Review – The Hobbit

The latest book that I have finished is one that millions are quite familiar with, especially with the movie adaptations. The book is The Hobbit and I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed my journey with Bilbo Baggins until the very end.

The novel was authored by J.R.R. Tolkien. It was originally written for his children and you can tell by the style and general tone which makes it a lighthearted and easy  read.

The book begins in The Shire, home to the hobbits, a small people with bare, hairy feet and slightly pointed ears. They are a people that enjoy life, especially eating. Bilbo Baggins enjoys his life in The Shire but has it interrupted when a wizard, Gandalf, comes to his doorstep with a company of thirteen dwarves who has heard that Bilbo is a fine burglar which is something that they need on the journey they are about to embark on. From this time on, Bilbo is challenged in many different ways but proves himself more resourceful than the dwarves could have imagined.

There are portions of the book where we begin to see that Bilbo is more skillful at his new trade than even he thought. For example, there is one part where they  are moving through Mirkwood Forest and end up being captured by a nest of giant spiders. Bilbo single-handedly escapes and frees all of the dwarves. He finds the courage to do what he never thought he’d be able to do for he never looked at himself as that kind of hobbit. It is a lovely reminder of how circumstances have the ability to bring out facets of our character that we didn’t even know resided in us.

Probably the most memorable character revelation is when Bilbo, who has a dwarf heirloom called the Arkenstone, decides not to tell Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the dwarves and heir to the dwarf kingdom who has been overrun in his heart by greed. He will not help the nearby townspeople of Lake Town who have been devastated by the dragon Smaug. When the townspeople come asking for help and reparations since the dwarves were given safe passage and lodging for some time, Thorin refuses though he had formerly said he would trade with them. Bilbo, seeing this as foolish, takes the Arkenstone and gives it to Bard, Lake Town’s recognized leader, who had besieged the dwarf mountain keep with help from Mirkwood Forest’s Elvenking, for their refusal of help. It’s clear that Bilbo has taken a fondness to the dwarves and without a thought sacrifices his share of the dwarf treasure to attempt to bring about a peaceful resolution. It’s summed up when he addresses Bard and the Elvenking when invited to stay with them:

“Thank you very much I am sure,” Bilbo said with a bow. “But I don’t think I ought to leave my friends like this, after all we’ve gone through together.”

There are many more similar moments like this in the book. I gave this a four out of five stars on Goodreads. The only thing I didn’t not particularly take a shining to is part of his style where instead of showing, he’s tells. For example, near the beginning of the book he writes:

Yes, I’m afraid trolls do behave like that, even those with one head each.  After hearing all of this, Bilbo ought to have done something at once.

As he narrates he inserts himself into the picture instead of telling the story. There is something charming about it to a degree because the book’s target audience is children, but it gets slightly annoying as the book progresses. However, not so much as you can’t enjoy the tale. I highly recommend the book and I’m very glad I finally got around to reading it.

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