Wednesday 27 June 2012

The Hobbit (movie v book) plus free book giveaway

I re-read The Hobbit the other night.  I can’t remember when I first read it; in fact I couldn’t remember a whole lot about it at all. Which, come to think of it, is pretty damning, right?  I’m pretty sure I read Lord of the Rings first – when I was about ten, if I recall.  And then again, when I was thirteen and again when I was sixteen.  Let’s just say I was a bit obsessed with it.  Okay, let’s be really honest here, I was more than a bit obsessed with Aragorn.  I had a serious downer on Arwen because, really, what kind of vapid wimp was she?  What did she do when her beloved rode off to battle?  Er, give him a flag. 
Nope, I identified with horse-girl Eowyn because, frankly, she is the only female character in the entire trilogy with any kind of get up and go. 
“I can ride and wield blade, and I do not fear either pain or death. But I do fear to stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.”  Attagirl.
Then again, she hasn't got a lot of competition as female role models are pretty thin on the ground. The elves are just too wafty, Goldberry sings and that's about it...which leaves... Shelob. Great.  

Nope, Eowyn it had to be. And, anyhow, I kind of went off Aragorn a bit by the third book – he was much better as grubby gloomy old Strider.  By the end, he’d morphed into stereotypical king material. And poor Faramir, poor doomed Faramir with his bonkers father, riding hopelessly against impossible odds.  Yeah, I shifted allegiance, fickle teenager that I was.

Anyhow. Back to The Hobbit.  After the broad vistas of LOTR, it all seems a bit tame.  The characters seem too small.  The adventure too trifling.  And what’s at stake?  Gold.   Y’know, not the freedom of the known world; not the soul of mankind but…jewellery. Okay, and a lost kingdom but, tbf, the dwarves (in the book anyhow) seem far more focused on the bling than the homeland.

Lately James has been asking me to read to him at night again. Yeah, he’s thirteen. So what?  Curiously, I love reading aloud and for some even more curious reason, he seems to enjoy listening to me. And there is nothing nicer at the end of the day to sit on the edge of his bed, with the SP curled up and making the odd grunting noise (or scratching off a flea), and just lose ourselves in a story.  We had galloped through the latest Rick Riordan (The Serpent’s Shadow) which was, have to say, a total cracker.  In comparison, The Hobbit seemed…umm…a bit boring, a bit slow.  And no jokes.  Yet James seemed to enjoy it.  Well, he said he did. And, anyhow, in a way it doesn't matter what you read...if you're reading, if you're hanging on to a little bit of childhood. Right? 

My view?  Well…a few thingies bothered me.
 Too many dwarves. Just way WAY too many dwarves.  I never did get to tell ‘em apart.  Apart from the grumpy leader one and the fat one.  The rest? Just dwarves. They all came across the same. Is that dwarvist?  Bite me.
* Gandalf. Bit of a bumbler really. Flits in, flits out.  And, like, why did he get Bilbo to go on this quest thingy anyhow?  
* Elrond. Now, am I reading this right but it seems to be saying he isn’t ‘all elf’ if you get me. Look…page 70… “In those days of our tale there were still some people who had both elves and heroes of the North for ancestors, and Elrond…was their chief.”  Sooo, why was he all arsey about…oh, never mind.
* Elves in general. Much more sprightly and silly than LOTR.
* The necromancer. Sauron, right?  Routed from the forest and banished.  At no point does he pick up on the ring malarkey – even though he made the darn thing. Okay, so I’m missing something here but I can’t be arsed to burrow through LOTR – remind me, someone, why he’s able to ‘feel’ the ring when Frodo has it; but not before?
* From banishment to massive evil empire in…what?  Fifty years?  Hmm, on second thoughts, that’s perfectly possible. As you were...
* Smaug. HUGE wasted opportunity for dramatic tension, IMHO. Does he ever really threaten?  Nah.  And how does he get killed?  Off-set. By some random guy that comes out of nowhere.
* Bilbo is fifty, right?  So how come he looks like this?  On second thoughts...scrub that. 

Am I being a miserable old cow?  Is this the danger of re-reading books years after you first encountered them?  Mind you, like I said, it’s not like The Hobbit were on my ‘Favourite books of all time’ list.  And, having said all this, I confess I am looking forward mightily to the movie.  Check out the trailer below - it's a cracker!  And I reckon this will be one of those rare cases when the film might well be one hell of a lot better than the book.

Except (update) - see here - my thoughts on the movie  ...  

Did you like it?  Have you read it to your children?  Would you like to?  I have a couple of copies (no, not my old one - new, new, nice and new, unthumbed by my grubby paws) to give away if you’d like to try it out. I may even throw in a bit of dragon hoard if you’re very lucky (or maybe an invisible ring). If you’d like a copy let me know in the comments – and make sure I can get hold of you one way or another. 

And check out the Hobbit blog:


Paul Freeman said...

I'm still not sure if you liked it or not :D
Great trailer.

Zoë said...

I havent read it since I was at school loved it then, loved LOTR even More, also Narnia, and a whole raft of fantasy genre books. Or were they fantasy? I think of them as a documentary of their times.

Would I love to win a book, oh yes - a dragon would be even more amazing - as for an invisible ring - not sure I see the point (ok that was a bad pun - but I couldnt resist)

Looking forward to the film too.

Milla said...

Am sure F would love it. Hate to say struggled terribly with the whole JRRT shebang. But you could've bhuessed that ;)

Sarah Blackburn said...

I think the Hobbit is best read first. I loved it when I was about 9 or 10. On reading it to my own kids I found it childish - but I loved the stylised illustrations by JRRT. LOTR starts off in the same style - very narnia, the world chez North Oxford - and then has to transition from Merrie Shire to serious Middle Earth. And eventually in my later teens I loved LOTR more and more. Of course most of the female characters were ciphers - but I identified with most of the male ones. It inspired me to learn anglo-saxon, paint pictures, practise calligraphy, make up worlds and languages - though not to do archery or sword-fighting.

Ashen said...

I read The Hobbit after Lord of the Rings, and remember it seemed a bit, hum ... dwarfed. Then again, all epics start small.

Joanne said...

I went on exactly the same journey with LOTR, Eowyn, Strider and then Faramir. I can easily do it again at a moment's notice. Well, about nine hours notice, since watching the trilogy is a lot easier than wading through Tolkein prose.

We don't need a copy as this house has several, which tells you something about the inhabitants - even if the experience of reading a book morphs as you age, you can still keep hold of the essence of that first experience, and want to pass it on.

Anonymous said...

Elrond as a half-elf. Yes, he is, but if you are a half-elf, you have to pick whether you want to be Man or Elf, and Elrond picked Elf. Plus, he's spent a long time picking up the mess that Isildur made, and his wife was tortured by Orcs. You can see why he'd be miffed. There is SO MUCH backstory to this I can't even, mostly in the Silmarillion, but also, Unfinished Tales and Children of Hurin.

remind me, someone, why he’s able to ‘feel’ the ring when Frodo has it; but not before?

Sauron can't feel the ring, in LOTR - not accurately anyway. Once Gollum has told him that the Ring has been found and Sauron has started pulling out all the stops to look for it, Frodo is still able to walk right through Mordor without the Eye spotting him. It's only right at the end when Frodo gets to Mount Doom and claims the Ring as his own that Sauron belatedly works out what is going on.

In Mirkwood, Sauron has no idea the Ring has been found, and he's also got the White Council on his tail. Plus, Bilbo crosses Mirkwood miles North of Dol Guldur.

... As you can tell, I am a fan. I think it is unfortunate you read the Hobbit second : the Hobbit is a great tale, but it's very much Bilbo's point of view, and Bilbo most of the time has no idea what's going on.

I completely disagree about the tension with Smaug - the point where Bilbo picks his way into the mountain and suddenly realises that Smaug is there and he's going to have to talk his way out I think is fabulous edge of seat stuff, and also when the dwarves are getting their possessions up the mountain and you know Smaug is out there somewhere, but you can't see him, and will they get inside in time??? Goodness, that always has me holding my breath.

I think the point about lack of female characters (apart from Eowyn and arguably Galadriel) is fair - though many male writers of his period did worse. But there is nowhere like Middle Earth. Nobody has written a world with that kind of worldbuilding, that kind of depth - and that's what makes it outstandingly special for me.

Tolkien set out to create a mythology for England, to replace the myths you can glimpse through Beowulf, but are mostly lost. I think whatever his failings, he triumphantly succeeded at that.

I'm SO looking forward to this film!

Jay said...

Me wants a precious book... precioussss.... precious book. Needs a precious book. Its could be my birthday present, it could. Needs book. Give me book. Mine! Mine! Mine!

Greta said...

This was one of those cases where I suspended all judgement. I read LOTR first and went back out of curiosity (as very much an adult). The first words SHOUT 'kid's story' so I let it go. Everything you've said is legit. But I enjoyed the read, anyway. Several times. Especially the second half, with Smaug et al, where it suddenly became much more 'adult'. (IMO) Anyhow, I'm really looking forward to the movie(s).

martine said...

I am totally with you on Eowyn, the best character in the film for me.
Love a copy of The Hobbit. Our primary school teacher read it to the class when I was ten, on lazy friday afternoons when there was no way we were doing any work and the National Curriculum had not been invented yet.
best wishes

F said...

I've always preferred The Hobbit. (I haven't actually been able to finish LOTR, much to Em's disgust.)

I think it's because I like small stories. Epic fantasy has never really appealed to me because it's, well, too epic. I don't care so much about the fate of the world or power struggles between kings and wizards. I think the thing I like about The Hobbit is that Bilbo's adventure is that it is small, and unimportant to everyone but Bilbo. But to Bilbo, it's amazing.

Exmoorjane said...

@Paul - :)

@Zoe - Nah, they weren't fantasy; they were for real. :) Right, your name is in the hat for the draw.

@Milla - yeah, I know, hon.

@Sarah - Yup, I'm being harsh on what was intended for a young audience. My LOTR fetish actually extended even beyond that but I have a smidgeon of self-respect left, so won't share. :)

@Ashen - wise as ever.

@Joanne - I love the films too - though there are parts of the books I wished they had included...the barrow wights spring to mind, and the Halls of Healing (?)

@bunn - Yes! Knew someone would come along and do the deed. Thank you. :)

@Jay - you sad creature. *gollummm*
You're in the hat.

@Greta - Just didn't rock my boat remotely but yeah, bring on the movie!

@Martine - isn't she fab? Now if she just had red hair... :) You're in the hat for the draw.

@Frankie - love your take on this, even though I am quite the opposite. :)

marta said...

I remember liking the book, but I'm sorry to say I remember the animated film more. But I am oh so looking forward to that movie!!

Unknown said...

ooh, ooh, ooh! I loved the preview! It has been so many years since I read 'The Hobbit.' I'm sure I've forgotten so much, but I remember that I truly loved it.

LeeAnn at Mrs Black's said...

I still love it, but think I must be in the right mood, with The Battle of Evermore by Led Zeppelin playing. I know what you mean about moving on though, so now we are reading things like Wulf Hall, historical novels .... but the good and evil battle never ceases to entrall us as children, and sometimes it's a lesson that adults need to revisit too. Whether in the real world, or fiction we've nearly forgotten.

Family Affairs said...

Oh great - thanks - I was going to write several lines for my Hobbit giveaway - now I"m under pressure!! Lx

YourMrBumbles said...

I agree with folk who say the Hobbit is the one to read first. It was read to me by our headmasters wife every Sunday evening at prep school; and is an abiding memory of childhood. I read it with pleasure to my children and having lost my copy in "the divorce" would love a copy for when grandchildren arrive!

Mr Uku said...

I needs to reread this book so send me a copy please.
My first introduction to The Hobbit was in the Speccy adventure game. It came with a copy of the book that you were meant to read so you could properly play the game. unfortunately, piracy was really popular and while I got the game easily enough it was years later before I got around to reading the book. So glad I did. I only read it once, but it has to rank as one of the best I ever read.
Oh, and I totally agree about Gandalf. In fact I was thinking the other week, why did he involve Bilbo in all this? Nothing but a meddler.
Anyway, I'm off to blow smoke rings and sing about gold.
Laters, Hobittses.

Exmoorjane said...

Huge thanks for all comments - the giveaway is now closed. The SP has put his paw in the sorting hat and the books are going out to Jay and Zoe. Enjoy. :)

Jay said...

First, I'd like to thank Jane for all her support. I never could have achieved this glorious victory of retrieving the precious without her.

Second, I'd like to thank the Academy.

Third, I'm not a robot ... if I were, I might be able to read the captcha and post this comment someday.

Unknown said...

Zoe, I have not read it since childhood either, but I've decided it's time; my business travels for Dish will be a perfect time to catch up and read it again. Winning a dragon would be incredible especially with all the magical movies that have been eating at my limited imagination. I'm looking forward to using Blockbuster @Home to get caught up on the LOTR trilogy; I know as soon as I see The Hobbit, nostalgia will take over. Especially with the movies being filmed at once, I want to be able to watch the movies in the same fashion. Who else is excited?