The Hobbit, or There and Back Again

TheHobbitI read The Hobbit for a read-along hosted by Rick @ Another Book Blog. The read-along ends on June 22, but because I will be participating in a Lord of the Rings read-along hosted by Robert @ 101 Books starting this Thursday, I thought to get The Hobbit out of the way as soon as possible. This wasn’t difficult since The Hobbit was a fast-paced and enjoyable read.

What was it about?

Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End is a hobbit like any other. He sits to six meals a day and enjoys blowing smoke rings and drinking locally-brewed ale. But one day, a mysterious wizard arrives at Bilbo’s doorstep. This wizard is Gandalf, an individual known throughout the Shire for his fireworks and outlandish tales. Since Bilbo has voiced on many occasions a desire to go on an adventure, Gandalf selects the hobbit to accompany thirteen dwarves on a quest to The Lonely Mountain. Smaug the dragon lives there with untold gold and treasures it stole from the dwarves. The leader of the Company of Dwarves, Thorin Oakenshield, son of Thrain, son of Thror, needs Bilbo’s help to reclaim the treasures of his people. Because of his small size, Bilbo is to be The Burglar. He may be an ordinary hobbit at the start of the tale, but Gandalf is convinced that he is exactly what the Company needs. The next morning, at a quarter to 11 , Bilbo reluctantly leaves an unfinished meal to join Thorin and his friends on the long journey to the end of the world. They pass through the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood Forest, encountering trolls, elves, goblins, and men along the way. Under the Misty Mountains, in the lake of a hate-filled creature named Gollum, Bilbo finds a ring that when worn makes him invisible. With no little struggle and thanks to the magic ring, Bilbo escapes from Gollum and joins the Company at the other side of the mountains. The ring proves to be a valuable companion, helping Bilbo save his friends from peril. But Smaug is notoriously dangerous, and Bilbo and the dwarves fear they will never again return home.

What did I think of it?

It is not without reason that J.R.R. Tolkien is considered the father of modern High Fantasy. His stories are compelling and his writing is gorgeous. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy are heavily inspired by medieval myth and lore. The Hobbit is really about the journey. Tolkien goes into great pains to describe the world he has invented. The reader feels like he/she is getting an aerial view of  the landscape of Middle-earth. Bilbo, although possessing heroic qualities, is a character I could really relate to. He loves adventures in theory, but in practice, much prefers the comfort and security of his home.

I am grateful to the creators of the LOTR Project for having created an interactive map of Middle-earth. The map at the front of the book is valuable, but because I read The Hobbit on Kindle, I couldn’t easily flip back and forth between the map and the story. I suggest that readers take notes on important events in the story because these events and characters come up again in the trilogy. Here are a few of the questions I asked myself while reading the book:

What if Bilbo never had the ring? Could he have survived his journey to the Lonely Mountain without the ring?

Why does Gandalf choose Bilbo? Why does Gandalf agree to take Bilbo on that adventure?

The formatting of the Kindle version is not perfect, but Tolkien’s illustrations are included and they really enhance the reading experience. The Hobbit is a masterpiece. What I wouldn’t give to be able to write like Tolkien! I am glad Rick hosted the read-along.

Favorite Quote

[Thorin]: “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

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7 thoughts on “The Hobbit, or There and Back Again

  1. Great review, I feel like I should also re-read The Hobbit. I don’t own an e-reader, but I agree that an ebook does not work as well as physical book when there’s a map. With a physical book, you can place a book mark on the map and quickly flip back and forth (I have the feeling that electronic bookmarks aren’t as handy).

    • If you have reflection questions for the read-along, I would love to make read-along posts for it. I really would like to expand on the questions I mentioned in my review. The Hobbit read as a prequel to The Lord of the Rings brings up a lot of important questions about the value of the ring and the qualities that determine a hero.

  2. I read this aloud recently to my son, and now I’m reading it again to the special needs adults I work with. It’s a great story! I have the 50th anniversary edition with Tolkien’s illustrations and I love it. I never questioned it as a child, but this time my question was “how did they get so far, escape from goblins, fight off spiders etc. while having basically nothing to eat or drink for days on end??” Maybe dwarves have extra powers of resilience, but it’s quite extraordinary that Mr. Baggins managed. The ring was necessary to Bilbo, but he also needed the cleverness and strength and courage to use it. I’ll be interested to read your thoughts about it.

    • Gosh. I never thought of that. Bilbo and his friends don’t eat anything for days, do they? That certainly seems odd. The hobbits are used to eating 6 meals a day; that is the number of meals a body builder eats a day. How can a hobbit survive without any food (or drink, the hobbits sure drink a lot 😉 ) ?

      I will write some follow-up posts for the read-along and I hope to include reflections on the questions I mentioned in my review.

  3. Nice review Fariba. The Hobbit and LOTR are precious to me, pardon the pun. They mark the beginning of my love of reading, and credit also goes to my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Banks. Anyway…like the quotation you chose, as it was one I used on my own review. Although Professor Tolkien writes of a fantasy world, there are some brilliant gems of truth therein.

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