Title: The Hobbit
Author: J.R.R. Tolkin
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: Aug 2002
Classification: YA Novel
Summary from Goodreads:
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
Written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when it was first published in 1937. Now recognized as a timeless classic, this introduction to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth recounts of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent. The text in this 372-page paperback edition is based on that first published in Great Britain by Collins Modern Classics (1998), and includes a note on the text by Douglas A. Anderson (2001). Unforgettable!
It began just like any other book; with a beginning.
I must say that never have I taken to reviewing such a prolific book on the blog since I first began to do this with my lovely Alexa. I have to admit that a part of my interest to re-read this was spurned on by the movie, “Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” being released to theatres this month and all of the LotR craziness which will undoubtedly ensue. I read this book quite some time ago, perhaps I was nothing more than a small child first learning how to read (a daunting task wouldn’t you say?) and a refresher course was in order.
The Hobbit was originally written as a childrens tale for Tolkien’s own without any real indication he would make it into a series. I was unaware of this until midway through the book, but all the signs were evident. The story itself seemed to end at a logical conclusion with a tiny sliver of a possiblity of extending the tales of Bilbo and Middle-Earth. The book itself seems a bit dated in its style. 1937 was essentially a different world, for obvious reasons. Tolkien himself was a veteran of the Great War and used his scholarly teachings to influence his interest in writing the Hobbit, as well as perhaps some belief that it would be a noble tale to tell his children. Whatever the case may be, the writing itself manifests the years in which it was written. Nothing to say it was a hinderance to reading the story in 2012, but it was just a bit ….different, for lack of a better word.
I was not overtly enthralled in the book as I had hoped but found some instances in which I could not put it down as I needed to know what would happen next to Bilbo and his merry band of travelers (I am writing this with the mindset that you all, the readers, are aware of who Bilbo Baggins is by way of Peter Jackson’s grand epic trilogy. If I am wrong in my assumption, well then you need to watch the movies. NOW). However, these certain occurances were few and far in between and had a hard time reading this book for longer than 30 minutes at a time. That is very much out of character for me as I pride myself on being able to read a book within a day even, depending on the length of the novel. I might attribute that to lack of sleep but I have to admit; this book was a bit boring. I think I shot myself in the foot because I knew how it was all to play out since I had already seen the Fellowship of the Ring. And yes, before you all decide to deride me for comparing a book and a movie and saying they are one in the same, remember this; Peter Jackson is an ultimate fan of Tolkien’s work so if one were to make a faithful adaptation of a novel, he would be that guy. If you have seen the movie, you have, to a point, read the book. Albeit he has ommitted some things from the books when making the movies, but the main jist of what the books are were detailed in the movies, hence their long run time. This is not to say I would not recommend reading the entire series but my point can be made.
I believe The Hobbit can be considered a prologue to the grander tale which is the LotR saga, beginning with Fellowship of the Ring. I did state this was not Tolkien’s original intention, but it played itself out quite nicely. Perhaps another reason for my difficulty with this book was the sheer amount characters which were involved, even if only but a few played a vital role. Thorin Oakenshield, the dwarf which seeked to reclaim the land of his people, The Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug and Bombur, purely out of comic relief. A lot of fat jokes are made at his expense and I admit, I did laugh (they seemed to be a main attraction in the feature film as well). The other dwarves were there but not ‘there’, so to speak. They only seemed to be there for the sake of the plot. Gandalf is Gandalf and there is not really anything more to say about that. He is a pivotal character but only for a brief period of time. His beginning interaction with Bilbo served its purpose well but beyond that, not even Gandalf the Gray seemed to shine in this tale.
Perhaps I was just not so inclined to read what was essentially a childrens tale, whilst the LotR books are more adult themed. This book itself was not bad by any stretch; it simply was just not my cup of tea. Would I say it is essential to the LotR books on a grand scale? Probably not, but it can’t hurt to pick up this relatively short book (310 pages).
I will make this proclamation; The LotR series will be a series I will read in its entirety for 2013, as well as a few other series which might come as a surprise to some which have known me through the blog.
Read the book OR see the movie. The only difference? The book is just one thing whilst the movies will be split up into 3 pieces. The choice is yours and either one would be a great choice.