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I have changed my mind; this is the best of the Harry Potter books (and of course also won the Hugo in 2001). I could forgive it a lot of flaws for the single chapter about the Yule Ball, which is full of nicely observed adolescent angst; but in fact the rest of it is pretty good as well; the testing of our hero in a series of mystical quests is an old theme, but here it is transplanted rather successfully into the context of a magical boarding school. I had also completely forgotten the excellent twist at the end as we discover who among the teaching staff is really on the side of the baddies. I must have read it too quickly first time round; the denouement made more sense than I remembered it doing.

My pet peeve of the first three books, that we don't get much sense of what is going on behind the scenes in the Ministry of Magic, is well answered here as we get a lot of insight into the past and present bureaucratic infighting. One other point of irritation when I first read it - that it is much longer than any of the first three books in the series - has been undermined by the last three books being of similar or greater length. And by bringing Voldemort back to physical life, and in various other ways, the scene is established for the conflicts of the second half of the series. I think I would recommend the two people in the English-speaking world who haven't tried Rowling and aren't sure if they would like Harry Potter to start here.

< Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone | Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets | Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban | Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire | Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix | Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince | Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows | The Tales of Beedle the Bard >

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
wwhyte
May. 10th, 2009 04:38 pm (UTC)
It was always my favourite of the books, too -- it has a bit more of a social context than the others (in Hermione's campaign for the house elves and all the Mudblood stuff) and, as you say, some great observational comedy (as opposed to Rowling's more usual slapstick) at the Yule Ball. The unfortunate thing is that, as the movie made clear by taking out all the subplots, the main plot actually doesn't make a lot of sense: if the point is to get Harry to Voldemort by touching a Portkey, why bother with all the Triwizard stuff? Why not just get his confidence and give him something to hold?

The real shame of The Goblet of Fire, though, is all the promise it holds out that the last three books fail to fulfill. Harry does what he thinks is the right thing in bringing Cedric Diggory to the prize, and it gets Cedric killed. Dumbledore is preparing to assemble a mighty alliance against Voldemort. Ron goes "I hate being poor", and suddenly there's a vulnerability there that Voldemort could use to subvert him. Voldemort comes back to life and the first thing he does is restore Wormtail's hand -- a generous gesture quite unlike the sneering panto villain we've been led to expect. Everything is lined up right to take the series in a darker, genuinely epic direction... and then they tread water for three books until Harry gets good enough at doing magic and then he does some magic and kills Voldemort the end. Oh, and then they get rubbish married and have rubbish children.
shailesh_nair
Aug. 1st, 2009 07:34 am (UTC)
All the Harry Potter Books are my favorite ones and J.K Rowling is really a great author and i need to appreciate the Piece of work.And yesterday on 31st July was her Birthday so i wish her Happy Belated Birthday.All the Harry Potter Movies are amazing and are really biggest hits.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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