Happy 75th–not eleventy-first–birthday to one of my many favorite books, J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit!”
Corey Olsen’s thoughtful essay from today’s Wall Street Journal points out what a deft job Tolkien did in creating Bilbo Baggins’s three-dimensional character with the conflicted heritage of the staid Bagginses and the fey Tooks. To tell the truth, I’ve always enjoyed “The Hobbit” far more than its epic sequel, “The Lord of the Rings,” in which I felt inevitably mired down in the battles of the third volume each time I reread it. I’m far more interested in the development of the characters and their relationships, which I felt TLOTR falls a bit short on but “The Hobbit” gets just right. Give us some more details about Aragorn and Arwen, please–inquiring minds want to know the basis for their attraction! But Tolkien tells a great story, interminable battles or no.
I haven’t yet read George R.R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones” series, sometimes described as “The Lord of the Rings” meets “The Sopranos,” but everything I hear or read about it suggests it’s enthralling. Readers, what do you think? If you’ve read it, and especially if you have some thoughts about it and the Tolkien books, please leave a comment. And if you’ve read Tolkien’s posthumously published works, including “The Silmarillion,” I’d also love to hear what you think. And while you’re at it, what will you have for Second Breakfast or Elevenses tomorrow to celebrate?