The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, directed by Peter Jackson
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The Hobbit or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien
There and Back Again
by J.R.R. Tolkien
What I found while reading The Hobbit is a lighter and less detailed version of Tolkien's world than that found in Lord of the Rings. The story has its dark moments, don't get me wrong, but for me there is something missing from the overall adventure. I definitely appreciated this book more when I was a younger reader.
On the positive side, The Hobbit is a tighter story than The Lord of the Rings, after all it is one book with a beginning and an end. It serves as a magnificent introduction to Tolkien's world of hobbits, wizards, elves, dwarves, and great heroes. The war of good against evil is there, but so is the pull of men's greed, nature in all its glory and the darkness in men (or the representation of men) that taints nature, and of course there are Tolkien's heroes -- the small, insignificant characters who battle and conquer fear, insecurities and incredible odds to beat immense evil.
Bilbo Baggins makes a great Tolkien hero. He is reluctant of course, and thinks he is too small, insignificant and cowardly to play the role of burglar needed by the dwarves. Bilbo is a proud hobbit though, and part Took, not just Baggins. Tooks take to adventures, so he accepts the challenge and goes off with thirteen dwarves to reclaim treasure stolen by Smaug the Dragon and to restore the King of the Mountain. The dwarves are led by Thorin, the her to the mountain's kingdom and they are all led by Galdalf the Grey, wizard extraordinaire.
Gandalf the Grey and Bilbo are both central in this adventure. The thirteen dwarves are named and described in the book, but only a few of them are really well characterized. The rest are pretty much interchangeable and don't get many lines throughout the whole adventure. Tolkien says that "Dwarves are no heroes," and for much of the story they are not, and neither is Bilbo! The adventure is all about the journey as they all find their hearts and courage.
Some of the adventures are more exciting than others. One of the most detailed chapters in the book where the reader actually feels the danger is "Chapter V: Riddles in the Dark," where Bilbo finds "the Ring" and meets Gollum. The two engage in a series of creepy and wonderful riddles that provide the reader with a dark, eerie and a true life or death moment for Bilbo. The other adventure that really pops takes place in "Chapter VIII: Flies and Spiders." This is where Bilbo begins to find his courage, an ability to lead and gains the respect of the dwarves.Of course there are the scenes with Smaug the Dragon... but I won't go into those, you'll have to read the book.
Overall this is a great adventure and I still believe that it is geared toward young adults. However, I can't think of anyone who loves Tolkien's works who won't read The Hobbit as an introduction to the amazing, incredible world he created. Worldbuilding? Tolkien was the master! !
Going back to the movie(s) by Peter Jackson, I can't wait to see how he depicts Bilbo's adventures and all the great characters he meets on his way. For example: the Necromancer was a bit of a mystery in the book, but I understand that he makes an appearance in the movie, so I'll wait and see how that turns out. And, Smaug the Dragon? I can't wait to see that sly old beauty...
This post is for my daughter who is a Tolkien fan-a-tic and whose birthday just happens to be today!
Happy Birthday, Vanessa!!!