Tuesday, January 1, 2013
The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
And it is not only the Baggins family, or even hobbits in general, but there are also interwoven in this epic tale, allusions to the past histories of dwarves, elves, goblins and even trolls and dragons which illuminate our understanding of this particular adventure which brings these disparate cultures and peoples together.
The Grey wizard Gandalf is actually the catalyst who brings Bilbo into the adventure. It involves a daring and arduous trip by a group of dwarves who intend to reclaim their mountain fortress and all the gold and riches that remain there. Several generations ago their forefathers lost a bloody battle with the dragon Smaug who now resides within the mountain caverns and sleeps atop all the gold and jewels left behind by the dwarves of old. Gandalf believes that Bilbo has a skill set that can be used to their advantage (Hobbits are small, nimble and quiet when they move), but basically, he could likely be a good burglar!
Bilbo is relatively rich and comfortable in his hobbit-hole home. His life is predictable and built around one delicious meal after another, and rarely omits tea at 4 PM. Adventure is the last thing he is looking for, but in the end he decides to join the dwarves and his life will never be the same.
This incredible trek stretches Bilbo, turning him into a courageous and loyal friend to the dwarves. He discovers that he is clever, quick-witted and a good negotiator. This is the trip where Bilbo finds the magic ring that is so precious to the creature Gollum, and which plays a key role in the subsequent series of tales called The Lord of the Rings. But the obvious benefit that comes with owning the ring is that one is rendered invisible by slipping it on one's finger. This is used to great advantage in one dangerous situation after another before this adventure concludes.
Wow, what a wonderful, wonderful story! Read the book; see the movie and then read the book again...it really is that satisfying people!