Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Book review: The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, by JRR Tolkien

Title: The Hobbit, or There and Back Again
Author: JRR Tolkien
Series: Middle-Earth Legendarium
Genre: Children’s high fantasy
Published: 21 September 1937
Bilbo Baggins is a reasonably typical hobbit: fond of sleeping, eating, drinking, parties and presents. However, it is his destiny to travel to the dwarflands in the east, to help slay the dragon Smaug. His quest takes him through enchanted forests, spiders’ lairs, and under the Misty Mountains, where he comes across the vile Gollum, and tricks him out of his ‘Precious’ - a ring that makes its bearer invisible, and wields a terrible power of its own.
A marvellous journey with dragons, swords and magic, told by the wizard of language: JRR Tolkien.

The Hobbit tells the story of Bilbo Baggins. He is a pretty normal hobbit who is visited by the wizard Gandalf in order to convince him to aid the dwarf Thorin Oakenshield and his company of twelve other dwarves. They want to get back their home Erebor, the Lonely Mountain, from the claws of Smaug the Magnificent, a dragon who took the Mountain for himself a long time before. Gandalf believes that Bilbo is just what they need, but no one else shares his thought, not even Bilbo himself. They set out and meet spiders, elves, and a plethora of other wonderful and terrible creatures along the way.

The story is great. It is a really good story of discovering one’s real value and of learning to accept others. Bilbo grows to be a hero, a thief, a friend of elves and dwarves, even though he began as a hobbit who had no real interest in meeting either of those races. The dwarves are all reluctant of having Bilbo come with them but end up greeting him as one of their closest friends forever.

The writing is magnificent. Tolkien really is the wizard of words. He knows exactly how to make language do his bidding when he tells it to. I loved that it was written in a really conversational manner, since it is a children’s novel. It wasn’t just conversational, it was as if Tolkien himself was sitting right in front of me telling me the story.

The characters were mostly great. We don’t really get to know the dwarves. But Bilbo and Gandalf were awesome. Most of the caharacter development happened to Bilbo. He starts out as a hobbit who’d really prefer not to go with Thorin and just stay at home, but he ends up being a hero, a real hero.

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