Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

Genre: high fantasy
Pages: 330 (this paperback edition)
Published: 1937 (but republished many, many times)

My Take:

Keeping in mind that this book is no Lord of the Rings (one of my first fantasy obsessions), I really enjoyed this book.  The Hobbit has a charming, kind of Old World feel to it-- I kept thinking how very British Tolkien's writing is.  (Not that there's anything wrong with that-- I love Britishness.  Harry Potter is British.  So is Doctor Who.  And Neil Gaiman.  All very wonderful things.)

 Bilbo Baggins is a typical hobbit in many ways: he enjoys the occasional parties and house guests (as long as those guests don't overstay their welcome); and he is generally very comfortable in his Hobbit-hole and cares little for adventures of the fantastical or unusual sort, thank you very much.
But then the fabled wizard Gandalf the Grey enlists the reluctant Bilbo to accompany him and a troupe of thirteen dwarfs to the faraway Misty Mountains, where they hope to steal back legendary dwarven treasures from the very old and very wicked dragon, Smaug, who slumbers in a high mountain amongst his hoard of treasures.
 Bilbo, Gandalf, and the dwarfs travel far across Middle-Earth, through deep forests where millions of tiny eyes watch them from the trees at night.  They stay in the house of a shapeshifter and in the ancient house of Elrond and the elves and are not entirely roasted, boiled, or fried by a trio of trolls. 
Alone and hiding from goblins in the depths of a watery cave, Bilbo engages in a deadly game of riddles with the strangest and most sinister of beings: the creature which we will come to know as Gollum.  From Gollum he wins a beautiful ring, a ring of power and magic which can help its wearer turn invisible at will, but can also cast a dangerous spell over its owner.  In the end, there is a great battle as the people whose villages the dragon has devastated for so long attempt to take vengeance against Smaug at last...and Bilbo proves to be a far more valuable addition to the company of dwarfs and wizard than he would ever have expected.

Anyway, I enjoyed doing that-- nice way to liven up a book review with pretty pictures.  I loved the illustrations in my edition of The Hobbit, and definitely recommend that edition: the cover is so colorful and the style of the little patchwork drawings perfectly pits this book.  The Hobbit is a wonderful read: a good book for savoring and definitely one for reading aloud to kids, if you have kids or little siblings, etc.

The only thing that bothered me about the book wasn't about the book at all: it's how in the world Peter Jackson is going to make this barely 300 page book into a three-part movie series!  How will that work, exactly?...One movie about the party in the beginning, one about the journey, and one about a battle?  It seems like one Lord of the Rings movie might have more plot action than all three Hobbit movies put together.  I'm guessing the pace of these latest films will be a little more plodding... lots of beautiful shots of New Zealand.  But a creepy cameo by Gollum and a lot more Gandalf.  I've always really liked Gandalf (the Grey variety preferred), and wizards and wizardly hats in general.  Anyway, I'm glad I read this delightfully wonderful book, because it's made me even more excited for the upcoming film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which will premiere (yay!) on December 14th.

Book Rating:


Rinn said...

Such cute illustrations!
I'm glad you enjoyed it. *Tolkien enthusiast* Are you planning on watching the film? =)

Kat said...

@Rinn-- Oh, definitely! I can't wait! I won't be able to make the midnight premiere because of exams, but I'll definitely be hyped up to see it on the 15th. :)

Alison Can Read said...

I have tried and failed to get through the LOTR series - I've read the first two books. I liked them but wasn't obsessed. I want to be though - they're such big deals. Do you have any advice for the series that will help me get swept away?

Katie (The Literary Files) said...

I loved how you broke down the story and added pictures! I never really knew what The Hobbit (or anything LOTR related stuff) was about and this helped me tons! I'm with you, I'll be interested to see how in the work Peter Jackson is going to make just a 300 page book into three movies, that's insane!

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Kat!

I LOVE anything and everything Tolkien!! While I do agree that this is not LOTR, I still think it's a beautiful -- although smaller -- masterpiece! It's also a great introduction to the much more complex, and, of course, more adult work that some critics have called the greatest novel of the 20th century.

I remember reading "The Lord of the Rings" first, and then, some years later, "The Hobbit". I LOVE the pictures in this edition, and will definitely try to get it! As you probably know, I have several editions of my favorite novels. I know you enjoy collecting several editions of your faves, too. Isn't it fun, being a bookworm? Lol.

As always, I greatly enjoyed reading your very well-written review!! Also, the lovely little drawings complement it beautifully!! Thanks for your thoughts!! :)

Maria Behar said...

P.S. I saw the Rolling Stone collector's edition about the film while grocery shopping yesterday, and bought it, of course!! I was greatly surprised to read therein that Jackson intends to make three movies!! However, I will definitely want to see every single one!!!

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