Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Publication Date: 2006 (Originally published 1937)
Length: 351 pages (Paperback)
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Whisked away from his comfortable, unambitious life in his hobbit-hole in Bag End by Gandalf the wizard and a company of dwarves, Bilbo Baggins finds himself caught up in a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon…
You know the feeling when you finish a book you’ve been meaning to pick up for ages? That feeling….
…that feeling is awesome.
It’s like getting an A on a project you’ve been working really hard on.
It’s like sitting down with a glass of ice-cold water after a long run.
It’s like riding your bike downhill after you’ve been fighting your way up a really steep hill.
It’s a feeling of plain and raw greatness.
So yes, I’ve finally read The Hobbit, wich is the very first book I’ve picked up by J.R.R. Tolkien, and it feels amazing. It’s like a big weight as been lifted from my very weak shoulders. ;)
This was basically me after I had finished the book (until I fell asleep like if I had drunk from the black water of Mirkwood)
It always feels sort of weird for me to review classics. I don’t know why exactly, but I guess there is some kind of sacred “otherness” about them, you know, that you just don’t want to mess with. I shall do my best, though, and I also thought I would sneak a small book-movie comparison in there (because I honestly have to). Sounds good? :) Good.
First of all, I have to say that I really liked the way Tolkien chose to tell this story. It’s not that often I read books where the narrator is omniscient, but I really found myself enjoying it. I did feel like it created kind of a distance between the reader and the main character, but there was such a great flow in the storytelling, and I had no real problem keeping up with what character we were following, or what was happening. So that was okay. :)
The Hobbit is written in a very nice and lyrical way, which I thought was outstanding, buuut…it kind of made it hard for me to read. 8/10 times I can listen to music while reading, but this was one of those cases where I needed complete and utter silence to digest every sentence in peace. If there were so much as a sound, I lost concentration and found myself reading the same paragraph over and over, without really grasping what was happening.
One day, when I was home alone, I decided to try reading it out loud to myself. I barely ever do that, but this time, I found that it helped me both to stay focused, and to truly see how beautifully written it actually is! The rhymes, the flow…everything!
↑My struggles, and how realisation struck me, performed by Gollum↑
While we’re at it, I might as well praise Tolkien for all the songs in the book. They are all so beautiful, and I like how you can tell whether they are composed by elves, dwarves, goblins or humans, from the way they are constructed.
This, for example, is a typical verse of a dwarf-song:
Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.
While this is a song written by elves:
Down the swift dark stream you go
Back to lands you once did know!
Leave the halls and caverns deep,
Leave the northern mountains steep,
Where the forest wide and dim
Stoops in shadow grey and grim!
You might have to read the book yourself to see it, but I promise that they have a certain structure to them, and I love how the different groups have their own culture. :) Before moving on, I just want to add that The Hobbit also had this very comical and light tone, which I did not expect, but very much approved of. Sometimes I even laughed, which was a really nice surprise. :)
So, lets talk about the amazing world in which this adventure takes place. I love books that transports me to a different universe, with its own history, battles, and traditions, which The Hobbit certainly did. There’s so much more to middle-earth than is told in this book. You get a hint here and there, and you can feel it behind the words; the feeling of something more and something real, and I truly admire authors with such imagination and dedication. Therefore, I applaud you, Mr J.R.R. Tolkien. You have successfully made me believe in elves and dwarves and hobbits. ;)
I definitely don’t read enough fantasy.
Now it’s time for some comparisons! Are you ready? Good!
Here’s the thing…I loved the movie. It really is what made me interested in the story in the first place. It’s also a big part of why I decided to read the book right now, since I wanted to read it before the next movie comes out. What I didn’t realise, though, was that the film definitely isn’t as true to the book as I first thought. There’s a LOT of big changes that were made so that the story would fit into three movies. It’s understandable and I actually don’t mind. It’s better that they make it meatier than that they skip stuff, after all, and I loved the stuff they threw in there. I actually really missed some of it in the book (especially Radagast!), and at times I felt that things moved forward too hastily. I wanted more history and more details. Several weeks could pass and the reader never really got to know what happened during that time. So that was a bit disappointing.
Still, I actually think it was good that I saw the movie first, because if I hadn’t, I would have watched it with this face:
…which is kinda how I feel now when I watch the trailer for The Desolation of Smaug…
Now I have talked about the way it is written, the world and what I thought about the story….time for Mr Bilbo Baggins!
I really loved reading about Bilbo, but I have to say that book-Bilbo is quite different from movie-Bilbo. In the movie, Bilbo is made out to seem more clever, kinder, braver and just…more likeable (they did the same to Thorin). I mean, don’t get me wrong, Bilbo is all of those things and I actually loved him as much in the book as in the film… just in a different way.
To me, book-Bilbo is brave and clever, but more in a sense that he would do anything to get home where it’s peace and quiet, no matter how scary. It’s like: Yeah, dwarves, I’m so freaking tired of your shit, just let me fix this or else we will be stuck here forever. (I just loved it when he scolded the dwarves!)
Sure, sometimes he acted a bit foolish and clueless, and in the beginning he kinda just stood there and let things happen, even though it was all his fault (I’m talking about the part with the trolls, guys), but he really grew throughout the book…
“He was trembling with fear, but his little face was set and grim. Already he was a different hobbit from the one that had out without a pocket-handkerchief from Bag-End long ago. He had not had a pocket-handkerchief for ages.”
Plus, I don’t blame him for any of his faults. In fact, I like that he is kind of grumpy, and he do think about the things that are the most important (food!). I can relate to him in a way I never thought I could relate to a small man with hairy feet that lives in a hole. ;)
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
One of the things I loved the most about Bilbo, was the fact that he was sort of the person from the outside, looking in with clear eyes. He had no ancient quarrels with anyone, and could therefore see what was the best thing to be done…at least some of the time.
In conclusion, this was a wonderful book with colorful descriptions and an exciting story. It did not fully reach my high expectations and was sometimes really slow to read, which is why it won’t receive 5/5, but I did cry at one point and it is absolutely a novel you remember.
I wish I could say that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is something that influenced my childhood, or somehow have made an impact on my life, but I can’t. I can only say that I hope it will have a place in my future, because it is truly something great to be a part of.
Ps. I have already been drooling over crazy-expensive special editions of LotR on the internet and it’s killing me inside.
“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do!”
“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”
“Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.”