I’m going to spare you all the excuses and stories and just say that I’m bad at this sort of thing, in case you haven’t noticed (I’m starting to think I have commitment issues…).
That aside, let’s cut to the chase shall we?
The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Remember how I not-so-openly admitted to having read The Hunger Games only because the movie was coming out? Well that may or may not have been the case here.
I do love The Lord of the Rings, and have many times tried to get going on the novels. Unfortunately when it comes to books sometimes I’m about as focused as a goldfish that’s been swimming in Red Bull.
The Hobbit being adapted to film was, thankfully, the push I needed.
My “introduction” to The Hobbit was not a good one, to say the least. I had people tell me that they couldn’t get through it because the first few chapters were very slow, and if you go back quite a bit you’ll see that’s part of what turned me off of Brave New World.
Now I can understand why people feel the start was slow, but I managed to get through it without much trouble. After that things do liven up a bit—but only a little bit. While saying they encounter trolls, stay with elves, Bilbo meets Gollum, and the party gets captured by goblins and spiders and meet a bear (oh my!), it isn’t as exciting as it sounds. Each of these setbacks feels very short and don’t really seem to have a reason other than Thorin and his company being the most unlucky set of dwarves to ever roam Middle Earth with poor Bilbo dragged along for the ride. Again I have to point out this IS NOT a bad thing. It’s padding, sure, but it is entertaining padding that does result in some of the only character growth in the entire book.
I wish I could say more about the details of the events between leaving the Shire and getting to Lake Town, but really… I can’t. It’s there just to keep people from watching, and to hopefully keep them from realizing they are reading another Tolkien book that is basically about fantasy creatures taking really really long walks.
Laketown is portrayed in a very minimal way, with the real focus being on how miserable people in the town are thanks to politics (what a shocker) and how Bard is apparently the only “normal” citizen that is allowed to have a name.
The antics inside of The Lonely Mountain are fairly entertaining if you enjoy stories about betrayal and crazy dwarf greed, but the stuff that follows is more padding but this time cut down drastically due to Bilbo being knocked unconscious. After all is said and done Bilbo returns home, only to find himself in the middle of a bunch of humorous situations due to the fact that everybody believed him dead.
And everybody who isn’t Thorin, Fili, or Kili lived happily ever after.
As a whole, I can understand why some people might be turned off by The Hobbit. It’s short, with a slow start, little character development, and too much going on but not enough time to really flesh it out. But I loved it.
When you strip the story down, it is essentially a heroic tale about slaying a dragon. A very unconventional one, yes. But you know what? It works. The development we see in Bilbo is great and I feel it makes up for the lack of it in other characters, and while most events in the story are short there are in fact some gems: Riddles with Gollum, the stay with Beorn, Bilbo’s conversation with Smaug, Bard slaying Smaug (opposed to Thorin or Bilbo doing it), to name a few.
If you find yourself curious with some spare time, I’d say The Hobbit is worth a shot. Before buying it I’d recommend trying to read the first few pages, just to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into since it really isn’t for everybody. And if you think you can power through it, you won’t be disappointed.