Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.
One-sentence summary: A homebody hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, is recruited by the wizard Gandalf to undertake an adventure to regain the stolen gold of thirteen dwarves from the dragon Smaug, and he finds a priceless treasure along the way.
When read: First read as a child; last read January 2007
Why read: My first experience with this short prologue to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings epic was having it read aloud to me by my father, chapter by chapter, at bedtime every night. As such, I have always loved it.
Impressions: We always remember fondly the books we loved as children, but unlike many of them, The Hobbit withstands the test of growing up. Neither as long or as politically complex as LotR, The Hobbit is still a gripping adventure story filled with trolls, orcs, elves, giant spiders, battles and near escapes. Illustrated by Tolkien himself with detailed maps, it is a wonderful introduction to the world of Middle-Earth, to the fascinating characters of Bilbo, Gandalf and Gollum, and to the timeless realm of fantasy and adventure that we all need to continue to visit, even when we are no longer children.
Current status: I have a beautiful illustrated, hardcover copy in my library and look forward to reading it to my son.
The movie: I haven’t seen the new movie adaptation yet. I am sure I probably will, although I find it somewhat daunting that it is planned as a three-part trilogy. I was looking forward to a beautiful adaptation that wasn’t yet another major commitment, but I guess the movie studio wanted me to fork over more money that that.
- Most chapters introduce a new creature that exists in Tolkien’s fantasy world of Middle-Earth.
- The first printing was illustrated by Tolkien himself, who also designed the dustjacket.
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