Monday, 10 December 2012

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien book review

An unexpected hero quests to recover stolen treasure guarded by a ferocious dragon whilst undergoing dramatic self discovery during an epic adventure; getting more difficult as the hero progresses further from home. This brief synopsis might sound so predictable to us in the modern world, but told by the pen of Tolkien, who has influenced modern fantasy so remarkably that his basic plot structure present in the Hobbit has become the go-to for many subsequent works.

Why did I decide to write about the Hobbit:
Well unless you've been living in Hobbiton, in a hobbit hole then you should know that The Hobbit (published in 1937) has been released as a movie! My anticipation to see it has reached fever pitch and thus, I have decided to use some of that inspiration to wright this review. If you are new to Tolkien's fantasy world, The Hobbit is perhaps the ideal place to start as it introduces many aspects as well as some background to the Lord of the Rings series that will follow. Tolkien wrote this book for his children and it is therefore an easy read for younger children while also showing of its literary genius for adults.

Alright, to the book itself:
The book starts in a village where a race of people, known as hobbits, small in height, with hairy feet and no beard dwell. They don't welcome adventure and prefer the solidity and comfort of their community. Anyway, one hobbit, Bilbo Baggins is visited by Gandalf, a wizard, who seeks 'someone to share in an adventure with'. Bilbo is unwilling to get involved in an adventure of any sort (since adventures make one late for dinner).

Tolkien comically introduces a band of thirteen dwarves. Bilbo succumbs to his curiosity and hence, he goes on an adventure. An adventure that has him trek through dangerous mountains, mysterious forests and dark underground caverns until reaching Smaug, a dragon, that destroyed the dwarves' city and stole their treasure. Bilbo is employed as a burglar in their party and they quest to recover that stolen treasure. The reader encounters wizards, men, elves, goblins, wargs, giants spiders and hideous dark creatures, not to mention the dragon!
A map to show the expanse of Middle Earth

The Hobbit also includes the tale of how Bilbo finds the Ring of Power and how he outwits Gollum, even though he cheats (just showing the rings immediate effect). The finding of the Ring is perhaps the most important moment in this book as it directly influences the books to come.

The Hobbit encompasses varying settings that differ vastly, and characters that differ just as much. From a small almost insignificant Hobbit to fantastic battles scenes - this book has it all.

Throughout this tale there is wit, comedy, tragedy and suspense a-plenty. A classic hero quest that provides an introduction to the amazing world of Middle Earth. This book is a masterclass, having beautiful poetry,  musical songs and descriptive maps that just wrap around a story that any literary enthusiast should delve into without a moment's hesitation.

My rating: 9/10:
Bilbo is not your typical hero but he overcomes struggles and confrontations, earns the group's respect and admiration and in turn develops self-confidence and belief. This dynamic central hero is clearly written as an inspiration for younger children as they observe his journey of self-discovery.

This book's applicability to any age group earns it such a high rating and the prelude it represents to further books just shows the amazing creativity of Tolkien, a masterful storyteller.

Check out my future articles as I comment on The Hobbit chapter by chapter. Dividing it into posts that represent the movie trilogy.

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