The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien

Yes, I’m fully aware of how many people must have already read The Hobbit but I’m writing this as a fan.

Take a wizard, a bunch of Dwarves, and a race of people never before heard of, who call themselves Hobbits.  Add a quest, Elves and a dragon.  Now, what happens when a very homely, unadventurous Hobbit is dragged into the quest by the scheming of the wizard?  Worse, this very respectable Hobbit is reported, by the wizard, to be a professional thief whose services are of vital importance to the Dwarves and their quest!

J R R Tolkien introduces us to a world, Middle Earth, that already offers considerable depth in what is a delightful adventure story.  More, it is a wonderful blend of sheer imagination, humour and surprisingly powerful characters.  For many years, The Hobbit has been catalogued as a childrens story, and it is that, but so much more.  It is the primer for the millions of readers who will be so captivated by its vision that they go on to the soaring epic of The Lord of the Rings, and perhaps farther still, to the other works of Tolkien that give us more of the vast history of Middle Earth.

But back to The Hobbit.  The hero of the tale is one Bilbo Baggins, respectable bachelor Hobbit of The Shire.  The scheming wizard is Gandalf, who has motives of his own, though we must wait for the greater work to discover these.  The Dwarves are led by the famed Thorin Oakenshield, heir to the lordship of Erebor, the Lonely Mountain.  There being thirteen Dwarves, a quest would seem doomed from the start, being such an ill-omened number.  Gandalf offers to solve the problem by finding a fourteenth member for the quest.  An apparently chance encounter between Gandalf and Bilbo results in the unfortunate Hobbit becoming that fourteenth member.

The quest meets with perils that are familiar to enthusiasts of Norse mythology, such as Trolls and Goblins (Orcs).  They also meet friendly Elves (Elrond and his folk) and more hostile ones (Thranduil’s Wood Elves).  Strange forest-dwelling men who are shape-changers, enormous eagles and giant spiders also populate this land.  Bilbo meets the sinister character of Gollum deep in the mountain fastness of the Orcs, and wins safety through a combination of a riddle game and his finding of a magic ring, which allows him to become invisible.  He uses the ring at other times, to save his Dwarf companions.

Through peril, they come at last to Erebor, where Smaug, a Great Dragon, sleeps upon the heaped wealth of the Dwarves.  Here, Bilbo is called upon to perform the service he has been employed for.  Creeping into the dragon’s lair, wearing the ring, he sets in motion a chain of events which will lead to a climactic scene that is far beyond most ordinary adventure tales.

Tolkien weaves his tale with consummate skill.  He never talks down to his audience, nor does he do more than hint at greater matters, allowing the reader to discover the many hooks to the epic that awaits in The Lord of the Rings.  True, The Hobbit was written for those generations of children who had books as their greatest entertainments.  Many modern children may have difficulty sticking with it, but those that do will be enthralled.  It is one of those books which deserves to be read.

My Rating: 5 stars

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6 thoughts on “The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien

  1. Let’s see if I can do this comment without spoiling the ending: What did you think of the very non-stereotypical hero ending in the Hobbit? I was so surprised the first time I read it that a story about dragon slaying has something very different create its climactic scene!

    • Hi, I think the ending is very much in keeping with the overall tone of the book. Bilbo is very much an ordinary, every day hero – a hero by accident of circumstance. The fact that he is on the sidelines of the climactic actions is as it should be. He has no desire to be more than the hobbit he had always been. The dwarves are never really interested in doing more than recovering some of their treasure. There are, after all, far too few of them to achieve any more than that. The slaying is an unexpected event, though not one they are unhappy about, of course. It’s also important to the great history that Tolkien has in mind that events happen as they do. But yes, on first reading there are surprises in these twists, as there should be in any well told tale 🙂

  2. I haven’t seen the film, not sure that I want to. I held out for years against LotR, not wanting cherished memories to be crushed. But you’ve made me decide to reread The Hobbit. Thanks for doing that, Steve.

    • Jane, having seen some of the trailers, there’s no way I want to see it! 😦 It looks as accurate as the LotR movies. And what was written as a kids book looks like it would terrify them! I’m glad you’re going to reread it 🙂 It’s definitely worth it – far more so than watching the abominations 😀 Cheers, Steve

  3. I happened to just read The Hobbit again. Its great when book reviewers do reviews of the literary giants, because I feel like its a good way for me to get to know their reviewing style. Because I remember the Hobbit so well (scene for scene really haha) its a perfect chance to see if my the reviewer’s tastes and my tastes line up.

    Just a proponent for reviewing the classics!
    (Great review! Love the book.)

    • Thanks Alex 🙂 I never thought about it like that, but it’s certainly an excellent idea 😉 I admit that I may not review many literary giants (tending to dislike many given that label), but the odd one may pop up now and then. I’m a great fan of The Hobbit, and have little time for those who review it based on looking beyond it being a good yarn! Too many reviews I’ve read of it just plain overthink it! I hope my review reflects favourably on my style 🙂

      Thanks again!:)

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