The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien was first released in 1937 and was the first story in the Middle Earth series and acts as a prequel to the Lord of the Rings, it tells the story of Bilbo Baggins a hobbit who enjoys the simple things in life, sitting by the fire, reading books and smoking his pipe, one day Bilbo is visited by Gandalf the Wizard and a band of Dwarves who wants his help to steal a vast treasure from the Dragon Smaug who lives inside of the Lonely Mountain.
I think this book does a fantastic job at displaying character growth and change, this is especially prevalent with Bilbo Baggins who begins his journey as a hermit and a recluse, hiding away in his Hobbit hole and living a boring life ending the story as a Hero, someone who has experienced the outside world and now understands a greater value of themselves while still enjoying the simpler things in life.
The Dwarves minus the leader Thorin Oakenshield are mostly forgettable and struggled to maintain my interest, Thorin definitely has the most character development due to his tough nature and general grumpiness towards Mr Baggins, he is also a Dwarven King who is desperately trying to reclaim the Dwarven home in the Lonely Mountain.
Gandalf plays a small role in this story as a means to bring our band of heroes together, he comes and goes as goes offering small bits of advice to Thorin and company but overall does not stick around and takes a step back in comparison to his role in the later Lord of the Rings story. I think Gandalf’s absence here is actually to the books benefit for a few reasons, first of all he is far too powerful and while the orcs and goblins are a threat in this they would be no match for the more powerfully superior Gandalf the Grey.
The other reason is because his absence gives Bilbo more of a chance to become a hero by using his wits and quick thinking to solve problems in ways that are unique to his character. Gandalf is not only a very powerful magic caster but is also incredibly wise and intelligent so would already know the best ways to defeat enemies. Bilbo uses his quick thinking to trick the creature Gollum during his game of riddles not only saving his life but allowing him to keep the magic ring he found.
The main purpose of this story was too expand into the Lord of the Rings so Bilbo discovering the ruling ring is the most important and prevalent part of the book, here the ring does turn the wearer invisible but Middle Earth was still not fully imagined so Mount Doom, Sauron and the Nazgul were still very much absent at this point.
For as short as this book is coming in at only 304 pages Tolkien’s writing style allows for some decent world building without taking away from the main story, the descriptions are subtle but do the job in allowing readers to fully imagine how Tolkein had drafted the different areas such as Rivendell and the Mountain to be.
Some major differences worth noting between this book and the three motion picture adaptations are as follows
During the scene with the trolls in the movie Bilbo keeps them talking about how to cook the Dwarves before the sun turns them to stone but in the book it is actually Gandalf who tricks them by throwing his voice to sound like one of the other trolls.
In the book Bilbo gets his Elven blade sting from the Trolls cave where as in the movie it is first discovered by Gandalf.
Saruman and Galandriel are not mentioned in the book but do make appearances in the motion pictures.
Radagast the Brown is one of my favourite characters in the book but his role is vastly increased during the movies,
In the movies we get to see fan favourite character Legolas make a return, he is not mentioned in the book
Finally Azog the white Orc leader is not in the book but is part of Middle Earth lore being killed years before Bilbo’s Journey.
Other major differences are in connection with character deaths that I do not want to spoil here.
I have read the Hobbit three times and it I cannot wait to read it again, it is one of my favourite stories and holds a very important place in literary history, if your not a fan of reading I recommend listening to the story read by Andy Serkis (Voice and character actor for Gollum) he does a fantastic job and even commits to his iconic Gollum Voice!
This is one adventure you surely do not want to miss out on
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