4. The Hobbit

The Hobbit (There and Back Again) (Novel). 1937, Author: J. R. R. Tolkien.

          This novel sets the stage for the equally thrilling trilogy The Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit tells the tale of one fortunate hobbit, who reunites with his old wizard friend, Gandalf. Gandalf convinces quiet, mild-mannered Bilbo Baggins to act as a burglar in the greatest heist in Middle Earth’s history; to reclaim the dwarf’s treasure buried inside The Lonely Mountain. He and his company (13 dwarfs and a wizard) all embark on a journey filled with orcs, trolls, magic and dragons. Along the way, Bilbo stumbles upon a creature named Gollum. After finding Gollum’s “Precious”, which just happens to be The One Ring, Bilbo escapes with his life and suffers the consequences of The Ring’s evil after that.

          The element that stood out, in The Hobbit, was the climax. Bilbo, acting as the burglar, walks in alone to the lair of the great and terrifying dragon, Smaug. Everything that happened thus far in the story all depends on this defining moment in Bilbo’s life. All the trials, all the wars, all the sacrifice, would have all counted for nothing if Baggin’s doesn’t succeed at finding what he’s looking for. Ring in hand (which has the nifty trick of making the wearer invisible), he approaches Smaug face-to-face, which happens quite accidentally. The hobbit-to-dragon conversation that follows is quite intriguing as well. Bilbo manages to give away his position, angers the dragon by stealing some of his treasure and attempts to escape with his life. J. R. R. Tolkien truly makes the reader feel the anticipation and anxiety of Bilbo.

          The other thing I appreciate about Tolkien’s novels is the level of detail he puts into the scenery. At the front of every one of his books is a detailed, hand-drawn map of Middle Earth. He paints mental images of cascading waterfalls, stone-cold structures and vast plains of rolling hills. Even things as minuscule as the hardness of the ground, Tolkien manages to make a part of the overall story. Never did he describe a piece of scenery that wasn’t important. Tolkien incorporates suspense, scenery and beautiful artistry within his wording, all within the covers of this book. As far as Middle Earth epics go, I thoroughly enjoyed The Hobbit the most out of all of them.

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