It’s month four/book four in my hardback-paperback comparison of the Harry Potter series! As per always, there will necessarily be spoilers in this post, so don’t read this if you haven’t read Harry Potter and plan to!
I mentioned last month that book four, The Goblet of Fire, is my least favorite of the series. A lot of people were curious why, so I’m going to tell you all about that before I get into the comparison part of the review.
The Goblet of Fire was not my least favorite the first time I read through the series, back in 2005 after HP6 came out. I read all six books in a row, and my least favorite by far was The Order of the Phoenix. Since then, though, I’ve reread those first six books about 25 times each. I’ve gotten to know each of them very well, both in plot and in writing. Within a few repetitions, HP5 actually became one of my favorites. I started to understand why it was the way it was, and all the things that bothered and annoyed me the first time came to be things I loved. The exact opposite happened with Goblet.
Goblet is full of plot holes, inconsistencies, and bad writing. While it is the first book that begins to lift out of the younger trilogy, forming a bridge between the younger and older trilogies in the series, is suffers from massive problems. Like the 2nd and 3rd books, it tries to recap as much as possible from the earlier plot lines. By this point in the series, though, so much has happened that stuffing all that recap in feels tedious and unnecessary. I was really happy that Rowling gave up recapping for the most part in books 5-7. It’s not just the recapping that’s tedious, though. I can’t even say how many times certain phrases and descriptions are repeated in Goblet. Crookshanks is compared to a furry ginger cushion/rug probably at least 10 times. Hermione is described by her bushy hair every few pages. And if I never hear the phrase “taking a leaf out of someone’s book” again, I will be a very happy girl.
Part of the problem, I know, is that Rowling caught a major plot hole in the book and had to rewrite large portions of it. That caused the book to feel unfinished, manipulated, bent around, and contrived. And it didn’t even get rid of all the plot holes. Why does Crouch/Moody wait until the end of the year to send Harry out to the graveyard? He could do it in the beginning of the year, no problem. What does Voldemort mean when he tells Wormtail that with one more death they’ll have a clear path to Harry? There are no other deaths! Why is muggle-born Colin Creevey’s brother starting at Hogwarts? I’m thinking Mom might have a wizard boyfriend on the side if two of her kids turn out to be wizards…
I could go on, but you get the point. In the end, the reason I like this book least of all the others is that it’s inconsistent, riddled with plot holes, badly written, and transitional. It certainly is emotional – I cried the first time I read about Cedric’s death – and the older humor is just beginning to develop. These are good things. But overall, it’s not my favorite book.
Now, on with the comparison! There was actually quite a lot of change between the two books, though those changes didn’t start until near the end, around the time when Harry leaves Krum with mad-Crouch to look for Dumbledore.
First change/issue: Harry tries to use the password “Sherbet Lemon” to get into Dumbledore’s office. Now of course, this is what it’s supposed to be in the British version, but the American version was supposed to be changed to “Lemon Drop” to be consistent with HP2. I guess the American editors forgot to change that around in the hardback printing. It’s corrected for the paperback.
Second change/issue: On page 712 (HB), Dumbledore tells Snape and Sirius, “…unless the few of us who know the truth do not stand united, there is no hope for any of us.” This is clearly just an editing mistake, which is fixed to “who know the truth stand united” in the paperback edition (also page 712).
Third change/issue: This is a HUGE one that broadly effects many pages. When Harry’s wand connects with Voldemort’s, it regurgitates Voldemort’s spells backwards. The people he’s killed reappear in reverse order. They should be: Cedric, Frank, Bertha, Lily, and James. In the HB edition, James comes out before Lily. That was really weird to read because I’m used to the PB version (which has Lily come out first as she should). It was weird to see the little differences in descriptions between the HB and the PB version, and to see what stayed the same. Like for instance, the HB version says “because the man was the one [Harry]’d thought of more than any other tonight,” while the PB says “because the woman was…” The parents have their dialog lines switched around between the two copies, giving them different roles in Harry’s escape, and this change goes as far as to effect a passage of text 30 pages later, where Harry remembers how his mother/father told him what to do.
That’s about the extent of it, though! My Goblet of Fire review is over! Next month will be The Order of the Phoenix, which won’t have nearly as many exciting changes to look through. It was reading the HB version of Phoenix a couple years back that made me realize there were differences in the first place (as again I was used to the PB version), but I only remember one section being incorrect. Still, I’m going to read through it more carefully, combing for errors. See you next month!