Back in October I spent a weekend with Anice in Berlin. As I knew she’d be sleeping in and I would wake up early I had brought two books with me: A Graveyard for Lunatics that I was close to finishing and Earthsea for when I finished. But Anice had a book with her as well: The Hobbit, so when we showed each other what the other had brought we decided to switch books. I got the Hobbit and she the Earthsea book. So thus I was able to read one of the fantasy classics for the first time.
What is it about?
The Hobbit Bilbo Beutlin leads a quiet life in his Hobbit hole until twelve dwarves knock at his door one after the other and occupy his living room, eat all his food and drink all his beverages.
The sorcerer Gandalf has let them there to turn Bilbo into the thieve they needed to reclaim the Lonely Mountain as home of the dwarves and crown Thorin Oakenshield as King under the Mountain.
But before they even reach their destination they have to travel through Middle Earth and face foes and friends alike, not to mention Smaug the dragon who is guarding the dwarven gold and cast out the dwarves in the first place.
The reading experience
Before I started reading I expected the writing style to be completely different. It was a translated version, but I still didn’t think it would have been written like a children’s tale, as the narrator explained things quite easily. It was a nice surprise though.
Besides the Fairytale-like narration the book was also filled with sketches. You could see the dwarves, Gollum, trolls and of course Smaug, who looks a bit different than in the movie adaptation. 😀 Additionally, some of the books characters also fell into song on one or the other occasion.
It was a nice and fluent read and even in German you could see Tolkiens love for language.
Bilbo was a quite interesting character. A no-one that grows with his tasks and experiences, who is smart enough to know what is the right thing to do.
The dwarves on the other hand were kind of walking on the thin line between like and dislike, while swaying from one direction to the other. Whenever Bilbo did something good they praised him and called him their best friend, but if he, however, had a strange idea or did something that seemed wrong at first they talked him down and even insulted him. I have no idea how Bilbo managed to stay as calm as he did when they were like that and even how he could stay.
Most prominent with this behaviour was Thorin, whom I didn’t like for most parts of the story. His opinion and moods were ever changing and he was basically just an ass. Still, the finale caught me off guard and I didn’t like what happened to him.
The dwarves I sympathised most with were incidentally also the once that treated the Hobbit best: Balin, Bombur, Kili and Fili. Balin the eldest and most reasonable, Bombur, with his good nature and a heart that seemed to be about the same size as his appetite and the youngest brothers that were still less stubborn than the other dwarves. Needless to say I again questioned my luck with character-choices at the end of the book…
The side character were also quite interesting even though they had very little screen time. Still, an enjoyable contrast to the stubborn dwarves. Though “you-thought-I’d-be-accompanying-you-all-the-way?”-Gandalf, didn’t really earn many sympathy points from me either.
I liked reading this book. There are some things that didn’t go well with me (annoying Thorin, some conclusions and characterizations,..), but they don’t really matter as the bigger picture leaves you quite content in the end.
The story was fun, exciting, interesting, sad and all those things that I can’t name. The end could have been a bit longer, as it felt a bit rushed, but every journey comes to an end at some point.
It’s really a story I wouldn’t mind reading again one day and I’m not sure if I’m disappointed in myself that I haven’t read it sooner or if it is all right that I can now appreciate it more.
Stuff I’d like to add
As I said before is the spelling dwarves based on Tolkiens writing and I still think that is pretty cool.
By now I’ve also seen the movies, which I didn’t want to see before reading the books, but I don’t know if and when I’ll be writing a review about them.
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