Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

J. K. Rowling is either amazingly lucky, or a brilliant genius (or, stating the obvious, some combination of the two). The fourth in the Harry Potter line of books is, without doubt, her best yet. Darker and more emotional than the previous three, The Goblet of Fire focusses on the conflict between Harry and you-know-who.

Three magical schools come together to compete in a triwizard tournament, and Harry finds himself involved, whether he likes it or not. The plot is intriguing and engrossing, the young characters are as good as ever and growing older by the book and the older characters reveal a little more each time we meet them.

We have humour and moments of real emotion, interspersed with tension and moments of real concern. It’s still a book that kids can read and enjoy, and that has implications about it’s depth and complexity. But if there’s one thing it has in buckets, it’s writing which encourages empathy with the main players.

I’ve read all four Harry Potter books on the trot. For the first time in ages, I’ve read a book which isn’t by David Gemmell as my main recreational activity, rather than as a tiring out manoeuvre before going to bed. It might actually help me to get back into reading more often. Praise indeed.

And, the best praise of all, I’m looking forward to, I’m eager for, I’m anticipating, the fifth in the series.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: J. K. Rowling
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

After the second Harry Potter book, I wasn’t holding out much hope for the third one. I mean, authors usually just get worse, I’ve never seen one have a dip and then recover.

Until now.

[Was that too melodramatic? Sue me 😉 ]

J. K. Rowling pulls herself together and delivers a riveting read, with many of the weaknesses from the second book stamped out. Gone is the totally obvious formula, gone are the long periods of boredom. We have a gripping story about Harry and his friends, and another bunch of new and weird adults. We have touching moments and thrilling scenes. More background history is revealed, and Harry gets to learn more about his past.

Well worth reading, as good as the first one, and ever-so-slightly more mature. Roll on book four.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: J. K. Rowling
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Age of Misrule

I originally wrote this review after finishing the third single book in the series, however there’s now a single anthology which includes the three first books, to which the links in this review point, and for which the review is now appropriate.

Having just finished the third book in this series I felt I should write up a review. At the time of writing, I’ve been struggling with reading. The Harry Potter books may have kickstarted my reading habbit, but before I started those, I’d read the first two in Mark’s Age of Misrule series. Picking up the third one was easy, and it felt good to be back in the world, with Church, Ruth, Laura, Veitch and Sharvi, the five main characters in this modern-world-turned-mythic adventure.

The writing is clean, crisp and easy to read, although Mark has a tendancy to enjoy the word frisson, and he ensures you get to enjoy it too. The characters are believable, and easy to empathise with. The story is well paced, interesting, deep, puzzling in places, and funny in others. I was kept guessing as the final outcome all the way through, and enjoyed it all the more as a result. I certainly felt a frisson each time Church declared ‘he felt there was some deeper meaning, but it was just beyond his grasp’, because I felt the same way during much of the book, that if I just thought hard enough I’d work out where it was going, but I was never able to, and as I said, enjoyed it all the more.

Our protagonists are forced together to help out in a world gone mad, thanks to the ‘return’ of all those things we thought were myth and legend. The Brothers and Sisters of Dragons (the five mentioned above), must fight for a cause, although it’s not clear which one or why, early on, and help the world survive the change that is underway.

Interesting, entertaining, thoughtful, emotional, and well paced. I recommend it, especially if you like your British Mythology.

Book Information
  • Author: Mark Chadbourn
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)