Saturday, December 15, 2012

Review: The Hobbit

The Hobbit
by J.R.R. Tolkien
Published: September 21, 1937 (first edition)

My review:

Bilbo Baggins is a Hobbit who enjoys his creature comforts and a quiet respectable life in the Shire. This all ends when he is payed a visit by the wizard Gandalf the Grey. Soon Bilbo's home is overflowing with dwarves and he finds himself agreeing to join them on their quest to reclaim their kingdom from an evil dragon. Along the way, Bilbo stumbles into all kinds of adventures and meets Gollum, a nasty creature who changes the course of Bilbo's life with a game of riddles...

The Hobbit is now considered a prequel to The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien later changed the story to match the events in The Lord of the Rings and how Bilbo came to find the ring in Gollum's cave. I loved The Lord of the Rings when I read it in 2001-2002 and I read it before I read The Hobbit. I think that is the reason that my expectations were not met the first time I read it in 2002. I was expecting a story more similar to The Lord of the Rings in tone, with an epic feel. Instead it is more lighthearted. I felt disappointed and decided that I didn't like the book. Well with the upcoming film adaptation by Peter Jackson, I thought it would be a good time to reread the story. This time, my reaction was quite different!

Ten years after my first reading, I was able to appreciate the story as it was. I loved the character of Bilbo Baggins and could relate to him perhaps better than I could relate to Frodo. Like Bilbo, I am a person who likes a quiet life and dreams of adventure from the safety of my home! I liked how Bilbo grew over the course of his adventure and became this unwitting hero. I also loved how Gandalf believed in him and saw what he was capable of. 

It was interesting to learn more about the dwarves of Middle Earth and their history. Thorin is something of a complex character. At times I admired him and at times I was annoyed with him, particularly his decisions that nearly led to war. 

I enjoyed the humor particularly from the scene with the trolls and I loved the scenes where Bilbo meets Gollum and they have the riddle contest. The story may not have the epic good vs. evil themes of The Lord of the Rings but there is still adventure to be found and some deeper meaning. The book explores the themes of greed, revenge, and holding onto the past as well as having courage and wisdom and stepping out of your comfort zone.

I look forward to rereading The Hobbit and getting more from the story with each reread and I look forward to rereading The Lord of the Rings and having a deeper appreciation for Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves.


  1. I love the riddle contest so so much! I really should reread this as it's been years and the contest plus the dragon and dwarves are the only elements I really remember. I read it before LOTR and found it more accessible but would love to get into Bilbo's head as an adult now.

  2. I originally read the Hobbit before LOTR and one of my favorite things about it is that, prior to the LOTR movies coming out, you didn't really know the significance of everything. I like the innocence of it, that it's just a lovely story. Tolkien originally wrote it for his children, whereas LOTR is more of an adult story, and I love that it's really in keeping with that idea.


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