Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
First Published: 1937
Page Count: 305
Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Note: Prequel to The Lord of the Rings series
A charming introduction to the magical and mysterious world of Middle Earth.
* Adventurous story line *Classic characters *Masterful world creation
*Written as a children’s novel
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” Bilbo Baggins was content to live out his life from beginning to end in his peaceful hometown known as the Shire in the realm of Middle Earth. However, an unexpected meeting with the great wizard Gandalf and a band of dwarves catapults him into the middle of a deadly adventure to reclaim the lost treasure of Lonely Mountain. His journey will take him up against nightmarish adversaries, introduce him to mythical allies, and also acquaint him with his greatest treasure, the one ring to rule them all.
I’ve nearly completed the Lord of the Rings trilogy but my love of the series is so great that I haven’t brought myself to the point where I can let myself read the last book and end it all. However, after seeing The Hobbit in theaters last year, I figured reading the book would be a good way to delve back into Middle Earth without finishing the series for good. This is a great introduction to the world Tolkien has created and I wish I had read it first before all the others. The reader is introduced to classic and beloved characters like the wizard Gandalf, wise Elrond of Rivendell, or ghoulish Gollum. The setting also changes dramatically throughout the book to give you a good idea of the different aspects of Middle Earth. We get to experience the calm of the Shire, the dangers of the Mirkwood Forest, the Elven grandeur of Rivendell, and much more. Beyond the characters and setting, Bilbo and his band of heroes encounter many unique obstacles that move the journey along and give the tale a real sense of adventure. This book lets you experience so much of Middle Earth and characters that will become important in later novels that it is a great mini adventure to undertake before jumping into the heavy Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Now, before reading this book, I wasn’t aware it was written as a children’s book. That lack of knowledge was probably made worse by the fact that the film version of this book is definitely not treated as a children’s film. So as I read the story, I began to notice that, though there are dark elements in the story, Tolkien really held back from making it too dismal. When I learned it was meant to be accessible to children my negative opinion on how it was written lessened a little. However, I still do not like the disconnect between The Hobbit and the other three books in the trilogy. Why not have made all four children’s books or adult fantasy? This book is supposed to stand apart a bit from the other three but I would have preferred to read about Middle Earth through the same adult lens I suppose.
That little qualm aside, this is a fantastic book that should not be missed by anyone. Some people find the Lord of the Rings trilogy daunting to read but I think this book, because it was written for children, is easier to understand, and therefore more accessible to people wanting to read about Bilbo and the mysterious one ring. The fact that the film has also just come out on DVD makes for a great reason to pick up the book and see what happens to the characters where the film ends. For the record, the films do not follow the book exactly, but if you don’t want to wait more than two years to find out what happens to our plucky little hobbit, I’d definitely suggest sitting down and reading the original work.
*Film Adaptations: (Directed by Peter Jackson 2012, 2013, 2014)