Monday, 10 December 2012

Book Review: 'The Hobbit' by J.R.R Tolkien

The Hobbit
by J.R.R Tolkien

Published: 21st September, 1937
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Bought From Amazon
Format: E-Book
Pages: 351

Cover Art

This version of the cover is beautiful and iconic. For some reason, green is an underused cover colour so it's nice to see it splashed on here!

Plot Synopsis

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

Written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when it was first published in 1937. Now recognized as a timeless classic, this introduction to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth recounts of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent. The text in this 372-page paperback edition is based on that first published in Great Britain by Collins Modern Classics (1998), and includes a note on the text by Douglas A. Anderson (2001). Unforgettable!

My Rating:

First Lines:

'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.'

Pocket-Size Review

Now I understand why this book is a classic. SO GOOD. Fantasy does it for me these days.

Highs: It is pure, unadulterated adventure-quest goodness. Humor/scare balance is perfect too.
Lows: Some bits were a little boring and it feels a bit TOO linear at times.


Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold

I have wanted to read this book for aggges; it is a book I felt I really SHOULD read but I never really got around to it somehow. However, the film version comes out this week so I felt I really MUST read it so I can go and see that! I now wish I had got around to reading about the adventures of the little well to-do hobbit and his dwarf crowd sooner- it was amazing! 

Bilbo Baggins begins his adventure as a bit of a Dursley. He is conventional, set in his ways and very proper, 'This hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was Baggins. The Bagginses had lived in the neighbourhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable.' Bilbo has never done a controversial thing in is life, and he doesn't intend to start now. That, of course, soon does change, when a band of dwarves roll up in his living room and he is plunged into a world of goblins and elves who don't take too kindly to a band of dwarves (plus hobbit) pillaging their land. I loved the change in Bilbo, as he goes from timid creature of home comforts to a much braver, more loyal, more intelligent and more scrupulous Bilbo. He embraces the side of him that longs for adventure and excitement and, as Gandalf wisely predicts, 'There is a lot more in him than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself.' There is definitely more to Bilbo than I guessed, and I love how he kept surprising me both with his bravery and with impressive things he could do that he seemed to think nothing of. I didn't expect Bilbo to have any special 'powers' so to speak, I expected him to be more of an underdog who does well against the odds, but he is actually very competent! I liked that!

You really got a sense of Middle Earth as the tiny heroes marched through it, and a sense of the vastness and variety of the land. From the plush green grass of The Shire, filled with cosy hobbit holes and nosey neighbours, to the dank vile holes of the goblin caves, to the mystery and magic of dangerous Mirkwood; I adored it all. I assume the world is expanded upon a lot more in Lord of the Rings, and I would love to read much more about it. You feel that danger lurks round every corner, yet, at the same time, you know that something new and interesting and magical probably will be too. Tokien's imagination is vast and complex and I actually wished this book was double the length so that I could see more of Middle Earth and meet more characters!

I think I loved the villains of the piece most of all; the monsters who attempt to thwart Bilbo's journey across Middle Earth. They go from the violent and brutish to the sly and spindly, to the confusing and ancient and all were genuinely quite scary! Even though I felt that a children's book probably wouldn't see Bilbo getting crushed to a bloody pulp in some gruesome way, I did wonder many a time how he was going to find a way out of his current pickle, and if all the dwarves would make it. Suffice to say, you will have to read it if you want to find out!

For me, Gollum was a true star in this novel. His riddling with Bilbo was my favourite part of the book, and his setting of misty lake in a pitch black cave was just so wondrously creepy, and totally befit his own pretty horrible appearance. Imagine finding yourself on the bank of a vast underground cave in the pitch darkness and utter silence, and then spying Gollum floating towards you on a little boat, with his huge bulbous eyes and white scaly skin glowing in the dark. I found that to be a good way.

Overall, I would recommend that everybody reads this book. Even if you aren't in to children's books, even if you aren't in to fantasy, I think you will still enjoy it. It is a book that you can't really go wrong with; it is utterly charming.

Other Thoughts

This Book has Inspired me to Read: People are generally less than flattering about the Lord of the Rings series, but reading this made me really want to give it a go! Maybe one day.

Memorable Quotes: 

'I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led. And through the air. I am he that walks unseen...I am the clue-finder, the web-cutter, the stinging fly. I was chosen for the lucky number...I am he that buries his friends alive and drowns them and draws them alive again from the water. I came from the end of a bag, but no bag went over me...I am the friend of bears and the guest of eagles. I am Ringwinner and Luckwearer; and I am Barrel-rider.'

'Where did you go to, if I may ask?' said Thorin to Gandalf as they rode along.
To look ahead,' said he.
And what brought you back in the nick of time?'
Looking behind,' said he.'

'Is it nice, my preciousss? Is it juicy? Is it scrumptiously crunchable?'

Three Words to Describe this Book: Epic, Adventure-filled, Charming.

But Don't Take My Word For It...

  • Blog Reviews of  'The Hobbit': 

'The captivating writing style of J.R.R. Tolkien is what stops the story from becoming a boring and rather linear series of events. He manages to spin this tale in such a way that I have not once read this book in more than one sitting, there is simply no way that any reader will be able to put this book down.'

'Having read the Lord of the Rings prior to this I was expecting something along the same lines. Although it lacks the same epic style of story telling, yet it is well suited to the plot and a fitting precursor to its darker, grimmer descendant. It provides a window into a younger world, focussing on the last vestiges of carefree happiness before the War of the Ring shook Middle-Earth on its foundations. All said, it fully justifies the cult following that it has built up over the years and is an extremely relaxing and refreshing read.'


  1. Well, I am currently reading the Lord of The Rings, and I have to admit, i have put it down at page 60. I am planning to pick it up again, soon, but I am really busy and I keep losing interest in the book. There is a small summary of The Hobbit in my edition of the Lord Of The Rings, so I know the story, and i like it.
    I might get around to finish this series, after all
    Your reader,

  2. I read this (actually, it was read to me) when I was young (8th grade) and I'm not a fantasy fan, but I loved it. I actually read it again as an adult and still enjoyed it very much. I would recommend it as you said, even if you aren't a fantasy fan. It's great world-building.

  3. I haven't read this either, or anything else by Tolkien. Like you I really feel that I should read it, and hope to eventually. But for now, I'm at least enjoying the movies.

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