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The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien

Now – considering that I last read The Hobbit, aged around twelve, many, many years ago – before starting to re-read the book, ask me what I remember of it apart from Bilbo and Gandalf? I would answer, “Gollum and the ring, and Smaug the dragon, but particularly Gollum.” I was surprised to find that Gollum was almost incidental.

But what I had completely forgotten about were the dwarves. Not seven, but a whole baker’s dozen of the grumpy things!

The Hobbit charts Bilbo Baggins’ big adventure to vanquish the dragon Smaug. Gandalf hand-picks the little hobbit, who dreams of adventure (his Tookish ancestry) but is to timid to act, to join the team of dwarves to seek out and smite Smaug.

“This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbours’ respect, but he gained – well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end.”

Along the way they get into many scrapes, meeting different folk and creatures in each chapter as they make their way through the different regions of Middle Earth. Emotionally, Bilbo is on a journey too as he grows up and becomes the lynchpin in the band of adventurers, (especially as Gandalf has the tendency to disappear leaving them to sort out their own problems).

As a taster of what is to come in the LOTR proper, this children’s tale was a delightful prequel. I’m looking forward to the next three month’s books in the LOTR readalong immensely. (7/10)

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