Book: The Hobbit

This is my second reading of the book, and I’m going to try to be as objective as possible; even though I’m a huge fan of Lord of the Rings. They are different books after all, part of the same big story, but vastly different books.

The Hobbit

The Hobbit or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien is the prequel to the Lord of the Rings. It tells the story of Bilbo Baggins, a very respectable hobbit who never had any adventures or did anything unexpected. Except of course going on an adventure with 13 dwarfs and a wizard unexpectedly. The reason why it’s considered a prequel, is because this is the book in which Bilbo finds the Ring, the all important ring that becomes the source of trouble and results in a quest of epic proportions in Lord of the Rings. But that is another story. Here we’re introduced to Middle Earth, to hobbits, to dwarfs, to wizards and to dragons.

What I liked most about this story was the entire process of getting to the lonely mountain. It was full of adventure and there were so many interesting and witty characters that they met along the way. The language is simple and easy to understand, but the beauty of this book is in the description. Scenes play before our eyes, as Tolkien weaves his words around us. There’s a wealth of detail (which is a pain to get through sometimes), but it’s in this detail that Middle Earth comes to life. I think that this detail is probably what allows the movie to be so spectacular as well. Add of that plenty of humour and you get this light and enjoyable read.

I do have some issue with the ending. I guess had forgotten it after my first reading many years ago, but when I read it this time, I didn’t like how it ended. It was very anti-climatic and there wasn’t a sense of satisfaction. I would think that most readers were gearing up for an epic fight between the dwarfs and the dragon, but in the end things grew much larger in scale. It became a petty squabble and then a full-on war. A different sort of epic that readers were expecting.

Still, the hobbit is a classic that can be enjoyed by everyone. Bilbo Baggins portrays the every-man, who got pushed the door one morning and whisked off on an adventure, in which he learns so much about the world around him as well as the person that he could be. And yet, at the end of the book, Gandalf’s words ring true,

“Surely you don’t disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!”

And with that, the book reminds us that perhaps in all our comings and goings there is a hand that is guiding us through life. It belies Tolkein’s Christian beliefs, but as a Christian reading this book, it gives the book an extra layer of meaning.


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