Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Hobbit - by J R R Tolkein

Reviewed by Jackie Marchant

I re-read this wonderful book recently, and not for the first time.  I think that was when I was about 10 – the first re-read I mean.  I don’t remember my first read, only that it’s a book I love reading and will probably do so many more times. 

It’s been described as the gateway to fantasy.  I couldn’t agree more – partly because it’s the gateway to another, bigger fantasy, which has become mother to them all, but it’s also the first book I read that made me think this is a fantasy.  It’s what the fantasy genre is all about – and I don’t mean strange worlds with strange creatures.  

This is a different world, but it’s realised so perfectly you accept it without issue; its peoples and beings are not of our own world, but belong so easily here that you don’t question them.  The characters and the adventures they have belong utterly in that world – yet they are perfectly easy to relate to.  We live in the story as we live in the world of Middle Earth.

I have to admit that the reason I chose to read it again, was because of the films.  When the first one came out I kept thinking – was that in the book?  Will this really last another two films? 

Three long films from one book – impossible.  Yet, reading the book, there is so much packed into Bilbo’s adventures, it’s easy to see how Peter Jackson was tempted to spin out the action.  And, for reasons of political correctness, I might be able to forgive him for inventing a kick-ass female elf – although I could have done without the attraction between her and the dwarf. 

The films are highly entertaining with special effects begging for 3D.  But, despite being prequels to Lord of the Rings, I couldn’t help feeling that these were sequels – the sorts that have numbers 4, 5 and 6 after them, ie more of the same, but not as good.  These films fell far short of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Why?  In short, because they put too much in that was not in the original.

But back to the book.  If you’ve not read it and are relying on the films, then I urge you to visit this wonderful book.  It needs no 3D embellishments to make it stand out – just a great story, brilliantly realised setting, breathtaking adventure and good writing. It’s stood the test of time, as is evident by the myriad editions I could have chosen to illustrate this review – I’ve only managed a few of them.


1 comment:

Ann Turnbull said...

I agree - it's a wonderful book. Though when I first read it I was 13 and thought it was babyish! Some great covers there, too. I love the last one.

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