Wednesday, 18 July 2012
Review: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Written for J.R.R. Tolkien's own children, The Hobbit is the classic children's story about Bilbo Baggins, the reluctant burglar for a group of dwarves intent on taking their treasure and home back from the terrible dragon Smaug. This is a re-read. I first read this book when I was about 8.
The Hobbit has been held as a classic for a long time and it deserves that status. The story follows this unlikely group of creatures as the set off towards the misty mountains. Tolkien's writing style is incredible, it flows beautifully and describes this wonderful cast of characters and their predicaments perfectly. I love how songs and riddles are incorporated through out the story, which is something modern fantasy doesn't tend to do much of.
Bilbo is such an endearing character. He is basically a grumpy, middle-aged man who has been thrown into some of the worst and most marvelous experiences. And as he's never had any experiences outside the shire you really get to experience these things as he does; as a stranger who has been invited into something marvelous. There are some beautiful moments, like with the elves, and some pretty creepy moments like with Golumn.
Also being massive fan of the The Lord of the Rings films, and hopefully eventually the book, I found it really interesting to re-read things about characters that are mentioned or who have big parts in LotR but that I had forgotten about in The Hobbit. Gandalf is also quite different when he is younger.
I would say though that although this book was wrote for children I think the language is quite hard for children of the modern age who might struggle in some places.I would say for children it is best read to/ or along with but it is also great appreciated by yourself as an adult/ late teen.
I only have two problems with The Hobbit, one is the demise of Smaug, which just seems a little too convenient. The other is that in this entire cast of characters there is not a single lead woman, in fact you'd be pushed to find a woman in it at all. I know it was a different time back then, but it almost feels a little misogynistic. In some aspects then it doesn't quite work so well tackled by a modern reader, which is why they had to play up the 3 main female characters and make them stronger in LotR films, but it is still a beautifully written fantasy.
To buy or not to buy? I think The Hobbit is the sort of book everyone should have in their collection and pass it down through the generations. So buy it, read it and love it for the quirky classic fantasy that it is.