The Hobbit, or There and Back Again

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The Hobbit will always hold a special place in my heart. It was this story that brought about my love of literature, fantasy, and story-telling. I vividly remember escaping into Middle Earth as a child, following Bilbo and Gandalf and the dwarves along their journey. It was almost as if I was right there with them as they encountered the trolls, the goblins, the spiders, the Elves and, of course, that great menace Smaug. I will always be thankful to J.R.R. Tolkien for this.

Tolkien’s worldbuilding here sets the foundation for The Lord of the Rings and, even though The Hobbit is far less complex, it still manages to paint a vivid Middle Earth. My favorite part of this story belongs to the Wood Elves of Mirkwood. The forest itself never fails to capture my imagination, and the culture of the Wood Elves is always intriguing and mystical.

There is an overall sense of wonder and fantasy in The Hobbit that is, in my opinion, severely lacking in the genre these days. Everything is so grim and dark and brutal. Tolkien’s world is certainly dangerous, but there is also beauty in it. His descriptions of The Shire always make me wish that I could live there, and his depiction of Bilbo’s journey always arouses a fierce wanderlust.

Despite how much I love The Hobbit, it is not without its flaws. Tolkien’s characterization leaves a lot to be desired. All of the dwarves, aside from perhaps Thorin, fail to stand out from one another and are practically interchangeable. Bard, the slayer of Smaug, appears only for that purpose and is not given much description at all.

After the slaying of Smaug, The Hobbit slows to a crawl. Tolkien spends an extended period of time on the dwarves in the mountain and the machinations of the varying armies. Unfortunately, none of this is particularly interesting enough to warrant the amount of pages devoted to it. Luckily, things eventually pick back up with the Battle of Five Armies.

Despite my minor complaints, nothing could detract from the impact that The Hobbit has had on my life. I still very much enjoy this story every time I read it, and I am sure that I will continue to do so for many years to come.

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