The Hobbit (Prelude to The Lord of the Rings) Review
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I’ve been acquainted with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books for most of my life, having been blessed with lovely patient dedicated readers for parents and an older brother who asked to listen to them at the mature age of 5. But it can be disturbing when you’re 4 years old to hear the darkness of The Lord of the Rings—and so at the time I remember liking The Hobbit much better. And rightly so—The Hobbit was written by Tolkien for his children, after all, and takes place in a considerably less oppressive time in the world of Middle Earth than that of the later books—evil isn’t quite as pervasive and good isn’t quite so small against it.

In The Hobbit: or There and Back Again, Tolkien introduces h
is readers to Middle Earth by telling how Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit by race (hobbits are respectable, unadventurous little folk that live in tidy underground dwellings in a place that sounds remarkably like England, though Tolkien hated allegory and so would by all accounts never admit such a thing) gets unexpectedly swept away, and assigned the unsavory role of Thief in an adventure party largely composed of treasure-seeking dwarves. From his hobbit hole in the Shire, Bilbo travels with his companions across rivers and mountains and forests to the Lonely Mountain, where the dragon Smaug presides over an ancient hoard that the dwarves want to win back. Of course on the way there (and back again) Bilbo encounters many more uncomfortable events than he wants—and shows a bit of what hobbits are made of, along with incidentally happening upon a long-lost magic ring, a small event that is the major connection to the later books.

Just to warn you, Tolkien is a marvelous storyteller, but this and the other books are as much about a world, with its own history and languages (Tolkien’s written most of them) and culture, as they are about the story, and he can get a bit sidetracked at times. But on the whole, The Hobbit is a wonderful book—and a great warm-up for the later story (you’re introduced to Bilbo, Gandalf, Elrond, orcs, dwarves, and, of course Gollum) as well as a great stand-alone book.

Although I appreciate the later book as well as The Hobbit now—and highly recommend the Lord of the RingsThe Hobbit is still my favorite of the books. I was disappointed when I found out that they weren’t making a movie of it as well as the others—and I am even more disappointed when I find out that someone who’s reading the books because of, or along with, the movies has skipped The Hobbit to go straight to The Fellowship of the Ring.

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