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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 1, 2012
[This is a review of the 70th Anniversary Edition, not so much of THE HOBBIT itself. I've reviewed the book proper elsewhere, and would rather focus on the actual edition itself.]

THE HOBBIT is one of those few books that I have felt justified to buy multiple copies over the years. It is a book I have read and cherished, and a book I dearly love. THE HOBBIT is a novel that deserves to be bought multiple times over, and I always enjoy looking at new editions of this classic work. So imagine my excitement when I found out they would be publishing a 70th anniversary edition of one of my most cherished novels!

This has been a big year for Tolkien fans. Christopher Tolkien published THE CHILDREN OF HURIN, a newly completed version of Turin's legend, in April. We've gotten (at long last), THE HISTORY OF THE HOBBIT, expertly handled by brilliant Tolkien scholar John D. Ratcliffe and published in two separate volumes. And of course, we have the 70th anniversary of Tolkien's first primary work, THE HOBBIT, which this edition is published in celebration of that momentous occasion. And does it live up as a major new edition of this fantasy classic?

That's a pretty easy answer. The answer is NO.

First off, here are the positives. The 70th anniversary edition is pretty much how the first edition of THE HOBBIT was actually published back in 1937 with some notable improvements, and conforming to Tolkien's pretty exacting specifications, including how the dust jacket should appear, as well as the art and maps that accompany the text.

These are the notable differences between the first edition and this edition. Due to cost, Tolkien was not able from a production standpoint to have the book appear exactly as he envisioned. The 1937 publication cut some of his artwork, the map was not how he so desired, and the dust jacket, due to printing cost, was limited to three primary colours (green, black, and white). Originally, Tolkien wanted the sun on the front cover and the dragon on the back cover to be totally in red, but this was not feasible.

Obviously Tolkien's work is successful enough that these production costs are no longer an issue, and so this is a relatively accurate facsimile of what Tolkien would have wanted to publish in 1937 had money not been an object, as it too often is in the real world. For that, this edition has some worth.

Now, there are some negatives. And these are big negatives.

First off, paper quality and binding. It's bad.

Then there's the actual art work. The colour artwork is quite nicely implemented into the main text, and overall I don't have a problem with the colour artwork from a production standpoint. The paintings are bright and colourful, and remain true to higher quality prints of Tolkien's phenomenal painting. But unfortunately the same cannot be said of the black and white illustrations. Like a reviewer said before me, it appears Tolkien's drawings were reproduced on a cheap scanner. Tolkien's artwork is highly valuable, but unfortunately the drawings here are rather badly reproduced in this edition.

Then there's the advertisement for LOTR at the end that's rather annoying. They reproduce the first chapter of FELLOWSHIP and place it at the end of the novel, acting like a cheap plug for Tolkien's masterpiece. I don't have any problem with plugging LOTR, but to me this inclusion of the first chapter just cheapens the whole book, especially when it's supposed to be a major edition of a major work. We all know about LOTR. Do we really need the first chapter here? Rather tacky, to say the least.

Then there's the problem of Christopher Tolkien's forward. This is what I was most looking forward too, actually. Having read E. A. Solinas's review, I was under the impression this was a new forward prepared specifically by Christopher for the 70th anniversary of his father's work. Not the case. It's simply a reprint of the forward he wrote for the 50th anniversary of THE HOBBIT, twenty years previously.

As far as textual authenticity, I must be honest in the fact that I've only browsed it at a Borders bookstore, but I'd be very surprised if they did not use the text from The Annotated Hobbit, as it is the most definitive and accurate text yet established for the book. Still, I can't verify that that is the case.

Overall, this is a fair edition of THE HOBBIT. It could have been a lot more. What sets this apart from the other copies is this is how Tolkien truly envisioned how he wanted the book to appear, and for that fact alone, this is a valuable edition to the Tolkien collector. Unfortunately the poor production quality of the black and while illustrations, the rather tacky inclusion of LOTR's first chapter, and the disappointment of the publishers' just reprinting a twenty year old introduction to the 50th anniversary publication rather brings the whole affair down. I think I'll pass on this one.

For those looking for the best edition of Tolkien's book, buy THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT, first published in 1988 and republished in a new format in 2003. The second version of THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT is the definitive edition of this phenomenal work as far as I'm concerned.
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on December 2, 2001
(...) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien gets 2 stars. It has some parts that are exciting, but not many. It contains heroes, hardships and good vs. evil, which is were the 2 stars come from. I don't recommend it. While I was reading I had to make myself sit down and read. It wasn't enjoyable like reading should be.
This fantasy story is about a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins who didn't like to be bothered. One day the wizard Gandalph and about 14 homeless dwarfs come visit him in his quiet little hobbit hole. They changed everything. He is soon pulled into their quest of fighting goblins, spiders, evil orcs, and wolves in hope of finding the treasure that the great dragon Smaug protects.
Most of the book is dull and tiresome. In my opinion you could skip 5 pages every now and then and not miss a thing. For instance, Tolkien uses 24 pages to express what happened when the dwarfs first met Bilbo, when all that was needed was about 8. He wasted about 100 pages total in the book which has 304 pages.
Although The Hobbit is a bit slow, it shows the never-ending battle between good and evil. Tolkien portrays this well. When Bilbo comes face to face with evil he uses poems and riddles, which are challenging to figure out.
The Hobbit also has a worthy plot of heroes and hardships. This can relate to other books such as the Harry Potter series and Homer's Poem about Ulysses. Bilbo is said to be a hero many times when he is faced with a challenge. One of the dwarfs complain "I'm just going to lie here and sleep and dream of food, if I can not get it any other way..." They had many hardships such as food, shelter, and ways of transportation.
All in all, i would not reccomend this book. Even though it has a few good qualities such as heroes, hardships, and the relationship between good and evil, it is still boring and dull. It only deserved 2 out of 5 stars.
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on February 7, 2001
"The Hobit" is about a Hobbit(named Bilbo Baggins) who is manipulated into helping a pack of dwarves. They play on his "Took" side which is his mothers side. The Tooks were adventure seekers, they liked going on journeys. Other Hobbits found the Tooks less respectable than the other side of Blibo's family. The ohter hobbits loathe going on adventures, in fact they hate going anywhere very far from home.(Adventures make Hobbits late for dinner). One thing you should know about Hobbits is that they really like to eat and sleep. They have about six meals a day. I only gave this two stars because it seemed like the author was in a hurry so he ended the book. Like he really had to go to the bathroom, so he ended the book as fast as possible. It also seemed like the author got really into the story and when he came to the end(Last four chapters) he didn't know how to end it. I am hopeful for the other books in the seires. I want to know the rest of the story and hope the author did a better job.
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on January 30, 2001
It took me a while to actually read this book. I had started it when I was in junior high, but became too swamped with school reading to finish it. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more then. It's not that it's bad... it's just sort of plain.
I guess you have to take into account that it was written in 1937, which I didn't realize until I finished it. I had always assumed that "the Hobbit" and its earthy themes was a product of the sixties. Apparently not. So this means that the world was a very different place when this book was written.
I also tried to keep in mind that the whole fantasy genre grew out of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy; so these progenitors may seem tired because a lot of what I have already read has drawn quite liberally from these sources. Or maybe I'm biased against the whole adventure story thing. The risk of the adventure story is that the adventure *is* the story and that each part of the adventure is an isolated incident with no bearing on the next. In the case of "The Hobbit", there's the orcs, then the goblins, then Gollum, and so on. And, yes, Bilbo grows with each incident. But the story is so consumed with the incidents that it includes precious little else. The characters are flat and predictable -- and I think I'm supposed to like Bilbo, but I don't. I know he's supposed to be the anti-hero, the everyman rising to the occassion. But I just find him annoying.
I have another issue with the narrator. Yes, I know it's the whole bard thing, I get it. It still doesn't stop me from thinking that there is a better way of telling this story. It's a little more aimed at kids than I remember when I attempted it a long time ago. Which may account for the lack of description, which, when included, is very vague in this novel. I want to know more than cusory details. When Bilbo gets lost in the mountain and stumbles upon Gollum, I never got the cloying sensation of twisting, dark tunnels. Instead, we are treated to something that is more akin to directions. Left. Right. Down, down, down. It cuts right to the action, so there's no tension and release. Things just happen and go away.
And that, friends, is the whole problem in a nutshell:
Things happen and go away.
I am told that Tolkien wrote this as a bedtime story. I don't know if that's true, but it does have that sort of quality to it. I feel bad saying this, because I know it's a classic, but I think I like the animated movie better...
Good for kids, adults will be disappointed....Unless, of course, you're a fan. In which case, you hate me.
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on October 25, 2000
The Hobbit is the introductory novel to the epic fantasy, The Lord of the Rings. This book is about an imaginary creature called a hobbit, who goes on a journey through the imaginary country of Middle Earth with a group of dwarves. Bilbo, the hobbit, and his company of dwarves are on their way to steal back their long forgotten treasure that is guarded by a hideous dragon. This story tells of the hardships they encounter on their journey and the changes that each character, especially Bilbo, goes through. this book is wonderful because it ties in the world of fantasy with real life. The characters go through the same emotional and sometimes physical struggles that we find ourselves going through. The Hobbit is a great book that everybody can relate to in one way or another. If you are looking for an exciting and thrilling escape from reality, reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy is the best way to do just that.
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on December 12, 2001
Why is this book so well loved? Perhaps it gets better upon rereading many times? If I could ever make myself reread it.
Now, I am a HUGE fantasy reader; if I'm not reading classic literature, I have a fantasy novel in my hand. Therefore, I should be predisposed to love The Hobbit, right? Not so, apparently. I've picked up and started the book three times. I just cannot get into it. The characters are flat and boring and their actions do not inspire or excite me. I had to make myself sit down and read it, which took a very long time with many books read in between. I am a great reader and love nothing more than to sit down with a book, so when there is a book that I must force myself to read (which haven't been all that many) then that says something to me.
In some ways I envy all those who adore this book; what are you getting out of it that I am not?
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on February 7, 2001
I would recommend this book to kids, Elementary kids for the most part because it might be too childish for grown ups, yet to hard to understand for someone whos just too young. I found this book to be interesting; it kept me reading it and turning the pages. I thought the ending could have been alittle better because it was just too simple for the complexity of the book. Smog seemed to be a big force with a huge wrath but he was killed easily do to the lack of diamonds over the one part of his body that is the most vulnerable, his heart. I think there should have been a big war lasting days, carrying the drama out longer. This book was a bit slow in the middle and beginning but picked up at latter until the disappointing end. Overall it wasn't that bad of a book to read for school but I personally like something a little more realistic.
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on November 18, 2001
Call me crazy, but I didn't think that this book was that great. I had to read this book over the summer for an English class, and I have to say, I had my doubts before I even bought it. I'm not too big into the fantasy genre--I still haven't read the Harry Potter books, and I stopped with Tolkien's works after I read The Hobbit. As I began to read the book, I felt myself drifting off and not thinking about the book. I just could not get into it. By the middle, I was forcing myself to pay attention, but still, I was unsuccessful. I finally managed to finish the book, and all I could think of, was that I was glad it was over with. I don't enjoy reading books that I have to force myself to finish, so if you are a not a fan of the fantasy books, do NOT waste your time with this book.
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on December 22, 2003
I recommend the Mind's Eye dramatization of this. At least Mind's Eye gets the pronunciation of names correct. GahLOOM for Gollum? All it takes is listening to Tolkien himself reading "Riddles in the Dark" (I recommend the Tolkien Audio Collection) to know that these producers didn't do their homework. Also, the split narrative is a bit distracting, and Bilbo's constant hemming and hawing makes him sound like he has a mental condition. The voice casting leaves MUCH to be desired as well. Gandalf (or GawnDAWLF as they mispronounce it) sounds awful! This actor would be interesting as Wormtongue in LOTR, but as Gandalf - PTOOIE! The script is not badly written, although they emphasize some WEIRD things in the plot, like an overlong description of Elrond.
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on December 20, 2001
With The Lord of the Rings comming out I picked up The Hobbit about three weeks ago and tried to read it. I thought I would be able to at least get to The Fellowship of the Ring so I could try to go see the movie this Christmas break (I'm a pretty fast reader for a fourteen year old girl). However I'm just reaching page 250 in this book and though everyone promised me it would get interesting I'm still waiting.
I find Bilbo an interesting character but quite frankly he didn't pull at me like characters such as Harry Potter and Novalee Nation. And Gandalf annoyed me more than I can express. Though I'm not finished with the book, I must say I hope that The Fellowship of the Ring is plenty better.
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