Moving on from the third novel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Rowling’s fourth novel, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire picks up the following summer, with Harry yet again stuck at the Dursley’s home. The threat of his convicted-murderer godfather at hand, Harry earns a bit more freedom, and even manages to slip away early to go to the Quidditch World Cup with his friends Ron and Hermione, along with the rest of Ron’s family. It is there that things begin to hit the fan.
Following a violent display by Voldemorte’s minions, Harry returns to Hogwarts to find it full of new threats, as the Triwizard Tournament, a competition between schools of magic, is being hosted at his school, and Harry’s name was snuck into the running. Danger abounds from every angle as Harry tries to win the tournament and stay alive.
The book has a darker tone than the other three at times, especially the conclusion of the novel, and things from all of the past books arise to make this one feel like the first non-stand alone novel, the first book to show the large, over-arching story behind the Harry Potter saga. The series finally begins to feel less like a set of episodes, and more like one long story.
Considerably longer than the proceeding three novels, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is much denser and contains far more sub-plots that Rowling deftly weaves into the story. At times the length and number of mini-stories that aren’t pivotal to the plot slow the story down a bit, but for the most part this is a wonderful addition to the series, and a definite step up from the previous novel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. As I conclude my re-reading of the first four books of the Harry Potter series in preparation for reading the final three, I find that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a worthy lead in to the culmination of the series.