As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

March 25, 2011

THE HOBBIT, by J.R.R. Tolkien, 1937

The Hobbit: 70th Anniversary EditionBilbo Baggins, the hobbit, is a peaceful sort of cozy hole in the Shire, a place where adventures are uncommon and rather unwanted. So when the wizard Gandalf whisks him away on a treasure hunting expedition with a troop of rowdy dwarves, he's not entirely thrilled. Encountering ruthless trolls, beastly orcs, gigantic spiders, and hungry wolves, Bilbo discovers within himself astonishing strength and courage. (Amazon)

Review by Laura Madsen, mom, veterinarian and writer

THE HOBBIT is one of those marvelous stories you can read over and over. If you’ve gotten bogged down trying to read other pieces by Tolkien, like THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy or THE SILMARILLION, don’t despair—HOBBIT is written with a lighter tone and is easy to read.

HOBBIT begins with one of the best opening paragraphs in modern literature:

“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.”

I want to be a hobbit—wouldn’t it be great to spend every day cozily reading books and eating?

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit. One night a flock of dwarves arrive unexpectedly at his hobbit-hole to convince him to join them on a quest to recover a cache of treasure guarded by Smaug the dragon. Bilbo reluctantly agrees and they set off. After encounters with hungry trolls, giant spiders, goblins, and the creepy, treacherous, schizophrenic Gollum, they reach the dragon’s mountain. Clever Bilbo figures out how to enter the mountain and confronts the dragon with his wit. The scene between Bilbo and Smaug is brilliant.

First Bilbo flatters the dragon:
“Truly songs and tales fall utterly short of the reality, O Smaug the Chiefest and Greatest of Calamities.”

Then he engages the dragon in a game of riddles:
“I am the clue-finder, the web-cutter, the stinging fly. I was chosen for the lucky number.”

Then Bilbo tricks the dragon into showing its belly, revealing a critical weak spot:
“I have always understood,” said Bilbo is a frightened squeak, “that dragons were softer underneath, especially in the region of the—er—chest; but doubtless one so fortified has thought of that… Truly there can nowhere be found the equal of Lord Smaug the Impenetrable. What magnificence to possess a waistcoat of fine diamonds!”

Neither Bilbo nor the dwarves kill the dragon in the end; he is dispatched by a human who has been alerted to the weak spot on the belly. Bilbo and the dwarves pack up their treasure and return home. Bilbo spends the rest of his days reading and writing, eating and drinking, enjoying his wealth in his comfy hobbit-hole.

Market: Adult fiction (fantasy) although appropriate for teens and tweens
Sensuality: none
Violence: moderate
Language: none
Adult themes: scary creatures, thievery

Book formats:
70th Anniversary Special Edition


Anonymous said...

The Hobbit is one that I read over and over. One of my all-time favorites.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love THE HOBBIT!!! I can't ever seem to get through the LOTR books, but I'll read THE HOBBIT again and again. I wish I had a hobbit hole with a well-stocked larder and a round door. Love the descriptions in this book!

Anonymous said...

Kim, I want to be a hobbit when I grow up :)

Anonymous said...

Laura: Me too! I could definitely enjoy two breakfasts and several teas before lunch, then more teas, then supper, then late supper. :) I don't remember how often Bilbo actually eats, but I do remember that it's often enough for me!

Amoniel said...

Oh, I love the Hobbit :) I love all of JRR Tolkien's work :D

Anonymous said...

I love the Hobbit! I have to disagree about the market age group though. My Mom first read this in fifth grade, and I think most kids 7 and up would enjoy it.
I agree about it being easier to read. I have trouble getting through the regular trilogy, but the hobbit makes for light, fun reading