Date of Publication: 1937
Number of Pages (including maps): 275
Synopsis (from Amazon.com): “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”
The hobbit-hole in question belongs to one Bilbo Baggins, an upstanding member of a “little people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded dwarves.” He is, like most of his kind, well off, well fed, and best pleased when sitting by his own fire with a pipe, a glass of good beer, and a meal to look forward to. Certainly this particular hobbit is the last person one would expect to see set off on a hazardous journey; indeed, when Gandalf the Grey stops by one morning, “looking for someone to share in an adventure,” Baggins fervently wishes the wizard elsewhere. No such luck, however; soon 13 fortune-seeking dwarves have arrived on the hobbit’s doorstep in search of a burglar, and before he can even grab his hat or an umbrella, Bilbo Baggins is swept out his door and into a dangerous adventure.
Review: The Hobbit is a prelude to the epic The Lord of the Rings, but it still stands quite well on its own. This story tells of the finding of the Ring of Power, though at the time it seems a mere piece of luck and comes in quite handy for Bilbo during his adventure. More important to this story is the journey of Bilbo and the dwarves toward their ancient home, the Lonely Mountain, where Smaug the dragon sits atop their hoard of treasure. Always, the goal of reaching the mountain and reclaiming the gold (somehow) is foremost in their minds, even though they become sidetracked several times along the way. This is a perfect adventure story, ideal for reading to children or for anyone of any age. Bilbo, a seemingly insignificant person of a seemingly insignificant race of people, is a wonderful hero, as he finds that he possesses more courage and wits than he ever imagined. This is one of those books that everyone should read, if not for its relevance to the Middle-earth saga, but also because it’s simply a wonderful story.