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A novel by J.K. Rowling
(2000, Bloomsbury)

Harry Potter, book 4

Classes are more difficult than ever when somebody secretly places Harry Potter's name into an international competition that could get him killed.



-- Second reading (trade paperback)
December 4th, 2018 to January 8th, 2019


The texture of this universe is so well developed, that it makes everything so enjoyable. The plot is just a competition, which everyone wants to win, of course. But it's the characters that make this book so enjoyable, whether it's lessons with Moody, conversations with Sirius or friends who refuse to talk to each other. The details of the dance were fun. It's here that we see Ron's real interest piqued at his best friend, and we get a little more detail into Neville.


-- First reading (trade paperback)
March 16th to April 2nd, 2015


I think this was the best Harry Potter book so far. It was truly enjoyable beginning to end, with a lot of story, true-to-life character situations, different plotlines for various characters, a lot of new realizations, and the first true appearance of the main villain. The beginning and the end had a little too much exposition for me, but even that, at least, was interesting.

Spoiler review:

There was so much to pack into this novel, no wonder it’s four times as long as the previous ones! And it’s all good stuff, from the Quiddach world cup, to the house elf rights and other implications, to yet another Defense of the Dark Arts teacher, who actually teaches them spells, and of course the Tri-Wizard Cup. There are also so many nuances –I especially liked the greater exploration of attitudes among magical fold towards bloodlines and muggles. Even the Minister for Magic believes old bloodlines are truly trustworthy, like Malfoy’s, and leans more toward accepting their word. I find it strange that Harry, being half-muggle, isn’t looked down upon. I always thought Harry’s mother was a witch, but these books have confused me, because Valdemort calls her a muggle. A little online research shows that witches (or wizards) who are born of two muggle parents are also called muggles, like Hermione, and ironically Valdemort himself!

We also get a few secrets revealed, like why Harry has to spend his summers with the Dursleys: because of an ancient magic imposed (by Dumbledore?) that he can’t be harmed while with family. There is the secret smile on Dumbledore’s face when Harry tells him Valdemort tried to take some of the protective magic his mother put within him by touching his face. I’m not exactly sure what that’s about, but I’m sure it ties in to the hoarcruxes.

In between events, we get to see a lot of magic, mostly in the classes. Even if he ends up being an imposter, I like the way Professor Moody actually taught them practical lessons, such as how to survive a curse. Everyone sleeps through Divination, they cringe through Hagrid’s creatures class, and Snape threatens to poison them to validate their antidotes! Each of these classes has a theme that runs throughout the book, and they all come full course to some sort of end.

The wizarding world is also expanded in this book. We get to see a lot more people from the ministry of magic, including Barty Crouch, who we learn at the end secretly rescued his son from Azkaban. The man goes insane and is eventually killed by his son. The son is the imposter, and has tailored the Triwizard cup for Harry, even putting his name in. I’ve always had trouble with that part, though, in that somebody must have noticed that Harry’s name was submitted under the name of a different school. It’s not clear if the Goblet of Fire was enchanted to spit out two students from Hogwarts. Regardless, he convinced Hagrid to show Harry the dragons and convinced him to fly on his broomstick in order to get away from them. He gave Dobby the house elf the hint of using the moss to breathe underwater, and he turned the other students against each other using curses to ensure that Harry would win through the maze. The cup that he and Cedric touched was also cursed, so that it would bring Harry straight to the cemetery where Valdemort was waiting for him.

The Cup challenges were exciting bits in between other aspects which were actually a lot more interesting, including the Ball (where Hermione turns up suddenly beautiful, as opposed to the movie, where she’s always been beautiful), and Hermione’s campaign to free house elves from slavery (though Dobby is the only one of them who wants this; the rest of them are embarrassed by him, and can get violent if she keeps pushing them to join). The visit to Hogsmeade was different, though Harry still went once under the cover of his invisibility cloak, as he did in the last book. This time, though, they met Sirius Black, who lives in the form of a dog but has been keeping tabs on Harry and the signs of Valdemort’s rebirth. I can’t fail to mention the horrific witch reporter, all dressed in pink, who sold propaganda to the Daily Prophet, writing her own views of what would make a great story, rather than printing accurate interviews. It’s a wonder that anybody believes her (I was especially disappointed by Ron’s mom believing that Hermione was Harry’s girlfriend, though why that would bother her is still a mystery to me). By the last chapter, Hermione has captured her in a jar –turns out she illegally became a changeling like Harry’s father, and she spies on people in the form of a beetle.

In the end, I think there was way too much exposition as the bad guy (young Barty Crouch) reveals how he did what he did, all the while planning to kill Harry, but being stopped just in time. That took up an entire chapter, even if he was under the spell of the truth serum for half of it. There is no other way for us to know how things happened, without another point of view throughout the novel, which would completely ruin the surprise of what happens.

Even with all that explanation and exposition, this is by far the best Harry Potter book. It was not only about Valdemort, but about normal life in the wizarding community (like wizards trying too hard to look like muggles, given their incomplete understanding of the technological world). I hope the rest of the series continues along these lines, because it was a lot of fun!


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