Book Review of The Hobbit or There and Back Again by J.R.R.Tolkein

Cover to the 1937 first edition, from a drawin...

Cover to the 1937 first edition, from a drawing by Tolkien (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Summary:

The hobbit is my first Tolkein book. This book comes under Children’s literature but it appeals to all ages alike. It is a delectable piece of fantasy. It is the tale of Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit who loves to have more than two breakfasts in the mornings and hear his kettle sing, whose simple life becomes topsy-turvy with Gandalf’s visit. Gandalf, the wizard, appears at his doorstep with thirteen dwarves who seek for one more member to complete their gang to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug, the Magnificent, a large and dangerous dragon. Initially reluctant Bilbo, plunges into the scheme to prove that he isn’t just “a little fellow bobbing and puffing on the mat.”

The company embarks on a journey to the lonely Mountain to recapture the dwarves’ lost treasure from Smaug. Bilbo is promised a share of the treasure if they succeed in regaining it. Encounters with man-eating trolls, cave-dwelling goblins, elves and giant spiders, conversations with Smaug the dragon, witnessing a bloody battle are the adventures which befall him testing Bilbo’s endurance and fidelity. There are also lighter moments: good fellowship, welcome meals, laughter and song.

Remarks:

The book describes Hobbits as “little people, about half our height, smaller than bearded dwarves. Hobbits have no beards. There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which helps them to disappear when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along, making a noise like elephants which they can hear a mile off.”

Tolkein here laces his prose with humour that makes both children and adults smile.

In the beginning Bilbo is just baggage for the dwarves,(In this book he uses dwarves as the plural form of dwarf) but later he proves his sagacity. He rescues the dwarves from giant spiders and from imprisonment in the elves’ dungeons with the help of luck and a ring which confers its wearer invisibility. The dwarves’ regard for him rises as he appears as saviour not once, but many times. He is the luckwearer and the ringwinner.

Later he even goes to the extent of taking decisions on his own. Even though Bilbo becomes more fiercer and bolder as the adventure ensues, tenderness does not leave his heart, and he does not hold back tears when he is grief-stricken.

The story is told by an omniscient narrator maintaining the style throughout the novel, and never forgetting that the tale is just a tale, a story told by a story teller to another person.

Tolkein’s style of writing is straightforward and exact. His descriptions are vivid and it pops out of the book:
“There was a dim sheet of water no longer overshadowed, and on its sliding surface there were dancing and broken reflections of clouds and of stars”

He includes riddles and beautiful, image-evoking poetry , and detailed illustrations in this book that make reading this novel a delight.

A picturesque verse from the book:

Roads go ever ever on,

Over rock and under tree,

By caves where never sun has shone,

By streams that never find the sea;

Over snow by winter sown,

And through the merry flowers of June,

Over grass and over stone,

And under mountains in the moon.

Roads go ever ever on

Under cloud and under star,

Yet feet that wandering have gone

Turn at last to home afar.

Eyes that fire and sword have seen

And horror in the halls of stone

Look at last on meadows green

And trees and hills they long have known.

This book is written only to entertain and it is no allegory, yet there are tiny globules of wisdom scattered in the novel:

“Now things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome may make a good tale”

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”-

I feel this quote is the underlying message the writer divulges to the reader.
This book is a must read for all Tolkein fans and anyone who wants to give hardcore fantasy a shot.

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