Note: Check out my LOTR Review if you enjoyed reading this analysis of The Hobbit.
After finishing the legendary trilogy of The Lord of the Rings, my attention was turned to the book that started it all which is The Hobbit, which revolves around Bilbo’s adventures of which we hear so much about in the trilogy that comes after it. I had thought that The Hobbit would read much like its successor but it was actually quite different with it being a lot more fairytale-like in nature, carefree and containing less depth. Although The Hobbit came before LotR, I had still read it like a prequel – but after finishing it I realized that the trilogy is indeed more sequel-like in terms of quality. Once again, as stated in the LotR review, I remind you to look at this more as a few thoughts from a reader from the current generation rather than an analytical review. I apologize if I draw comparisons to LotR but it is difficult not to.
The Good: As mentioned in my LotR review, I stated that one of the major issues I had with it was that the story went into way too much detail leading to some very tedious and long-running sections that had me bored. Although, The Hobbit does sometimes have an habit of doing this, it is done a lot less frequently and that had the story flowing a lot better. I was very pleasantly surprised by this as there were points where I thought ‘Here we go again’ but Tolkien would summarize them quickly and get on with it just like I had suggested. It made me wonder how my journey with LotR had been if he had done the same. The story also had a more carefree tone to it which added in ensuring that the plot was much more concentrated.
The Hobbit had some absolutely amazing scenes within the story such as the meeting with Gollum, the meeting with Smaug and the battle at the end which had me losing all sense of time. Well-written dialogue, suspense and great characters really helped bring these scenes to life and the fact that some of these characters appear in the trilogy as well made them memorable.
The Bad: The plot for the most part was good but it was still inferior to The Lord of the Rings and I understand that one of the reasons is because it was shorter – and also written earlier than the trilogy, but the presence of some really dull chapters did not help. The story for me was going really well until the chapter where we meet Beorn which was just extremely slow and boring. It was like driving on a smooth road and then hitting a large bump and it felt like it took longer reading that chapter than the rest of the story.
Moreover, I felt that the ending of the journey did not do justice to the buildup. The killing of the dragon and the subsequent ending of the war (although the war itself was brilliant) was just rushed through so quickly. It could really have used a bit more drama and action. I don’t understand why the author decided to get Bilbo knocked out right when the war was getting interesting. The author continually builds up hype during the journey yet it just created disappointment in the moments that mattered most.
There were also some faults with certain characterization choices. I do not understand why the author decided to use thirteen dwarves which made remembering names so confusing. Not only that but it also made getting to know the characters very hard with only the standout dwarves being memorable. Additionally, the character of Beorn when we are introduced to him was extremely boring and yet when I was starting to find him interesting towards the end with his surprise appearance, the author rushes through his actions quickly.
Another minor problem I had was that at times the author’s tone tended to get so fairytailish that I felt that I was reading a children’s book from my kindergarten years. Though I guess that just depends on your preference.
Overall, The Hobbit is a great introduction to Middle-earth that has some legendary moments that follow up to its successors, an interesting, smooth-flowing story for the most part and lesser long-running sections than LotR. However, lack of depth (compared to LotR), an underwhelming climax and certain questionable character choices did hinder the journey for me. Nonetheless, The Hobbit is a great read which shows flashes of its legendary successor’s status and is a must-read for fantasy enthusiasts.