Today is a double first : first post in English and first post about a book!
As we are all getting in the lovely spirit of December and eagerly anticipating the coming of – yes, you guessed it – « The Hobbit » on screen (who said Christmas?), I thought it was time for me to (re)read the book.
If you are not (yet) eager to see the movie (and Richard Armitage as Thorin!), just read the novel – there is still time before the movie comes out, and it’s pretty short after all!
Ah, but this is not about the yet to be seen movie. This is about my first ever encounter with the fantastic genius of Tolkien. I read The Hobbit (in French « Bilbon le Hobbit » at the time) in my early teens and decided to read it again, in English, before going to see the movie. Let me tell you, its magic hasn’t faded a bit!
« The Hobbit, or There and Back Again », is a fantasy novel by the Master of the genre, J. R. R. Tolkien. It’s its immediate success that lead to the writing of a sequel, « The Lord of the Rings » (ever wondered where that ring came from?).
« The Hobbit » tells the story of Bilbo Baggins, a very respectable hobbit, who is dragged into a year-long quest by wizard Gandalf and a group of noble dwarves lead by Thorin Oakenshield. I’ll let you imagine poor Bilbo’s shock, when 13 mighty dwarves first invade his neat and cozy hobbit hole, uninvited, and at tea time! How they then convince our little hobbit friend to join them… well, that would be a spoiler.
On their journey to reclaim the dwarves’ fabulous inheritance from terrible dragon Smaug, the unusual party comes accross many dangers and adventures (goblins, elves, were-bears, giant spiders…) that lead them to learn much about themselves.
Yet « The Hobbit » is so much more than just another « coming of age » epic quest. This is where Tolkien’s genius makes all the difference. Bilbo drags you along in a complete new world, Middle-Earth, with its own civilisations, peoples and history. How one man had the imagination and dedication to create this whole universe, complete with languages, legends and geography, in such baffling detail, I cannot imagine.
Have you read before a book that comes with its own soundtrack? You have missed much indeed, if you have never spent an evening dancing by the fire to the sound of elvish songs, or smoking your pipe while dwarves sing of the glories of old days.
All you have to do, dear reader, is let yourself get carried away through Middle-Earth, from the soft comforting hills of the Shire to the stark Desolation of Smaug – and back again…