...something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.
With this year's release of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, it was one of my goals for 2012 to read J. R. R. Tolkien's book again. The previous (and first) time I'd read it, several years ago, it had been to cheer me up after the super emotional ending of The Return of the King (the last volume of The Lord of the Rings). I loved The Hobbit as a prequel to LOTR, but the more lighthearted storyline was difficult to appreciate at the time.
The plot, very simply, follows Bilbo Baggins, thirteen dwarves, and the wizard Gandalf as they embark on a journey to the Lonely Mountain, where they hope to kill the dragon Smaug and regain the dwarves' homeland and immense treasure. Of course, nothing ever goes exactly as planned. There are many evil creatures between the Shire and the Mountain, and many warlike people with agendas of their own. Bilbo's own journey is one of self-discovery, along with the discovery of a magic ring.
Being able to visualize The Hobbit through photos from Jackson's movie has really helped me view it in a context more similar to LOTR. And, proportionally, The Hobbit may be lighter reading than LOTR, but for a fairytale there is still much to learn from and marvel at. You don't have to be a child, either - if you enjoy fairytales, fantasy, and/or adventure stories, I highly recommend The Hobbit! 5 out of 5 stars.
The pines were roaring on the height,
The wind was moaning in the night.
The fire was red, it flaming spread;
The trees like torches blazed with light.