This is more of a mini musing than a real review of The Hobbit, because everyone knows it’s bloody brilliant. I’ve just finished rereading it in time for the film release, and I would urge anyone who hasn’t done so already to read it if you’re planning on watching the films. It’s much easier to get on with than The Lord of the Rings, it’s so much more readable because it was written by Tolkien as a story to tell his children in the 1930s, and yet it’s not remotely childish, even though it contains dragons and wizards and magical swords. There’s no doubt that Tolkien was a wonderful storyteller, and this is a sophisticated, dramatic fairytale that the whole family would enjoy.
The Hobbit is the story of Bilbo Baggins’ adventure as relayed to Frodo through his book There and Back Again in The Lord of the Rings. He is recruited by Gandalf as a burglar to aid a group of twelve dwarfs, led by Thorin Oakenshield, in their quest to reclaim the treasure of their ancestors, which is being guarded by Smaug the dragon in the palace of the dwarfs beyond the Misty Mountains. During this adventure, Bilbo comes across both Gollum and the one ring, which of course sets up all the action of The Lord of the Rings. There’s plenty of familiar characters – Bilbo, Gandalf, Gollum, Elrond, even Gimli’s father Gloin, as well as some exciting new faces such as Beorn which, as far as I can remember, didn’t make it into The Lord of the Rings books (and certainly not the films).
I’m intrigued to see how the film will be divided into three parts, and how they’ll even manage to stretch three films out of it, as it’s a relatively short book that moves along at a pretty fast pace. I’ve heard that the film will contain the stories contained in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, including what Gandalf gets up to when he disappears from the main narrative. There is mention in The Hobbit of Gandalf helping to drive out the Necromancer off-screen so to speak, and I would imagine that it’s this kind of extra narrative that will extend the films. It’s quite clever in a way, as Peter Jackson will end up with an epic three-part blockbuster that includes more than just The Hobbit while still remaining faithful to Tolkien’s writings. All I can say is that I cannot wait to finally see the film for myself!