The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
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Bilbo Baggins was content to stay in the Shire, living his days out in his hobbit hole. But when Gandalf the wizard visits the Shire and Bilbo invites him to tea, the hobbit’s life changes forever. Thirteen dwarves show up on his doorstep with Gandalf, speaking of an adventure to reclaim their family’s mountain and gold from the dragon Smaug. The itch to travel and experience life outside the Shire overcomes Bilbo, and he starts his journey to help the dwarves reclaim what was lost.
When you begin reading The Hobbit, don’t expect the flashy drawn out fight scenes and plot twists you’ll see in modern day fantasy. Written in 1937, the style of writing is vastly different but has aged well over the years. There is a wide cast of characters, but Tolkien makes sure they all stay in the reader’s view and keeps the story steadily moving forward. While the characters will have mishaps and battles, the details are oftentimes summarized making the scenes appropriate for a younger crowd while still maintaining enough for the older.
Following along with Bilbo was like walking among friends. The way the narrator talks about the hobbit and his companions is with familiarity and respect for their choices. Often Bilbo has to think outside of the box, and instead of rushing into situations, he tries to talk through them and keep open communication instead of resorting to fighting. I wish this style of confrontation made into more modern day fantasy.
Listening to The Hobbit on audiobook enhanced the experience for me. Rob Inglis did a wonderful job voicing the characters and bringing to life the songs I most likely would have skipped over if I were reading the print version. And his version of Gollum was phenomenal! If you haven’t had the chance to read, or listen to, The Hobbit I highly recommend it. This is one of the only classics I have enjoyed.
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