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Bidding Bilbo Goodbye

February 11, 2010

As I mentioned yesterday, I feel really bad that it took me this long to get the final post for the LOTR read-a-long posted. I hope that y’all will forgive me; when I have fibro, my brain becomes zombie-like, and I can’t really think or function. -Eva

Bilbo is now safely ensconced back at Bag-End, and we have come to the end of our group read of The Hobbit. Of course, you don’t have to say good-bye to Middle Earth just yet; this month, we’re reading The Fellowship of the Ring together, and Claire is hosting. But let’s discuss the latter half of the book, shall we?

I know that since this is ridiculously belated, many of you have probably already written your wrap-up posts. That’s great; please add them to the Mr. Linky so that we can all visit each other. But for those of you who are in need of some inspiration, here are a few questions:

Did you find the book’s second half consistent to the first, in tone, plotting, etc.?
What did you think of the ending?
Did your view of any character change since our last check-in?
What surprised you most in this half of the book?
What delighted you most?
Can you see yourself rereading The Hobbit some day?
Are you planning on continuing on to The Fellowship of the Ring?
Would you say that doing a group read enriched your reading? Anything in particular written by a fellow participant that stands out?

And now for my thoughts! (I feel this goes without saying, but just in case, this will be full of plot spoilers.) Honestly, I don’t think the second half was as good as the first. I don’t know why Tolkien threw a random battle in there, and then only discussed it for a few pages…it felt too big and rushed compared to the rest of the story. The last few chapters felt a bit anticlimactic to me. And the wood elves come off as quite evil, lol. I mean, they’re not goblins, but they definitely don’t feel like the impression I have of the elves from the LOTR series. I can’t wait to get to those books and see if maybe it’s just my imagination idealising the elves. Oh, and I’d completely forgotten that Smaug is killed by a man! I think the dwarves come off as quite bad in the second half; really, looking over the whole book, they don’t do much of anything, and then they expect all the treasure. Sketchy.

So those were my issues with the second half of the book. But there was lots more positive! :) First of all, I still love all of the songs. And it’s great fun seeing Bilbo come into his own even more. He really is clever (and lucky of course). And yay for another riddle scene, this time with Smaug! In fact, I think that for me, Smaug rather stole the show. :) He’s an awesome dragon, and I found myself taking offense when he was referred to as a ‘worm’! Dain was pretty cool too.

It’s funny; in my memory, the whole scene of Bilbo coming home to his house up for auction is much more extended! I swear, I have memories of pages of hobbit dialogue. :) I still think it’s amusing, though, and I love the coziness of the final scene between Bilbo and Gandalf, but with its hints of what’s to come.

All in all, I quite enjoyed revisiting The Hobbit, which I don’t think I’ve read since I was eleven or twelve. And while I loved the first half far more than the second, the story itself entertained me. I think there’s a reason that I’ve reread the actual LOTR series much more than this one, simply because there’s so much more to Tolkien’s adult writing. But Bilbo is great fun, and I can’t wait to read this to kids some day! (Perhaps when I’m an elementary school teacher, I can read it aloud…otherwise, I’ll have to take an extended vacation with my niece! hehe)

I found that doing a group read, and seeing so many different people’s views on the book, really made my own reading much more fun. One thing that stands out to me is how much Beth F enjoyed the audio version; I was delighted to find that my library had the same unabridged narration, and I definitely intend to grab it for my next reread! And obviously, I’m continuing on to Fellowship; look for my post soon.

Thanks so much to all of the readers and posters for joining in this first month of the read-a-long and making it such a success. :)

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. February 11, 2010 5:49 am

    Greetings from my lair under an extinct volcano in a faraway eastern Island!
    As a great fan of JRR Tolkien who has read all his books (except a few works introduced by his son Christopher) i would like to answer (for the fun) your questions:

    Did you find the book’s second half consistent to the first, in tone, plotting, etc.?
    Very much on all aspects, especially the return to vilage affairs in Hobbiton!

    What did you think of the ending?
    Maybe some more adventures on the way back would have been welcome, but the ending is fitting and very much in touch with actual life.

    Did your view of any character change since our last check-in?
    Not qualified to answer! LOL

    What surprised you most in this half of the book?
    I have never been really surprised as the story line was very logical, but I’ve always been disturbed by JRR Tolkien’s love of eagles (pretty stupid in real life) and his dislike for wolves.

    What delighted you most?
    Thorin’s fnal rcognition of his own failings.

    Can you see yourself rereading The Hobbit some day?
    I stopped counting as I have used it as teaching material!

    Are you planning on continuing on to The Fellowship of the Ring?
    Actually a long time ago I was going to start reading The Lord of The Rings when I remembered having started reading the Hobbit in French (that was back in 1985)!

    Would you say that doing a group read enriched your reading? Anything in particular written by a fellow participant that stands out?
    I don’t qualify there either!

    Glad to hear that people still share so much enthusiasm for this great bok!
    Best regards,
    Robert-Gilles

    • February 13, 2010 3:11 am

      Thanks for joining in! :) I liked Thorin’s change of heart too, although it’s too bad it comes directly before his death. :/ It’s interesting what you said about wolves vs. eagles! I think Tolkien’s views on the two are pretty common in the west; in Russia, for example, wolves are pretty much always the bad guys, and not in a noble way at all. But it is odd when people project themselves on to animals!

  2. February 11, 2010 7:55 am

    The dwarves do come off as quite awful! And I felt hugely let down, after all the build-up, that Smaug got killed by some random dude we’d never heard of before. Hrmph. After Bilbo chatted with Smaug, I was convinced Bilbo was going to do something really clever and kill Smaug himself.

  3. February 11, 2010 8:39 am

    I’m totally with you on the second half of The Hobbit. Once Smaug was killed it was an altogether different book until the last chapter. Every time I’ve read The Hobbit, I’ve said I was going to pay closer attention to the Battle of Five Armies so that I could appreciate it more. But it’s so strange–you’ve got this huge battle with flimsy motivations behind it (which I guess is realistic) and there’s all this build up of armies gathering, and then it’s over in a flash. Very strange.

    And if you’re like me, you might find that you’ve conflated the auction section of The Hobbit with Bilbo’s final journey in Fellowship. I say that because I thought there was more to that chapter, and then when I started Fellowship, I realized some of what I thought I remembered from the Hobbit actually happened in Fellowship.

    • February 13, 2010 3:11 am

      Ohhh-that might be what I did! lol That would explain my foncusion. :) Must start Fellowship very soon.

  4. February 11, 2010 6:50 pm

    I agree that the battle felt rushed to me too! Tolkien should either have had a mini battle started, or no battle and maybe some riddle games. ;-) Having everyone prepared to fight, and then not have any such thing was such a waste of resources. ::grin:: I almost didn’t expect Thorin or Fili or Kili to die just like that without me feeling the intensity of the battle. That was disappointing. But overall, I loved this book! I’m glad I joined this readalong and finally read this book!

    • February 13, 2010 3:12 am

      Oh! More riddle games would have been fun. :) I know-I was all like ‘Fili and Kili!’ Why? They’re my faves!

  5. February 11, 2010 8:33 pm

    I’ll admit that I *love* the wood elves, probably because they’re more feral and less wise than the high elves of Rivendell (I play a lot of D&D, so that also influences my opinions on elves, I guess). They’re reclusive and shy of other races, and really dislike dwarves, so I can see why they’d be so mean to the dwarves when they blunder into their woods without a good explanation.

    I totally agree that the second half speeds by way too fast- I mean, the big battle only lasts a few pages. I wonder why Tolkien decided to do that? The events of the second half of the book could have taken up a whole book themselves.

    I’m writing up my blog post about The Hobbit now and will add it to Mr Linky in a minute. :)

    • February 13, 2010 3:13 am

      See, I don’t have a problem with the wood elves in general. Just in The Hobbit, they come off pretty badly. ;)

  6. February 12, 2010 10:00 am

    I love Meri’s word about the wood elves, “feral.” I’ve always thought that Legolas was a prince among his people–you know, better, stronger, faster…nicer… but there is some inconsistency between the regal elves of LOTR and the feral elves of The Hobbit, just as the “goblins” of The Hobbit are different from the orcs of LOTR.

    • February 12, 2010 10:32 am

      I think at least some of the difference between LotR elves and The Hobbit elves and why The Hobbit ones are more feral are because they’re different kinds- in LotR, you see elves like Elrond and Arwen (Noldor), Celeborn (Sindar), Galadriel (Noldor/Teleri, I think), and Haldir and his brothers (I don’t think Tolkien ever said what they are, but Rumil is named after a Noldor). Thranduil is the only Sindarin elf in The Hobbit- the rest of his people are Silvan, and those are the elves that are the least wise, least regal, and most wild; they’re of the Avari, who never set out for Valinor (the Sindarin elves are a step above that, and are considered Eldar, I think).

      Legolas is a prince and a Sindarin elf, so it’s no wonder he’s more regal and … well, better, I suppose, than the regular Silvan elves of his forest.

      Granted I’ve only read The Silmarillion once, so I could be wrong about some of this, but I think I have the types of elves correct. What can I say, elves interest me. :)

    • February 13, 2010 3:14 am

      That’s true! I guess it makes sense since Tolkien wrote Hobbit first; so I bet his ideas evolved over time.

  7. February 12, 2010 12:22 pm

    Sadly, I seem to already have forgotten what happens in The Hobbit now that I’m barely 2 months from reading it. That’s just sad. But I did love it and enjoyed visiting with Bilbo – I do remember that. I don’t know if I’ll ever re-read, I do so rarely and this latest time was a second read for me. and I won’t be reading LOTR with you all – do have fun.
    I just re-read my post for this and am intrigued by how much I thought then and how much I’ve learned already from reading these discussions. Specifically, that The Hobbit is more for kids and LOTR for adults? I had always considered The Hobbit an ‘adult’ book – at least from my 11 yo self’s viewpoint. Huh.

    • February 13, 2010 3:16 am

      lol! I think when I was in elementary school, The Hobbit seemed much more of an adult book too. But now reading it as an adult, it has that classic British children’s book narrator. :)

  8. February 13, 2010 12:29 am

    Thanks for posting your thoughts on ‘The Hobbit’. It was interesting to read them.

    I read ‘The Hobbit’ many years back and have forgotten many of the specific scenes, though I remember a lot of the story. I remember Bilbo’s time in Rivendell, and eventhough it was brief, I remember the pleasant description of it. I also somehow remember liking the Wood elves, though they are not nice in the book. I also remember it being a bit different from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ because the prose style of ‘The Hobbit’ seemed more appealing to children, while LOTR’s style and storytelling way were a bit more complex. I also liked the riddle scene with Gollum in ‘The Hobbit’. I am hoping to read ‘The Hobbit’ again sometime :)

    • February 13, 2010 3:16 am

      The riddle scenes are great, aren’t they?!

  9. justbookreading permalink
    February 14, 2010 8:34 am

    You’re right – the elves come off as so greedy in the end! I have a bit of a soft spot for Smaug. I always feel bad when he dies! I’ll have to put together a few thoughts to post. Thanks for putting the questions up.

Thank you for commenting! For a long while, my health precluded me replying to everyone. Yet I missed the conversation, so I'm now making an effort to reply again. It might take a few days though, and there will be times when I simply can't. Regardless, I always read and value what you say.

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