Thursday, 10 January 2013

The Hobbit

It was the perfect timing for me to read The Hobbit recently. I knew the Peter Jackson movie was coming out, and we were planning a New Zealand holiday for Christmas. I'd tried reading The Hobbit to my son a few years ago as a read aloud bedtime book, but we'd both got bored by it. I was unsure how I'd like it this time round. Thankfully I was less bored.

Hobbits were everywhere in NZ

As possibly the last person in the world to read The Hobbit, the story probably needs no introduction to most everyone else. A band of thirteen dwarves gather and set off on an adventure with one hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, to try to reclaim the golden treasures within the Lonely Mountain. These treasures are guarded by the terrible dragon Smaug, who stole from the dwarves and decimated their King and their civilisation. Of course their journey is beset by many perils and terrible monsters- wargs, orcs, trolls, giant spiders. All rather classic quest story and battling with nasty monster stuff. Possibly The Hobbit set the bar for such tales I suppose.

Air NZ has gone Hobbit crazy,
besides the whole safety video thing
the first of two Hobbit planes to fly the skies,
sadly we didn't get to fly on this one

As I've said before, fantasy is not my thing. I generally don't like books with maps at the front, or the need for Frequent Capitals to Denote Things of Note or Import. And if you're going to put a map at the front of the book, then please make it one that is helpful, and not one that doesn't help until most of the journey has finished anyway.

Picture source

I liked the book well enough overall, despite the rather frequent intrusions of the omniscient narrator, but I did like it much more in the last 100 pages, after Smaug actually enters the action at around page 200. I did find some of Bilbo's later actions quite morally dubious, and wondered about that, but otherwise it's an action packed adventure, beloved by most everyone in the world it seems.

Hobbits on cups

My favourite quote, and one that is probably quite famous, at least it should be, it's pretty funny.

He charged the ranks of the goblins of Mount Gram in the Battle of the Green Fields, and knocked their king Golfimbul's head clean off with a wooden club. It sailed a hundred yards through the air and went down a rabbit-hole, and in this way the battle was won and the game of Golf invented at the same moment. 

The  One Ring was made in Nelson NZ

Of course we went to see the first installment of the three part Hobbit movie whilst visiting Middle Earth (although sadly I didn't get the passport stamp even though I asked specially, and very politely, I just got the dismissive "Oh we don't stamp Australian passports" and a shrug).

I was never a great fan of the Lord of the Rings movie franchise. I enjoyed the first one, but was increasingly disturbed by the violent nature of the second two films, plus I don't find orcs that visually pleasant to watch, which of course made The Hobbit a bit of a visual challenge too. I enjoyed it well enough, but didn't feel that the story really needed the introduction of the White Orc, although he certainly does have a cool prosthesis, and it certainly didn't need Sylvester McCoy's character who was covered with bird poo and racing about the place in a chariot pulled by bunnies. Still it was a visually splendid movie experience, excepting of course when the orcs were on screen.

Hobbits taking it to the streets
well orcs and dwarves really, not sure why you'd want an orc van
or park your gnarly ride outside the library


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Hobbits, hobbits, everywhere. Very cool time for you to read the book.

bermudaonion said...

I haven't read the book or seen the movie and I'm not sure I will. Fantasy's not my thing either.