The Annotated Hobbit by JRR Tolkien: Old Review

Title: The Annotated Hobbit
Author: JRR Tolkien
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
Publication Date: April 2003
Length: 399
Series: Stand Alone
Reason For Discovery: 8th Grade Summer Reading + Sword & Laser Book Pick - Dec 2012

From GoodReads:

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.


Anonymous said...
November 15, 2013 at 1:02 PM

I should reread The Hobbit. I read it the first time in my late twenties because my husband (an old-school fantasy reader) insisted. I read it out-loud to him on road trips which is not the best way to read anything the first time.

Berls said...
November 15, 2013 at 9:53 PM

It's been such a long time since I read the Hobbit, but I remember loving it. And liking it better than the Lord of the Rings... probably because like you I'm not a huge fan of Tolkein's writing style. The stories are great but I wish someone else had written them. And I think I liked LOTR less just because it was so long. Spot on review!

Unknown said...
November 16, 2013 at 12:11 AM

I can never remember anything when I read it out loud. I would recommend giving it a shot. It is definitely a quicker read than the Lord of the Rings.

Unknown said...
November 16, 2013 at 12:13 AM

I completely agree with you. I wish someone else had taken written Tolkien's ideas. One of these days, I do want to read LotR; however, I think I will have to spread them out over a couple of months/years!

Angela's Anxious Life said...
November 16, 2013 at 1:20 AM

Funny how book change every time you read it. I have read the Hobbit a few times. I have loved it and I have been bored with it. I don't love the Hobbit movie but will for sure go and see part 2 on Dec 13th. LOTR films were much much better!

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...
November 16, 2013 at 12:20 PM

I read this as a teen, and then when I was prego with our first child my hubby and I read this together. Each night we would read a few chapters to each other. My oldest loves fantasy...hmm I wonder why...LOL

Nara said...
November 16, 2013 at 10:53 PM

I really loved the first Hobbit movie, and am going to go see the second when it comes out, so I guess I'd better read the book some time after the third movie. I have heard people who've read the book say that the movie is a bit frustrating!
I actually couldn't finish The Fellowship- the writing was just so slow, and nothing seemed to happen. But a lot of people have said that the Hobbit isn't as much of a struggle to get through haha.

Unknown said...
November 17, 2013 at 10:53 PM

I did not enjoy the first Hobbit movie, but I too will be seeing the next one in December! I am thinking about rereading the book right before I see the movie, but my husband is begging me not to! He thinks that maybe I will like the second one, if I don't remember the book too well. :)

Unknown said...
November 17, 2013 at 10:55 PM

I will have to remember that when my husband and I decide to have kids! If our kids don't like SF&F, they are going to think that my husband and are horribly, horribly uncool.

Unknown said...
November 17, 2013 at 11:00 PM

The Hobbit is a children's book. It is much easier to get through. I have not been able to get through the Prologue of the Fellowship of the Ring. :) The Hobbit is a straight- up adventure story.

The movie is a bit frustrating because it is adding a lot of stuff from other Tolkien tales and changing some things in the book. My husband doesn't think the changes are a big deal, while I feel that they are. :) If after you see the movies, you like what you see, try the book.

Chanzie said...
November 18, 2013 at 1:24 AM

I have been wanting to read this book for a while already. Great review Pamela and I will keep them in mind when I do read this book. I loved the Hobbit movie and am super excited for the next one this December. I have to ask though can they really make 3 movies out of such a small book?

Chanzie @ Mean Who You Are.

Jessica @ Books: A true story said...
November 18, 2013 at 11:52 PM

Good to know - I've wondered about reading the annotated version. The Hobbit movie was so good, but yes it was changed a lot from the book. I hope you read LOTR soon! Watching the movies really helped me get through them when I was reading them.

Unknown said...
November 19, 2013 at 12:19 AM

They added in stories from The Silmarillion. The whole necromancer storyline is not in The Hobbit. Personally, I wished that they had just left The Hobbit as is and made just one movie (maybe two).

Unknown said...
November 19, 2013 at 12:22 AM

I am much more motivated to read LOTR, since I saw the movies. This is a time that I wasn't upset to be spoiled. :)

If you are a huge Hobbit fan, the annotated book might be a good fit for you. For me, I just found that I kept noticing that the annotations were more about grammar than anything else. I got this book at my library, so you might be able to find it there. Also, with the new movie coming out, I am sure that it will be in the bookstore, if you want to check it out in person.

Kimberly @ Turning the Pages said...
November 20, 2013 at 2:09 AM

Am I the only one who hasn't read The Hobbit or LOTR? I really feel like I need motivation to start the LOTR trilogy (which I want to read first) I was thinking of doing a buddy read with another blogger friend but she thought the books would be too long to tackle. I loved your review of The Hobbit though Pamela it makes me want to read Tolkien's stuff sooner rather than later.
-Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

Unknown said...
November 20, 2013 at 11:45 PM

The Hobbit is definitely a fast and easy read. It is an adventure story meant for "kids." I have got to get some books finished first, but if you are interested in reading The Fellowship of the Ring in the new year, I would be interested. I don't want to commit to the entire series, just in case Fellowship is too much.

Tabitha (Pabkins) said...
November 26, 2013 at 6:11 PM

Do you really consider this a children's tale? I never did.

Unknown said...
November 26, 2013 at 10:03 PM

I don't consider it a little kid's book, but I read it when I was in 4th grade. I referred to the book as a children's tale though, because that is what it is grouped as. According to Wikipedia:

"The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, is a fantasy novel and children's book by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for best juvenile fiction. The book remains popular and is recognized as a classic in children's literature."

Leave a Comment

Back to Home Back to Top Reading Is Fun Again. Theme ligneous by Bloggerized by Chica Blogger.