Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Reviews From an HBN (The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien)

It's been a long time since I read this one, so forgive me if this isn't up to my usual standards of thoughtful, thorough reviews *slight sarcasm*

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.Written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when it was first published in 1937. Now recognized as a timeless classic, this introduction to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth recounts of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent.


Alas, I don't seem to have given this one a GoodReads review, and sitting here now trying to write one, I remember why that was in the first place. How does the humble reader review a classic? The obvious answer is, "Well, you just sit down and say what you think of the book! Duh!" Too bad it's a tad more complicated than that. The truth is, sometimes a review just doesn't do justice to a good book. It takes an equally wonderful author to critique a wonderful book and sadly, I am not one of those.

So how about we just forget about a masterpiece of a review, and I'll just ramble around talking about this one? Sound good? You sure? Fantastic.

Bilbo Baggins, elder relative of Frodo, is off on his own adventure when Gandalf the Grey shows up at his hobbit-hole one night with twelve dwarves in tow. These dwarves are looking to reclaim some treasure the dragon Smaug stole from them, and it's going to be a long, dangerous journey. The Baggins in him tells Bilbo to stay at home like a sensible hobbit, but the Took blood from the other side of the family becomes very Tookish indeed, and away he goes!

This one has more charm than The Lord of the Rings, and it's a lot easier to read. Don't get me wrong, there's still the immensity of Middle-earth to delve into, but there's not so much of it this time around. For those who don't know, this is the prequel for LOTR, telling how dear Bilbo discovered the One Ring of Power to start with (an adventure in itself). But there's more to it than that. Bilbo has to outwit trolls, evade marauding orcs, play dangerous games with Gollum,  escape angry elves, face off with Smaug (all on his lonesome, too!), and finally go to battle to defeat the dragon. There's all the majesty of the trilogy present here, but it's much more light-hearted and not nearly so long-winded.

Bilbo himself is a bit more appealing a character than Frodo, to be perfectly honest. Not that there's anything wrong with Frodo; your heart breaks for him as you watch him struggle on. But Bilbo is just so darn lovable! And I mean lovable! Maybe it's something to do with the less weighty task of recovering treasure as opposed to saving the world from supreme evil, but something inspires a little more cheery, cockles-of-your-heart kind of affection for this hobbit. (And I'm not entirely sure that made any sense whatsoever...)

So now that I've made a fool of myself again, let's tally up the count from the BBC's list...oh, lookie here! We're on seven! What's next on the list? Alice in Wonderland, you say? *sigh* If you say so...

'Til then, my friends!

Your humble book nerd,

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