Genres: Classics, Fantasy & Magic, Media Tie-In, Young Adult
Buy on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
Librarian note: an alternate cover for this edition can be found here.Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf, and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an unexpected journey ‘there and back again’. They have a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon.The prelude to The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit has sold many millions of copies since its publication in 1937, establishing itself as one of the most beloved and influential books of the twentieth century.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is a classic novel that is the prelude to The Lord of the Rings. In the novel we learn more about Frodo’s uncle Bilbo, and how he came to possess “The One Ring to Rule Them All.” Gandalf enlists Bilbo as a burglar to help a band of dwarves reclaim their birthright, and defeat the mighty dragon Smaug. What is great about this book is that readers learn how many of the characters from LOTR first meet, Middle Earth’s past wars, and why Gollum had wanted revenge against Frodo. The tale is exciting, and filled with many funny and dangerous moments.
I read LOTR many years ago, and saw all three of the film adaptations from the Hobbit. As usual, this was a good and bad thing. My prior knowledge was good, because (as far as LOTR is concerned) I had read the books in the order they were written. I was able to read the novel with knowledge of the consequences of the characters’ actions. This made reading the novel a bit bittersweet, because knowing the characters’ fates gave me a different perspective than someone who may have read the Hobbit before LOTR.
My prior knowledge was a bad thing, because I think the action scenes were much more thrilling in the films, than in the novel. This has nothing to do with the films’ special effects, but the writing. Tolkien’s handling of the epic battle scenes was a bit anti-clamatic, and written similarly to the non-action scenes, so they lacked urgency. Battles broke out, characters died, and it was no big whoop. Very disappointing!
The Hobbit and its companion, The Lord of the Rings, are both banned books. Strangely enough, this isn’t something that happened long ago, but the books have been banned in recent years. Why you may ask? According to Tolkien’s Collector’s Guide:
“The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are banned from schools and libraries across the USA with some regularity. The ALA Banned Books Week website has J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings listed as “Burned in Alamagordo, N. Mex. (2001) outside Christ Community Church along with other Tolkien novels as satanic. Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, Mar. 2002, p. 61.” Did that make our remaining few hundred million copies just a tad more valuable as collectibles?”
Do I Recommend?
I enjoyed it immensely. If you are a fan of classic fantasy, then there’s no way you can skip reading The Hobbit. It is a wonderful adventure story that will keep the young and old entertained. However, I didn’t necessarily find the novel hard to put down, I still would recommend it as a good read.
Have you read any of Tolkien’s novels? If so, which book is your favorite?