The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien, 1936, Book Review

Bilbo Baggins was a respectable hobbit. He “never had any adventures or did anything unexpected.” Until the wizard Gandalf and an unexpected party of 13 dwarves arrived one day on his doorstep. Suddenly, he found himself off to the Lonely Mountain to retrieve the dwarves’ stolen treasure from Smaug the dragon. The Hobbit is a year-long journey with classic Tolkien adventure.

The Hobbit explains how Bilbo came to find the ring of power and sets the stage for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It introduces hobbits, elves, dwarves, and wizards and some of how they each came to be on Middle Earth. It also, in a veiled way, tells part of Sauron’s tale. It’s a fun, event-filled story all its own but it is NOT a sweeping epic with desperate stakes like LOR. It is merely an exciting treasure hunt.

And this vast difference is why I wonder if The Hobbit will be as successful on the big screen as The Lord of the Rings. The stakes simply are not as high. Don’t get me wrong, it’s loaded with suspense and high action which I expect will make the movie highly entertaining. But it lacks the purpose given to Frodo’s task as well as the deep friendship that develops between Sam and Frodo. Bilbo is on his own among dwarves and his quest rather frivolous. It’s simply not as weighty.

Yet the story holds some surprises and ends with a history-altering event that trumps the quest for gold. In fact, by the end the value of wealth is quite called into question and a few hard lessons are learned. And once again, or rather for the first time, we are shown the nobility of this race called hobbits.

Whether the on-screen version lives up to the book or to the LOR films remains to be seen, but either way, I think we’re in for amazing special effects, some great performances and a story with its own charm. “There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go.” 

Here’s a link to The Hobbit movie trailer.

Here’s the link to my original post, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

And my review of LOR.

9 thoughts on “The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien, 1936, Book Review

  1. Nice review of the Hobbit. I agree about the plot and purpose differing in intesity between Frodo and Bilbo…but then again, I’ve always perceived the Hobbit as a prequel to the Lord of the Rings.

    1. I’ve always seen it that way, too, but I think Peter Jackson and company will be trying to give it a punch all its own, especially it they’re making TWO movies out of it. It will be interesting. And entertaining, I’m sure. But I think it will lack the power of the trilogy.

  2. The trailer looks awesome (to me), but I don’t think I’ll be allowed to watch the movie… yet… My Mom said that I could watch The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings – IF they approve it…
    Great review!
    Erik

  3. Very nice review, and I think you make some very good points regarding what is at stake as regards the story. Without spoiling anything, all I will say is that once the appendices from Tolkien’s work is taken into account, the stakes are much, much higher. I hope that everyone will be surprised at some of the great treats we will have yet to see.

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