This one may seem obvious. I mean, has anyone (well, any reader) not been affected in one way or another by Tolkien? I suppose there have been. I have heard people say they find The Lord of the Rings pedantic. But then when I try to explain to them that it’s supposed to be like that, they won’t listen. I’m getting off topic. Just … . Anyway, here I am, telling you how The Hobbit has changed me, like a ride in limousine services changes one’s location. First of all, you should know, it’s my favourite book. Of all time. It’s actually a part of the reason I study what I study. I fell in love with Tolkien at an early age, and that fostered by love for medieval literature, and, long story short, I’m starting my PhD studying Old Norse literature in a few months. So, on a very obvious level, I already owe this book a whole lot.
In case you don’t know the story (and watching those movies that have been loosely-based on the book, at best, doesn’t county), here a synopsis. Essentially, there was a mountain inhabited by dwarves that was taken over by a dragon called Smaug. Dragons and dwarves both like treasure, you see, and the dwarves couldn’t stop the dragon talking theirs. So the dwarves were driven from their homes, and lost everything. The dwarves that feature in this book are thirteen descendants of those who were displaced by the dragon, their leader being Thorin Oakenshield, grandson of Thrór, who was King under the Mountain. That mountain being the Lonely Mountain, which was taken over my Smaug. These thirteen dwarves decide, with the help of Gandalf the wizard, that they must return to the Lonely Mountain to take a stand against Smaug and win back their ancestral home.
Gandalf believes that the company could do with another member, that is, someone to act as burglar for the party. For this role, he chooses Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit (a smallish creature with a big appetite and hairy feet). Hobbits are generally absolutely opposed to adventure, and Bilbo Baggins is no exception. That said, something in him moves him to agree to the journey (not without a little encouragement from Gandalf), and he finds himself caught up in quite a big adventure. On this grand quest, Bilbo and the dwarves encounter rather more than they bargained for, including hungry trolls giant spiders, goblins, and less-than-hospitable Wood Elves. And for a time Bilbo becomes separated from his companions, and has a journey all to himself that’s integral to the plot of The Lord of the Rings.
I hold this book dear to my heart primarily because of Bilbo. There he was, sitting on his porch on a morning like any other, planning on having a day like any other, when up strides Gandalf, and his life is changed forever. And Bilbo, the most unlikely candidate for an adventure imaginable, goes on a quest to a far off land to recover lost treasure. And so few people believed in him, but he never gave up. So many times, all Bilbo wanted was to go home and sit in his comfy chair and smoke his pipe, but he didn’t. He was brave, and he was loyal, and he showed mercy when given the chance, and he learned that he was capable of so much more than anyone – especially he – thought possible. And it just goes to show that you’re never too comfortable or too old to drop everything and go on an adventure to slay a dragon.