BILBO THE BURGLAR
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
What can I say about this book that hasn’t been said before? Nothing, except that it’s a fantastic read, a book that will make you fall in love with fantasy all over again.
Bilbo Baggins loves his cozy little Hobbit hole, with his pipe and his cakes. But when the wizard Gandalf comes a-knocking, with thirteen dwarfs in tow, he becomes the first Baggins to have an adventure. The search for gold guarded by a dragon leads them into goblin-land, has them chased by wolves and captured by wood-elves. Amidst this all, dear Bilbo manages to snag something “preciousss”, a bit of cold metal that will change his and his descendant’s lives forever.
This book introduces you to Middle-Earth, and like other Tolkien books, gives a vivid and intricate portrayal of the land. The mountains and valleys just come alive before your eyes, as do the meals that he describes so thoroughly (I can’t tell you how hungry I felt). Bilbo is the reluctant hero, the hobbit who would like nothing better than his little home with his second breakfasts, but is instead thrust into adventure with a bunch of other un-hero-like dwarfs. And he steals the show (with a little help from the Ring), sneaking in and out of trouble and saving his friends an awful lot of times. I especially loved his riddle game with Gollum, it was smart and witty. The poems spread throughout the book are delightful, sometimes funny and sometimes somber. My favorite are these two: the first a comical one when the dwarves dine with Bilbo, and the second a lovely wistful song for the road.
Chip the glasses and crack the plates!
Blunt the knives and bend the forks!
Thats what Bilbo Baggins hates-
Smash the bottles and burn the corks!
Cut the cloth and tread on the fat!
Pour the milk on the pantry floor!
Leave the bones on the bedroom mat!
Splash the wine on every door!
Dump the crocks in a boiling bowl;
Pound them with a thumping pole;
And when you’ve finished, if any are whole,
Send them down the hall to roll!
That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates!
So, carefully! Carefully with the plates!
Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.
Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have knows.
To people who haven’t read any of Tolkien’s books, I recommend you start with this one before going on to the LOTR trilogy; to those who have, read it again. It’s warm, funny, and light-hearted and worth many rereads.