Monday, 10 December 2012
The Hobbit by J.R.R.Tolkien
Released: September 21st 1937
Pages: 277 (Paperback)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US
Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf, and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an unexpected journey ‘there and back again’. They have a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon...
I feel quite disappointed in myself, based on the fact that after years of owning a copy of this book, I only picked it up so that I could go and watch The Hobbit in the cinema (I love Martin Freeman, sue me!). But OH MY GIDDY GOSH this novel was and is amazing! I can't believe it took a bloody film to rouse me round into reading it! If you're planning on going to see the film, I implore you to read it first - even if Christmas shopping has made you broke, go to your closest library, I'm sure they'll have several gazillion copies. This is a must-read.
As I'm sure a lot of you know, The Hobbit is basically a prequel to the largely well-known Lord of the Rings, and follows the journey of Bilbo Baggins, the infamous hobbit, the wizard Gandalf, and thirteen dwarves (namely Kili and Fili, Balin and Dwalin, Dori and Nori and Ori, Oin and Gloin, Bifur and Bofur and Bombur, and Thorin Oakenshield) as they set out on a quest to defeat Smaug, an evil dragon who lives in the mountains. Along the way they meet the bear-man Beorn, Elrond the half-elf, the Lake-men, Bard, and a swarm of goblins - a recipe for madness and adventure!
Firstly, I love Tolkien's writing style. I wasn't sure how I'd like it at first - as I've said before, some of the writing in older novels don't appeal to me as much, since I find them harder to read - but Tolkien's writing was so easy-going and fun that it was a joy to read, despite the slightly older language. Although it is classed as a children's book, I always looked at it and believed that it would be too slow to capture their imagination, and maybe it would be better for teens. Now that I've read it, I may have to swallow my words - I can imagine loads of children loving it, just because of how fast-paced and exciting it is. The writing is just as exciting - yes, exclamation marks were overused, but it kind of fit in with the plot and his writing style. And as Tolkien narrated the entire novel, he also put in some quips of him talking directly to the reader, which made it feel as if he had written this story just for me; it gave me a personal connection to the tale.
Secondly, the characters. LET ME LOVE THEM ALL. I swear Bilbo Baggins is just a male hobbit version of myself. Throughout the novel he just wanted to be back in his hobbit-hole, and I was just sat there like, This is me! This is me! I just want to be in my room with food! All of the characters Tolkien created were fantastic. I think the thing that enabled them to be so great was how original and unique they were - Tolkien took the idea of wizards and dwarves and goblins and elves and made them his own - and then he creates such creatures as hobbits and Gollum, and he flawlessly manages to create this whole other world - and it's entirely believable too! Middle-Earth may as well be as real and whole as our Earth is.
I think that The Hobbit is one of those novels that I will look back on in my old age and will have a nostalgic moment about. It's one of the Golden Oldies - one of those novels that you have to read at least once in your lifetime, if not more. I am ashamed that I did not pick this up until the shadow of the film was looming over me, but I am glad that something did prod me in the backside to read it, because I genuinely believe it has changed my outlook on life, just slightly. It is an utterly amazing novel and concept, and although I have heard that The Lord of the Rings is slow and dull, I am now determined to continue to read my way through the Middle-Earth Universe - because if this is anything to go by, then it can only get better and better.