Thursday, 23 February 2017

Book #12

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


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.

I've never read Tolkien, and I've never seen the films. The hype bypassed me, both in words and on screen, and I found it was about time I got my teeth into this saga. Sadly, it did very little for me.

Although it's quite easy to tell the story was written for children, Tolkien spends an arduous amount of time describing the surroundings, the objects, the faces, and the beards. I found my eyes glazing over as once again we were regaled with sweeping views of mountainsides and rivers. It was beautiful, but I was longing for something to happen. The pace is slow, no doubt to reinforce the length of the journey, but the spaces between significant events, or even dialogue, was mostly too long to bear, with Tolkien mentioning many times of hardship and adventure he "didn't have time" to tell us. Not to mention the people of Middle-Earth really love a good song, so there were plenty of those. Great.

Characters introduced and involved here were of a huge number, yet none of them had much depth, nor intrigue, about them. Some were killed off and I barely flinched as I was too busy trying to remember who the fuck it was.

The dwarves and Bilbo wander through roads and forests with no real plan, or clue of what they're doing, constantly relying on Gandalf to save the day each time, until he decides he's going to piss off. Now, I can't blame him for this; if I was walking about with these clueless lunatics who were consistently complaining about being tired and hungry before wandering into more bother, I'd piss off too. However, considering Gandalf had organised this entire shitemare, surely he would think to stick about. Unless, of course, we needed him as a plot device to save the day when all hope is lost.

My favourite part of the novel was Smaug's demise. Not only did our brave troupe of dwarves forget to devise a plan for killing him, they only realised they hadn't done so when they were practically in his knickers. To allow the main enemy of the novel to be defeated by someone other than the 'heroes' shows how pathetic these fools really were. Perhaps Tolkien also thought so, although I doubt it.

I really could go on a lot longer about this novel's flaws, but I need to get it out of my life. It's important to say I didn't hate it, however I couldn't engage with it, and found it entirely dull. I am also more than aware this is an unpopular opinion, however it's one I will not relinquish.

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