The Hobbit Part 1

Yep! That’s right. I’ve invaded Ben’s blog. I’m Henez – Ben’s buddy. I also read books. I just read the Hobbit in anticipation for the movie (which I am now told is to come out at the end of next year and not this year – insert epic sad face here). Anyway, I’m also going to read the Lord of the Rings and blog about it as Ben reads it and blogs on it too. In fact, we’re going to do something (hopefully) never before achieved in blogging history by have blogging ‘conversations’  about our readings. Here, I will rip him apart with my superior intelligence and wit. Hopefully they will at least contrast, thus making it interesting for you – the reader. Anyway, as a prequel to both the Lord of the Rings and our blogging about it, here is my review of the Hobbit…

The Hobbit

I love epics. I totally dig movies like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The West Wing and novel series from writers like Raymond E. Feist and Andy McNab. I guess you could say then that I expected The Hobbit to be another epic, for my affiliation with Tolkien thus far would obviously lie in one of the biggest epics ever – The Lord of the Rings movies. Thus, I was sadly disappointed after reading the first chapter of the Hobbit. It was all about little dwarfs with colourful cloaks and and even littler Hobbit running around making tea and baking biscuits. And then there was all that singing! There’s no time for that in an epic. Yet I persevered. The Hobbit is seen as one of the greatest fantasy novels of the 20th Century, and therefore, I though there had to be something fascinating about it.

I didn’t like Bilbo because he kept interrupting and making a fool of himself. I didn’t like the Dwarfs because they didn’t have massive battle-axes and armor and I didn’t like Gandalf because his only magic was used for making smoke rings. Yet what I also didn’t understand at this time was that this is how Tolkien wanted to portray the Hobbit and his friends at the beginning.

Anyway, they go off on their journey which Tolkien, the omnipresent narrator, doesn’t really allude to what they really are doing). Bilbo is to be a burglar and to steal Smaug’s treasure and to win back the Lonely Mountain that the dragon had driven the Dwarfs out of. Yet frankly, at the moment, I failed to see how Bilbo could accomplish anything besides drinking tea and smoking a pipe. Everytime something even slightly amiss happened, the narrator would strike up with “poor Mr. Baggins” or “how unfortunate for the little Hobbit.” The novel is written in an almost childlike prose. One such account is that of the meeting with the trolls. Bilbo stumbles upon them looking for food. They catch him and they argue over what he is and how edible his flesh is. Then the dwarves arrive. My first impressions were ‘here we go, time for some epicness to begin. Thorin’s going to smite them all with his hidden war-axe.’ This doesn’t happen. Instead, the dwarfs are bundled up into sacks and suffocated. Now they start fighting over how too cook them, and it is apparent that Gandalf is working some magic. He then turns up and makes them into stone (finally some action). This sympathy for the Hobbit goes on until they reach Rivendell. Again, cue more singing.

Indeed, such happenings and misfortunes continued after Rivendell until they crossed the Misty Mountains. Here, they fall into some mystical goblin-infested cavern (right now, my thing was ‘Yes – I hope they all die so I can get on with my life!). However, Gandalf gets his macho on and (finally) kills some goblins, but the dwarfs ended up captured anyway. They go to the ‘goblin king,’ and he is about to put them to slavery, until Gandalf rescues them again. I was starting to get annoyed at the dwarfs, because they never did anything. I was especially annoyed because Gimli, from the Lord of the Rings, was my favorite character, and he would never get captured like that, would he? Yet here they are, running off again into the dark. I must respect Tolkien’s genius writing here. He really captures the essence of the Thorin and co.’s fear as they are pursued by goblins. He shifts the story to a really fast-pace through the goblin caves. Here Bilbo falls and bumps his head and they loose him and he wakes to find himself all alone.

I liked this part of the book, because here we can truly test Bilbo’s character. We also start to see him grow in courage and independence. Lost in the dark and faced with an angry and hungry Gollum, he uses his initiative and riddles his way out of being eaten. Here we see that the Hobbit is starting to grow independent of everyone else, and his courage rises. Even Bilbo didn’t know he had it in him.

More to come… When I get of my lethargic… you know the euphemism. Until next time!

A Quick Update

I have developed a more structured plan, of sorts. Instead of launching straight into The Lord of the Rings, (as I’ve already iterated) I’ll be doing some reviews. I’ve already started with some notes on American Gods, of course. Over the course of the next few weeks I hope to review the following books in this order:

Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita: A novel of lust and twistedness

Roberto Calasso, K. Looks at the works of Franz Kafka

James Wood, How Fiction Words: Examines the theories behind writing a good book

Terry Eagleton, Reason, Faith and Revolution: Takes a look at the contemporary God Debate

I will also write a couple of reviews on books that I’ve previously read, including Ursula le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, as well as Cormac McCarthy, The Road. Then, perhaps, we’ll be ready to move onto Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings in depth. Coming up: American Gods Part II, and a special treat. My buddy Henry has just read The Hobbit, so he’s gonna post his own (dare I say very entertaining and funny) review of it in anticipation of The Lord of the Rings later on. He’s gonna read along with LOTR as well so as to contribute. Should be fun!

19th Birthday

I was lucky to have a great day yesterday thanks to some fantastic friends, who made my 19th birthday memorable. Thanks guys 🙂 Anyhow I hope to write a second entry concerning American Gods soon.

The name of the game

To begin with I thought I’d start with a few reviews of books I’ve read recently. They will include Cormac McCarthy, The Road, Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed, Neil Gaiman, American Gods, and perhaps Terry Eagleton’s new oeuvre, Reason, Faith and Revolution. Coming soon!

Following this, we’ll begin on the first major read through, our subject being Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. While this might seem clichéd, it is in fact a tremendously complex book and deserves a great deal of thought and attention. I look forward to starting!