ebook, 388 pages.
Read from November 23 to December 10, 2012.
Another throwback review to that time I attempted to tackle Tolkien again.
Well I finally made it through my second Tolkien book. This was my second attempt at reading the Hobbit and I successfully made it through (can’t say that for the trilogy unfortunately). People are going to hate me for saying this but I still don’t enjoy him. I appreciate what the man has done for the fantasy genre, recognize that his writing is a reflection of his generation and that this was really the first of it’s kind, and that it has also shaped millions of childhoods but, he’s still not for me. I feel that I’ve been tainted by my generation and all of the buzz as I don’t think I’ll ever be able to really see Tolkien’s work in any other light or fully understand the impact that he had.
What killed this book for me was that I kept craving more character development and dynamic plots rather than descriptions of scenes… For example the only characters you really remember are Bilbo, Gandalf, Thorin and Bombur (but only because he is fat). There are at least 10 other dwarf characters in this novel that I can’t recall and that really were not required to be there. If you read this book by itself, you end up knowing so little about the characters, other than that Gandalf is a wizard, Bilbo is a hobbit and most hobbits don’t like adventures and that the dwarves want their gold back from a dragon. I recognize that this is the story that started it all for fantasy and that it was written for children but I just feel that everything could have been developed so much further! I suppose that’s where the next generation of fantasy writers took it. For example, I couldn’t believe how anti-climatic the death of the Dragon was! (Spoiler alert here, though I imagine most people are familiar with the plot from either the book or the movie.) I mean the dwarves come all that way, figure out the dragon’s weak spot just to have some random villager kill it in a quick paragraph! I mean, it ended making for a more intriguing ending but it was just so unexpected. Let’s be honest here, the whole book is about the dwarves and how they were going to kill this dragon and then at the very last minute it turns into a civil dispute about the treasure and who owns it and ultimately about honour and friendship instead of killing the dragon. Which is good and all, just not exciting, especially for a children’s book. But maybe that’s the point, children need to learn morals and what better place than a book. Perhaps that’s the fault of modern books is that they cater more towards entertainment than content.
There were however some really intriguing scenes in this book such as when Bilbo interacts with Gollum in the Goblin’s caves. The riddles and execution of this scene was brilliant and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Admittedly, I found Gollum to be the most interesting character in this novel and had I not known a bit about Gollum previously, thanks to the movies and all the buzz about these books, I would have been disappointed not to know more about this strange creature! The other scene I really enjoyed was Bilbo’s conversation with the dragon itself, as the dragon had more personality than most of the characters in the book and I found the scene intense and effective.
The movie actually portrayed more of the story I was envisioning when I set out to read The Hobbit. Though, that’s because it didn’t stick to the main plot and actually developed the main characters so you could get emotionally attached to them.
After all this bitching, I do have to say that the book is good and I did enjoy it. I just found it lacking and I ultimately craved more. I won’t ever be able to appreciate this story or the trilogy the way major fans of Tolkien do but at least I tried!