Just under the wire, I’ve read my fantasy/folklore/mythology book: The Hobbit. I last read this when I was 13 or 14 and when I caught the first movie on TV last week, I realized the only thing I remembered was Gollum and the riddles. (Also, the birthday party, but that turned out to be in Fellowship, not the Hobbit.) So that, and the fact it’s only 300 pages long and I believed I could finish it in time, decided me.
Gollum is sort of like the windmills in Quixote, only one chapter, but in a way overwhelms the rest of the book. I was surprised by a number of things in the book and I’m just going to talk about them, so if you want a spoiler free review, this ain’t it. But, really, does anyone need me to tell them to read The Hobbit? Bilbo is, of course, a complete fish out of water, but I was surprised how largely useless the dwarves were. Planless, under-mapped, under supplied, they’d’ve been dead several times over were it not for Gandalf and then Bilbo. They do a bit of fighting, but mostly they get captured by everyone between the Shire and the mountain. They run low on food before they even meet the trolls with apparently no idea on how they’re going to re-supply. They lose the weapons they happen to gain from the trolls and when they are actually faced with the dragon to kill – the whole reason they set out in the first place – they have zero ideas how to accomplish it. Apparently, so did Tolkien, because he makes Smaug leave the mountain to the dwarves and attack Laketown where a handy thrush tells a guy how to do it. Then, naturally, comes the part no one thought about either. How can 14 trolls defend a mountain full of gold? Not without help which Thorin rejects because he’s gone treasure-mad. I can’t say I approve of Bilbo’s solution, but I can’t really blame him either. Bilbo’s eagerness to live up to his reputation as a burglar causes half their problems in the book, yet he never learns to stop doing that. Although it is his final burglary that nearly solves the stalemate, but nearly isn’t enough. It takes an army of goblins to do that.
Despite my love for Martin Freeman, I don’t think I’ll watch the rest of the movies. I don’t like his style. Except Forgotten Silver was good. A fake documentary of a lost filmmaking genius from the early days of film. Really well done. Almost believable. Quite unlike anything else he’s done. And okay, I liked Tintin. I’m not even clear on what I dislike about Jackson’s movies, well, except for the parts that are mawkishly sentimental and twee. The Hobbit was not as twee as I expected, which I was glad about, but there’s just something that fails for me in the story telling. Perhaps it’s how fake everything looks.
Also, it’s amazingly male-centric. Tolkien didn’t see the need to put a single female in the entire book as far as I remember. It’s kind of weird to me. Then again, if it was influenced by WWI, I could see that would be very male-centric. Though there were female nurses in WWI, I’m pretty sure. The way it ends with an enormous, pointless war over a pile of gold did make me think of World War I.
Overall, I enjoyed rereading The Hobbit. And I want to thank Carl for hosting. I meant to participate more fully, but at least I did one thing. (Or two, if I can count both the book and the movie.)