by J.R.R. Tolkien
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf, and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an unexpected journey ‘there and back again’. They have a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon.
The prelude to The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit has sold many millions of copies since its publication in 1937, establishing itself as one of the most beloved and influential books of the twentieth century.
I clearly remember the time when I first read The Hobbit in 2001. I was newly promoted as a junior tech consultant in an American online/Internet service provider/company but I was still struggling to make ends meet. Then my company sponsored the release of the movie, Fellowship of the Ring and I fell in love with Legolas (who didn’t?) and thought Elijah Wood aka Frodo Baggins was the cutest hobbit I’ve seen.
I was rooming then with a co-worker named Sharon and we watched The Lord of The Rings: Fellowship of the Ring after we got our 13th month paycheck. Shortly after the movie was shown in cinemas, being crazy bookworms as we are, Sharon and I scoured the nearest National Bookstore and spent an hour a day reading LOTR series and The Hobbit after our work shift. (We still couldn’t afford yet to buy the books at that time, so we had to “stand-by” at NBS to resume our reading).
Anyway, right before that though, I thought Harry Potter was the best movie I’ve seen in 2001. Then Fellowship of the Ring happened. I realized I liked Tolkien even more than JK Rowling. Those were the days when I was astounded by Tolkien’s writings and the world he created – the Middle Earth. While I loved the LOTR movie, I enjoyed reading The Hobbit even more. And I found Bilbo Baggins a much better hobbit than his descendant.
Bilbo Baggins’ adventures with thirteen other dwarves proved to be quite a fascinating tale. He realized there is more to him than his life in the Hill and tea settings. Stealing treasures, running among spiders, talking to trolls and bargaining with one tricky wizard, those were just some of the great exploits Baggins had shockingly yet delightfully encountered.
Gandalf The Grey was already a force to reckon with, even before he confronted Sauron and Thorin and all those armies of Orcs and Wargs and one deceptively smug dragon. Elrond and the elves are fine & wise characters whom you couldn’t help but like and admonish at the same time.
The Hobbit, overall, is a great prequel to LOTR. I haven’t watched the movie adaptation but have heard from many that there were a lot of changes in the film, which I have already expected. Hopefully the changes were minimal, though. I loved this book and I wouldn’t want to mess that up. For me, this is truly a classic!