London, Harper Collins, 1993, 285p
So here I am, jumping on The Hobbit bandwagon. I tried to read this a few years back, but all I remember now is the excessive singing whilst sat around fires in the forest. Reading it now, there is so much more to Tolkien's story.
I am sure I do not need to tell you the plot of The Hobbit, but just in case - Bilbo Baggins is talked into going on an adventure with thirteen dwarves, over mountains, along rivers and through forests, to reclaim the treasure stolen from the dwarves by the dragon, Smaug. It is Tolkien's prequel to The Lord of the Rings, written for the younger reader.
The language isn't totally accessible for the modern reader, it having been originally published in 1937; but the plot is fast paced and exciting, and Tolkien's narrative tone is light-hearted and easy. The story progresses smoothly and rapidly, and the characters are brilliant - Bilbo in particular, of course. Gandalf repeatedly tells the dwarves that Bilbo will prove to be invaluable, and indeed, this is true. He is their spy and burglar, creeping into all sorts of dangerous situations to gather information or plan an escape.
The action is easy to visualise, especially due to Tolkien's maps and illustrations. Yet, simultaneously, he leaves much to the imagination of the young audience, as his typical reader is probably adventurous and intelligent. It is incredible that a world so far from our reality can so easily come to life!
Like many other Tolkien fans, I am excited to see how this story plays out across the film adaptations, though a little apprehensive about this short tale being converted into 9 hours on screen. I really hope that a product of the release of this film is an increase in readers, young and old, going back to the original adventure story.