Hello Bookworms. I’ve missed you. While I was away, I drowned my sorrows in the pages of The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. I’m highly susceptible to peer pressure, and with Karen at BlogHer hosting a read along , I decided the time had come. I needed to get started on my Tolkien.
Okay. We’re in Middle Earth, right? Bilbo Baggins is a Hobbit, which means he’s short, he likes to eat, and he has weird giant hairy feet. Also, most Hobbits don’t care to leave their homes (I think I’d do quite well in the Shire… Somebody dig me a Hobbit hole!) He’s acquainted with a Wizard (because there are Wizards and Elves and Dwarves and Goblins. Suspend your disbelief, okay?) by the name of Gandalf. Despite Gandalf’s rather dashing beard, he’s kind of rude and fond of getting the unsuspecting into pickles and showing up at the last possible moment to assist them in the battle.
Gandalf manages to talk Bilbo into taking a quest with a baker’s dozen Dwarves. The Dwarves were out to battle a dragon to reclaim their kingdom and treasure. It would make for a terribly boring story if the troop had an uneventful trip, asked the dragon nicely to give them back their treasure, and won the day with no conflict, wouldn’t it?
Tolkien wouldn’t have that! There are all sorts of challenges! There are battles with Goblins and kidnappings by Elves and excellent hospitality provided by man-bears. There are dark dreary forests and narrow escapes. There are conversations with birds and trips down rivers in barrels.
It all sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Only… I wouldn’t call it my favorite children’s adventure story ever. I mean, the adventures were great. It’s just that the timing felt weird to me. Like… Seriously, are they still walking through the forest? And it’s STILL so dark they can’t see? Great. And oh, they’re in barrels now? Yep. Still in barrels. Rolling down the river in some barrels. And… Yeah. We’re STILL in the barrels! I guess I was just a little frustrated that the action didn’t always coincide with my timing.
The only other thing that bothered me was that doggone dragon. Did anyone ask Smaug why he felt he needed all that treasure? Maybe he didn’t need to be slain, maybe he just needed a hug! Instead Bilbo goes and steals his treasure, pisses him off, and causes Smaug to have an emotional outburst wherein he lays waste to a village of men. It’s pretty bad. So eventually, you know, the dragon is slain, Bilbo gets back to the Shire. All is well. Only… The dragon was like jewel encrusted, and the men of the town refuse to harvest the jewels off the rotting dragon corpse. They think it’s bad juju or something. I think they were just pansies. Because, come on. Everyone knows that dragon jewels are worth a fortune on the black market. This is why I’d probably be eaten by Orcs at the earliest possible opportunity were I a character in a Tolkien novel.
Have any of you Bookworms tackled The Hobbit? What did you think? Would you harvest dragon jewels?