Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Reflections: The Hobbit

I'm in the throes of a fantasy-craving. By now the symptoms are familiar enough, that I resign the idea of any restraint, and merely indulge in it. And what harm can come from it, I ask? Nothing, except that I halt in  my steps when I see a chimney swirling out black smoke and look around for a dragon, and I can't be blamed if I peek into shrubs that rustle, hoping to find some tiny creature scurrying away into a hole. Well. I say this a million times - what is life without such imaginations? And most importantly, what is life without such books that drift us off to fantastical lands?

The Hobbit needs no introduction. I'm sure that I'm one of the very few fantasy-loving-geeks alive, who resisted reading this for so long. Well, if you started with The Lord of the Rings, it seems trivial to go back and pick up a "toned-down" prelude to it. Also, I was distracted and occupied with Harry Potter. I'm so scatterbrained that I can only have one addiction at a time. Now that the mists have cleared, I have finally finished reading this fantasy classic as well.

Bilbo Baggins is a well-mannered, modest hobbit, going about his simple life, happy to be unperturbed by adventures involving wizards and dragons. But not for long. Gandalf, the great wizard has his plans, and he ordains Bilbo to star as a hero/savior in an impressive treasure-seeking-dragon-slaying expedition. Bilbo's knees weaken at the mere mention of such an adventure and he scuttles back to his cozy home to be content with his timely meals and good-night sleeps. But Gandalf doesn't let go that easily. The following day, thirteen queer dwarfs plonk themselves in Bilbo's home, relate an extraordinary tale about their ancestor's ravaged kingdom upon a mighty Mountain, and request (command) Bilbo's "services" to help them regain their rightful land and wealth. Of course, after slaying a fiery dragon laying guard. Try as he might, Bilbo cannot wriggle his way out of the adventure, and upon Gandalf's push, he finds himself in the thick of an adventure of a life-time. The party encounter hungry trolls, menacing goblins, giant spiders and ravenous wolves, but manage to be victorious; thanks to Gandalf's magic, Bilbo's wit...and a ring he happens to accidentally find. No matter how magical a creature, the greed for gold and power haunts and corrupts all.
Needless to say, the book was a wonderful read. It is a beautifully written fantasy adventure, peppered with humor. Humor, fantasy, adventure, and wars don't usually go together, but it very well does in this book. Bilbo's bumbling antics and most of the dialogues are witty and funny. Bilbo's growth from the fumbling, scared, constantly-hungry hobbit to the wise and courageous hero is wonderfully done. It almost seemed like Gandalf was helping Bilbo realize more about himself through this journey.

My favorite part was Bilbo's encounter with Gollum and how he "riddles" his way out. A fitting prelude to a timeless fantasy lore.

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