“Confusticate those dwarves!.” – Bilbo Baggins
I first read The Hobbit at the grand old age of eleven and, at the time, thought it was one of the very best books I had ever encountered. Interestingly enough, more than 25 years later, it still remains a marvelous piece of work in my eyes. As a matter of fact, I just finished re-reading it with my six-year old son and the re-read brought with it the added joy of watching something you grew up with light up your child’s eyes.
Chronicling the intrepid journey of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit of the Shire (with just a little bit too much Took in him for his own good) who is shanghaied from his own tea party by a group of thirteen treasure-seeking dwarves and one irascible wizard, The Hobbit is a delightful read. Bilbo is recruited by the wizard Gandalf to become the official “burglar” for Thorin Oakenshield and his twelve dwarven companions, as they journey across the Edge of the Wild to the far distant Lonely Mountain to face the implacable malevolence of the dragon Smaug.
From troll-hollows to the dreary spider-infested forest of Mirkwood, Tolkien has woven a wonderful adventure, leavened with character, humor, spark and a thread of a greater darkness tracing through the story, evident in the hissing fury of the riddling Gollum and in the deep and abiding malice that lurks behind the conversational tone of Smaug.
It is particularly different to revisit The Hobbit after having read Tolkiens’ larger, more mythic trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, which expanded the world of Middle-Earth exponentially and, to a certain extent, removed it from Bilbo’s more comforting adventure and warmer tale.
All in all The Hobbit is about as close to a perfect bedtime read for the kids as you are likely to find on any shelf.
While The Lord of the Rings has been brought to vivid life in the theatres, The Hobbit is apparently tied up in legal wrangling over the movie rights. Here’s hoping that Peter Jackson gets the chance to bring The Hobbit to the silver screen in the near future. In the meantime, I recommend the 1978 animated feature which was a solid (if short) adaptation featuring Otto Preminger and John Huston among others.
Visit the Tolkien Society, or to learn something more about the creator of Middle-earth, read J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator.
Here’s a real-world hobbit that has scientists puzzled and intrigued.
And here’s a dragon to boot.
You can also find a movie trailer for The Hobbit at iFilm patched together from various sources. No, as far as I know it isn’t real …yet.
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