At last! At last! Beloved Harry Potter returns for his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the hush-hush fourth installment of the seven-part series. With a working title of Harry Potter and the Doomspell Tournament, J.K. Rowling's latest Harry adventure has been forever in the making, it seems. The shroud of secrecy surrounding the actual title, cover, and plot has done nothing to dampen the spirits of Harry's fans. No advance copies were made available (not even one teensy excerpt!), and one insider at the publisher mused, "Even I can't get my hands on it until July 8!"
BookPage did participate in a recent AOL Live online chat with Ms. Rowling, who answered questions about her inspiration, early beginnings, and spiritual beliefs.
A couple of fans pointedly asked Rowling about her beliefs concerning witches, magic, and God, and Rowling replied that she doesn't "believe in magic in the way [it is] described [in her] books." As far as her belief in God, Rowling responded with an online sigh, and then typed, "Well, as it happens, I believe in God, but there's no pleasing some people!"
Few details are available about the longest (700+ pages) and most expensive ($25.95) Harry Potter book to date. What we can tell you is that the suspense is so nail-biting, nail salons worldwide should prepare themselves for a banner year: Readers may find themselves attending the International Quidditch World Cup, or baffled by yet another new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Of course, romance is a scary thing, too, and it will be interesting to see if 14-year-old Harry enters this unknown territory with Cho Chang. Rowling, who had outlined the seven-part series before finishing the first book, has already revealed that death looms in Book Four (the books are increasingly darker as our favorite Hogwarts students mature).
If you are not one of the first 3.8 million to receive a copy from its first printing (!), don't despair; catch up with the first three installments. Then you'll be ready for Book Four when that second printing rolls around or someone is willing to loan you their copy, whichever comes first.
Miriam Drennan could not work any magic on those tight-lipped folks at Scholastic. Copyright 2000 BookPage Reviews
BookPage Reviews 2000 August
An open letter to J.K. Rowling
Dear Ms. Rowling,
Last summer when you gave us Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I tore through it and almost called to badger you about releasing Book Four. Harry having to return to the Dursleys after reuniting with Sirius Black is nothing compared to the painful wait I have endured for the fourth installment. Suffice to say, it's been the longest summer vacation in history. Just when I thought I couldn't take it any longer, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire arrived.
I was thrilled that Harry found reprieve by spending the final two weeks of summer with the Weasleys. But the best was yet to come - I was so happy to return to Hogwarts! I'd been kept away too long.
The story is centered on the Triwizard Tournament: Young wizards enter themselves, and the Goblet of Fire chooses the names, one wizard champion from each participating school. Cedric Diggory, Harry's Quidditch rival from the Hufflepuff House, is selected as the Hogwarts champion. As the selections are wrapping up, everyone is shocked when the Goblet releases Harry's name. Since Harry did not meet the age requirement, who put his name in the Goblet? Someone who felt he deserved a chance? Or someone who wanted him dead?
Mixed feelings and misunderstandings plague Harry throughout the Tournament; many of his fellow students have a difficult time offering their support. At times, Harry is so mistreated, returning to the Dursleys seems almost inviting. Almost.
It wouldn't be a new school year without a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, however; Headmaster Albus Dumbledore has managed to snag Auror great Mad-Eye Moody. Mad-Eye is a living legend, despite the paranoia that has accompanied the onset of age. And given some of the folks from other wizardry schools who visit during the Triwizard Tournament, Mad-Eye's wisdom proves to be helpful beyond the classroom. Why do I get the feeling that we haven't heard the last from these two schools, or Mad-Eye?
Yet adolescence has caught up with our favorite wizards - including Fred and George, who are permanently stationed there - and you handle this in both literal and metaphorical terms. Despite the good and evil that whirls around Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts, he and his friends are not exempt from peer pressure, unrequited love, and just plain hormonal edginess. The veelas' effect on Harry and Ron is hilarious - but I sense that the day is coming that it won't be as funny. Harry's ability to combat the Unforgivable Curses gives new life to the 'just say no' mantra, but really, Ms. Rowling - can Hermione please have a good day in your next book? Her rantings are tiresome, and if she continues in this manner, important matters like house elves' rights will fall on deaf ears. Maybe she should spend a year abroad, or take anger management courses; hers is more than just teenage angst.
Of course, all of this intricate plotting adds up to one major catastrophe: Lord Voldemort is back, he's strong, and he's not alone. We've long suspected several Dark Wizards were in our midst, but one or two will surprise your readers. The killings have begun, and you have promised there will be more; but even wizards are not immune to loss and grief.
All of the magic remains, and whether or not it's intentional, there's quite a bit left dangling. The biggest matter left unresolved, however, is that Lord Voldemort remains at large. While good has temporarily triumphed over evil, it's an uneasy victory.
Despite the Extra-Long Length Charm you put on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Ms. Rowling, your 734 pages were not strong enough to pacify me. I've inhaled them, and like Harry, I have conquered. At the risk of hearing an audible groan from your direction, I have to ask: WHEN CAN WE EXPECT BOOK FIVE?!?!
For the complete text of this letter and predictions about the remaining Harry Potter books, check out www.bookpage.com Copyright 2000 BookPage Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2001 Spring
Year Four at Hogwarts finds Harry enjoined as the surprising fourth contestant in the Triwizard Tournament during which he finds his way through a maze that leads to the dark wizard Voldemort and to the death of one of the other contestants. The emotional impact is disappointingly slight, and the characterization seems to be getting thinner. As a transitional book, however, [cf2]Goblet of Fire[cf1] does its job--thoroughly if facilely--and raises some tantalizing questions. Copyright 2001 HornBook Guide Reviews
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2000 #6
The fourth book in the Harry Potter phenomenon, at 734 pages, is what you call a wallow-one that some will find wide-ranging, compellingly written, and absorbing; others, long, rambling, and tortuously fraught with adverbs ("'What sort of objects are Portkeys?' said Harry curiously"). Year Four at Hogwarts finds Harry enjoined as the surprising fourth contestant in the Triwizard Tournament-"a friendly competition between the three largest European schools of wizardry"-during which he bests a dragon, rescues Ron from merpeople, and finds his way through a maze that, unbeknownst to Dumbledore and the powers of good, leads to the dark wizard Voldemort and to the death of one of the other contestants. Before and in between the book's major action (the tournament is not announced until page 186, and Harry's involvement not until page 271), Rowling explores her major theme of good vs. evil and her minor themes of the value of loyalty and moral courage and the evils of yellow journalism, oppression, and bigotry. We find out, for instance, that Hagrid is not just oversized but part-giant, which is considered a shameful heritage; we see Hermione being taunted as a "mudblood" for her mixed Muggle-wizard parentage. Rowling's emphasis here is much less on school life (not a single inter-house Quidditch match!) and much more on the wider wizard world and, simultaneously, on Harry's more narrow, personal world, as he has his first fight with Ron and asks a girl to his first dance. But on the whole the emotional impact is disappointingly slight. The death of the Hogwarts student causes nary a lift of the reader's eyebrow; the complicated explanation for Voldemort's infiltration of Hogwarts is fairly preposterous and impossible to work out from the clues given. The characterization, as well, seems to be getting thinner, with Dumbledore in particular reduced to a caricature of geniality. As a transitional book, however, Goblet of Fire does its job-thoroughly if facilely-and raises some tantalizing questions: Will Snape really turn out to be one of the good guys? What's the connection between Harry's and Voldemort's wands, between Harry and Voldemort himself? When Harry tells his tale of Voldemort's return, what does the fleeting gleam of triumph in Dumbledore's eyes signify? Stay tuned, Pottermaniacs, for Year Five. Copyright 2000 Horn Book Magazine Reviews
Kirkus Reviews 2000 August #1
As the bells and whistles of the greatest prepublication hoopla in children's book history fade, what's left in the clearing smoke is--unsurprisingly, considering Rowling's track record--another grand tale of magic and mystery, of wheels within wheels oiled in equal measure by terror and comedy, featuring an engaging young hero-in-training who's not above the occasional snit, and clicking along so smoothly that it seems shorter than it is. Good thing, too, with this page count. That's not to say that the pace doesn't lag occasionally--particularly near the end when not one but two bad guys halt the action for extended accounts of their misdeeds and motives--or that the story lacks troubling aspects. As Harry wends his way through a fourth year of pranks, schemes, intrigue, danger and triumph at Hogwarts, the racial and class prejudice of many wizards moves to the forefront, with hooded wizards gathering to terrorize an isolated Muggle family in one scene while authorities do little more than wring their hands. There's also the later introduction of Hogwarts' house elves as a clan of happy slaves speaking nonstandard English. These issues may be resolved in sequels, but in the meantime, they are likely to leave many readers, particularly American ones, uncomfortable. Still, opening with a thrilling quidditch match, and closing with another wizardly competition that is also exciting, for very different reasons, this sits at the center of Rowling's projected seven volume saga and makes a sturdy, heartstopping (doorstopping) fulcrum for it. (Fiction. All ages) Copyright 2000 Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2000 July #3
HEven without the unprecedented media attention and popularity her magical series has attracted, it would seem too much to hope that Rowling could sustain the brilliance and wit of her first three novels. Astonishingly, Rowling seems to have the spell-casting powers she assigns her characters: this fourth volume might be her most thrilling yet. The novel opens as a confused Muggle overhears Lord Voldemort and his henchman, Wormtail (the escapee from book three, Azkaban) discussing a murder and plotting more deaths (and invoking Harry Potter's name); clues suggest that Voldemort and Wormtail's location will prove highly significant. From here it takes a while (perhaps slightly too long a while) for Harry and his friends to get back to the Hogwarts school, where Rowling is on surest footing. Headmaster Dumbledore appalls everyone by declaring that Quidditch competition has been canceled for the year; then he makes the exciting announcement that the Triwizard Tournament is to be held after a cessation of many hundred years (it was discontinued, he explains, because the death toll mounted so high). One representative from each of the three largest wizardry schools of Europe (sinister Durmstrang, luxurious Beauxbatons and Hogwarts) are to be chosen by the Goblet of Fire; because of the mortal dangers, Dumbledore casts a spell that allows only students who are at least 17 to drop their names into the Goblet. Thus no one foresees that the Goblet will announce a fourth candidate: Harry. Who has put his name into the Goblet, and how is his participation in the tournament linked, as it surely must be, to Voldemort's newest plot? The details are as ingenious and original as ever, and somehow (for catching readers off-guard must certainly get more difficult with each successive volume) Rowling plants the red herrings, the artful clues and tricky surprises that disarm the most attentive audience. A climax even more spectacular than that of Azkaban will leave readers breathless. The muscle-building heft of this volume notwithstanding, the clamor for book five will begin as soon as readers finish installment four. All ages. (July) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2000 August
Gr 4 Up-Harry is now 14 years old and in his fourth year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where big changes are afoot. This year, instead of the usual Inter-House Quidditch Cup, a Triwizard Tournament will be held, during which three champions, one from each of three schools of wizardry (Hogwarts, Durmstrang, and Beaux-batons), must complete three challenging magical tasks. The competitors must be at least 17 years old, but the Goblet of Fire that determines the champions mysteriously produces Harry's name, so he becomes an unwilling fourth contestant. Meanwhile, it is obvious to the boy's allies that the evil Voldemort will use the Tournament to get at Harry. This hefty volume is brimming with all of the imagination, humor, and suspense that characterized the first books. So many characters, both new and familiar, are so busily scheming, spying, studying, worrying, fulminating, and suffering from unrequited first love that it is a wonder that Rowling can keep track, much less control, of all the plot lines. She does, though, balancing humor, malevolence, school-day tedium, and shocking revelations with the aplomb of a circus performer. The Triwizard Tournament itself is a bit of a letdown, since Harry is able, with a little help from his friends and even enemies, to perform the tasks easily. This fourth installment, with its deaths, a sinister ending, and an older and more shaken protagonist, surely marks the beginning of a very exciting and serious battle between the forces of light and dark, and Harry's fans will be right there with him.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2000 October
There must be a committee that lives in Rowling's head. Could just one brain possibly come up with all this creativity and imagination? I wanted to see into her "Pensieve," to steal into her swirling thoughts, just as Potter stumbles intoDumbledore's in Goblet of Fire. This fourth installment continues fourteen-year-old Harry's journey to full wizardhood, opening immediately with the mysterious and foreboding appearance of Lord Voldemort, who again establishes the presence of thedark side. Harry spent another summer with the least imaginative and most disappointing of all Muggles, the Dursleys. His stay on Privet Drive ends sooner than expected when Mr. Weasley secures box seat tickets for the Quidditch World Cup and invitesHarry to go. Uncle Vernon reluctantly agrees to the outing after Harry casually and slyly mentions his "godfather" Sirius Black. And the fun begins. Using a different structure for this adventure, Rowling allows events to lead to four climaxes instead of one. She sets up the story with a demonstration of her creative mastery in the Quidditch World Cup segment: the Weasley's arrival via FlooPowder in the Dursley's bricked-up fireplace, their unconventional trip in Muggle disguise to the World Cup campsite (I want one of those tents!), the magical and exciting Quidditch match, and the mysterious events that follow. Three more high pointsoccur with each challenge in the Triwizard Tournament, held at Hogwarts during the school term. Single champions from Beauxbaton, Durmstrang, and Hogwarts schools are to compete, but Harry's name is sneaked in to the competition. Because one cannotcontradict the Goblet of Fire (or disappoint readers), Harry stays.Between the heart-thumping events, some critics complain of slow reading. We are, after all, an audience of highly educated Muggles and harder to please. We have read the previous books-at least once, perhaps twice-and know all the passwords and thecounterspells. But for me, reading a Potter book has become a sort of reunion. I use the down time between tense moments to visit with all the characters I've missed since the last gathering. There are some new faces, familiar faces, furry faces,translucent faces, suspicious faces, wise faces, and heroic faces. Some are just plain weird! Mad-Eye Moody, the new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher, has a long mane of grizzled hair, and a heavily scarred face with one normal eye and one magicaleye that swivels in its socket and seems to see at all times-even through the back of his head. Mad-Eye introduces students to the "Unforgiveable Curses" that would earn a wizard a life sentence in Azkaban if used. Fun characters, new spells,incredible events, and delightful gimmicks add to the puzzle that Rowling challenges us to complete. The multilayered framework is unquestionably well constructed. Answers to unresolved questions from earlier installments are revealed-we finallylearn why Harry must summer with the Dursleys-and enough hints about what comes next will leave readers anxiously awaiting the fifth book.After finishing this adventure, I needed to share my excitement and was lucky enough to find a fourth grader on his eighth reading just two weeks after the book's release. Two days later I bumped into my retired teaching mentor whose book groupfinished it. Our animated dialogue drew crowds. Rowling again has created magic-between the covers of this book and between readers of all ages who need to talk about Harry.-C. J. Bott. Copyright 2000 Voya Reviews