Bilbo Baggins is thrust into the adventure of his lifetime when the wizard Gandalf recruits him to be the burglar and fourteenth party member of dwarves bent on reclaiming their ancestral home from the viscous dragon Smaug.
Of all of Tolkien’s works, this is my favorite. I had originally read this book when I was a kid, probably in grade six or seven. This is the first time I have re-read it as an adult. I never realized just how sassy and dynamic Bilbo was! I am absolutely in love with his character. Both reluctant to leave the comforts of his home, and determined to prove himself to his travel companions, Bilbo is the only reason the dwarves survive. Another benefit of re-reading this book is now that I am well versed in the Lord of the Rings, I was able to spot the ring’s influence on Bilbo almost right away. There is a particular scene where Bilbo nearly loses the ring shortly after taking it from Gollum where he describes a pang of sorrow and links it to the sad creature he just faced. This went completely overlooked the first time I read it, but now I can clearly see how the ring was beginning to attach itself to Bilbo on an emotional level right off the bat.
While fantasy is one of my all-time favorite genre’s, I have always felt like the Lord of the Rings trilogy was focused a little too much on world building with story progression sandwich between long passages of description. I have never had that problem with The Hobbit. The plot progresses systematically through various adventures, each more dangerous than the last until they reach their final destination. I have to say though, I wish Bilbo and the dwarves had a more direct hand in the demise of the dragon.
I remember when I was a kid and read this for the first time, I was so proud of myself when I figured out the rune to English alphabet. My older brother who had read this before me had written secret things all over the house using this runic alphabet, and I was so excited to finally be able to decipher his teenaged ramblings. I also used the runic alphabet as a secret code for my best friend and I. We wrote so many notes back and forth to each other. I thought I was so clever but looking back I’m sure my teachers knew exactly what I was about when they confiscated notes from us.
Overall, this is a classic fantasy adventure story perfect for all ages. A great first time read, and an even better re-read!