Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the longest entry in the series so far. It is teeming with adventures across the Wizarding World and that is perhaps why it feels overlong.
One cannot deny that the Triwizard Tournament and the Quidditch World Cup sequences are enthralling, engaging and utterly immersive, but a sagging story often phases in and out of attentiveness. Having said that, to complain about Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is to refuse another slice of a sumptuous fudge cake, and nobody does that. In this sense, everyone will be scoffing down another slice like Dudley Dursley.
J.K Rowling does something better than most fictional and world-building writers. She takes the idea of completion and competition and transforms it into progression. Other lesser writers often present a grinding but efficient story in which the hero has to struggle through the bland words printed on the page. But Rowling with her frantic writing and vibrant world, which is more than capable of slowing down when the need arises, never let’s the reader breathe. This is where The Goblet of Fire flourishes and comes into its’ own: when the occasion calls for the subconscious to ebb away and only the fun remains.
But when Rowling gets slow towards the tail end of the book, despite the story and the happenings perhaps demanding it, it does become difficult to work through. When characters are explaining things the smart and educated reader can already infer for a second and third time, it is unnecessary. Rowling may very well have travelled down this path to position the reader closely to Harry’s position but our hero is engaging enough to do that on his own minus the hand-holding.
It has become apparent now, more than ever reading the books for the first time, that Rowling at her core is a mystery and crime writer. She has crafted this beautiful and iconic world but her love for old-timey mysteries linger through this story. The usual twists are abound and engulfing and all the clues are laid out seamlessly, a change when compared to the at-times clunky handling of narrative storytelling in the previous instalment.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is also a turning point for the series. It has gone dark before and it has gone deeply emotional in every single instance but with this story it goes menacing. It feels like a grim and relentless world ala Tolkien’s or Martin’s more than ever and it benefits as a result. Rowling’s ability to mature with her audience shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire may not be the best book in the series but it is an engaging one even if it does falter amidst an overlong story. It is one that showcases the heart and altruism of our reluctant hero but also pounds away at the coming war, a war Rowling seems eager to work towards.