Tolkien is the man behind the famous trilogy of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Twin Towers and The Return of the King, which we all know, have once dominated both the fields of written literature and film. But since it sprouted during the peak of the Harry Potter series, more specifically during The Chamber of Secrets (I believe), I never bothered reading it. Or watching any of the movies. Or even thinking about it. And those were some of the biggest mistakes I ever did, I may say.
The Hobbit: There and Before serves as the prelude to The Fellowship of the Ring, the first book of The Lord of the Rings, but is still a great tale by itself. This book was given to me when I was fourteen, but as I have said, I never bothered reading it, since I was too preoccupied by witches and wizards rather than elves and dwarves (I know it should be dwarfs, but that's how Tolkien calls them). The mere fact that the characters are all mythical creatures really makes me zealous about it, I have always loved mythical creatures in all kinds, from unicorns to mermaids, from dwende to kapres, and everything in between, maybe, I myself is a folklore.
BOOK-BUFF MANOMETER: 8/10
Gandalf tricks Bilbo into hosting a party for Thorin and his band of dwarves, who sing of reclaiming the Lonely Mountain and its vast treasure from the dragon Smaug. When the music ends, Gandalf unveils a map showing a secret door into the Mountain and proposes that the dumbfounded Bilbo serve as the expedition's "burglar". The dwarves ridicule the idea, but Bilbo, indignant, joins despite himself.
The group travel into the wild, where Gandalf saves the company from trolls and leads them to Rivendell, where Elrond reveals more secrets from the map. Passing over the Misty Mountains, they are caught by goblins and driven deep underground. Although Gandalf rescues them, Bilbo gets separated from the others as they flee the goblins. Lost in the goblin tunnels, he stumbles across a mysterious ring and then encounters Gollum, who engages him in a game of riddles. As a reward for solving all riddles Gollum will show him the path out of the tunnels, but if Bilbo fails, his life will be forfeit. With the help of the ring, which confers invisibility, Bilbo escapes and rejoins the dwarves, improving his reputation with them. The goblins and Wargs give chase but the company are saved by eagles before resting in the house of Beorn.
The company enter the black forest of Mirkwood without Gandalf. In Mirkwood, Bilbo first saves the dwarves from giant spiders and then from the dungeons of the Wood-elves. Nearing the Lonely Mountain, the travellers are welcomed by the human inhabitants of Lake-town, who hope the dwarves will fulfil prophecies of Smaug's demise. The expedition travel to the Lonely Mountain and find the secret door; Bilbo scouts the dragon's lair, stealing a great cup and learning of a weakness in Smaug's armour. The enraged dragon, deducing that Lake-town has aided the intruder, sets out to destroy the town. A noble thrush who overheard Bilbo's report of Smaug's vulnerability reports it to Bard, who slays the dragon.
When the dwarves take possession of the mountain, Bilbo finds the Arkenstone, an heirloom of Thorin's dynasty, and steals it. The Wood-elves and Lake-men besiege the mountain and request compensation for their aid, reparations for Lake-town's destruction, and settlement of old claims on the treasure. Thorin refuses and, having summoned his kin from the mountains of the North, reinforces his position. Bilbo tries to ransom the Arkenstone to head off a war, but Thorin is intransigent. He banishes Bilbo, and battle seems inevitable.
Gandalf reappears to warn all of an approaching army of goblins and Wargs. The dwarves, men, and elves band together, but only with the timely arrival of the eagles and Beorn do they win the climactic Battle of Five Armies. Thorin is fatally wounded and reconciles with Bilbo before he dies. Bilbo accepts only a small portion of his share of the treasure, having no want or need for more, but still returns home a very wealthy hobbit.
* It effortlessly answered a very flummoxing question: the difference between elves, dwarves, goblins, trolls and other mythical creatures.
* It got catchy songs, very catchy songs I may say, which sparkled the magic of poetry into the uncanny atmosphere of the story.
* It will get you right inside the adventure, I kid not. You will really imagine yourself going through steep mountains and obfuscating tunnels.
* There are some part in the story wherein you will be left hanging in vain, in the most aesthetic way. I reckon I've gone past lots of "Which is not a part of the story so we better move on..." or "Which doesn't falls right in the story. So getting back to Mr. Baggins... " and other statements like that which sometimes really pisses me off but at the same time, Tolkien gave his readers the chance to create their story on their own.
* Technically wise! It had indeed used highfalutin words at most parts, but it was understandable, meaning, you don't have to drop the book and scuttle your way to get a dictionary instead.
* It got illustrations of the places, but it showed no characters, which will left the readers do their own picture of how the protagonists and antagonists look like.
* It ended in the most unexpected way, even though it still gave Mr. Baggins a happy and wealthy life in the end.
* Smaug, the main antagonist supposedly, died a very simple and prosy death, and in fact, it wasn't Mr. Baggins who killed him.
* There were last minute characters which, somehow, stole the limelight from the lead characters.
* Mr. Baggins, the hero supposedly, haven't had his part on the dragon's death nor on the downfall of the goblins. He passed out at the peak of the action. He. Just. Passed. Out. Right. There. And. There.
* The reason why Gandalf chose Mr. Baggins as the main usher of Thorin and Co. wasn't stated, except from the constant reminder that Mr. Baggins is a Took, and Tooks are magical and are known to be highly adventurous.
There are lots of quotes worth sharing, all the elves's songs are really magnificently made. But Gollum (the My Precious) had hovered above all of them. Here are some of his riddles from the chapter Riddles in the Dark
What has roots as nobody sees,
Is taller than trees,
Up, up it goes,
But it never grows.
Voiceless it cries,
It cannot be seen, cannot be felt,
Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt,
It lies behind stars and under hills,
And empty holes it fills.
It comes first and follows after,
Ends life, kills laughter.
Alive without breath,
As cold as death,
Never thirsty, ever drinking,
All in mail never clinking.
This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws irons, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays kings, ruins towns,
And beats high mountain down.
All in all, my adventure with Mr. Bilbo Took- Baggins, Gandalf, Thorin Oakenshield and Co., and other mythical creatures are very fancy, and with the fact that I used the word "fancy" (which is a very endearing word for me) you can conclude that I've really loved it. It was worth seven nights of neglecting nice sleep, and it is worth bragging- not just sharing.
The Unexpected Adventure will soon hit the theaters worldwide. December 2012.