Nathaniel's Reviews > The Hobbit, or There and Back Again

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien
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's review
Feb 04, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy
Read in December, 2009

The charming hairy hero, Bilbo Baggins, maintains a strong rooting interest throughout. His reluctance to participate in the unfolding adventure—immediately endearing to homebodies like myself—provides the exciting, episodic narrative with a core of emotion. (His constant pining for the comforts of home is the book's best joke.) Bilbo's companions—including the mysterious and aloof wizard Gandalf—are only sketched in, but Bilbo is a true personality.

In the funny early chapters, one can almost hear Tolkien chuckling to himself (and winking at his readers), but the playfulness segues into seriousness as the scrapes and scuffles intensify. War, Tolkien says, is no laughing matter. The most startling passage is called "Riddles in the Dark," which introduces the creature Gollum, named after the horrible swallowing noise he makes in his throat. He's a terrifying animal, wretched and debased, but also pitiable, and altogether extraordinary. Paddling around his lake in near-darkness looking for fresh victims to strangle and eat (fish or goblin—it doesn't matter), he makes a great foil for gentle Bilbo, who's fortunate enough to stumble across a magic ring that grants invisibility. The ring is well used: Bilbo's covert spying reveals the key to the undoing of the chief adversary, the magnificently arrogant dragon Smaug, who's dispatched swiftly in order to clear a path for another, more generic battle.

Tolkien's voluminous imagination and archaic style (quaint, but not too dry) are sufficiently transporting, and the frequent discursions into poem and song—while in excess to the story—are thrillingly authentic.
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Reading Progress

12/08/2009 page 32
12/08/2009 page 32
11.15% "A little taken aback at Gandalf's rudeness to Bilbo's good-morning, but wizards have their reasons, I suppose."
12/10/2009 page 83
28.92% "Just met Gollum, and he doesn't disappoint."
12/14/2009 page 122
42.51% "Flies and spiders and elves, oh my!"
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Laura Yay! :)

Laura Congratulations, you finished! But what's this? Four stars? Most interesting. May we expect a review to go with your rating?

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