As a child, my mother read fairy tales to me and I loved them. As I got older, I discovered mysteries and thrillers and historical novels. It wasn’t until I was in college and someone gave me The Hobbit that I rediscovered my love of fantasy.
Tolkien totally hooked me in The Hobbit. Hooked me on “The Lord of the Rings.” Hooked me on Gandalf and hobbits and dwarves and Middle Earth. And hooked me on fantasy for adults, with a love affair for the genre that has continued all these decades later, right down to this day. The Hobbit earned its Five-Star place on my bookshelf and can never be replaced. “Firsts” are like that.
I followed up The Hobbit with the rest of “The Lord of the Rings” series, of course. I even have my beat-up, often-read, original books from back then, although my old version of The Hobbit itself is missing. No worries, I have the boxed set from when the Jackson films were released.
So what is it that I loved about this book? Everything! I think it’s probably the easiest read of the series. A simpler tale, with fascinating characters that give us a glimpse into Middle Earth. A glimpse that was not nearly long enough, though. It gave a rich and complex world, with depths, layers, and colors that insinuated themselves into my mind’s eye. I could “see” that world so clearly!
We get introduced to those wonderful hobbits through Bilbo, our reluctant hero. I loved learning about hobbits. Bilbo jumped straight into my heart and quite made himself at home there. So much so that I had to have Tolkien memorabilia, such as calendars. I still have those old calendars from the 1970s.
Gandalf was intriguing. A wizard? Magical? Mysterious? Oh, definitely right up my alley!
And the dwarves with their rich history and songs became believable in Tolkien’s hands.
My first look at Gollum gave me a creature so very different from anything I’d read before. I was fascinated and repulsed by him, while also feeling a little sorry for him.
The plot and story move along majestically, leading us through a world painstakingly detailed. Bilbo set off on an adventure that had me totally rooting for him and his company. His insistence that he’s not a thief, not an adventurer and only wants his comfortable life is endearing. And when he actually went along on the adventure, I was thrilled. There’s more to Bilbo than even he knows and that’s always fun. Tolkien builds his characters with the same detail he builds his world.
Tolkien’s writing is, of course, superb. He’s a master wordsmith and storyteller. His prose lightly echoes the times he writes about. That goes a long way toward making his “history” of Middle Earth so believable. The style is rather formal, adding to that historical feeling. But it has lots of lovely descriptions that I enjoy and that gave me the texture of Tolkien’s world.
This book is a classic for a reason and better reviewers than me have given it much thought and analyses, with lots of logical, academic reasons as to why it’s great. For me it’s much more visceral. Did it touch my heart? Absolutely! Did I care about the characters? You bet! Did I want to go back to that world? Oh yes, please!
This is on my list to do a re-read, but with the illustrated version linked below. I’m adding the audible version because I want to experience that and the sample I played was wonderful.
With the first part of the movie out, this is the perfect time to enjoy this awesome book. Or if you’ve already read it, why not re-visit Middle Earth? I’ll be there, too.
You can buy The Hobbit at Amazon.