Story: In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling offers up equal parts danger and delight--and any number of dragons, house-elves, and death-defying challenges. Now 14, her orphan hero has only two more weeks with his Muggle relatives before returning to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Yet one night a vision harrowing enough to make his lightning-bolt-shaped scar burn has Harry on edge and contacting his godfather-in-hiding, Sirius Black. Happily, the prospect of attending the season's premier sporting event, the Quidditch World Cup, is enough to make Harry momentarily forget that Lord Voldemort and his sinister familiars--the Death Eaters--are out for murder.
Readers, we will cast a giant invisibility cloak over any more plot and reveal only that You-Know-Who is very much after Harry and that this year there will be no Quidditch matches between Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin. Instead, Hogwarts will vie with two other magicians' schools, the stylish Beauxbatons and the icy Durmstrang, in a Triwizard Tournament.
Those chosen to compete will undergo three supreme tests. Could Harry be one of the lucky contenders?
But Quidditch buffs need not go into mourning: we get our share of this great game at the World Cup. Attempting to go incognito as Muggles, 100,000 witches and wizards converge on a "nice deserted moor." As ever, Rowling magicks up the details that make her world so vivid, and so comic. Several spectators' tents, for instance, are entirely unquotidian. One is a minipalace, complete with live peacocks; another has three floors and multiple turrets. And the sports paraphernalia on offer includes rosettes "squealing the names of the players" as well as "tiny models of Firebolts that really flew, and collectible figures of famous players, which strolled across the palm of your hand, preening themselves." Needless to say, the...