The Hobbit was written by J. R. R. Tolkien and published in 1937. It was the great financial and critical success of this book that led the publishers to request a sequel, which became even more popular The Lord of the Rings (LOTR). The book has never been out of print and has been adapted for stage, screen, radio, board games, video games and more – most notably the Peter Jackson’s movie adaptations of 2001, 2002 and 2003.
Having first watched the LOTR-trilogy movies, I went about discovering Tolkien in a completely opposite manner. We had these old and tattered copies of the trilogy, and I never felt really inclined to open them. But then I watched the movies and fell in love with the story. When I wanted to start reading the books after having seen the movies, I was advised to start with The Hobbit. I was told it was lighter, easier to understand and also just a whole lot less to read. And to this day, I am happy I did that because it is indeed the best introduction to the world Tolkien has created.
The Hobbit really made me fall in love with Tolkien’s writing. He is a master story-teller and has a unique way of taking the reader by the hand and introducing him (or in my case, her) into this wonderfully different, beautiful world. He describes everything into fine detail, but these long descriptions did not bother me and didn’t really break up the story as they sometimes tend to do. It’s technically a children’s story, though the author has stated that he didn’t write it specifically. It’s an epic fairy tale that will appeal to readers of all ages.
Way back when I read The Hobbit, it was still generally unknown to the large public who don’t read a lot of fantasy. That changed with the hugely successful movie adaptations. The 100-page book was turned into a Hollywood production of no less than 3 movies of just under 8 hours in total. How did they do that? By bringing in a lot of the LOTR-characters and adding things to the story that were never in the original book. I disliked that, because the book was perfect and contained in and off itself. You didn’t need to read/see LOTR to understand it. The movies are much more interconnected.
I didn’t like the way they adapted the book into the movie(s) but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like the movies. Because I did. Take the book out of the equation, and the movies make up an amazing fantasy trilogy. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey kicked the trilogy off in 2012 under the direction of Peter Jackson (who also directed all three LOTR movies). It introduced the fantastic Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins. Best casting choice ever, in my opinion! One year later, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug came out and the trilogy ended in 2014 with the The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
If you want to read LOTR, I strongly suggest starting with The Hobbit to get in the swing of things. Believe me, it makes it a lot easier to start on the Machiavellian task of the three huge LOTR books (confession: I still haven’t been able to finish all three LOTR books, my Goodreads profile is indeed up-to-date…).
So, do you agree with me? Have you read it yet? Let me know in the comments!