The hobbit Bilbo Baggins is very content with his comfortable life, when the Wizard Gandalf and a company of thirteen dwarves invite him on a quest to travel the continent and rob a dragon of his treasures.
Bilbo soon finds himself in a dangerous world, where trolls, goblins, spiders and mortal’s greed make for thrilling adventures.
When you go to your preferred search engine and use the prompt “classic fantasy book”, it’s almost a given you’ll find The Hobbit among the search results. The tricky thing with classics is that – though the reason for their initial popularity can probably always be recognised – it’s not always garantueed they withstand the test of time. After recently rereading this book, however, I’d say Tolkien’s The Hobbit still holds up.
People often refer to The Hobbit as a children’s story. This is indeed how it originated, but I believe most people tend to forget that children’s literature often contains themes and stories that are also relevant for adults. Furthermore, Tolkien’s prose in The Hobbit is a lot less dense than in The Lord of the Rings, making it a lot more accesible.
Sure, The Hobbit is at times prone to silliness and has a severe lack of female characters, but it’s fast-paced and ultimately contains some very serious morals. Furthermore, the clever use of an omniscient (unreliable?) narrator makes it a very relevant study case for people interested in writing themselves. For people that are already familiar with the extensive lore of Middle-Earth, The Hobbit also provides a lot of intruiging questions, if you’re willing to read between the lines.
If you’re still not convinced, I’d like to emphasize that this story contains musical dwarves and one of the coolest dragons in dragon history. Just saying…
I saw Jop uploaded a review of The Hobbit, so I knew I had to follow suit some time soon.
The Hobbit is an amazing children’s fantasy book that also works for adults. Even though the scope and worldbuilding of The Lord of the Rings make that the real bible of the fantasy genre, I find The Hobbit to be Tolkien’s best work in terms of writing and pacing.
Part of why The Hobbit is so great, is that Bilbo is such a great main character. He is both courageous – often described as ‘plucky’, which I find an amazing word – and at the same time, his emotions feel very real. He is afraid, he is homesick, he is lonely at times, he wants to do the right thing and not disappoint his friends but he also wants to just be at home and be done with it all. That makes his courage all the more inspiring – easy to be a hero when you’re Conan the Barbarian, quite different when you’re Bilbo the fifty-year-old halfling with food and comfort as main passions in your life.
Even though Bilbo is a relatively unorthodox main character, the rest of The Hobbit is quite traditional (though it leans a bit more towards fairy tale and a bit less towards grim fantasy). I love the mischievous elves, the bickering trolls, the song-singing goblins, the riddles in the dark. The world feels perilous and mysterious right from the start of the book, while the stakes, danger and violence slowly build towards the climax.
As a kid, I absolutely loved The Hobbit and as an adult, I still do. If you haven’t read it, please go do so – it’s easy to get into and an absolute cornerstone of the Fantasy genre.