Sunday, April 19, 2009
J.R.R Tolkien's The Hobbit follows the adventure of Bilbo Baggins of Hobbiton, an young and round-bellied hobbit(creatures like us, although are half our size and fashion long hair on their feet), through great kingdoms, elvish towns, dark forests ridden with giant spiders, the goblin infested Mines of Moria, Gollum's lake (where he found a magical ring) into the heart of the Lonely Mountain where a ferocious Dragon made his lair.
Bilbo's adventure began one day as he sat outside after breakfast (a rather large one, as most hobbits would prefer), smoking his pipe peacefully and minding his own business until a wizard named Gandalf visited him unexpectedly, and offered poor old Bilbo(who was extremely surprised at that moment, to say the least) an adventure. Bilbo, being a hobbit, refused instantly, and forced Gandalf to leave, and invited him to tea the next day, just to be polite. The next day had changed Bilbo's life forever. That day, one after another, 13 dwarves arrived to his Hobbit-hole, and then finally followed by Gandalf himself, and managed to persuade him to take the role of a Burglar to join them on a quest to The Lonely Mountain to slay Smaug the Dragon, who had hoarded Thorin Oakenshield's rightful treasure (Thorin was one of the 13 Dwarves and the ancestor of the King of The Mountain, and therefore inherited all his wealth). At first, Bilbo refused once again. Then, the dwarves sang a song that told the tale of their wealth and how the Dragon had stole it of them, and something woke up in Bilbo's heart- His sense of adventure. This was probably because his mother came from the "Took" family, the only hobbits who loved going out on adventures, so he finally accepted the offer in the end.
Bilbo started his journey as a worry-worn hobbit who was annoyed because he forgot to bring his pocket handkerchief, and together with his company (and Gandalf disappearing and reappearing all along the adventure), he gained respect as a Burglar, and soon the dwarves believed that Bilbo could really help them defeat the Dragon. Bilbo, Gandalf and the 13 dwarves arrived to the Mines of Moria, exhausted from their past events and discouraged by the long and dark journey that lay ahead of them, found themselves moving by Gandalf's guidance but unintentionally ran into some Goblins, and eventually killed the Great Goblin himself, who was the King of Moria. Bilbo was knocked out during the fighting and was not spotted by both the dwarves or the goblins in the dark tunnels. When he regained consciousness, he found himself lost.
As he wondered along the dark corridors of Moria, he found a small, golden ring, and kept it in his pocket. Further on, he came to a dark lake and met Gollum, a strange mutated frog-like creature who is about Bilbo's height (I later found out that he was a Hobbit, although changed by the effects of a magical ring) who had a twisted mind which was consumed by the ring that Bilbo has in his pocket. Gollum found the Hobbit amusing, partly because all he had for company are fish in a dark underground lake and Goblins unfortunate enough to become Gollum's lunch once in a while, when the wretched creature is bored of fish. The book also mentions that Gollum was also interested in Bilbo because he reminded him of his past. I will not give away the rest of the story of Gollum and Bilbo's meeting, as it is another of the many incentives to read to book.
After a series of dramatic events (which I will not mention as it will give away the storyline), Bilbo (with a particularly useful ring he stumbled upon) and his company finally reached their destination, but the quest was far from over.
In the end, Smaug the Dragon is killed by a bowman named Bard of a nearby village, who shot him (as the Dragon swooped out of his lair furiously to lay his wrath onto a the village after being locked out of it by Bilbo, with the help of a certain ring that can make the wearer invisible) with an arrow that had, thanks to Bard's skill and sheer luck, pierced Smaug's only weak spot; a flaw in the Dragon's jewel-encrusted coat of armour. But the adventure was not over yet. Bard's village demanded some of Thorin's massive amount of treasure to build a better town and as payment for slaying the dragon. But Thorin had become greedy and refused to share any of his wealth. Soon, the Wood Elves arrived (they are mentioned before in the book)to help Bard's people. The Dwarves also arrived from Grey Mountain to rebuild Thorin's city, and live there. Bilbo, wanting Bard's village rebuilt, gave him and the Elves the one thing that Thorin would prize over a river of gold: the Arkenstone (a beautiful gem that the Dwarves highly valued; Bilbo had stolen it before when the dwarves took control hoarded treasure). With the Arkenstone, they bargained with Thorin and came to an agreement. But there was a war to come.
The goblins, who were furious from the death of the Great Goblin, and the Wargs, a ferocious wolf-like race from earlier on in the book (I will avoid giving away too many spoilers, and so far my summary leaves out most of interesting bits), came to attack the Dwarves while they were vulnerable, to get their revenge.
Soon, the three armies (Wood elves, the Men of Lake-town, and the Dwarves from Grey Mountain) battled the Goblins and the Wargs. The war was won because the Eagle of the Misty Mountain and his army and Beorn (both friends that Bilbo and his company had encountered along the journey) came to the rescue, surprising the Goblins and Wargs. As any fantasy book, the "good guys" always win.
During the battle, Bilbo hid himself by using the magic ring but was knocked out again. He woke up after the war is over, and was taken to Thorin, who lay in a tent, badly wounded and at the brink of death. He praised Bilbo and apologised for his greed, before he finally passed away. Dain, Thorin's cousin and also the king of the dwarfs of Grey Mountain was crowned the new king of the Lonely Mountain and they had a grand funeral for Thorin. Dain paid more that enough to Bard for his slaying of Smaug, who sent the treasure to the King of Lake-town to repair all the damage, and gave much to his followers and friends. Dain also offered Bilbo his share of the treasure, which was more than enough for a king, but Bilbo refused, saying that it would be too much to handle. Instead, he just brought home two chests; one of gold and one of silver. Before departure Bilbo gave the Elvenking a necklace of silver and pearls because he had stolen from his kingdom earlier. The Elvenking bade him farewell, and told him that he will always be a friend of the elves.
Now tired of his adventure, Bilbo Baggins returned home to his peaceful hobbit hole, and wrote a book about his adventures. Because of his adventure he had lost all his respect in the Hobbiton (his neighbours thought him queer) except for the younger hobbits who lived over The Hill and across The Water, who were, of course, from the Took family.
I liked this book very much, and am starting to read Tolkien's other works. The Hobbit is filled with adventure, excitement and a bit of humour, all mixed in well with even portions. It left me itching for more, I especially want to find more about Gollum and the Ring, which I am sure will be covered in the Lord of The Rings series. I recommend this book to anyone, but it will especially be appealing to adolescence, or those who love a good read before bed.