Status: Complete, Word Count: 563,700, Pairing: Harry Potter/Fleur Delacour/Original Character/Daphne Greengrass, Genre: Drama/Romance
Author’s Summary: A disillusioned Harry Potter begins to unravel his potential as the wizarding world follows the Triwizard Tournament. Harry delves into a world that is much greater, and more complicated, than he was aware of. The story contains detailed magic, politics, social situations and complicated motivations. It is a story of growth and maturation.
Characterization: So in terms of characterization in this fic, there’s quite a lot to talk about, so I suppose I might as well start with Harry. ITT (I’m going to refer to this fic by that abbreviation for the rest of the review because International Triwizard Tournament takes a long time to write out) seems to be working on the fairly popular premise that, after being abandoned by his friends in Goblet of Fire, Harry goes back down to the Chamber of Secrets for…..reasons, and discovers some great hidden thing there that he missed the first time. It usually relates to Salazar Slytherin in some way and, let’s be honest, it’s usually a portrait of Salazar Slytherin that is then used as a conduit to teach Harry some badass magic so he can go be an edgelord harem master, or some such nonsense. Now, on its own, this is a very flawed premise, especially character-wise, but ITT attempts to run the same gauntlet that A Cadmean Victory ran before it, and tries to make something fresh, interesting, and unique out of that shitty idea. So the first thing I noticed about this fic’s Harry is that his character arc is very consistent throughout. There is a very clear progression from where Harry is at the beginning of the story, to where he is at the end, and there are very few times throughout this….admittedly very long story where I felt that he changed in an unbelievable way. I like how he messes with shit he clearly doesn’t understand and it comes back to bite him in the ass later, I like how easily he gets manipulated by people more intelligent and powerful than him throughout the first half of the story, and I especially like how this leads him to be skeptical of the Delacours when they finally approach him. All in all, it’s great stuff and makes for a very compelling read. I like the different directions that Harry’s various influences attempt to pull him in, and I’m a big fan of how, by the end of the story, Harry’s personality is a mixture of all of these influences, while still retaining some of canon Harry’s core traits. It’s honestly masterfully done and I have very few complaints about Harry’s arc in his fic, so I suppose I should move on to some other characters. Sorry if this is all a little bit more vague than normal, but I’m doing my best not to spoil too many major plot elements, so….I suppose we’ll all have to live with that. So….in my opinion, the most interesting character in this fic is actually not Harry, but a prominent original character named Natalia Pavlova. She’s introduced very close to the beginning of the story and a good chunk of the fic focuses on her arc. I personally think she’s absolutely fantastic. She plays off of Harry really well, and seeing her various subtleties and layers reveal themselves over the course of the fic is incredibly satisfying. She’s truly one of the best original characters I’ve ever read about in a fanfic—rivaled only by the characters in Alexandra Quick—and I could honestly sing her praises for pages, but we don’t have that kind of time, so let’s move on. Another prominent character who I enjoy reading about is Fleur, and while she doesn’t have nearly as interesting of an arc as Natalia does, Saliient does a very good job giving her a very distinct personality and making her character memorable. One of my main issues with multi pairings that expand beyond a simple triad is that keeping track of the characters’ personalities can become rather difficult—especially considering that this is often because the author will forget to give them any character traits in the first place—and I am happy to say that that is not at all the case here. In fact, speaking of interesting characters, ITT’s Daphne Greengrass is honestly one of my all time favorite interpretations of her character. I mean…..she starts out rather boring and predictable, but once…a certain event…takes place about half way through the fic, she suddenly becomes an absolute joy to read about. Her friendship with Hannah and Susan is incredibly charming, and her personality is just so vibrant that it’s hard to not enjoy reading about her. Now, this isn’t to say that I think any of these characters are perfect, or that I like the way they are used throughout the story, but I’ll get into that in some of the other sections. However, when just looking at their characterizations and whether I enjoy reading about them, Natalia, Fleur, and Daphne are fantastic from beginning to end, and while I think Natalia has easily the most compelling arc out of the three, that doesn’t really take away from how entertaining the other two are to read about. Alright, I got a few more characters to quickly mention who I like—and then a bit of criticism as well—so let’s try and get through this quickly. Natalia’s father, Ivan, makes for a very interesting antagonist and I really enjoyed reading about him. Whenever he was a focus of a scene, I would get really tense and nervous, and I love when a character is able to invoke that kind of feeling within me. Next up, Daphne’s father, Cyrus, is a great minor character. He very clearly exists to push Harry along on his journey, and he was entertaining from his introduction to his final few scenes. Unfortunately, it’s all down hill from here. So another prominent character is Horace Slughorn, and he’s just very….weird…from beginning to end. His main purpose in the story seems to be. to assure Harry that actually dating multiple girls who all hate each other is fine and normal, and that whole idea really rubs me the wrong way. In general, Slughorn reeks of wasted potential, because his introduction to the story was quite promising, but he rather rapidly went downhill for me. Now, another character I have an issue with is Ron, and my main issue is that he’s hardly even present in the story beyond standard bashing tropes, which just annoy me. He’s not prominent enough to really warrant my ire, but I also always end up feeling frustrated whenever he shows up. This is similar to how Hermione is handled, but she’s a bit more interesting, because although she’s set up to just be the standard Hermione!bashing archetype, Saliient does end up trying to do something different with her and she goes in a very different direction by the end. Now, I won’t go into too many details, because I don’t want to spoil anything, but I generally found that her whole arc came off as rushed and clunky. Now again, this doesn’t bother me too much, because she’s a very minor character, but I often found myself bored whenever she showed up, and I’d say it definitely detracted a bit from my overall enjoyment of the story. For me, Harry Potter and the International Triwizard Tournament is a fic with some honestly fantastic main characters, and some very lackluster side characters that drag the whole thing down for me, and that’s before I even begin talking about the villains, because this fic’s Voldemort is honestly so forgettable that I’m not even going to bother talking about him. The only thing I appreciate is that he is very powerful, and seems to be an actual proper match for Harry, but that just isn’t enough for me to be invested in their conflict. So….overall, I think this averages out to some mid-to-low great tier characterization. Definitely not bad, but lots of wasted potential.
Dialogue: The dialogue in this fic is very much a case of starting out rough, and getting consistently better throughout. This is Sal’s first ever fanfic, and he was very much figuring stuff out as he went along, and that very much includes dialogue. In the beginning, it’s clunky, awkward, boring, and often rather cringe-worthy. However, as the fic goes on, the dialogue sharply improves until it’s honestly fantastic. I’d say the first noticeable improvement took place around Natalia’s introduction, and her interactions with Harry continued to get better and better, until that kind of rubbed off onto the rest of the fic. By the end, it was some of the best dialogue I’ve read in a fic, and I think that kind of makes up for the shitty beginning. So….yeah, the dialogue was absolutely top tier stuff. Well done, Sal.
Action: So, when it comes to action, I have two conflicting opinions. On the one hand, it’s undeniably well written. Like, very well written, and there are some scenes that I absolutely adore. Specifically, the break in to Malfoy Manor, culminating in Lucius’ death, was absolutely excellent. Like, truly spectacular. It had a perfect balance of fun and grit, and it did a great job exploring Harry’s thoughts as the whole thing progresses, and just….I love that scene. Also, the staged Death Eater attack that results in Cyrus’ death is also great. It’s another unique set piece with some really inventive and fun action that never goes over the top. Another fantastic sequence is the second task, which employs some of the best imagery I’ve ever read in a fic. Especially the way Fleur is described in the end, like…..holy shit that was a powerful image. Honestly, reminds me a bit of how she’s described in Secrets in the Shadows, except in a more triumphant tone. However, this fic suffers from a fair amount of standard fanfiction over the top action. What this is, is you take a character who’s still in their teen-age years, give them the powers of gods, and then write these larger than life action sequences that almost always come off feeling silly and cartoonish. Now, this is not an immediate issue I have within the story, but as it progresses, and especially during the final battle against Voldemort, I just feel like the action is all too much. Harry’s conjuring fire demons and enormous metal minotaurs, and it’s as though the battle is between two gods. This kills any and all sense of tension for me, and honestly makes the whole damn thing fall very flat. So….in the end, we have several fantastic sequences throughout the first part of the fic, balanced against a very disappointing finale. I think this averages out to mid good tier territory for action. There’s some great stuff there, but it’s held back by the lackluster finale.
Romance: So this is where the fic really falters for me. The romance in this fic is….frustratingly bad. However, there are some fantastic things in it. Throughout the first half, Harry’s relationship with Natalia is honestly fucking amazing. Pretty much everything up until the yule ball is expertly handled and I love it. Their relationship develops naturally, they both have very human responses to things, their conflicts are natural and never feel annoying, and it’s honestly fantastic. Then, Fleur is introduced and her romance with Harry is also great, at first. There’s a certain point where it stops being that way, but it starts out wonderful. However, with these two developing relationships, the expectation is set up that Harry will have to choose one of them at some point, and it’s this super big thing being built up to because both Fleur and Natalia’s respective fathers are forging very different connections to Harry, and…..then he never has to choose. Instead, in one of the strangest and most baffling decisions I’ve ever seen in a fic, Sal decided to turn ITT into a multi fic, and has Harry decide to date both Fleur and Natalia, despite their previously established hatred for each other. Now, there are some interesting things that could be done with this (such as attempting to develop this dynamic into a poly triad, for example), but….the fic just kind of keeps chugging along. Then Sal starts writing graphic underage lemons (smut scenes) between Harry and Fleur—which is not only weird for their characters, but is also just gross to read about (I don’t need to read graphic descriptions of a 14 year old and a 17 year old fucking, thank you very kindly), which makes the whole thing even more frustrating, because the smut is actually really well written. Then Daphne is introduced, who is initially a really fun and interesting character, but then she gets involved in the multi relationship as well, despite her being ok with that going against everything that’s been previously established about her character. Like, I’m used to shitty fics where the main male protagonist has a magical dick that overrides any female character’s development in the name of shitty multi pairings. However, it is rare to see so much effort be put into legitimately fantastic characters, and then have this same shitty trope pop up and ruin the whole thing. Fucking hell, Sal, you had three different options to choose from, and all three of them would have worked well, and you picked the hidden fourth shitty option. Oh and in case you’re wondering, the multi never gets better. The second half of the fic is essentially character assassination central, as the fic stubbornly refuses to allow any of the characters in the multi pairing to interact with each other, and….yeah it just kinda keeps going downhill, until Natalia and Daphne aren’t even in the fucking finale of the fic. What the actual fuck? If that was the plan, why didn’t the fic just go with Flowerpot and have that be the pairing? I DON’T UNDERSTAND! THIS FIC HAD SO MUCH POTENTIAL AND IT JUST…..ugh, this romance is such a disappointment and it honestly pains me to put it in the low average tier.
Plot: Overall, I think the plot is pretty good. Not mind blowing, but it’s got enough interesting stuff going on to hold my attention. Also, I have to mention that one thing I love about this fic is that it does politics without even touching the Wizengamot, which…..yes. The dancing stuff at the beginning is fun, Harry’s conflict with Voldemort is decent enough to hold my attention, and Slytherin’s memoir is genuinely inspired. What a fantastic twist on the old Slytherin’s portrait trope! So…yeah, this is a good tier plot.
Writing Mechanics: Despite being a bit rocky near the beginning, the mechanics quickly pick up and become very good by the end. Nothing to really criticize here.
Overall: What a frustrating fic. Like, ITT has, undeniably, some of the best characterizations you’ll ever see in a fanfic. However, it fucking squanders all of them by the end through the multi pairing. It has two separate fantastic romantic arcs that are both ruined at once by the decision to make the pairing multi, and it has some of the best written smut you’ll ever seen in a fanfic that’s ruined by the gross age gap and weird character turn. The plot’s pretty decent, and the action is really great for most of it, but those both peter out in the final battle as well. But….I’ve said all that needs to be said about ITT at this point, I think.
Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend giving ITT a look, because it has a lot of really good stuff going on, but you should go in with tempered expectations, and you should expect to be disappointed by the romance.
Tier: Good Tier
Written on 06/21/2021