Hello, and welcome to my first post here at Teatime Book Reviews, where we read and review genre fiction and offer our personal sommelier services for your reading enjoyment. I’ve always been a sucker for reading those “Top 100 Fantasy Novels” type lists, and some tiny part of me believes I have a moral obligation to read through all of the “classics” before I die. The literary canon is a messy beast, and a moving target, but I enjoy taking a swing at it now and then anyways, and it’s tough to argue this one isn’t on it.
The Hobbit wasn’t a book I grew up with in the way that many have — I read it ages ago as a young adult and didn’t particularly take to it. I decided recently to come back to it as a grownup, in a mood for high fantasy and magic to whisk me away to someplace else.
It’s no mystery why The Hobbit has captured the hearts and imaginations of so many. The book is brilliant. Its epic journey sweeps from tiny narrative to huge geopolitical struggle back to tiny adorable narrative. The narrative is steeped in the power of magic and the infinite possibility of fantasy, and Tolkien’s sheer unadulterated sincere enthusiasm draws the reader into his exquisitely detailed world by both lapels. The unlikely protagonist builds a real bond with the reader, and the investment early on in showing just how cozy hobbits are pays off through the book in the power of contrast. One remembers frequently just how far we are from teatime in Bag End, and just how far Bilbo has come as a character. I myself often felt surprised at how drawn-in I was — how my heart beat faster as the party was endangered, and how joyful and relieved I was when they reached safety.
The language is for the most part charming, with the occasional turn into oddity (Cockney trolls!) or a bit of patronizing narrator-voice, where we are forced to remember that this is a Children’s Book Designed for Children.
Generally speaking, the journey the book takes us on is simply a stunning example of extremely readable picaresque epic fantasy. The book is a great set of yarns told in a spectacular world which I can’t wait to keep travelling in. I couldn’t buy the Lord of the Rings trilogy fast enough.
Tea to drink with this book:
I recommend a good stout Pu Ehr to pair with this book. The homey, earthy, garden-dirt taste of the tea is reminiscent of the cozy hobbit-hole where we start as well as the many underground settings we find ourselves in through the course of the book. The dark taste is strong and stands up to brewing the same leaves multiple times over, lasting the long haul of the journey.