The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
While on Bookstagram the other day, I saw that #MiddleEarthMarch was fast approaching. I have not read The Lord of the Rings, or The Hobbit until now – but they are some of my favorite movies. Ever. And I don’t like movies! So I decided this would be a fantastic time to participate. And so, in preparation, I read The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien for the first time at the end of February.
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Title: The Hobbit
Author: JRR Toklien
Genre: Fantasy, Classic, Fiction, Adventure
Published: September 15, 1999 by Houghton Mifflin
If you care for journeys there and back, out of the comfortable Western world, over the edge of the Wild, and home again, and can take an interest in a humble hero (blessed with a little wisdom and a little courage and considerable good luck), here is a record of such a journey and such a traveler. The period is the ancient time between the age of Faerie and the dominion of men, when the famous forest of Mirkwood was still standing, and the mountains were full of danger. In following the path of this humble adventurer, you will learn by the way (as he did) – if you do not already know all about these things – much about trolls, goblins, dwarves, and elves, and get some glimpses into the history and politics of a neglected but important period.
For Mr. Bilbo Baggins visited various notable persons; conversed with the dragon, Smaug the Magnificent; and was present, rather unwillingly, at the Battle of the Five Armies. This is all the more remarkable, since he was a hobbit. Hobbits have hitherto been passed over in history and legend, perhaps because they as a rule preferred comfort to excitement. But this account, based on his personal memoirs, of the one exciting year in the otherwise quiet life of Mr. Baggins will give you a fair idea of the estimable people now (it is said) becoming rather rare. They do not like noise.
About: JRR Tolkien
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973) was a major scholar of the English language, specialising in Old and Middle English. Twice Professor of Anglo-Saxon (Old English) at the University of Oxford, he also wrote a number of stories, including most famously The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955), which are set in a pre-historic era in an invented version of our world which he called by the Middle English name of Middle-earth. This was peopled by Men (and women), Elves, Dwarves, Trolls, Orcs (or Goblins) and of course Hobbits. He has regularly been condemned by the Eng. Lit. establishment, with honourable exceptions, but loved by literally millions of readers worldwide.
In the 1960s he was taken up by many members of the nascent “counter-culture” largely because of his concern with environmental issues. In 1997 he came top of three British polls, organised respectively by Channel 4 / Waterstone’s, the Folio Society, and SFX, the UK’s leading science fiction media magazine, amongst discerning readers asked to vote for the greatest book of the 20th century. Please note also that his name is spelt Tolkien (there is no “Tolkein”).
What I love about The Hobbit is how clean-cut the plot is. It’s set up fairly simply, and is easy to read. There’s a main focus: sneak into Smaug’s lair, defeat him, and steal back the dwarf treasure. Considering Tolkien is widely accepted as the Father of Fantasy, his story is detailed enough that readers become intrigued about the world of Middle Earth. Had this book been written in modern times, I would say that it lacked a bit of depth, though I think The Hobbit is a story intended for most ages.
The characters in this story were truly more colorful than I imagined they would be, having grown up mostly on The Lord of the Rings movies. Gandalf appeared slightly less-friendly/wise/mentor-y than I thought he would. And there were so many dwarves that I honestly couldn’t keep track of which one was which. Tolkien gave them similar names in pairs or trios, I suppose to indicate a familial bond, but it was confusing.
The pacing was pretty good, and the story wasn’t too long. There were action points throughout the story to always keep readers interested, which was great.
I really liked it! It was more silly and colorful than I imagined it would be, and I do prefer things to be a bit darker. That’s no fault of the book, just my preconceived ideas based on The Lord of the Rings movies.
I give The Hobbit 4/5 stars.
Let’s talk about it
Have you read this classic tale before? What were your impressions? Have you seen the movies? Did they live up to your expectations? Please leave your thoughts in the comments!