So for the penultimate in my Eclecetic Reader Challenge 2012 and for my Classic Book I and reviewing The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
I have chosen to use the image of the copy I read, the 1978 Guild Publishing edition bound in faux (or real??) leather. I think this is also the first and only book I have read for this challenge using a physical book... although I must admit to reading the last few chapters on the Kindle as I really wanted to finish it in a lunch break.
Before I start my review I will also admit that I did start to read Jane Austin's Northanger Abbey as my Classic... and I really did try, I used the annotations and studied up about her and her writing style. It just bored me to death... I will finish it someday but today is not that day... sorry.
So instead I went for a book that technically I have read before, years ago as a teen - I think I am OK to use this as a re-read as that was more than half my life ago and many thousands of books ago. I will also admit that I really had no idea what was going to happen next while reading it - aside from Bilbo did get back to the Shire, I was very much along for the ride.
The Hobbit is one of those classic books that people talk about alot. But how many have read it recently and has it really held up all these years later?
First up, it really is a great piece of fantasy writing. It has all the right bits, a young inexperienced adventurer going out to see the wild world, a wizard, dwarves and elves, bear-men, spiders, wolfs, goblins and Gollum. A magic ring is found as we travel over high mountains, into caves and tunnels and through dark deep forests, to find the fabled treasure and (the very necessary) dragon.
There are many books that tell a similar story, and I have read quite a few of them, but none tell it so innocently as Tolkien. I am reminded that this was written in 1937, there were no games of Dungeons & Dragons being played by high schoolers on Mum's kitchen tables, no movies featuring swords and sorcery and certainly no Geroge R.R. Martin. It is written with nothing to prove and everything to give.
The Hobbit is not driven by the typical fight scenes of modern fantasy, in fact (although necessary) the fights are really not that important, at least in the blow by blow sense of other books. It truly is about the adventure of one small Hobbit and the very real difference he made.
If I had to recommend a first fantasy book to someone I often say The Magician by Raymond E Feist (very much a Classic in it's own right) but I think that may change, depending on the audience, as The Hobbit with it's easy style and no nonsense "real" hero is probably a better choice.
Simple, brilliant and a real classic. 4.5/5
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