dumbledore is so desperate to be in the vanguard of a kind of democracy even if the presence of the tormentors in Azkaban (a sort of Siberia for convicted criminals to be banished too) sits uncomfortably with this ideal.
Whilst I'm on (and I realise the author's selling a book every few seconds), Rowling lacks the classical eloquence of other writers I've read in a crowded genre filled with some very talented souls. However, she is mightily effective with what is a perfectly judged mix of heroes and villains, dungeons and dragons and comedy and drama.
Goblet of Fire represents another successful instalment in the all-conquering Harry Potter sequence only recently outdone by the ridiculously successful "Order of the Phoenix&quo
Would I recommend Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and would Rowling care when she's a multi-millionaress several times over? Yes, absolutely but Harry Potter is essentially a children's story and shouldn't be taken that seriously on any higher level. If you want easy to read, magical entertainment then look no further.
Thanks for reading
Published by Bloomsbury
PP 636 based on paperback version
Advertised cost £6.99 although I think I paid about £3.79 at Tesco so it pays to shop around.