Author: J.R.R. Tolkein
This is a classic and well known novel about the great adventure of one small and timid Hobbit. Bilbo Baggins, who had been living a nice safe life in his nice safe hobbit-hole, has been dragged into a quest for gold and revenge against the dragon known as Smaug. Alongside a wizard named Gandalf, a company of twelve dwarves, and the rightful King Under the Mountain, he faces many dangers and exciting times.
Bilbo’s journey is an epic one that takes him to the Edge of the Wild, across the Misty Mountains, and through Mirkwood forest. Tolkien effectively develops an entire world around Bilbo’s experiences. It is a believable story in a mystical land. Of special note are the dangerous Goblins of the Misty Mountains and the Elven kingdom in Mirkwood forest. These two species, along with many others, are developed with their own characteristics and histories. They have all been flawlessly woven together into a single existence.
The story in The Hobbit becomes so exhilarating at points, like the Battle of Five Armies at the Lonely Mountain, that it feels as though the dwarvish battle cries should be accompanied by the fourth movement from Dvorak’s New World Symphony. However, the book has a juvenile feeling, as though it were meant to be a Saturday morning cartoon show. Take, for example, the names of the dwarves that accompany Bilbo on his journey: Fili and Kili, Balin and Dwalin, Dori and Nori and Ori, Oin and Gloin, and Bilfur and Bofur and Bombur. These are the names from a child’s fantasy. While this adds another dimension to the general tone of the story, it takes away from the effect of this grandiose and larger than life adventure.
The story is told with a unique perspective. The book reads as though someone is telling the story of Bilbo Baggins to you, with the narrator referring to himself and the reader as though he was there speaking each word. This makes possible the use of phrases like “he didn’t know it yet, but…” which appear frequently in the story. Though this viewpoint isn’t very common, it is effective and interesting.
The Hobbit is one of those books that everybody has heard about, which means that there are expectations to be met. Though there were some disappointments along the way, it was a satisfying read. The quality of this book certainly warrants the reading of the sequels some time in the near future.