"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." Those ten unassuming words set the stage for a classic, epic fantasy adventure that has lasted throughout generations.
Man, I love those ten words. Most books try to start with a jolt, a sentence that catches your attention and throws you immediately into the action. Don't get me wrong, I adore those kinds of books. I try to start out with eye-catching sentences when writing. But I love how JRR Tolkien is so skilled that he can simply start out the book by telling you, "Hey, there's a hobbit and it lives in a hole", and without you even knowing what a hobbit is (and simultaneously wondering if it is some gross insect because it lives in a hole in the ground), you still want to read on. And then Tolkien still doesn't tell you what a hobbit is. Instead, he goes into this incredibly detailed description of the hobbit-hole. And yet, it works. It never once comes off as boring or unnecessary. You just accept it.
Tolkien doesn't wait too long to get the story rolling, though. And while we're talking about how the story starts out, let me proclaim my love for Gandalf and Bilbo's conversation. I love it. You know, the whole 'good morning' bit. Ah. Pure genius. I adore that the movie kept that part. If you would paraphrase the whole conversation, it would go something like this:
Bilbo: Good morning.
Gandalf: *thought-provoking answer*
Gandalf: Don't you know who I am?
Gandalf: *Confusing tidbit about 'Gandalf means me' or something*
Gandalf: I want you to go on an adventure.
Bilbo: What? No.
Gandalf: You're going.
Let's fast forward. The dwarves! The dwarves are amazing! They just keep on coming and coming, and poor Bilbo doesn't know what to do. At least in the book, Bilbo is a lot less anti-social than in the movie. Not that I have anything against anti-social Bilbo - he's precious, really.
Let's talk about Bilbo for a minute. I don't even know what to say. I love him. He is such an interesting character. He starts out not wanting to go on this adventure at all, but he really develops a lot during the course of the book, as we'll see as we progress. Bilbo is hospitable, nice, and generally pretty polite (except when it comes to adventures).
But Bilbo is also hilarious. Bilbo is that friend that mother hens everyone else. "I don't think you should stand on the swings." "Maybe you shouldn't try to hang upside down on the monkey bars or you might fall and hit your head." "I don't think we should go confront a dragon; do you know how bad they are for your health?"
All in all, Bilbo is not suited for an adventure. Pfft. Like Gandalf and the dwarves care about that.
I wouldn't mind if dwarves showed up at my house and wanted me to fight a dragon with them. I mean, they go about it with such good manners: "_____, at your service."
Like, thank you. If you're at my service, does that mean that you'll clean my house for me?
It's so nice seeing Fili and Kili again. They're young, excited dwarves, and they have no idea what's in store for them in the distant future. I won't cry. I won't. *sniff* I'm alright. I'll continue on.
And THORIN. The book literally says, "Thorin was indeed very haughty". I never remember it saying that before. Is is just me, or is that hilarious? Maybe it's not. I have a weird sense of humor. But I love that the book admits that Thorin is pretty arrogant. Thorin is so confusing, though. In some ways, he is very polite and kingly, and then a paragraph later Bilbo breathes and Thorin is like "no don't do that you are beneath me". I don't know. Just - Thorin.
The two songs in Chapter One are fantastic. My personal favorite is "Over the Misty Mountains Cold", but I love the "That's What Bilbo Baggins Hates" song too. "Over the Misty Mountains Cold" is beautifully written, and I love it even more now that it has been recorded and sung by the dwarves in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey".
This was a pretty cool start to re-reading the Hobbit. There wasn't too much that I didn't remember, but the things I forgot were awesome to rediscover.
As this is the first chapter, I don't have as much to say. It feels refreshing to read the Hobbit again. I can't wait to continue this journey.
How about you? Do you have anything to add? What's something you like in this chapter? Will you do the re-read with me? Do tell!