My relationship with Tolkien has been sporadic thus far. Ten years ago, the first LOTR film had me asleep in twenty minutes, and although I’ve since been able to (happily) sit through all three, I am trepidatious. Being slightly naive in my reading habits, the opinions of others differ vastly. “Drivel! Unnecessary waffle!” screams one. “Published perfection!” cries another. What to do? I know. I’ll read ‘The Hobbit’. You know? That little one that apparently started it all? It was written for kids right, so how hard could it be?
So I did. And I liked it. I saw the first two films before I opened the front cover so I had the viewing advantage of not hating Peter Jackson for giving botox to an otherwise marvellous story. And it is marvellous. It’s got action, friendship, adventure, and the nicely-rounded morals that characterise a good childrens tale. There are elves, goblins, wolves, eagles, dwarves, a creepy jewellery obsessed dude who lives down a hole, and an unlikely hero in our star performer, Bilbo Baggins. A climactic battle scene gives the reader some mythical closure, and off we go back home with Gandalf the fairy godfather and all round problem fixer.
I didn’t like all the characters: the dwarves I found to be particularly greedy and Smaug the dragon seriously has a deep-seeded superiority complex. And the endless songs, holy moley! Take them out of the book, along with much of the cosmetic final chapter, and it would have achieved a higher rating.
All in all, a delightful read to capture the imagination. Now let’s see how the trilogy compares!