Tuesday, 8 January 2013

#CBR5 Book 3. "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien

Page count: 285 pages
Rating: 4 stars

This is the first time I read The Hobbit myself. Many years ago, while the husband was still my boyfriend, he discovered that while I had read The Lord of the Rings several times, and in more than one language (Norwegian, then English), I had never actually read The Hobbit. I was never a huge fan of the long preface that explained about hobbits in LOTR, and frankly am one of the many people who think the first stretch of book, where they walk and walk and nearly get eaten by a tree and then walk some more (before Aragorn shows up, frankly) is dreadfully boring, and I didn't really see why I'd want to read a kid's book all about hobbits. More fool me, right?

Having already spent several pleasant weeks reading The Wind in the Willows to me, the now husband decided to read me The Hobbit. At the time, I was living in Edinburgh and he was still at University in St. Andrews, so we didn't see each other more than every other weekend or so. It meant that the reading took quite some time, but was totally worth it. Read out loud a chapter or two at time every time we saw each other, I totally fell in love with the story of the book (even though it features NO women whatsoever - seriously Tolkien, I still hate you for your lack of female characters).

Do I really need to summarise the plot, what with the movie being in the cinemas and all right now (don't get me started on why they needed to make a nearly 3 hour movie to adapt 94 pages of book, by the way, it'll get ugly). Here you go, one paragraph:

Bilbo Baggins is a staid little hobbit living a life of relative comfort who gets whisked away on an action-packed and frequently dangerous adventure with a band of mostly merry dwarfs, on a quest to reclaim their ancient home and treasure from a big and evil (but totally super cool) dragon. Along the way Bilbo finds a ring that will become really significant later in Middle Earth history, and discovers that he is braver and cleverer than many people thought.

Upon re-reading, I discovered some things I had completely forgotten. Bilbo is cooler than I remembered, and Smaug is pretty awesomely evil. I had no recollection of what a greedy and selfish douche Thorin was though. Seriously, dude, mountain full of gold and you won't share a tiny bit with the people whose village was destroyed and who helped you actually secure your treasure. For shame. Also, most of the dwarfs really are nothing more than a string of names, with no characterisation whatsoever. They're just an interchangeable band of dudes with beards, and pretty useless the lot of them. When they're not being rescued by Gandalf, it's Bilbo who has to save the day. These things took away a bit of my enjoyment. It's still a cool story though, made all the better because not all the walking is described in as much detail as in LOTR. 

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