Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Hobbit or There and Back Again by J. R. R. Tolkien


hisked away from his comfortable, unambitious life in his hobbit-hole by Gandalf the wizard and a company of dwarves, Bilbo Baggins finds himself caught up in a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon.

My thoughts:
I've never read a Tolkien book before.  I've seen the Lord of the Rings movies and had thought more than once that I would pick up one of the books to read, but it never happened.  Since I thought part one of the movie for The Hobbit was coming out in December I thought it would be perfect timing to listen to this on audio.  I was inspired by Shelia over at Book Journey who posted a review of the audio a little while back.  It turns out part one isn't until December 2012 and part two is December 2013 so I guess there was no rush. 

I wanted to love this book, I really did, but it never reached that point for me.  It felt overly long at times with a lot of needless repetition of facts.  Also, the names threw me.  I should have pulled out our paperback copy to glance at the names in because for the whole story I thought the dragon's name was Smog and it is really Smaug.  I kept thinking the smoke from his nostrils and fire breath would look like smog, but I don't even know if that term was used in 1937 when the book was written.  (I could look it up I suppose, but I didn't realize the publication date until I looked that up just now either.)  The names of the dwarves were so similar with their rhyming pattern that I wasn't really sure who was who or if it really mattered.  My children seemed to be able to keep track of them and follow the story better than I could at times.  We'd get into traffic or I would be looking for a turn and realize I stopped listening and now I was at a bit of a loss as to what was going on.  Luckily they could usually fill me in.

The idea of Bilbo going on a journey had some excitement to it.  I know they showed bits and pieces of his journey in the other movies when he is explaining how he came to have the ring.  Although I then wondered why it took Golum so long to start tracking the ring to get it back since as I recall quite a few years pass before Frodo ends up with the ring.  I guess that will be added incentive to read the next book.

I can see how this magical land could really occupy one's imagination.  I loved the first Lord of the Rings movie so much I actually saw it twice in the theater which I never do.  One thing that bothers me about these stories is the lack of female characters.  Except for a wife here or there women were pretty much absent from the whole story.  Maybe it was the time it was written in or the audience that was intended, but I am afraid that not all stories have come as far as I would like to see in the years since this was written. 
Most likely I will either read or listen to the rest of the books, but I feel like I need a break from this world for a bit to visit somewhere more cheerful and fun for a while before jumping back in.  My daughter requested a chance to  listen to music in the car for a while because the story sometimes gave her a headache.  Perhaps it was the songs!

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read this since I was young, though I keep thinking about it. Part of the reason I haven't yet is that I'm scared I won't like it as much as I did then.