Thursday, 22 December 2011

The Hobbit Read-along, Chapter One

Previous chapters | Introduction
My first thought upon starting the Hobbit was 'aren't you supposed to jump straight into the plot and capture the readers attention?'. JRR Tolken clearly didn't get that memo as the books begins with a very long-winded description of a Hobbit's home. I'm not yet sure why I should care, especially when it becomes clear that most of the book will not take place in a hobbit home.
It seems that hobbit's are short, don't wear shoes and like their food, especially cake. They like quiet lives, live in comfortable homes built into hillsides and are very hospitable by nature.
There, I told you in two lines what JRR Tolken took pages to explain.
I can't help thinking 'get on with it already!'.  
Galdalf visits Bilbo, the hobbit in question, and Bilbo makes it clear that he does not want an adventure. Nevertheless, Gandalf picks him and proceeds to send 13 dwarves who are on a quest his way.
Much like JRR Tolken, the dwarves don't seem in any hurry to explain exactly what their quest is to poor Bilbo, indeed they eat him out of house and home (though they do clear up after themselves) then have a little sing-song before getting down to the nitty gritty. 
They need Bilbo to act as burglar (I'm assuming this trade is viewed rather differently in Middle Earth) to help them steal their ancestor gold back from a mean dragon called Smaug, who stole it. Well, when I say steal, I mean he killed the dwarves then moved into their home with the gold.
Now come on, any self respecting thief knows you make off with the goods, otherwise someone will come knocking, wanting their stuff back. I'm guessing dragons aren't that smart.
Mind you, no one seems very smart yet, save perhaps for Gandalf, and he seems more manipulative than clever.
Bilbo clearly needs assertiveness lessons but before that, he might try some counselling. Poor chap doesn't seem to know from one minute to the next whether he wants to go on this adventure or not.
As for the dwarves, they need some etiquette lessons, STAT. I can forgive them barging in on Bilbo since that was Gandalf's fault but seriously, would a please or thank you be so very difficult?
Considering that they lost their home and riches decades ago when Thorin (the king) was just a boy he is incredibly up himself! Were he master of a mighty empire I might forgive his conceitedness but as it stands, I just want to slap some manners into him.
Hopefully I'll find a redeeming feature or two in the next chapter because right now, they're all as annoying as each other.
I also can't help but note that there are 13 dwarves and one hobbit, just as Jesus Christ had 13 disciples (yes he did, people just prefer to forget that Judas was also a disciple*). I can't help wondering if one of these 13 dwarves will turn Judas on his friends and betray then. Then again, it might just be a coincidence; too soon to tell.
The only woman mentioned is Bilbo's deceased mother, Belladonna, who's wealthy family paid for the lovely house she shared with Bilbo's father (Do female dwarves hobbits come with dowries? Was his father a gold digger?). She is also whom Bilbo gets his schizophrenic tenancies from, uh, I mean his adventurous nature.
Having seen the trailer and heard a glimpse of the dwarves song (sans instruments) it is rather moving. Not moving enough to give me goose bumps like some music but much better than I had imagined in the book. Thanks to the slapstick way in which the introduction of the dwarves was handled, I imagined the song as being very loud and comical rather than touching.
The book seems to want to find the humour in every situation and to have us laugh at the characters rather than with them (although granted, I am not far in) where as the trailer gives the impression that the characters are not being made fun of but are taken much more seriously. I have heard that the film will have humorous moments but I suppose it remains to be seen if they are at the characters expense or not.
I seem to remember the dwarf being a figure of ridicule in the Ring's trilogy (that dwarf reminded me of Scrappy Doo, 'let me at 'em, let me at 'em!'). I'm pleased to see that doesn't seem to be the case with the Hobbit movie.

[ETA: For those who have been telling me on various message boards that there were only 12 disciples, let me list them for you.  1 Peter, 2 Andrew, 3 Philip, 4 Bartholomew, 5 Thomas, 6 James the Greater, 7 James the Lesser, 8 Matthew, 9 John, 10 Thaddeus, 11 Simon, 12 Judas and 13 Matthias. Here endeth the lesson]


  1. It has been over 6-7 months since I read the "Hobbit" together with my children, so some details are fuzzy, but I dont remember that Bilbo was ½ hobbit, ½ dwarf! (Do female dwarves come with dowries?);-)

    I got to admit that I am not into "the lords of the ring" (seen the movies - not read the books), but when RA got the part of Thorin, I thought - What the heek: We got the book (my husband is soo into Tolkien), my children are now old enough to appreciate and understand it and if it gets boring, I can always think of RA everytime the name Thorin is written ;-)
    But it never got boring ( was thinking of RA sometimes anyway), and I really enjoyed it. It will never be my kind of book, but I do appreciate it ;-)

    And I really appreciate your review of the first chapter - can easily understand your thoughts and views, because I am not a "Tolkien" girl :-)
    And thank you for all the funny remarks, I will certainly be looking foreward to chapter 2 read a long :-)

  2. Sorry, Bilbo is 100% hobbit, that's my mistake!

    I'm slightly worried my irreverent remarks will insult Tolken fans and I'll be besieged by them. I've already have some twat comment on the introduction post about how I shouldn't spout feminist crap about things I don't know about and I should just go and take a gynaecology course (I think he meant gynaecology. the spelling was so bad it could have been a gymnastics course). Anonymous, needless to say, got his ass got deleted.

    I seriously hope that there are some Tolken fans out there who are reasonable and don't beat their little fists against their anonymous chests as soon as someone dares to question their hero's work.

    Thanks for commenting!