Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Book Review: The Hobbit

Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start - those lines of advice from The Sound of Music should have been heeded when I launched into reading Tolkien. I can well remember my introduction to Tolkien, finding a one-volume bargain edition of The Lord of the Rings in an outlet village near Chester in England, back in January 2004. I bought it, and though it took me ages, I persevered to read it through. Much later, I realised that The Hobbit was the prior story, the prequel if you will, and so I found a copy in either a secondhand bookshop or a charity shop, but never got round to reading it.

Since then, I've seen the films, and have always meant to get round to reading The Hobbit, or There And Back Again, but never managed it. Until, that is, my recent holiday, when I plunged into the book, and read it over several days! Another reason for reading it is because the scripts have been almost completed for the filming of The Hobbit movie(s - there are going to be two films), the first of which will be out in 2011.

Maria was right - starting at the beginning would be the best place to start. Having read The Hobbit, some of the puzzles and confusing things in the first couple of chapters of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring are explained and assumed! We're told in The Hobbit how Bilbo Baggins (the main character of the story) comes upon the powerful magic ring, and we're introduced to Gandalf the wizard, as well as the characters of dwarves, elves and men, not forgetting Smeagol / Gollum.

As with TLOTR, The Hobbit is the chronicle of an epic journey, to regain the dwarf treasure of Thron, guarded in the Lonely Mountain by Smaug, the dragon. Bilbo Baggins is accompanied by thirteen dwarves (a few more than Snow White had), and they meet many dangers and adventures along the way.

The timing of my reading was fortunate, and provided me with a quote about Gandalf which fitted well into last week's evangelistic talk - about how Gandalf thought of most things, and while he couldn't do everything, he would do a great deal for a friend in a tight corner. Is this how we view God too?

Another interesting point that is repeatedly developed is the value of a creature is not the same as the impression they make. The dwarves continually look down on poor Bilbo Baggins, probably due to his inferior size, yet it's he who gets them out of sticky situations and becomes the most valuable member of their travelling party.

The main moral of the story comes in an extended unveiling of continuous greed, with various parties vying for what they desire, so that they end up being consumed by consumption, consumed for want of being consumers.

If there was a minor criticism, it would be that it's perhaps too short. Sometimes, in a bid to move the story on Tolkien covers long periods of time with short summary statements, and it's on to the next adventure. If only it was slightly longer and we had even more to enjoy of Bilbo and the others.

1 comment :

  1. i've often thought that any friend's library i perused was not worth its salt if it did not contain a copy of The Hobbit. i'm pretty jazzed about the movie actually.