Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien - Book Review

I read this book in January this year, well actually I re-read it. I read it for the first time about 10 or 12 years ago I think. It was during my obsession with Lord of the Rings and anything Tolkien. The reason why I chose to read it again is as follows:

I went to see the Hobbit at one of my local cinemas a week or two after it's opening date with my husband. (I don't like pushy crowds, so I rarely attend premieres unless I'm dying to see a movie). Point and case being that I didn't quite agree with it. I had some trouble remembering a lot of the details from the story so it was difficult to judge the contents of the movie, but I remembered enough to feel almost a little offended at all the extra stuff they had jammed into the the movie (Radagast and his ridiculous bunny sleigh being one of those things). It made me feel like I had to read the book again to make sure that I wasn't getting worked up over nothing.

The Sword and Laser Book Club that I am a member of was also having the Hobbit as their book pick for January 2013 so I figured I might as well read it and satisfy my own curiosity while fulfilling my pledge to read 30 books or more this year. So I did, and this is my verdict!

It's the hobbit...It's a classic, badmouthing it feels a bit like swearing in church (if I went to church that is).
I have to admit that The Hobbit is not the most riveting book I have ever read, I find it to be quite charming at times but it was harder to get through it than it was to get through the Lord of The Rings even though The Hobbit is a tiny book.

Tolkien always brings forth nostalgia in me, his books remind me of my childhood and magic and discovery.
I remember really liking the Hobbit when I read it the first time, but now I feel like the descriptions are a bit vague, and I fail to become emotionally invested with the characters (usually that is not a problem for me). Gandalf is portrayed as quite the jerk, and the elves seem silly to me. It might be because this was meant to be a children's book or maybe I have just outgrown it. Still there is something else nagging at me. It just does not seem to fit with the rest of his universe that is represented in Silmarillion or LotR. However I won't linger over my own feelings of slight disappointment, and get down to the story itself.

The story of the Hobbit is widely known so I won't have to tell most of you what it is all about. The dwarves need a master burglar to help them on their journey to the Lonely Mountain to take back their home from Smaug the dragon. Gandalf convinces them that Bilbo is the Hobbit for the job even though Bilbo himself does not want to be part of this adventure at all. In the end he joins them and they travel to Rivendell to see the elves, they encounter Goblins and Hobgoblins and eagles and trolls and a shape shifting man called Beorn before they even get to lonely mountain. When they finally reach Lonely mountain they have no idea of how to deal with Smaug, but as he leaves the mountain one day the problem is solved for them as Smaug is killed by a man from a nearby village he chose to attack. Fter that a great battle is fought at the Lonely mountain as the villagers blame the dwarves for having driven Smaug from the mountain. They are also joined by elves from Fangorn forest if memory serves me right. Let's just say that drama and bloodshed ensues.

The story itself is interesting and a lot happens over the span of few pages which gives the book a good pace. It keeps you entertained and keeps you reading on. In a sense it is a truly epic story about an unlikely hero, which is one of the things I really love about the book. Being an underdog myself I have always cheered for the unlikely hero or the anti-hero. Bilbo was also the only character I even remotely liked this time around.

Sometimes I felt like the story was a bit rushed and that Tolkien could have taken more time to describe events or people more specifically. I just kept feeling like something was missing, I can't really put my finger on it. Maybe my view of the book has been muddled by the movie. There were just so many things I disliked about the movie that I kept analyzing the differences and looking for flaws in the two storylines. Maybe this book is meant to be read in a less aggressive and more laid back manner?

All in all the judgment is that the Literary Pirate is slightly torn, confused and stumped. I like the book, and I don't like it. I have fond memories smudged by present resentment.....hmmm tough one...Any opinions from you scallywags out there?

(c) Anita Olsen Støbakk

Cheers Mateys,
Anita, the literary pirate

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