Monday, 18 July 2011
Review: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Released: April 1st, 2008 (new edition, first in 1937)
Grade rating: B+
Bilbo Baggins enjoys a quiet and contented life, with no desire to travel far from the comforts of home; then one day the wizard Gandalf and a band of dwarves arrive unexpectedly and enlist his services -- as a burglar -- on a dangerous expedition to raid the treasure-hoard of Smaug the dragon. Bilbo's life is never to be the same again.
I know everyone has probably already read The Hobbit, but I want to review it anyway. I last read it when I was about 9-years-old, but all the recent movie excitement made me want to dig it out and read it again. I hardly remembered anything about it so it was like reading it for the first time. I still loved it though, and now I can read The Lord of the Rings!
I usually struggle reading old books, especially ones written before the 1950s. I find the language and style difficult to get through, which is why I was so surprised by how easily and quickly I read The Hobbit. It's hard to believe it was first published in 1937, and it doesn't read like that at all. Tolkien was so ahead of his time and it's amazing what he had swirling around in his incredible imagination.
I'm sure the story of The Hobbit is familiar to almost everyone, but in case it isn't, basically it's about Bilbo the hobbit, who sets out on an adventure with Gandalf the wizard and a group of dwarves. Their goal is to steal treasure from Smaug the dragon, which means travelling across the dangerous lands of Middle Earth. They encounter many things along the way, including trolls, goblins, giant spiders, elves, Gollum and a shape-changing man. Middle Earth holds many fantastical creatures and races, and Bilbo has the best adventure of his life.
The Hobbit was such an enjoyable read, even though I did think it lagged in the middle. The pace seemed to slow down before picking up again towards the end, which though not a bad thing it did make my mind wander. I'm fascinated with Tolkien's characters and the world he created, in particular the hobbits and elves. The hobbits are small, round and cute, but they're so brave and loyal. Bilbo proves himself more than once throughout The Hobbit, and he gains the respect of everyone on the adventure. Even Thorin Oakenshield, a very important dwarf! The elves of Rivendell are also a favourite of mine, as they're so ethereal and quietly powerful. It was good to see Elrond make an appearance - he's my favourite elf after Legolas and Arwen!
I read The Hobbit so I would be all prepared to start on The Lord of the Rings. I'm really looking forward to getting back to Middle Earth and the magic it holds, though I'm prepared for some hard reading. The Hobbit is a brilliant book, whether read as a standalone or as part of Tolkien's most famous series, and it still stands out seventy four years after it first hit shelves. Amazing.