My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’ll be honest. The primary reason for me reading this book was because I’m eagerly awaiting the Peter Jackson feature film adaptation releasing this December. That and of course I was curious about the prequel setting to one of my most adored stories of all time, The Lord of the Rings. Granted that I have only seen the movie and not read the books, but I still find the fantasy world woven by J.R.R Tolkien absolutely magnificent and spell-binding.
So how would I rate this epic tale of how it all started? Firstly, you must realize that comparing The Hobbit with The Lord Of The Rings is nothing short of stupid. The Hobbit was written and conceived before the LOTR series. As such the narrative isn’t as expansive or layered as the latter. The Hobbit is a simple story that doesn’t require multiple perspectives or parallel timelines to be explained. It is the story of the simple Hobbit Bilbo Baggins’ journey with a dozen dwarves (and the wizard Gandalf) on a quest to find and retrieve a collosal amount of treasure stolen and guarded by the infamous dragon, Smaug. The book essentially chronicles this journey from start till end and details the various people, creatures and adventures the group (and Bilbo in particular) encounter.
It’s a pretty simple read and flows without any major hiccups or deviations. What stands out is the language used by Tolkien, which adds a flair of mild humor even in situations that deal with life and death. The words paint a very vivid picture of the landscapes the fellowship traverses and bring the story to life in a manner that stands out. Although I did find the battle sequences slightly underplayed. But then, that could be quite intentional considering that the book is aimed at young readers in particular.
I will say this, the section which deals with Gollum will strike a tad extra appealing if you have read (or in my case seen) the Lord Of The Rings, since readers will grin and smirk at the scenes that pan out at that point. But like I mentioned before, don’t keep LOTR as the benchmark for content and narrative when reading this book. You’ll be disappointed.
As an independent read, this is truly a great book. Simple read with minimal complications in terms of story plot and narrative. Plenty of adventures and perils to keep your interest piqued at various points throughout the story. And a rather feel good ending. A definite must read for anyone who enjoys the genre.