I have never read The Hobbit. Own three or more copies, some very nice hard back editions, but in my three plus decades of life I have never read it. Well, not until last week.
When I was young, there was no one to introduce me to the classics of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Anne Macaffery’s Pern was all the rage and I drifted out towards Steven King and John Saul’s horror. I was also briefly infatuated with the V.C. Andrews’ series until I realized that each new series was just a repeat of the last one and that I had read the same love scene in two other books. It was disappointing and led me to shun romance novels for quite some time.
The true is that when I was younger I was more into Scf-fi and Fantasy movies then books. I read a lot, but didn’t restrict myself to one genre or another. I did tend to favor fiction more; especially Anne Rice and Stephen King, which my birth father and step-mother did not approve of me reading. A book worm was not a welcome addition their household. They thought I should be out and about and not spending so much time in a book. Or more appropriately those books. This lead them to giving me spy novel recommended by my aunt. The book was filled with graphic violence and sex, but they instead it was better than the books of my choosing. Never mind that neither of them read. The whole affair left me confused as to what the point of taking the books that I loved away when these new books were far more graphic than anything I had read previously.
College came and I was introduced by the VTSFFC (Virginia Tech Science Fiction and Fantasy club) to a whole new realm of books. They are the folks responsible for be attempting to sing along with the BubbleGum Crisis sound track and being a booth bunny at Dragon Con. They also turn me on to the Black Company books by Glen Cook. (I, now, proudly own the whole series.)
When the Lord of the Rings Movies came out, I watched all three in the theaters and brought the DVD’s as soon as I could. I brought the books with every intention of reading. The problem was that I had already started teaching and giving books to my students. I am not sure how many of them were actually read by my students, but if they asked I got them the book.
Flash forward to the Saturday before Christmas and I was shopping with my friend and fellow dorktastic conspirator, Micheal of the GlaxayNextDoor, when I decided to pick up yet another copy of the Hobbit. Micheal wisely suggested that we go to the used bookstore up the street. We found two copies and I walked out with the older and less expensive of the two.
Soon, it was love. I nearly abandoned the other two books I was reading just to focus on discovering just what Bilbo the Bulgar was going to do considering he had never bulgared in his life.
What struck me from the beginning of the book was how conversational the tone was. Immediately, I was drawn in and felt like the story was being read to me. Now with out giving anything away and really watching the movies won’t give too much away, there is a reason this story is a classic. It isn’t as fast pace, but smooth and methodological storytelling. Bilbo becomes the hero of his own tale through the precise calculation of Gandalf, a wizard (of course) and proofs his worth time again and again to the adventuring dwarfs who wish to reclaim their mountain from the Smaug the dragon.
What makes this book a classic and indeed why a generation of writers and filmmakers have picked up elements of the Hobbit for their work. Did you think the Game of Thrones was the first to kill off a beloved character? Of course, in The Hobbit it is the character’s own doing and not because his motives were too honorable for the world around him.
The movie versions have more action and added drama than the book. And I love them, but the charm of the book and its power to inspire. Once you fall in love with a hobbit, the possibilities are endless.