Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Pages: Paperback, 287
Published: May 1984 (this is the publication date for my edition)
Opening Lines: "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hold with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."
"Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit who wanted to be left alone in quiet comfort. But the wizard Gandalf came along with a band of dwarves. Soon Bilbo was drawn into their quest, facing evil orcs, savage wolves, giant spiders, and worse unknown dangers. Finally, it was Bilbo—along and unaided—who had to confront the great dragon Smaug, the terror of an entire countryside!"
~ Jacket copy
Thoughts: It has been nearly sixteen years since I first read this book. I have memories of watching the old anime with my brother, and the songs haunting my dreams. However, the fondest memories involve late summer days reclining on the couch or sitting on the sun bathed balconies at my childhood home with my nose stuck in the book. Since my brother and I first watched the anime when I was a small child, the story of Bilbo Baggins has had me enthralled. All of the books have sat on my parents' shelf since before I can remember and have always been a part of my childhood. I even look forward to the time when I can read The Hobbit to my own children. When I heard the release date of the movie, I was more than willing to hunt down my husband's copy of the book and reread it. And, honestly, it still held the old magic!
The Hobbit follows the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and his dwarven companions on their quest to reclaim the ancestral home of Thorin Oakenshield from Smaug, the dragon. Being a hobbit, Bilbo is not prone to adventure. He would rather recline in his arm chair, eat his cakes, and blow smoke rings on warm summer days. However, Gandalf the wizard has other plans. Through his adventure to the Lonely Mountains, Bilbo finds something in himself that he didn't know existed: bravery.
It is really hard to review this book, because it holds so much for me. I loved the whole concept of Bilbo finding himself on the journey. He starts out being concerned that he forgot his handkerchief and ends up growing into something more. Reading the book as an adult, I find it to be a wonderful story about self discovery, and the capacity in everyone to become greater than they are. Bilbo started the adventure as a well respected and timid little hobbit from The Hill. However, he is soon trading riddles with Gollum in the Goblin cave, taking on giant spiders to save his foolish companions, figuring out ways to save them from Mirkwood, daring to speak with Smaug, and finding ways to prevent a war.
I loved how Tolkien really played with the chthonic nature of the dwarves. Even though they were known for being miners and amazing craftsmen, once they were inside the mountain, Thorin made comments about wanting to feel the wind on his face. At some level, even though Bilbo was not overly fond of the mountain, he almost seemed more at peace with it. It just really struck me how removed Thorin and company was from their roots.
Returning to The Hobbit after reading the other books, a few things really stuck out to me. After Bilbo has the ring, the narrator makes a comment about the ring possibly abandoning him in search of another master. Since this was occurred when Bilbo thought he was still wearing the ring and thus invisible to the Goblins, it shows early on the nature of the ring. I had also forgotten how Tolkien really hammered on Bilbo's Tookish nature.
For me, this book still held all the magic I remember from childhood! It will always hold a special place in my heart, and I am very glad that I finally got around to rereading it. If you have not read the books, I urge you to try The Hobbit before you watch the movie. While Jackson has done a fairly good job with the LoTR movies, I feel that there is something lacking by not experiencing the magic of the book. Besides, you might not meet Beorn, be under the impression that Legolas actually shows up, think Thorin is youngish, and assume Gandalf and Galadriel have some sort of romance brewing between them. Honestly, that would be a tragic thing!
Current Pages: 16,010