Right. If you are over year six in school and still haven’t put your hands upon this amazing book, then WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN DOING IN YOUR READING TIME!? The Hobbit is an incredible book by J.R.R Tolkien, which will be a familiar name to anyone who has read C.S Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series. For those of you who haven’t read the Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings series was the inspiration for the legends of Narnia, now a well-loved classic. (I should also mention that most people who haven’t read The Hobbit will know the three names Gandalf, Bilbo, and Sting. Gandalf is a prominent character throughout The Lord of the Rings series and a white wizard. Bilbo is the main character of the book and a hobbit… THE hobbit, to be precise. Sting is Bilbo’s ‘sword’.
Bilbo Baggins is a well-off hobbit who lives in a hobbit-hole under a hill, known as Bag End in the Shire, the setting for The Hobbit up to around page fifty to sixty. He is fifty years old. Now, hobbits are small creatures that are human in appearance apart from their miniature height and their furry feet. The tallest and most famous hobbit to live around Bilbo’s time (albeit around sixty years before the story is set) is the Old Took. The hobbit Took family are the most adventurous in the Shire, and Bilbo is directly related to the Old Took. However, Bilbo himself never shows any sign of anything like an adventurous personality until the wizard Gandalf turs up at Bag End, accompanied by several dwarves. They have a long list of almost identical names, so even if you have a good memory, don’t expect to remember them all. Here we go… Fili, Kili, Oin, Gloin, Dwalin, Balin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Dori, Nori, Ori, and finally, Thorin Oakenshield. Whew! Thorin is the son of Thrain, who was the son of Thror, the dwarf King Under the Mountain. They tell Bilbo about an awful dragon, Smaug, who killed Thorin’s people and stole the halls of and treasure of Thror. Thorin wants to kill the dragon, but he really wants the best gem in Smaug’s collection- the Arkenstone, also known as the Heart of the Mountain. They take Bilbo with them as a ‘burglar’, because of his hobbit size and senses.
When Bilbo gets separated from the dwarves and Gandalf in a goblin cave, he meets Gollum, a crazy underground thing who talks constantly about ‘his precious’. Gollum challenges Bilbo to a game of riddles. Whoever asked the riddle that the other could not answer was the winner. Gollum got to rip Bilbo apart and eat him if he won. Bilbo got Gollum to show him the way out if he won. Bilbo won by asking ‘What have I got in my pocket?’ Gollum couldn’t guess, but tried to kill him anyway. The item in Bilbo’s pocket was a ring that could make him invisible which he had found on the cave floor. He evades Gollum and gets back to the others using it, but lies about owning it.
This ring turns out to be a real troublemaker once you get into The Fellowship of the Ring, which is Lord of the Rings book one, and chronologically the second in the series, after The Hobbit. I recommend reading The Hobbit before The Lord of the Rings, unless you want to be very confused with how the ring came into Frodo’s possession and his connection to Bilbo in The Fellowship of the Ring. It is easier to read than The Lord of the Rings, and therefore readable at an earlier age. I would recommend this book to year four at school and above, if they don’t mind some scary moments and getting hooked to the series.