Finished Reading: 05.2010
This fourth episode of the Harry Potter saga feels superior to its predecessors in writing and plot. Having firmly established the characters of Hogwarts and the typical rhythms of the magical world in the first three books, the author seems now to expand the Harry Potter universe exponentially in many interesting directions beyond just Hogwarts and Harry's friends, bringing real villains into the light.
Rather than competing in the typical quidditch season, select students find themselves at the center of attention, competing for the TriWizard Cup. The national sport of the flying broom wielders is cast aside for an entire year, just for three days or so of watching their classmates compete at some exciting challenges. Why can't the witches and wizards keep up their favorite sport in between these events? If quidditch play is resumed next year, all the teams will be rusty from lack of practice. Maybe they have a spell for overcoming sitting on your bum all year?
The character of Mad-Eye Moody is particularly riveting, as he is more than an adequate replacement for the often vacant post of Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. Having experience with overcoming the dark arts himself, he is able to teach the students what they actually need to know. Too bad he doesn't end up quite right at the conclusion, but I hope he will return for some dark arts butt-kicking. Dumbledore seems to be gearing up for a stand against Voldemort and would be mad not to enlist the help of Moody.
There were so many things happening in this book that I can't even begin to comment on them all. Definitely the best Harry Potter book so far...