Summary Tolkien (first in person meeting since 2020!)

What we enjoyed about the book:

  • Great world building (imagination + execution)
  • Simplicity is alluring, not too complicated like other Arda works
  • More approachable than LOTR
  • Perfect amount of adventure
  • Songs in audiobook great
  • Tolkien illustrations in one edition great
  • Narrative perspective: present narrator, feeling of listening to the story (childhood memories of being read to)
  • Fast pacing nice
  • Going back to the beginning was nice, Hobbit as the foundation of the fantasy genre today
  • Andy Serkis audiobook is great
  • Children’s book but epic world becomes tangible, scary yet safe for children
  • Mixture of dark bits and funny bits great
  • Feels very organic: starts in Shire and ends in an epic battle
  • Bilbo is great
  • Home a fascinating concept in the novel
  • Bilbo a “blundering idiot” in the beginning, great character growth
  • Bilbo craves adventure but also craves the tranquility and comfort of his home
  • Bilbo encountering Gollum fascinating
  • Riddles are great
  • Battles in the story are not always with weapons: battles of wit, riddles, mysteries
  • Quest of dragon slaying (influential for fantasy genre) but the protagonist is only a thief on paper, fails his quest, “just steals a few random bits”, “technically Bilbo wasn’t necessary”, “knocked out” in final battle, making fun of epic narratives
  • Hobbit a safe narrative
  • “We should reestablish riddle culture” “Noooooo”
  • Hobbit ties in well with LOTR etc but very different in story, tone
  • unique, enjoyable
  • Balin & Bilbo friendship great
  • rereading it is great
  • no romance plot was great
  • whimsy, fun

What we discussed:

  • “dusty”, aged okay-ish
  • “they were already oldfashioned when they were released”, not modern (enough)
  • dwarves one-dimensional: one group, lost potential, dwarves helpless all the time (saved by Bilbo and Gandalf all the time), not enough agency
  • Dwarves caricatures: old one, young ones, royal ones, fat one (oof)
  • Pacing did not work at first for some
  • “genuinly terrified” at parts (Gollum, spiders)
  • encountering the Hobbit in the theatre: terrified of the jumpscare dragon
  • Dragonslayer bit super lazy storytelling; deus ex machina: backstory in movies actually better
  • Dwarves and diaspora: coded as Jewish, problematic
  • Dwarves calling Bilbo The Hobbit all the time annoying
  • Too many names in the Tolkienverse
  • number of women in Tolkien limited

Rating “The Hobbit”:

  • 9 / 10 rings given to men
  • 9 / 10 “hobbits because I like hobbits”
  • 9/10 dwarves
  • 5/5 just a comfort read
  • 5/5 enjoyable
  • 4.5/5 frog-like Gollums of the animated movie
  • 4.5/5 Arkenstone, greatful book exists
  • 5/5 very good and cosy comforting book

Other books we talked about:

  • Joe Abercrombie “The Trouble with Peace”: more people should talk about his books, amazing characters, all set in the same world
  • Becky Chambers “Prayer for the Crown Shy”: like a warm hug, wholesome, great sequel
  • Reading more Tolkien extra: “Galadriel has been through some shit”, dark, broken, fascinating
  • “Fahrenheit 451”: nice, fascinating

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