For years I had presumed that I won’t enjoy the fantasy genre because I wouldn’t relate to the characters or the context. I completely changed my mind when I read the Lord Of The Rings (LOTR) trilogy a few years back (I know I am late to the party!). I have now metamorphosed into a super fan of Tolkien and his fascinating middle-earth inhabited by wizards, goblins, dwarves, dragons, elfs and hobbits.
The Hobbit is a prequel to the mega events of LOTR. I started reading The Hobbit with expectations of a story as epic and complex with a multitude of characters like LOTR. But in reality I found The Hobbit much simpler and light-hearted in comparison. I later read somewhere that Tolkien had actually written this story for the enjoyment of his own young children and hadn’t intended it to be published at all!! Initially I felt a bit disappointed at the slow pace and simplicity of its structure but once I settled down and got involved in the adventure, it was as enthralling as LOTR.
The story starts with our favourite hobbit – Bilbo Baggins enjoying a quite and comfortable life in his hobbit hole in the Shire. One fine day Gandalf the wizard arrives at his doorstep and cunningly reminds him of his “Took-ish side” of the family that is all adventure loving. Soon the house is full of dwarves (with amazing names like Dwalin, Balin, Kili, Fili…..) and before you know it, Bilbo has agreed to join them in their adventure to recover their stolen treasure from the fearsome dragon Smaug in the Lost Mountains. The story takes us through caves, magical forests, rivers and mountains. On the journey the traveling party encounters trolls, devious goblins, friendly elves, wolves, eagles, giant spiders, men and of course a dragon. The turning point of the story is when Bilbo meets Gollum in a dark cave and finds The Ring, which then has a key role in not just this story but is the central element of LOTR too.
Once you suspend disbelief and enter Tolkien’s magical world, he takes you on a fantastical journey and you feel part of this little adventure alongside the dwarves, Bilbo and Gandalf. You feel their ups and downs, their hunger and desperation during the journey and their elation at finding unexpected help from friends at difficult times.
For anyone who enjoys the fantasy genre, this is a must read. But it would also be a brilliant introduction to this genre, if you haven’t read one before!