My dear readers, this is a book that has been a long time coming. A spectacularly long time. I am twenty five, and I feel like I have read this book fifteen years late. But now that I have, I finally get it.
Oddly enough, despite my deep and enduring love for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie trilogies (having grown up in Middle Earth (New Zealand, for anyone that doesn’t know yet)), after one disastrous attempt at The Fellowship of the Ring as a child of nine I never had any interest in reading the books. That changed a few months ago, when my stepmother brought me back an old paperback edition of the Hobbit from an op-shopping trip.
Unbelievably, it was a 50th anniversary edition in really great condition; look at the photo! I have to admit, I was drawn in mostly by the cover, and the growing need to actually read the books that give details to the world I loved so much thanks to that great man, that Kiwi national treasure, Sir Peter Jackson.
And so, buoyed by the feeling that a really lovely cover will give a reader, I dove in. And in. And in.
Let me tell you right now, I love this book. I cannot, absolutely cannot conceive of why it took me so damned long to pick it up and read it. I mean, for crying out loud it was written for children. I’ve been reading longer and more complicated books since the age of nine or ten. Then again, I think reading books like this as an adult lends itself to a better perception of the plot, the characters, and the subtext of a book than you would be able to deduce as a child, no matter how well-read. This book is an absolutely brilliant introduction into the literary universe created by Professor Tolkien, and I bow to his imagination, dedication, and expert application of the English language.
For anyone who has read this book or intends to read this book and has already seen the movie trilogy, you will be struck by two things almost simultaneously. The first is how determinedly the movies stuck to the storyline of the book. The second is how determinedly the movies strayed from the details of the book. Since finishing the novel last night, my thoughts have been plagued by how on Earth Peter Jackson
- created three full-length, magnificent movies from a book with two hundred and eighty-five pages,
- kept so close to the plot, which is apparently rather difficult for book-to-movie adaptations, given what I have seen, and
- managed to introduce or change enough details that even having seen the movies, I was surprised by the contents of the book!
I have said this before, and I shall no doubt say it again, but people simply do not write like that anymore. I speak truth here, and I defy anyone to argue that point. This truth is, I think, one of the great humiliations of modern literature. I don’t think that people actually can write like that anymore, had they even thought to consider it.
It is an odd thing to read the book after seeing the movie, and usually is something I endeavour to avoid. I was quite anxious about this one because I loved the movies so much, but also because the third movie in The Hobbit trilogy broke my heart. I had avoided spoilers like the bubonic plague, and having never read the books had no idea what to expect. I was shattered by the last film, and honestly didn’t know if I wanted to read the book that the film was interpreting. I did though, and I am ever so glad.
So glad, in fact, that halfway through The Hobbit I purchased this glorious set of the books (pictured right) , so that I could start The Fellowship of the Ring right out of the gate. Best of intentions being what they are, I actually need to finish four other books before I can get started on that one, but at least it is there for when I actually can begin.
I don’t want to say much about what actually occurs in the novel, because I truly and deeply wish you to read this book yourself. Understand why it is that so many people around the world love Middle Earth so much. Do yourself this favour; I swear you shall not be disappointed.
Five star read, people.