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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hobbit: JRR Tolkien - The greatest children's book ever.
JRR Tolkien's `The Hobbit' is, of course, one of the greatest children's books to have been written in the twentieth century. Based on the stories he told to his children and originally published in 1937, it is an almost perfect blend of fantasy, magic and adventure. It follows the adventures of one Bilbo Baggins, as he sets off with thirteen dwarves and a wizard to...
Published on 23 Oct 2012 by Victor

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56 of 65 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Martin Shaw Narration of The Hobbit (Abridged)
This audio version of The Hobbit tells the first tale of Bilbo's adventures with his trusted Dwarf companions and of course Gandalf. It tells the tale of their journey to gain wealth and treasure and all of the dangers they experience along the way. It more importantly tells how Bilbo comes across "The Ring" and its affects on him. From this the follow up story...
Published on 19 Mar 2002 by mike@wottle.free-online.co.uk


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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story, woeful edition, 6 Nov 2012
By 
gmiester (hemel hempstead) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hobbit (Kindle Edition)
I love the Hobbit as a story, I have done since i was a boy but this Kindle edition is dreadful. It repeats sentences and paragraphs and the odd page or too. Come on amazon, sort it out.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hobbit Kindle Edition, 1 Nov 2012
This review is from: The Hobbit (Kindle Edition)
Classic Tolkien...have read the paper edition...got a Kindle now and wanted the Kindle Edition to read...why is this not available via the Kindle Owners Library? Does anyone know how books get added to the Kindle Owners Library? Thanks - Dev
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So begins fantasy's definitive series, 9 Oct 2012
This review is from: The Hobbit (Paperback)
[I originally wrote a review back in 2000 for "The Hobbit", detailing the differences between "The Hobbit", "The Lord of the Rings", and "The Silmarillion". In 2012 I wrote a new review, and am editing my original text to include this new review. Mike London 10-3-2012]

New Review 2012: "In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit." Thus begins the most famous series in fantasy literature. For such a universe of high caliber, the sentence is a rather unassuming beginning for quite an unassuming, down-to-earth race known as Hobbits.

Unfortunately "The Hobbit" has become overshadowed by "The Lord of the Rings", seen as an "enchanting prelude" to the more substantial sequel. C. S. Lewis said in "A Preface to Paradise Lost" that to accurately judge an item, you first must know its purpose. The books were written for different purposes - "The Hobbit" as an entertaining story for his children, and "The Lord of the Rings", initially a seqeul to "The Hobbit", became much more a continuation of "The Silmarillion". For those who underestimate "The Hobbit" using the criteria of "The Lord of the Rings" as their guide are missing out on a rich work.

What are Hobbits, you may ask? If you go researching where Tolkien got inspiration for the Hobbits, you will soon get mixed up in "The Denham Tracks" (a 19th century list of various folk-lore creatures) and E. A. Wyke-Smith's "The Marvelous Land of the Snergs". Honestly, neither of these will get you very far.

The Denham Tracks reads like a laundry list of folk-lore creatures, and though the actual word "hobbit" appears, there is no context for what a "hobbit" actually is. "The Marvelous Land of the Snergs" will get you a tad bit further. Snergs are creatures about half the height of man (like the Hobbits), enjoy their food (again, like the Hobbits), and there the resemblance ends. The World of the Snergs is far removed from Middle-earth, having more to do with 19th century adventure stories set in fantasy with such dispargant elements as a vegetation Troll (by far the best character in the book), witches, knights similiar to stories of King Arthur, ad a waylaid sea crew hailing from the ship [on the ship] "The Flying Dutchman"

Tolkien certainly anticipated the question, for he answered this inquiry within the opening pages of this very book. They are a race two to four feet high, shy of "Big People", and have no beards, unlike dwarves. Hobbits are chubby, "dress in bright colours, (chiefly green and yellow)", and wear no shoes because of the hick tufts of hair and thick leathery soles of their feet. They eat as often as they can.

The story of "The Hobbit" is well known, having been published in 1937 and continually in print (save only for a brief interruption in the early 1940s, when Great Britian were facing paper shortages due to World War II).

"The Hobbit" began life as an entertaining story of Tolkien's children (as so many of Tolkien's stories began as well). Written between 1929-1933, the book details the adventures of Bilbo Baggins. Gandalf the Wizard meets with Bilbo in the opening pages, telling him he is looking for some "to go on an adventure". Bilbo, not quite as respectible as he would like to believe himself to be, tells Gandalf life was much more interesting when Gandalf was around, but no, he would not have any adventures, thank you very much. Naturally, thirteen dwarves show up, and ultimately Bilbo sets off to reclaim the gold that the Dragon Smaug has stolen from the dwarves. Like the later Aragorn, Thorin Oakenshield, the chief dwarf, is a king-in-exile, and wants to reclaim both his throne and his gold stolen by the dragon..

The real meat of "The Hobbit", and one of the reasons why I believe the book has had such a long lasting appeal, is the book's transformation of Bilbo.

"The Hobbit" shows the reader how an unassuming modern character ([for [all his]] though Bilbo lives in the far removed past, he is THOROUGHLY MODERN) goes from being an out-of-place bumbler in situations far removed from his life expereince to an equal among beings and races that belong only in the distant past [When - give examples of this]

Although initially inept, Bilbo, just as Gandalf predicted, proves to be a worthwhile companion, coming through for the dwarves on several key occasions, such as freeing them from the Elven prisons, fighting back the spiders, and facing the dragon alone. He even eventually aids in bringing about a resolution to the growing distress between the Dwarves, Men, and Elves after the fallout of Smaug's demise (albeit, rather unconventionally, using the Arkenstone, the Heart of the Mountain and the jewel which Thorin prizes above all others). [the whole affair of ] This journey, this transformation of Bilbo into something more, something greater, is the true heart of the book. Tolkien himself said that he removed Gandalf from the story shortly after Beorn's house, due to the dramatic need for Bilbo to proove himself without assistance from the wizard. Fortunately, Tolkien was able to use Gandalf's absence as a springboard into more expansive story ideas when he began developing "The Lord of the Rings" after the unbridled success of "The Hobbit".

Also, the book displays a moral complexity often not seen within the confines of children's liteature. By this, I am referring to the whole matter of Bilbo's handling of the Arkenstone, the chief jewel of the hoard that Bilbo and the dwarves are setting out to recover. The claims of the Elves and Men, and counter claims of the dwarves, and Bilbo's claiming of the Arkenstone and how he wants to use the Arkenstone to move the uprising [ever renewing] battle toward resolution are complex and startling legal in tone.

For all its story-book qualities, "The Hobbit" is a much different work from its subsequent [work] heir, "The Lord of the Rings". Although early manuscripts explicility prove Tolkien was casting the "The Hobbit" in the universe of his mythology from initial composition, "The Hobbit" features several elements and passages that are altogether incongruous with "The Lord of the Rings", especially in the First Edition published in 1937.

For one, the ring found in Gollum's cave is not the One Ring, the Ruling Ring of Sauron. The magic ring was simply that - a magic ring, a stage prop that, in the words of Tom Shippey helped equalize Bilbo in the archaic world he found himself in. Tolkien only began developing the concept of the Ruling Ring AFTER publication of "The Hobbit" when he was trying to come up with ideas for a sequel. When reading "The Hobbit", readers, especially those who know the sequel, may approach the Ring as though this was truly a dark and sinister ring, which the text does not simply support. Indeed, Bilbo's deception about the ring, so important in "The Lord of the Rings", is not explicit in "The Hobbit".

Next, and probably most fascinating of all, is the nature of Gollum himself. We all know he's a hobbit, long ago corrupted by his long possession of the One Ring. However, prior to 1951 when Allen and Unwin (Tolkien's publishers) published the revised version of "Riddles in the Dark" that Tolkien had written in 1947, not only was Gollum explicitly NOT a hobbit, we were not even sure what kind of creature he was (or what his physical size was). He was more akin to Tom Bombadil and Beorn, a one item category unique unto himself. There were no textual indications of Gollum's size in comparison to Bilbo, leading some illustrators in foreign editions to show Gollum as a much larger creature than he would later become.

Then there's the matter of the original version of "Riddles in the Dark". Initially Gollum was going to give away his magic ring as a gift if Bilbo won the contest as well as show him the way out; after winning, Gollum is unable to find the ring (naturally, as Bilbo had already found the ring), so he showed Bilbo the way out, constantly apologizing. In "The Return of the Shadow", Book Six of "The History of Middle-earth", we find Tolkien trying to work within the parameters of this original chapter. Naturally, Tolkien ultimately abandoned the original conception and rewrote the chapter in 1947 as a specimen of what a new chapter could look like and sent this to his publisher. Tolkien was quite surprised to see that, four years later, Allen & Unwin published the rewritten version, and Tolkien accepted the text as authoritative.

While that's the most interesting of the differences, there are still several passages at odds with Middle-earth as described in "The Lord of the Rings". There is no Shire. There are references to policemen and an unnamed "king". The trolls fit more into fairy-book stories than Middle-earth, and, as Douglas Anderson points out in "The Annotated Hobbit", Tolkien references other trolls with multiple heads, a thing not found in Middle-earth. Then there are the stone giants, which only appear once and then are never heard of again in any other story, before or after. There is speculation that one of Bilbo's ancestors took a FAIRY wife, a conception wholly alien to Middle-earth. There are no fairies in Middle-earth. Then there's the matter of the ruins of the mysterious city upon which Lake-town is built upon. This ruined city is mentioned only in "The Hobbit"; it goes unnamed, unreferenced, and undocumented in any of Tolkien's other writings regarding his legendarium.

Probably the single biggest difference between "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" is there is no developed nomenclature in "The Hobbit". The majority of the names are simple descriptions of the things involved: Bilbo lives in The Hill, is traveling to the River Running, visits a city named Dale, as neighbors across the Water, etc. There are very few proper names in "The Hobbit". The thirteen dwarves names and Gandalf (with the exception of "Balin") are all simply lifted from "The Devergatal", a section of the Elder Edda In "The Lord of the Rings" however, nomenclature is king, and Tolkien spent vast amounts of time creating vast landscape, cultures, and races all with their own unique linguistic flavour.

There are also some geographic inconsistences between the two works. From the bridge to where Bilbo and the dwarves meet the trolls is within sight; however, in "The Lord of the Rings", this same spot takes Aragorn and company SIX DAYS to go from the river to the spot where the trolls are.

Tolkien was aware of these differences, and in 1960 wrote several different passages and revisions to bring "The Hobbit" stylistically more in line with "The Lord of the Rings". These passages were published for the first time in 2007 with "The History of The Hobbit". However, he showed the revised passages to someone (it is unknown who) who discouraged him from changing "The Hobbit".

Ultimately, "The Hobbit" is a much different experience than "The Lord of the Rings", much more akin to classical fantasy fairy tale books such as "The Wind in the Willows" and "The Marvellous Land of the Snergs" in both style and tone than "The Lord of the Rings". Too its credit, the success of "The Hobbit" was what prompted Tolkien to write the sequel.

In the seventeen years between initial publication and the appearance of the first volume of its sequel (1937-1954), "The Hobbit" never went out of print (save only for a brief period during World War II due to paper shortages) and was a tremendous seller, without support from "The Lord of the Rings". It is indeed a rich work, and is an undisputed classic. This book is so much more than a "prelude" to bigger and better things. It's a keystone work in children's fantasy, and stands among the titans of literature.
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Original Review: "Inferiour to L.R.? I think not! No, just different!"
The biggest problem with this novel is perception. Tolkien wrote this story for children; to be more specific, this was written for HIS children. There were several stories like this, but it was this, The Hobbit, that was his master achievement in children's literature.

The Lord of the Rings ( a single epic, NOT a trilogy) was written to cash in on The Hobbit's success. Tolkien wanted to get on with the more serious work of his mythology, and ultimately that is what happened with The Lord of the Rings. It became attached to his mythology, and became as important to him as The Silmarillion.

So delineation is required if you want to read this. Do not go in with the thought that The Hobbit is a "precursor" or any such nonsense to The Lord of the Rings. Think of it like you would think of any other children's classics: children's classics. If you take it on The L. R.'s terms, this is a failure, primary because it is not written to be like that. But, on the flipside, The L. R. is as much a failure in children's fiction. It is not children's fiction, it is epic fantasy, and one should not equate it with children's fiction. That is EXACTLY what people try to do with The Hobbit. They try to put it in the same type of genre or playing field as The L. R. They are both masterpieces, and I love them both dearly. But one is for children, the other with adults.

Of course, Tolkien is part of the problem. How many books do you know that is a children's book and has an adult sequel? Not very many. The Hobbit, scarcely 300 pages, was written and published in the children's market. He then talked to his publishers, and they wanted a sequel. So he began "the new Hobbit", as C. S. (Jack) Lewis so aptly put it. He was preoccupied with his mythology, and the sequel was drawn into it. So we have two works, spanning two different genres, and as far as surface connections go its little more than prequel/sequel. Instead of looking at The Hobbit as a prequel, a precursor to his ADULT masterpiece, an inferiour version, think of as his CHILDREN'S masterpiece. The Hobbit is top of the class in children's fiction, one of the few contenders against such other great children's works as Narnia and Wrinkle in Time. The Lord of the Rings, likewise, is THE crowning masterpiece of the fantasy genre, of which its influence is incalculable to that fantasy market. Both are as important as the other, just in different fields.

I haven't talked about The Silmarillion much. I have already reviewed it, so I won't go real in-depth here. But the same thing happened with it. People, expecting another Lord of the Rings, were inevitably disappointed with the Biblical style of the published version. If Tolkien wrote that book out in narrative form as he did Lord of the Rings, it would be ten times longer than Lord of the Rings. The biggest problem with Tolkien is people have to many preconceptions that are incorrect.

So, basically, in conclusion, think of it like this:

1. The Hobbit - Children's masterpiece. He scores big with this one.

2. The Lord of the Rings - a single fantasy, not a trilogy. (Tolkien was always quick to point that out). The Crowning achievement of modern fantasy.

3. The Silmarillion - the Bible of Middle-earth. Much more for students of his work than the causal reader.

[From the Amazon.co.uk review:

Enjoy Tolkien's Middle-earth! I certianly have!

Mike London]
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great read!, 1 Oct 2012
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This review is from: The Hobbit (Paperback)
I would recommend this book to anyone. Such a good read, I could not put it down.
It keeps you gripped the whole way through!!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still great after all this time!, 8 Sep 2012
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This review is from: The Hobbit (Paperback)
I bought and read the Hobbit again in time for the movie at Xmas, even after all these years the characters and story are amazing. Tolkien was a giant - he even invented a langauge!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hobbit is Fantastic, 4 Sep 2012
This review is from: The Annotated Hobbit (Hardcover)
The Hobbit is one of my favourite books which I have read over and over again. It is a prelude to the much longer books of The Lord of the Rings. Fall into the world of Middle Earth full of fascinating creatures such as Hobbits, Elves, Dwarfs, Orcs and Wargs. Set in the cosy village of Hobbiton, Bilbo Baggins finds himself swept off his feet by the wizard Gandalf, adding along with a troop of 13 dwarfs all set out to find their treasure away in the mountain. The only problem is, is that there is a horrid dragon that sits on all the treasure, and Bilbo appointed as the burgular must be a theif for the dwarfs and bring the treasure back. See how Bilbo becomes a brave and adventurous hobbit which is unusual for hobbits from the quite and comfortable hobbit he used to be.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the All-time Classics, 24 May 2012
By 
R. Morley (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Hobbit (Paperback)
I loved it as a ten-year-old, and with the trailer for Peter Jackson's film having got me all excited, I decided to re-read this charming classic, and came to the conclusion that I love it still! Tolkien totally immerses the reader in his Middle-Earth setting, from quaint hobbit villages to goblin tunnels and enchanted forests, to towns built upon a lake in the shadow of a lone mountain and the lair of the dragon - it's a perfect piece of fantasy escapism.

While 'The Hobbit' is often labelled as a children's book, anyone of any age will be enthralled by this novel. It is so much more than simply a prelude to the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy, and is none the worse for it's easier-going style. In fact I've always thought it to be the more enjoyable story.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent story, great edition, 19 April 2012
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The story as we all know/should know is brilliant so I wont go into that here. The edition is also very good, it's just the right size - not annoyingly oversized. Everything feels high quality from the maps to the paper, to the lovely original cover illustration. Difficult to fault it in any way really except that it's quite difficult to read with the dust jacket on as it slides around quite a lot. But this really is such a tiny quibble - don't let it put you off buying one of the best books of the century in one of it's best editions.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars maggie48, 16 April 2012
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This review is from: The Hobbit (Kindle Edition)
Already own this in book form but wanted to re-read it in kindle form, which I much enjoyed. My hardback book is very small print and it is much easier on the eyes in larger text on the kindle.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First half is better than the second half., 5 Aug 2010
This review is from: The Hobbit (Mass Market Paperback)
I think Tolkien himself suffers from the same problem that the films of Lord of the Rings did. Namely, the scene is set beautifully in the early portion of the work but the actual climax fails to deliver or simply is not as interesting. I personally enjoyed Bilbo's much less intense encounter with the trolls more than the extended portion of the book about Mirkwood, the Lonely Mountain and the goblin battle.

Come to think of it, I sound like Bilbo not wanting any big adventures. I would love a book about Bilbo just going about his daily life in Hobbiton!
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The Hobbit
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (Hardcover - 12 Sep 2013)
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