I have just read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien to prepare me for reading all three LOTR books. These are my thoughts on it.
- Gollum is easily my favorite part of the book and he's way too good a character to only appear in one chapter here, which I guess is why Tolkien decided to make him such a major player in the trilogy. In fact, when I first started to read the book as an 8th grader, I think I stopped reading after his chapter.
- Bilbo is such a better character than Frodo. More resourceful, less whiny, and just more colorful in general. I can't see why Frodo even needs to exist in the first place. It would've been better to just have Fellowship take place shortly after the events in The Hobbit, and have Bilbo be the one who takes the ring into Mordor. It really sucks that Frodo is appearing in the upcoming adaptation from Peter Jackson, because this story has nothing to do with him.
- This must've been a pretty groundbreaking book at the time, right? I know it didn't invent the fantasy genre or anything, but I can't think of too many other books from around 1937 that did the whole "build the world, than have an epic adventure in it" thing which every fantasy series nowadays does. Or at least, I doubt there was any book that did it as well as Tolkien does here.
- The prose style is one that would bother me if I were reading a non-fantasy book, but somehow it fits perfectly here. I love how all the characters take ten sentences to say something that could be said with one (especially in the dialogue between Bilbo and Smaug) and the long-winded descriptions of what time of day it is or what that part of Middle-earth looks like really gave me a sense of being trapped in that world, with the characters.
- I'll admit, I didn't see the final battle at the end coming. For some reason I had the impression that this book was a much "smaller" story than the trilogy, just a simple "there-and-back-again" narrative about stealing from a dragon. Instead it's about the very nature of war itself, about how the actions of very few can lead to conflicts between many. That was a smart turn to take, especially since after the dragon died, I had no idea where the story could go from there.
- Has anyone ever seen the old cartoon movie based on it? I used to have an old VHS that had this and The Secret of Nimh copied from TV, but all I remember about it is what Bilbo looked like. I wonder if it's worth going back to check out.