The Big Read

No. 25 – The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien Read 26/08/13

After the moralistic Black Beauty I wanted to read something which was going to be fun and I knew I would enjoy. I had previously started The Hobbit the year before as I wanted to read it before the film came out but I also had to write lots of course-work and make a hat shaped like a tank (long story) so I never got around to finishing it.

However, when I did pick it up again I read it in I think 3 days. I was not disappointed. I grew up watching the Lord of the Rings films so was fairly familiar with the structure of Middle Earth but even so I think The Hobbit is so easy to get into. It lowers you gently into an incredibly complex universe with humour and leaves you wanting to find out more. You can’t help but like Bilbo Baggins, he is so relateably human, I felt that his response to the whole adventure thing would be very similar to my own.

The narrative is a classic adventure story which twists and turns as each obstacle is over come in turn. There is what they call in the film industry ‘mild threat’ in that although there are moments where the characters are in peril but you never really believe anything is going to happen to them. As my Dad would always say to me as a child “James Bond never dies”. We get to see a whole host of different monster and villains in The Hobbit my favourite of which is definitely the trolls. Yet, they don’t seem so completely evil as they do in Lord of the Rings which I have since read. The Hobbit feels to me, as the early Harry Potter books do, much more of a children’s story, which can be read a chapter at a time as a bed time story, rather than the epic of biblical proportions which is the rest of Tolkien’s writing on Middle Earth.This is possibly why I have read many a review online claiming it to be superior to Lord of the Rings.

Anyway, I loved The Hobbit. Tolkien creates a world that you just accept as real because he can draw it out of your imagination so skilfully with his choice of language. When I read the description of the Shire for the first time I did imagine the one I had seen in the Peter Jackson film but only because it fitted the description so perfectly. It was as if the picture that Tolkien had painted was so clear it was exactly the same in the minds of everyone who read it. And that helps the world to seem more real because it does not exist alone in my head but in the minds of others in almost exactly the same form. It is as if The Hobbit is an account of some half remember part of our history rather than a work of fiction.

Rating: 5/5

Would recommend to: read before Lord of the Rings to make it easy on yourself.

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