Book Review: The Hobbit

the-hobbitTitle: The Hobbit

Author: J.R.R. Tolkien

Series: prequel to The Lord of the Rings, I guess? Do people consider it part of that “series?”

Edition: Paperback

Seasonal Reading Challenge: None

Blurb: Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit who wanted to be left alone in quiet comfort. But the wizard Gandalf came along with a band of homeless dwarves. Soon Bilbo was drawn into their quest facing evil orcs, savage wolves, giant spiders, and worse unknown dangers. Finally, it was Bilbo – alone and unaided – who had to confront the great dragon Smaug, the terror of an entire countryside.

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Okay. I have to say it, and I know it is probably a very unpopular opinion.

I don’t like this book.

Ugh, I know I’m supposed to. I love the fantasy genre, and Papa Tolkien was the great-granddaddy of it all. But I can’t. This book annoys me to no end.

Here’s another unpopular opinion – I think the movie actually did the story better justice, even with all the extra bits thrown in (hello, Legolas? and random girl elf?). It made the quest of the dwarves seem a bit more important than just, “Hey, our gold got stolen. Let’s go get it back!” It gave more of the history, which made the plight of the dwarves seem so much more real and serious. And yes, I get that this was originally supposed to be a children’s book, and most of that would be way too dense for your average child, but still. Especially knowing what lies ahead in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, this feels really silly.

Slight spoiler ahead – this book is 70 years old, but still. Just in case.

Another opinion that will probably be unpopular with Tolkien fans – I hate Thorin. I do. He’s terrible, especially at the end. The dragon left the Mountain, looking for the dwarves, and met its end at Lake-town. Okay. Then the people from Lake-town come up to the mountain to basically say, “Hey, we killed your dragon for you. You know have all your treasure and gold and stuff. How about you help us out since it wrecked our town? Especially since some of that treasure is stuff that the dragon stole from us too.” What does Thorin do? Pitches a hissy fit and threatens to go to war with them! Really, Thorin! Really! He’s supposed to be the leader of the dwarves, becoming King under the Mountain, and he acts like this? I was glad he died in the battle.

Gandalf was a bit irritating too. He starts off with them, and then once the trip is fully underway, he takes off. Then appears at the end to basically do nothing. He’s pretty useless as a wizard in this book, although he does redeem himself in LotR. So I guess he’s forgiven.

But yeah, I tried. I really did! I feel like a bad fantasy fan, but what can I say. GoodReads rating: 3 stars, but only out of obligation.

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Teaser Tuesday – January 3rd, 2017

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Sigh.

It’s one thing to say you are going to try to blog every day. It’s another thing to actually remember to post the blog instead of saving it as a draft. Back dating this one and then moving on!

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted now by The Purple Booker. Here are the rules if you would like to play along:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.

“You had better wait here,” said the wizard to the dwarves; “and when I call or whistle begin to come after me – you will see the way I go – but only in pairs, mind, about five minutes between each pair of you. Bombur is fattest and will do for two, he had better come alone and last. Come on Mr. Baggins! There is a gate somewhere round this way.”

~~ The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

So, confession time. I am a big fan of The Lord of the Rings, however I was introduced to the story not from the books, but from the movies that came out back in 2001-2003 (holy crap that was 15 years ago!! where has the time gone!!!). And believe me, I was OBSESSED with those movies. Bought the extended special edition DVDs and watched ALL the extras, all the actor interviews, all the stuff on the creative team and how they built this world. I wanted to move to New Zealand.

I have only read the trilogy of books once, right before the last movie came out, because I was so worried that Frodo was going to die and wanted to be prepared if that were the case. I may have read them a second time at some point in the years between, but I don’t think I have. I am currently going back through the books reviewed on Mark Reads and reading the books and the reviews together, just because it’s fun, and he read the trilogy, but started with The Hobbit.

I confess that I really didn’t like The Hobbit the first time I read it, which was right after finishing The Return of the King. I think it was because after reading about this big, epic fight to save mankind and all of Middle Earth, reading about a bunch of dwarves who just wanted their gold back seemed a little silly. There’s more to it than that, of course, and I think seeing The Hobbit movies in recent years has helped me build that world a bit more. So we’ll see if I appreciate it more this go around.

I’m not a hero . . .

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I’m going on an adventure!

After many years of waiting, of fan petitions, of hysteria, The Hobbit is here, folks!

I will start off by saying that I was a little concerned when I heard they were making three movies. I loved Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and it made sense that it was made into three separate films. They were three separate books, with a very deep, rich storyline. The Hobbit is only one book, and a much simpler one at that. Splitting it into three movies sounded crazy, even though they are bringing in more material from other books and fleshing out things that only get mentioned in a sentence or two. As I settled into my chair in the theater and the familiar Howard Shore music swept over me, all concerns faded away. It didn’t matter if the movies were perfect. We were headed back to Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth again. It was like visiting an old friend.

The movie begins with two actors from the original trilogy, Ian Holm as older Bilbo Baggins and Elijah Wood as Frodo. It warmed my heart just to see those two! It is just before Bilbo’s big party and Bilbo is writing his book about his adventures. I had to chuckle just a little when Frodo says he’s going to go read in the woods and wait for Gandalf, since of course, that’s how Fellowship of the Ring opens. Bilbo tells the story of Erebor, the dwarf kingdom that was taken over by Smaug the Terrible, a large dragon. This shows one of Peter Jackson’s strengths – balancing the sweeping epic story with smaller, more personal scenes. It’s a necessary skill for this story and he is a master at it.

Then we go back in time to when Bilbo was a younger, more carefree hobbit. Gandalf shows up and asks if he’s interested in coming on an adventure. Bilbo doesn’t think anyone in the Shire is interested in adventures, least of all him. And then the dwarves show up. Dwalin, Balin, Fili, Kili, Oin, Gloin, Bifor, Bofor, Bombar, Nori, Dori, and Ori. And of course, Thorin Oakenshield, grandson of the last King of Erebor. Here’s where I think the movie improves on the book. When I first read The Hobbit, I didn’t care for it. The story seemed silly. I didn’t care about a bunch of dwarves who just want to get their gold back. Who cares if they get their gold back? But Jackson has changed it slightly. Getting the gold back is just a side benefit. What these dwarves want is to reclaim their homeland of Erebor. Suddenly, the stakes seem much higher.

Casting – let’s start with the obvious – Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins. What perfect casting! Freeman plays perfectly this everyday man who is thrown into extraordinary events. He is self-deprecating, yet stands up for what he believes in. Returning actors from the first trilogy all sparkle, most notably Ian McKellan as Gandalf and Hugo Weaving as Elrond. My new fictional crush, however, is Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. He is dark and brooding and everything you’d expect of a young prince trying to take his people home.

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What’s not to like?

The movie was fun, if a bit long. They could have edited a bit more, but truthfully, I didn’t care. It was so much fun visiting Middle Earth again. So even if you are skeptical of this movie, go see it. Don’t get caught up in any of the hype or criticism. Just enjoy a rollicking romp through fantasy.