The Hobbit (or There and Back Again) by JRR Tolkien
2015 Reading Challenge categories:
- A book that became a movie
- A book with nonhuman characters
- A book with magic
As a young hobbit, Bilbo Baggins finds himself immersed in an adventure of unknown dangers after being mistaken for a burglar by a troupe of dwarves seeking to return to their homeland. Brought into the group as the fourteenth member by Gandalf the Grey Wizard, Bilbo finds not only adventure, but a host of new friends, experiences and levels of bravery that he didn’t think could extend past the warm comforts of his hobbit hole.
What is there to say about the Hobbit that hasn’t been said before? I will openly admit that I wasn’t 100% aware that this book was written for children by Tolkien. I’d seen it shelved in the children’s fiction shelves, but because of the year it was written, I didn’t think that children were the primary audience. That being said, the book is surprisingly and wonderfully kid-friendly, albeit a challenging read with difficult vocabulary, concepts and an intriguing menu of characters from the dragon Smaug, to the elves to the Lakemen. This book is a great bridge for those delving into the Harry Potter books, but aren’t quite ready for the scary arch it takes sometime after The Goblet of Fire. Although, I did find it odd that in the entire book, there is not one single female character. I was more than halfway through the book when I realized that. It didn’t make the book any less interesting or well written. But it is an interesting note.
Other thoughts. The book struck a fine balance between scary, suspense, humor and adventure. There were some slow parts, and parts of the Battle of Five Armies felt rushed. Smaug’s demise wasn’t as dramatic as I thought it would have been, especially since the dwarves had no part of it. The chapter titled Riddles in the Dark was a good introduction to Gollum and the one ring designed to rule them all. It’s funny how easily Tolkien glossed over the powers and the weight of the ring in this book. It’s hardly worth remembering except that it helped Bilbo get out of a few scrapes and help rescue his friends along the way.
Right now, I feel very ready to tackle the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I read the first a long time ago, and my memory of it is very vague. Quite possibly because I skimmed so much of it. Tolkien can be very Dickensian. The Hobbit was nicely spaced with songs, riddles, illustrations and maps (apparently all drawn by Tolkien). These bits helped break up the monotony of the story. Now that I’ve finished the Hobbit, I’m not ready to leave the world of Middle Earth. And I do believe that a trilogy is one of the items on the 2015 Reading Challenge.
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