December 8, 2023
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Fantasy Series Review

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Epic Fantasy: The Hobbit – A Journey of Power, Integrity, and Peace

As “one of the most influential books” for both the young and adults of all time, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, is an epic fantasy written by the greatest English writer and philologist – J.R.R. Tolkien. It is an epic in magnitude and a masterpiece of the 19th century, where Tolkien builds a surreal setting and make-believe time about an English simpleton, Bilbo, who unheroically falls into a heroic quest.

This epic tale is twisted with darkness and light and is pinched with salty comic and satire as a tool to evoke lightheartedness amid breathtaking soul-searching adventures.

Tolkien’s artistry lies in his depiction of a soul-searching journey of a mediocre Englishman who challenged his limits out of his comfort zones and thrives to heroic edge not for personal gain but rather for peace over war, integrity over unfairness, reason over conventional beliefs, and friendship over greed of power. Bilbo, a self-satisfied Englishman in his snug hole, embarked on a heroic expedition to explore the perils and marvels of trespassing one’s horizon. He leaves behind comfort and complacency and stretches his comfort to unbar his hidden abilities to remain honest with the most treasured and prized possessions. He is capable of controlling his desires with the most powerful treasure and is able to save the world to bring happiness and peace on earth.

About the Author J.R.R. Tolkien:

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, an English scholar and philologist critically acclaimed for his notable works, is famous for his articulated storytelling and recreating the pre-historic era of Middle-English and Anglo-Saxon period with vivid imagery, historical facts, and blended realism in fantasy. He brings in the ancient beauty of the Middle-English period as a source of individuals’ awakenings in its ancient settings.

Summary of The Hobbit:

The story unfolds in a cozy setting at Bilbo Baggins’ simple and comfortable hole where an unexpected group of thirteen dwarves ducks in along with Gandalf to persuade him to leave his comfort zone and quickly plunge into an incredibly dangerous adventure. The complacent and timid Bilbo was allured by Wizard Gandalf to join the militant dwarves to get back their lost treasure and restore peace. Bilbo was a most questionable and unpopular choice to the dwarves because he is a futile hobbit in comparison to the threatening and meandering adventure over the mountainous trolls, elves, Gollum, the dark forest, and the underworld. But Gandalf assures the groups that Bilbo is more than his physical stature and immensely talented to sparkle in the time of need.

In the Trolls encounter, Gandalf, the savior of the dwarves’ party, helps them gain mythical and magical weapons for their adventure. In a short while, they meet the elves of Rivendell for valuable guidance to travel along the misty mountain. Bilbo is separated accidentally during a snowstorm and wanders in a tunnel. There he discovers a golden ring and puts it in his pocket, unaware of the absolute power of the ring. Soon he comes across the hissing and whining Gollum who riddles with him to eat him. Bilbo uses the ring to become invisible and escapes Gollum and other sneaky creatures in the tunnel.

Although Gandalf saved them earlier, he abandoned them on urgent business in the dark forest of Mirkwood. Bilbo emerges here as a savior with the power of his ring and Sting sword to escape from the spiders’ web, and they settle down for a short time in Lake Town under the great dragon of Thorin’s treasure. As Bilbo talks to the Smug Dragon, he unravels the secret that weakness lies under the scales of the dragon’s heart. The dragon is immediately shot to death by Bard, an archer. The humans of Lake Town and the elves of Mirkwood reclaim inheritance of the treasure and get entangled in a deadly fight over the possession of the treasure. Bilbo tries to help the humans restore peace, causing the wrath of the dwarf’s king. Gandalf reappears and saves Bilbo from the dwarf’s king. After the fight, Bilbo and Gandalf return to Hobbiton, even though he is not revered by the hobbits. But Bilbo is deeply satisfied to be back in his comfortable hole after the dreadful adventure. He enjoys his friendship with the elves and wizards and is complacent to be back at home.

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Opinion about The Hobbit:

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are historical fantasies tinted with a rich blend of symbols of light and darkness overshadowed with the constant force of darkness to engulf the light and the truth. The relentless effort of the evil force to distort the good and truth is both an inner conflict in the human mind and in the physical contexts of their surroundings.

Published in 1937, The Hobbit is more than a folklore fantasy against the backdrop of World War I and WW II. It’s about finding and discovering hidden treasure with unbounded power and possibilities. Moreover, it’s about holding sanity and humanity with limitless power. It’s about upholding the torch of humanity and using power for good causes and restraining greed to restrict both inner evil and evil in the context. Bilbo is the epitome of good and honesty who values peace, reason, and fairness over injustice and falsehood. Tolkien used rich imagery and intricate details to expose the dangers of falling into evil allurement and how the hell gate of the mythological underworld is preparing to consume the world above. It brings in both the effects of World Wars, also how the nature is distorted, and how the constant power grappling can open the underworld to destroy and consume human civilizations. The destruction of natural resources and discrimination among the race for supremacy is another reason for the downfall of the human race. Combined with the ancient heroic Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian epics, Tolkien blended the middle-class rural England in an arcadian and medieval setting with chivalric charm and humor to transplant simplicity.

Tolkien exposes the immense potentials of the middle-class hobbit and how the inner strength of the hobbit can emerge to great power and uphold integrity with absolute power. Even with infinite power, Bilbo remains humble and composes humility to restore peace, sustain integrity amid evil injustice and inequality. It’s a groundbreaking tool to use the medieval setting to dismantle the chivalric idolization of power. Tolkien shows that true power lies in an individual’s integrity to establish peace in society rather than using power to conquer and rule unjustly. Tolkien reengineers fantasy to build a new world in our imagination to see, to feel, and to enlighten ourselves with the true values of humanity, integrity, and peacefulness.

Apart from The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien’s other notable works include:

  • “Farmer Giles of Ham” (1949) by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • “The Fellowship of the Ring” (1954) by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • “The Two Towers” (1954) by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • “The Return of the King” (1955) by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Lord of the Rings” (Published as a trilogy from 1954 to 1955) by J.R.R. Tolkien

published posthumously after J.R.R. Tolkien’s passing:

  • “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book” (1962) by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • “Smith of Wootton Major” (1967) by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • “Tree and Leaf” (1964) by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • “The Silmarillion” (1977) by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • “The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún” (2009) by J.R.R. Tolkien

Books Similar to The Hobbit:

If you loved reading The Hobbit, you should look into the following books:

  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  • A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin
  • The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan
  • The Belgariad series by David Eddings
  • The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander

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