This day, July 8th, saw the original publication of two Harry Potter novels: The Prisoner of Azkaban in 1999 and The Goblet of Fire in 2000. Both were huge milestones for the series, representing the continued evolution of the Potterverse into darker, more complex territory than the comparatively straightforward, whimsical first two novels (The Philosopher’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets.) The books were both bestsellers, Azkaban selling three million in the United Kingdom alone, and Goblet of Fire selling over five million copies. Each book received positive reviews, especially Azkaban, praised for its excellent character development as the characters become teenagers, leaving behind their child selves. The Goblet of Fire meanwhile won the Hugo Award in 2001, the only Harry Potter novel to do so.
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Prisoner of Azkaban chronicles Harry’s third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As he begins the new year, a dangerous convict known as Sirius Black escapes from the dreaded prison Azkaban. Black is thought to be an associate of Voldemort, and so Hogwarts is guarded by Dementors, as the teachers believe Black will seek out Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived. While dealing with this, Harry must deal with the regular perils of teenage life: increased schoolwork, feelings for girls, and a hidden secret Hermione is carrying around with her.
The Goblet of Fire tells the story of Harry taking part in the massive Triwizard Tournament, a huge competition between Hogwarts and rival schools over the course of the semester. Harry’s name appeared in the Goblet of Fire (the method by which contestants are selected) under mysterious circumstances ad Harry must deal with the tournament’s various challenges, such as stealing eggs from an angry dragon, diving beneath the Hogwarts Lake to rescue trapped students, and make his way through a monster infested, booby trapped maze to claim the Triwizard Cup. All the while, dark forces plot in the background, growing steadily throughout the school year.
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Film adaptations of the two books were released in 2004 and 2005 respectively. Prisoner of Azkaban grossed $796 million, as well as earning critical acclaim and further embracing the change of tone for the series by embracing a new, more darker style for the overall work. Goblet of Fire earned similar acclaim, grossing $897 million. Both were among the highest grossing, best reviewed films of their respective years, enforcing the overall popularity of the ongoing fantasy series.
Both works deepened the Potterverse, introducing iconic characters and creatures, while planting the seeds for the epic saga centering around the rise of Lord Voldemort. Celebrate their original releases and read the original books again!
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