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Rowling still scorches with "Goblet"

Trends make me cringe. Although I'm a fan of the Backstreet Boys, generally I approve of most fads as much as I like being punched in the nose. The wave of Pokemon, 'N Sync and shudder Britney makes me want to rip my (or better yet, her) hair out. American culture is becoming increasingly artificial and impersonal with the help of these new fads , but my biggest problem with them is that it causes the elements which actually hold some merit to be placed on the same level with the ones that have no depth. But in the midst of the mad crazes emerges the refreshing and original character of Harry Potter, the hero of a 7-book children's series created by British author J.K. Rowling.

Harry Potter mania has been affecting both children and adults alike. While one might wonder what possible appeal a children's book could hold, keep in mind that this is no ordinary juvenile time-absorber, nor are the characters your regular run-of-the-mill folk. Harry Potter is a young wizard with the ability to find adventure wherever he goes, and The Goblet of Fire is most certainly no exception.

In book four, we join Mr. Potter as he prepares for his fourth year at Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As with its three predecessors, Goblet opens with Harry at home during summer holiday with his Muggle (non-magic) relatives, the ever-detestable Dursleys. Instead of heading straight to Hogwarts, however, Harry travels to watch the Quidditch World Cup with his best friend Ron Weasley and his family.

Readers should rest assured that although there is a fresh group of characters, the old friends of yore return to play their roles in shaping Harry's adventures. Present yet again are the Weasleys, Hermione Granger, the intelligent witch from a Muggle family, Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, who continues to play a silent but vital role in Harry's life, Harry's nemisis Draco Malfoy and his goons Crabbe and Goyle and Professor Severus Snape, the Potions master who has a strong dislike for Harry. This time around, however, the adventures do not spring from them alone. Hogwarts is joined by two other mysterious wizarding schools, the stylish Beauxbatons and icy Durmstrang in the Triwizard Tournament, in which one champion from each school is sent to compete in the largest competition between the three largest wizarding schools in Europe.

To give away any more of the plot would be depriving the readers of the endless twists and turns which distinguish any piece of writing sprung from Rowling's golden pen. Although she continues with her usual light-hearted course of events, as forewarned, book four unleashes a darker, more sinister side of Harry Potter's world, demonstrating that not only is our hero older, but the influence of "You-Know-Who," Harry's other nemesis, is growing stronger. The enemies are becoming more ruthless, and a fairly important character perishes.

However, along with the grim aspects come the funny and the laughable. Harry's coming-of-age, in the midst of the pivotal events, do not go neglected by Rowling. Harry goes on his first date, Ron develops his first crush and Hermione finds herself as the object of someone's affection.

Rowling is splendid with her use of language, with her British background providing a different taste in tone and wit for its American readers. She has an uncanny talent of tying all the rather confusing facts together and giving the plot a complete 180. Her readers are also treated to a view of the wizard universe outside Hogwarts, which undoubtedly will lead into the next three promised books in the series.

As for Harry Potter himself, he hasn't grown the slightest bit dull or boring with another year behind him. On the contrary, every new adventure he embarks upon seems to surpass his previous ones. There is no such thing as "magic of the moment" with Harry Potter. Because unlike all the other trends, ladies and gentlemen, he's here to stay.