Thursday, 29 December 2011

'The Hobbit' by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937)

Synopsis: The Hobbit is an episodic quest novel set in Middle-Earth. Bilbo Baggins (a home-loving hobbit) is chosen by the wizard Gandalf to accompany a band of dwarves as they seek to reclaim their homeland and the treasure that was stolen from them by the evil dragon Smaug. Bilbo must then journey from the rural, peaceful Shire into darker and more dangerous lands.

This book is often overshadowed by its sequel The Lord of the Rings and admittedly that book is superior to this one. However, The Hobbit is still a fantastic work of fiction and is most definitely a classic in its own right! It's a brilliantly-written and brilliantly-paced book and is so much fun to read! Right from the first chapter it's full of non-stop action and adventure and it's exciting, exhilarating and suspenseful. It was one of my favourite books as a child and I'm still incredibly fond of it now.

On the whole I do personally feel that readers who haven't already read LOTR (or watched its film adaptations) will probably get a bit more out of The Hobbit. For LOTR fans it can be mildly annoying to see the Orcs being referred to as "goblins" and Sauron as "the necromancer". Having said that it was very interesting to read The Hobbit with the knowledge of what its sequel is like. The Elves are much less solemn and ethereal in The Hobbit than they are in LOTR. Gandalf is a lot more mysterious and vague and the dwarfs (or dwarves) are more comical. Also, the tone of The Hobbit is generally more light-hearted and less serious than LOTR. It was intended as a children's book even though it will appeal to adults. Saying that though there are still some dark moments in The Hobbit. Take the chapter 'Riddles in the Dark' for example. This is the one where Gollum first shows up. I'd forgotten just how creepy and menacing his character is and this is probably my favourite chapter in the whole book.

The characters are entertaining in The Hobbit as well although the character development in this book isn't as strong as it is in LOTR. This is the main reason why I think LOTR is the better book. Bilbo Baggins is the best character in The Hobbit and it's probably because his character is the most relatable and the one who develops and changes the most throughout the course of the story. I do think that first-time readers of The Hobbit could be forgiven for forgetting the names of some of the dwarves as most of them are fairly interchangeable with one another but there are dwarves who stand out and are interesting: Thorin Oakenshield, Fili, Kili, Balin and Bombur. Gandalf and Smaug make for interesting characters as well. I am very much looking forward to the Peter Jackson film adaptation of this book. If it's going to be anything like his LOTR adaptations it will be a fantastic film!

Rating: 5/5

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