As I didn’t read JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit until after I saw the second movies, I don’t have a nostalgic enchantment with it. I already knew the basics of what was going to happen for a majority of the story. There were actually several instances when I preferred the movie. It just had better conflicts and characters.
The plot itself is a rather basic one. A hobbit named Bilbo Baggins travels with thirteen dwarves to reclaim the dwarves homeland and treasure. On the way they encounter many creatures such as goblins, orcs and humans. There was nothing that blew me away but in my experience, that doesn’t really matter. Let’s be honest—the main appeal of this is Middle Earth and the creatures that inhabit it.
Every time a new element was brought in, I was intrigued. There was clearly a distinction between the races and the scenery was often described in a pleasant way. He didn’t go overboard with it so I’ll assume he discusses them in later stories, as I have only read half of the Lord of The Rings. This is a good tactic, as it grabs the attention of the reader without offering an overload of information, and ensures that they will buy future books.
Honestly, I quite enjoyed Bilbo’s character. He’s smart, resourceful, and rather entertaining. There were one or two actions that I disagreed with, but I could see why he did it. Sure, he isn’t the greatest character and could have more depth, but it’s a children’s book. I would be shocked if Tolkien incorporated Bilbo’s opinions on the discrimination in Middle Earth.
An issue, however, is that Bilbo is one of the few characters with a distinct personality. Most of the dwarves could have combined into one person. I think the dwarves from Snow White were more memorable. Here, I’ll list the ones I remember: Thorin, Fili, Kili, Bomfur and Balin. That’s it. A lot of the other characters weren’t there for very long, so you don’t get to know a lot about them. I’m sort of blaming the adaptation for this one.
As the film was three instead of one, you get to know more about the characters. An example of this is Bard. In the movie he helps the dwarves get into Esgaroth and helps them out for a bit. You can see how he loves his family and has a bitter relationship with the Master. Is any of this in the book? Nope. I could go into more detail, but I don’t want to ruin spoilers and if you read it, you know what he did. If Tolkien cut the amount of characters in half, they would be more memorable.
Another issue I had was that most of the mini-adventures were rushed or pointless. For example, if the company didn’t meet the trolls, would it have made much of a difference? I don’t think so, The chapter with Gollum was a good scene as it did have something which would be used later on. There should have been more scenes like this. The scenes with Boern and the elves of Mirkwood felt like they were only there so they could be brought up later on and the reader would recognise them. Here’s the thing – I like these people. As I said earlier, it’s basically my favourite part of the book. I just wish they had more to them than just ‘the world is filled with people like us’.
My dislike of the Mirkword scene would be because of the movie. The movie version included more scenes with Thranduil, an actual female, and had the epic barrel fight scene. In the book they basically did nothing for a week and then escaped. It just had a completely different and duller feel to it.
The fight scenes in the book were unbalanced. While they started out well, and even rose to the occasional flashes of excitement, the endings were awful. Being saved by the eagles felt like a cop-out, and Bilbo missing the final fight’s climax was awful. A writer such as Tolkien could have easily come up with something much better. You could argue that it was because of the audience, but Rowling was able to pull it off better. However, lots of other people seem to like this scene, so maybe I’m being too critical.
Overall, I would give this a 6.5 out of 10. All you Tolkien lovers may grab your axes and bows to attack me if you want. Your love is probably influenced by nostalgia, blinding you from the multiple faults I see with the books. To those that haven’t read it, I hope you know what you’re in for now.
Also, I still haven’t seen the third installment, but I have a feeling my reaction will be the same. Despite how much this pains me – watch the movie. It’s better.
Discussion Point: Which race do you identify with the most?