The Hobbit

By J.R.R. Tolkien

Rating: 5 stars

It’s difficult to know what to say about The Hobbit that hasn’t already been said. I don’t remember now, to be honest, if I read it before I read The Lord of the Rings. I vaguely seem to recall that I did, but that could just be my faulty memory. Certainly, for me, it’s a much simpler, more straightforward tale than its illustrious successor but there’s still a lot to enjoy. Between Bilbo’s hasty departure from Bag End, without even a handkerchief, to the adventure in Mirkwood, the dealings with Smaug and the way that he handles the Dwarven obsession over gold, the story flows swiftly and cleanly. And, of course, the famous ‘riddles in the dark’ with Gollum. Reading it, with the full knowledge of what is to come, that chapter was an especially enjoyable read.

It’s a shame the Dwarves don’t get much in the way of characterisation, or things to differentiate them from each other. I haven’t seen Peter Jackson’s films of the book, but I imagine that must have been a fairly major challenge to fill out thirteen characters. The lack of characterisation is certainly something that’s repeatedly levelled against Tolkien, but it’s not really something that bothers me. Bilbo is our hero and our protagonist. We see the world through his eyes, as he grows and develops during the course of his adventure and I’m happy to leave it at that.

It’s always fun to look out for hints of things to come in the deeper, more complex works as well. Even though it’s only a couple of sentences, there was a thrill to be had in reading about the White Council expelling the Necromancer from Mirkwood, mentions of the fathers of men and the doings of the Dwarves and of Moria.

Definitely a great introduction to Tolkien’s world and one that I shall be distributing amongst my nephlings and children of my friends over the next few years.

Book details

ISBN: 9780395873465
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Year of publication: 1937

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