The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

Heldig and The Hobbit in her basket.

Why I Read It: Participated in a great Read-Along over at Snobbery.

Where I Got It: Own it.

Who I Recommend This To: Fantasy buffs, classic lovers, folks with hairy feet fetishes.

Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Company (1997)

Length: 256 pages

Part of me feels like this timeless classic hardly needs a review. But I am going to do it anyway. First off, say ‘Bilbo’ three times fast without snickering. Go on, I will wait over here for the giggles to subside.

I enjoy J. R. R. Tolkien’s works, but I am not a fanatic. For those of you who take him seriously, you may want to avert your eyes from this review.

I really enjoyed The Hobbit. I had not read it since the 6th grade some 20+ years ago. I found all the singing silly and clever at the same time, which I think is appropriate for a children’s book. Gandalf seemed to be a little more tricksy in this novel than in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He did put that secret mark on Bilbo’s door, marking him as a thief and burglar (just what the Dwarves ordered). The Dwarves show up unannounced, in bright, differently-colored cloaks, demanding 5-star hotel service (meal, drink, bed). In some ways, it is the Dwarves that are thieves, stealing Bilbo off to adventure with them. It’s not as simple as ‘get past the dragon that is sitting on our gold’. No! they have to actually make it to the mountain.

There are trolls, and elves, and werebears, and goblins and dark, spooky forests, and spiders of unusual size (SoUS) to over come. And once all that is done and the treasure recovered, the Dwarves have left a long list of ticked off folks and few enough friends. Hence, the War of Five Armies commences. Messy.

All in all, I greatly enjoy Tolkien’s simple plot and expert word play with character and place names. For the linguists out there, Tolkien’s works are riddled with ancient myth and cryptic language references. If you get some of these, you can sit around and feel extra superior as you read your special hardback edition at the cafe while drinking your spiffy fancy tea .

What I Liked: Hairy feet; brightly cloaked Dwarves; talking birds; dogs that can set the table; play on words; the Wargs; the singing; Smaug the dragon; Bard of Lake Town.

What I Disliked: Not a single female anywhere in the book – no female Hobbits, Elves, Wargs, Goblins, birds, ponies…. you get the point. It’s a 256 page long sausage fest.

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6 thoughts on “The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

  1. davidjfuller says:

    Damn… I forgot to have my spiffy fancy tea while reading it! Still time to do that as I read Lord of the Rings. :)

  2. lynnsbooks says:

    I’ve just recently reread this myself – in preparation for the film. I did enjoy it but having also fairly recently reread LoTR it didn’t compare as favourably. Obviously this is aimed at a much younger audience and also isn’t as polished. I still enjoyed it though and I can’t wait for the film.
    Lynn :D

    • nrlymrtl says:

      I believe the Hobbit was written like 20 years prior to LOTR. So, Tolkien took lots of time in creating LOTR – and by the time it was published all the kids who had read The Hobbit were ready to enjoy the adult version.

      • lynnsbooks says:

        I read something about that and also the length of time it took Tolkien to write LoTR. He was just cutting his teeth on The Hobbit. I was talking to one of my friends and telling her I’d been reading it and she was all gushy and saying she read it to her children when they were young – I really liked that. It would make a great book to sit down and read out loud to a younger audience.
        Lynn :D

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