After seeing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which is the first part of a three part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's great novel the Hobbit, which itself has gotten more fame as a prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I decided to read the book again. I haven't read this book in over 10 years, and having shamefully never owned the book (having read it previously from a Library) had to buy a copy, so got the movie cover version, and at a very reasonable price (Tesco: £2.95).
This book shows how Bilbo Baggins is persuaded by the Wizard Gandalf, and a party of thirteen Dwarves, who are lead by Thorin Oakenshield, to be their burglar, and join them on a journey to retrieve their treasure from the Dragon Smaug in the Lonely Mountain.
It's easy to forget that this book was originally intended for children, as the Lord of the Rings books aren't. Although this is written for children, which is very noticeable near the start, it is still a joy to read for people of all ages. Although there are talking dragons, birds, and other creatures that wouldn't usually talk, it is still a very sophisticated story, and it's easy to believe that these creatures can talk, and I actually think the story wouldn't be the same otherwise. I also realised whilst reading this that I remembered very little from my first read through all those years ago, so I was also able to enjoy this read through even more.
The first chapter sees Bilbo visited by Gandalf, and offered to join in an adventure. When Bilbo refuses Gandalf puts a mark on his door which lets the Dwarves that are on his adventure know where to meet him later, unknown to Bilbo, who is later visited by the Dwarves. The way this story starts was brilliant, and I loved how a character who has never had any adventure in his life, and is from a family that is respected, who's also a descendent of the Took's, a Hobbit family known for going on adventures, is torn between the two sides of his genetic nature. The chapter itself was also very funny, and I loved how this polite Hobbit that didn't want to seem rude was getting very confused with the amounting guests that were apparently invited without his knowledge. When Gandalf eventually arrived it was even funnier, as Bilbo knew exactly what was going on, and how he was persuaded to join their adventure was also very interesting.
Bilbo's development throughout this book was probably the best, and most interesting thing about it, and rightfully so. How this small Hobbit who kept to himself, and didn't partake in anything that a Hobbit would class as out of the ordinary, changed throughout this novel was outstanding, and I have as much love for this character whilst reading this book as I did for Frodo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It was also interesting to see how the opinion people had towards Bilbo changed throughout the events of this book, and how his own opinion changed with it. The way he changes from a frightened timid character, who sometimes regrets joining this adventure, to a slightly brave character who shows brilliant intellect was also interesting.
The Dwarves in this story were also very interesting, and due to being the main supporting characters I started to actually feel for these characters, whether they were in danger or not, and whether they were in the right or not. The changes in the Dwarves throughout this book was also interesting, and Thorin more than the others. Although all the other Dwarves were nothing but friendly throughout this novel, Thorin was sometimes very moody, and felt was constantly changing his mind about Bilbo throughout the book, seeing him as a nuisance near the start. The Dwarves nature was also an interesting point in this tale, as throughout the story there was some knew trait of the Dwarves revealed, whether from their actions or what others said about Dwarves. The thing that was noticeable about the Dwarves throughout this story was that they were very loyal to each other, and Bilbo, and treated him like one of their own, helping him as much as they could.
The other characters throughout this story was also interesting, and one of the main things that made this story constantly interesting. Beorn the skin-changer was the character I found the most interesting, and the way Gandalf knew how to win his aid was perfectly written, and thought out. What I enjoyed about Beorn was that although he kept to himself, and although he was very untrusting, once he did trust someone he was the best ally they could have. Elrond was also featured in this story giving Gandalf, Bilbo, and the Dwarves shelter in the early part of their journey. Although he didn't really do much in this novel his appearance was still appreciated as I liked the character in the Lord of the Ring books, and films. The Eagles, and Wood-Elves were also very good additions, and had very interesting sequences. It was also nice to see them later in the story during the Battle of Five Armies.
The Dragon Smaug was also a very interesting creature, and knowing that the Dwarves, and Bilbo would eventually encounter this creature also made you want to continue reading. As I said earlier the Dragon speaking made the sequence even better and his conversation with Bilbo was very interesting. I did however feel that the fate of Smaug was slightly disappointing, and that he could have played a bigger role than he actually did. This did however create a brilliant twist to this already fantastic story.
The one ring featured in the Lord of the Rings was also interested in this book, which all Lord of the Rings fans will know, and this is the main reason this book is classed as a prelude to Lord of the Rings. As most people will know he got the ring from Gollum, who wasn't too happy with losing his, "precious." His encounter with Gollum was also very entertaining, and the way he had to trade riddles with the creature to secure his escape from the Misty Mountains. The unusual split personality of Gollum was also featured very well during this story, and acted exactly like he did in Lord of the Rings. The ring itself also had a big role in this story being the tool of Bilbo's plans, and with it's ability to turn Bilbo invisible, it became very useful. It was very interesting seeing the ring use it's true power, as due to the nature of Lord of the Rings it wasn't shown as much during that story.
A very entertaining read for all ages, and if you've seen the film you will love this. If you were however disappointed with the film I would still recommend trying this book, as it's brilliant, and has a slightly different tone than the film does.