by J. R. R. Tolkien
The well-known sequel to this tale, The Lord of the Rings
, is on an entirely different order of novel. LotR is a vast, deep, dark, moving tale that is altogether "grown up." It's remarkable, therefore, that it springs from The Hobbit
, which is a lighthearted adventure story suitable for children and youth.
A hobbit, or halfling, is a "little person" with a pot-belly, hairy feet, a tendency to live in a hole in the ground, a taste for pipe-tobacco, and a strong inclination to stay put. In all these respects Bilbo Baggins seems to be an exemplary hobbit. He does, that is, until Gandalf the Wizard marks his front-door with a secret sign that advertises Bilbo as a burglar for hire.
A party of thirteen dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, takes Bilbo up on the offer and, ignoring his futile protests, lead him away from the land he has known, to an adventure over river, mountain, forest, and swamp. Along the way Bilbo finds the ring that becomes so important in the later book. He also encounters quarrelsome trolls, goblins (and worse) living under a mountain, ravening wolves, giant spiders, perilous elves, and a man who sometimes turns into a bear.
Finally Bilbo and the dwarves reach the old dwarf stronghold which has now become the lair of Smaug, a shrewd and violent dragon. Bilbo's job is to rob Smaug of the dwarves' stolen treasure, before the armies of darkness converge on the place in the memorable Battle of Five Armies. And when all is said and done, Bilbo still has a job getting Bag End back from the Sackville-Bagginses...
True to what Tolkien fans should expect, The Hobbit is a delightful story full of the joy of language, wit and irony, danger and wonder. And you may also learn a valuable lesson: spiders hate to be called Attercop!
Recommended Age: 9+
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