Author: JRR Tolkien
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
Publication Date: April 2003
Series: Stand Alone
Reason For Discovery: 8th Grade Summer Reading + Sword & Laser Book Pick - Dec 2012
For readers throughout the world, The Hobbit serves as an introduction to the enchanting world of Middle-earth, home of elves, wizards, dwarves, goblins, dragons, orcs and a host of other creatures depicted in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion -- tales that sprang from the mind of the most beloved author of all time, J.R.R. Tolkien.
Newly expanded and completely redesigned, Douglas A. Anderson's The Annotated Hobbit is the definitive explication of the sources, characters, places, and things of J.R.R. Tolkien's timeless classic. Integrated with Anderson's notes and placed alongside the fully restored and corrected text of the original story are more than 150 illustrations showing visual interpretations of The Hobbit specific to many of the cultures that have come to know and love Tolkien's Middle-earth. Tolkien's original line drawings, maps and color paintings are also included, making this the most lavishly informative edition of The Hobbit available.
The Annotated Hobbit shows how Tolkien worked as a writer, what his influences and interests were, and how these relate to the invented world of Middle-earth. It gives a valuable overview of Tolkien's life and the publishing history of The Hobbit, and explains how every feature of The Hobbit fits within the rest of Tolkien's invented world. Here we learn how Gollum's character was revised to accommodate the true nature of the One Ring, and we can read the full text of The Quest of Erebor, Gandalf's explanation of how he came to send Bilbo Baggins on his journey with the dwarves. Anderson also makes meaningful and often surprising connections to our own world and literary history -- from Beowulf to The Marvellous Land of Snergs, from the Brothers Grimm to C. S. Lewis.
Bilbo Baggins is a content hobbit. His home is cozy, he has a huge kitchen filled with delicious food, he is excellent at making smoke rings, and he has never gone on an adventure. Gandalf, a wizard, decides without Bilbo's permission to invite a band of dwarves who are planning on going on an adventure to reclaim their homeland. Although Bilbo is reluctant to risk his life, he ultimately decides to go on his first adventure. On this journey, Bilbo faces trolls, elves, spiders, and Smaug (a huge dragon voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch)! Watch Bilbo face his fears and become the hero that Gandalf knew that he was.
This is the 2.5 time that I read the book. I started the book in 4th grade, but stopped because I got frustrated that the hobbit and dwarves spent so much time sitting in Lonely Mountain and not fighting Smaug. I finally read the book the summer before 8th grade, because it was my required summer reading book. I liked it well enough at that time; however, I did not love the book. This was partly due to being required to read the book for school.
This time around, I enjoyed the book so much more. I liked the adventure and it seemed much more fast-paced than I recall in previous readings. I must admit that I do not love Tolkien's writing style. He is a fine writer; I just don't like the style. For some reason, nothing he writes sounds very exciting to me even when the scenes should be exciting. This will not stop me from eventually reading The Lord of the Rings. One thing I found most peculiar about rereading this book is that I apparently had forgotten the entire ending! My memory of everything after Smaug and Bilbo talk was completely wrong. I did remember what happened to Smaug; however, I did not correctly remember anything else. I am glad that I chose to reread the book instead of participating in the book club discussion with memories from almost 20 years ago.
The Hobbit is a fun, adventure book. If you have not read this book, keep in mind that it was a children's tale. Bilbo and the adventuring party get into several dangerous situations; however, for the most part everything works out. It is a story in which you want to cheer at points when good things happen and hold your breath when something bad might happen. There are no middle of the road characters here, people are typically good or evil. What this all means is that if you decide to read this book, accept that you are going on a single dangerous but exciting journey is a merry band of dwarves, a hobbit, and a wizard. Do not expect The Lord of the Rings, because this book is not meant to be an epic tale. It is supposed to be one hobbit's tale.
Finally, let's talk about the annotations. This was NOT my favorite annotated book. I found most of the annotations to be related to grammatical edits in various editions. Also, many of the annotations were quite lengthy and continued onto a second page. This made reading the annotations not as seamless as it should have been. I would probably give the annotations two stars (out of five).
I give this book four out of five kitties.
P.S. Do not make the same mistake I did. Do NOT read this book right before seeing The Hobbit in the theater. It will only make you frustrated.