A Writer’s Review: Lessons from The Hobbit

Lines I loved:

“We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”

Bilbo gives this description (on page 4). Very quotable! I’ve used it several times in the last few weeks, actually.

As their eyes became used to the dimness they could see a little way to either side in a sort of darkened green glimmer. Occasionally a slender beam of sun that had the luck to slip in through some opening in the leaves far above, and still more luck in not being caught in the tangled boughs and mated twigs beneath, stabbed down thin and bright before them.

These lines describe Mirkwood (on page 131). I love the vivid image created here. The use of personification combines with lyric language (“darkened green glimmer,” “slender beam of sun,” “thin and bright before them”) to create a powerful scene.

A whirring noise was heard. A red light touched the points of standing rocks. The dragon came.

This describes Smog’s first attack of the dwarf group (on page 206). I love the simplicity of it. Tolkien relies on all that he’s built up already, giving a sort of dead pan to the intense danger. He trusts that readers knows why “The dragon came” is so significant. It is just as powerful as a bloated, descriptive paragraph would be.

“There is a long road yet,” said Gandalf.

“But it is the last road,” said Bilbo.

This dialogue (on page 284) is touching for reasons I can’t quite place. I find myself nodding in agreement—feeling a sense of satisfaction and relief with the characters. What’s being seen may be the result of all the book’s hard work in creating that sense of a hard-won adventure. This beautiful “last road” gently uncoils the final parts of the post-climax.

Things The Hobbit Taught Me About Life

As I try to navigate my long journey home—deciding what sort of home I want to have, what sort of adventures I want in my life—this particular story speaks to me in powerful ways. The pull between comfort and action, the balance between the dangerous magic of the world and the beauty of building a home, is a struggle I connect with. Here, Bilbo is a grown man, yet this is clearly his coming of age story, returning to a home that’s been his for decades. Maybe that’s part of what a true “coming of age” story is: Not merely that you leave, but that you return.

Buy your own:

You can buy the special edition I mentioned, the new 75th anniversary edition, or the Kindle edition. The page numbers I reference are based on the Kindle edition. I will quickly make note: The Kindle edition had the full images from the book, which I thought was quite impressive.

As always, products I link on Amazon give me a small commission (2% to 10%)—but if you’re looking to buy something to support me, this isn’t the way to do it! Either hang tight for my creative work or buy me a cup of coffee.

And that’s my writer’s review of The Hobbit.

Write on,

Rob