Bilbo Baggins is a pretty normal hobbit, even if there is a slightly adventurous side to his family. But that changes drastically when the grey wizard Gandalf knocks on his door and recruits him – more or less against his will – to go on an adventure with 13 dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield: they plan to defeat the dragon who took their home, mountain and gold from them. But dragons aren’t the only dangerous thing out there.
I’m one of the many people who decided to (re-)read the book before the movie came out and to refresh my memory. Since my head is a sieve that was really necessary. But honestly, as a writer, Tolkien sucks. He is great at imagining and building worlds, but he can’t tell a story. So I completely understand people who say they never got through the Hobbit (or Lord of the Rings, for that matter).
It’s amazing – everything that I remembered from The Hobbit basically happens in the first 90 pages. I’m pretty sure that I finished it when I read it the last time, but maybe I didn’t? Anyway, now I definitely finished it. So, yay me!
But it really is a pity that Tolkien really has no sense for pacing at all. His story will drag on for ages and then suddenly people will pop up and everything will happen at once.
Another problem I had was that I just really didn’t like Bilbo. And we never get enough info about the dwarves to give them many characteristics or to even remember all of their names without an effort to learn them. And his royalist tendencies, where everything – from leadership to being able to talk to birds – will be passed on through royal blood, drove me a bit insane.
And yet. And yet, the book has something that draws you in and fascinates. I think it’s just the sheer amount of detail that Tolkien gives the world and the setting. And it’s worth reading for that.
Summarising: if you can overlook the pacing issues, read it.