Mark Reads ‘The Hobbit’: Chapter 1

In the first chapter of The Hobbit, we are introduced the the world of the hobbits and, in particular, a specific hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, who very much would like to not go on an adventure. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to start The Hobbit.

CHAPTER ONE: AN UNEXPECTED PARTY

Oh lord, what the hell have I gotten myself into?

My relationship to the world of Middle Earth (which I probably have already gotten wrong, as I have no idea if this takes place there) is pretty simple: All of humanity has either read these four books by J.R.R. Tolkien, or seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Meanwhile, I was busy doing jack shit while missing out on most of normal life. At least with Harry Potter, I had a rough sense of what was going on. It was a series about a boy wizard who goes to Hogwarts and bad stuff happens.

At best, this is what I know about The Hobbit:

  • Hobbits are these small people-like things that look like a mixture between a Cabbage Patch doll and a potato. And now I’ve gained the ire of every fan of these books for saying that.
  • No, seriously. Look at a Cabbage Patch kid. Then look at a potato. Am I in the wrong here?
  • J.R.R. Tolkien wrote it.
  • It somehow ties to the trilogy that follows it.
  • Stuff happens???

Somehow, I have been living under a rock in the cultural landscape because I haven’t even gleamed information about these books just through osmosis. (When I get to The Lord of the Rings, I’ll share what I know about the trilogy.) It’s odd to me because nearly everyone in my life is obsessed with all of this: my brother, the vast majority of my friends, nearly everyone I’m friends with online, and pretty much 99% of the world or something. On top of that, it seems there are even more people who are just casually familiar with this all, so much so that I don’t think I’ve ever experienced so much shocked derision from a fandom. YOU’VE NEVER READ THE HOBBIT? HOW ON EARTH ARE YOU EVEN BREATHING AIR AT THIS MOMENT. I AM GOING TO MURDER YOU IN THE NEXT THIRTY SECONDS IF YOU DON’T START READING IT.

I think part of me avoided all of this because I’ve never been attracted to high fantasy. The fantasy world is probably pretty badass, but I’m a gay man who thinks RENT is the most important contribution to musical culture in the last couple decades. The truth is that I never thought there was much for me to like in these worlds. I like dragons! I like wizards! I like magic! But I tend to gravitate towards fiction that I can at least find something to relate to, and what little exposure I have had to fantasy made me feel like there wasn’t much in these worlds that I could get attached to.

But, again, the point stands: I don’t much about any of this, and after having such a good time with the A Song of Ice and Fire series, which apparently is greatly inspired by these books, I felt it was time to jump into J.R.R. Tolkien’s world. I had initially planned to open Mark Reads a year ago (OMG IT’S BEEN A YEAR) with these four books, but I worried about their density or my possible desire to piss off an entire fandom. Truthfully, I’m glad I’m starting these now, with quite a few books series under my belt and with a much, much more open mind than I have ever had in the past. So, it’s just over a year since I started this site, and it’s about goddamn time I read these books.

Shall we?

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

There’s a part of me that is incredibly excited to lovingly poke fun of these four books and to bring back the alternate narrative reviews. Yet I can’t make fun of this: that is a fantastic couple of opening sentences for this book. It’s simultaneously this conscious effort to tell this story like a fairy tale, but to frame it in a direct, matter-of-fact way. What I noticed very quickly while reading this lengthy opening chapter is that J.R.R. Tolkien writes this with a sense that he is narrating the novel. Well, I suppose that it’s entirely possible that some other character is telling this story, but I’m still not sure about that. It’s an odd way to tell the story and there are a few moments here that take me completely out of the book. This might be his style, or it might have a larger point. But it’s different, and even if I’m totally not into it yet, I’m glad that it’s nothing like anything I’ve read.

Tolkien describes. He describes everything in the hobbit home, every piece of furniture, the layout, the floor, the rooms, which rooms are best, and then he describes what a hobbit is, what they look like, what sort of “magic” they possess, what skills they have, what they wear, what their body shape is generally like, and then announces:

“Now you know enough to go on with.”

Dare I suggest that I knew enough to go on with two pages ago? I think this is something I’m just going to have to get used to. Tolkien’s attention to detail is even more complete than George R.R. Martin’s. (Sidenote: Has someone in the world made a goddamn A Song of Ice and Fire cookbook? Because that man has described more food dishes than Julia Child. And half of them I want badly.) I get the sense that this is written as if the author himself is sitting down in front of us and telling us this story over a fine dinner, which is actually a neat way to write a book. But, again, it’s a tad distracting; I’m trying to imagine the home of the Bagginses and then Tolkien injects himself into the narrative. It’s a bit weird when he says things like, “…which I have just described for you…” because….well, I know you did, dude? I am reading your book. WHAT ARE YOU DOING.

Anyway, it seems that Bilbo has just been minding his business for decades. How do the hobbits have money? Are their hobbit jobs? Does Bilbo just sit around all day and drink tea and bear and eat cakes and such? Not that there’s anything wrong with that sort of life, but it seems that he really hasn’t done much at all with the fifty years of his life up until Gandalf comes strolling up to The Hill where Bilbo lives. I had no clue that Gandalf was in this book! Oh god, what sorcery will he bring to Bilbo?

That’s actually not clear. Both characters have an interesting way of talking; Bilbo is prone to exclamations and short sentences, while Gandalf is much more pensive, witty, and clever. He also brings adventure, which is apparently anathema to the hobbits. They just don’t like adventure! Why would you go do anything to disturb the possibility of having your second dinner? Sure, it’s some sort of event with Gandalf, but two dinners. I’m not even making fun of Bilbo because why wouldn’t you want to sit at home and have tea and a second dinner? That just sounds pleasant!

But once Bilbo realizes that this is Gandalf, who he’d not seen in many, many years, the tone of his rants change; he’s confused now, teetering between being polite to his guest, complementing his fireworks display when he was younger, and acting entirely wary of any sort of adventure that might require his service. Gandalf doesn’t just show up to small talk, so Bilbo becomes more and more nervous about what this wizard has in store for him.

“Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not today. Good morning! But please come to tea–any time you like! Why not tomorrow? Come tomorrow! Good bye!” With that the hobbit turned and scuttled inside his round green door, and shut it as quickly as he dared, not to seem rude. Wizards after all are wizards.

Um, rude. That’s Gandalf! He’ll…..well, I don’t know what he’ll do. He scratches a sign in Bilbo’s door. Does it say, “Kick me”? Is he secretly a high-school bully? Wait, there probably isn’t even a school in this world. So….what? What is going on?

Things only get more confusing the next day when Bilbo things Gandalf has returned for tea. Instead, a large procession of dwarves show up, one after another, all of them apparently in-the-know of some reason for why they need to be at Bilbo Baggins’s house. Also, can we talk about this?

They had not been at table long, in fact they had hardly reached the third cake, when there came another even louder ring at the bell.

This world measures time in the number of cakes consumed. Why isn’t this real? SIGN ME UP ALREADY.

And so continues this odd parade. A dwarf shows up and tells Bilbo that they’re “at [his] service.” Okay, what are you servicing? Is Bilbo running something? What does the sign that Gandalf scrawled on Bilbo’s door say? “Free back rubs for dwarves”? Okay, wait, that doesn’t even make sense, since they’re at Bilbo’s service, not the other way around. At this point, there are THIRTEEN dwarves in the hobbit’s house, and when Gandalf finally arrives, the wizard REMOVES THE SIGN ON BILBO’S DOOR WHILE KNOCKING. Oh, you scoundrel. With him, he brings four more dwarves, including the majestically-named Thorin Oakenshield, whose very name makes me feel like my entire existence is inferior to his. I mean, if I was a character in a fantasy novel and was introduced as “Ser Mark Oshiro, Lord of the Internet, from the Shire of Potato Tot, Heir to the Bicycle Throne,” I’m pretty sure you’d all laugh at me. Though now I have an image in my head of a field of tater tots, and that’s pretty goddamn awesome. Could you imagine? You’d just waltz out into a field and pluck a basket of tater tots from some sort of bush. Or, hell, maybe it’s a tree and you just shake the tree and gather them all in some sort of blanket or tarpaulin to harvest for that day’s meals.

Oh. Right. The Hobbit.

At this point in the chapter, I was just as confused as Bilbo. There are thirteen dwarves and a wizard in his house, all under some pretense he isn’t aware of, and they’re all demanding food and drink. And I get that this is part of hobbit culture to provide for guests, but it doesn’t make Bilbo feel any better about the whole thing, especially when Thorin announces that not only are they staying for dinner, but it’s time for music! And so the dwarves pile everything up and start to sing THE MOST TERRIFYING SONG IMAGINABLE TO BILBO BAGGINS:

Chip the glasses and crack the plates!

Blunt the knives and bend the forks!

That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates–

Smash the bottles and burn the corks!

NO, WHAT ARE YOU DOING dwarves. THIS IS NOT YOUR HOUSE YOU SHOULD STOP SINGING ABOUT THESE THINGS. Thankfully, they don’t actually do them, but how the hell do they all know a song about tormenting Bilbo Baggins? Is this just a thing that the dwarves do? Do they routinely enter the houses of unsuspecting people, demand food and drink, and then sing about destroying everything around them? If so, I would probably be a dwarf bigot and never invite one to my house. And that would be perfectly justified bigotry.

Even stranger, after bringing out a bunch of instruments and singing of stolen gold and adventures, this happens:

As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves. Then 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.

Is this just a realization due to the beautiful music, or is this a trick? Did Gandalf plan for this to happen this way? Either way, Bilbo is disturbed by this realization. It’s something he’s never felt before, especially as a hobbit who has developed a strong aversion to the very nature of adventure. But he can’t escape the sensation he has, and then he soon is unable to escape the plan he’s been dragged into. When Thorin begins to speak up and explain why they’re all here, Bilbo finds out he is a conspirator. He tries to explain (very verbosely, I might add) the opening of this journey when Bilbo FLIPS THE FUCK OUT. And justifiably so! Gandalf is responsible for this, for bringing these thirteen dwarves to this hobbit’s house, and for getting him involved in something that goes against his very nature WITHOUT EVEN ASKING HIM IF HE WANTS TO DO IT. Maybe Biblo was right to shut the door in this wizard’s face!

The story starts to come together when other dwarves express doubt that this little hobbit can actually help them with…well, we don’t know much at all at this point, do we? There’s something about a dragon and gold and then we learn that the sign on Bilbo’s door said he was a burglar. Is that….is that just something you brag about in this world???? HEY, I STEAL SHIT, COME TO MY HOUSE. What the fuck?

“And I assure you there is a mark on this door–the usual one in the trade, or used to be. Burglar wants a good job, plenty of Excitement and reasonable Reward, that’s how it is usually read. You can say Expert Treasure-hunter instead of Burglar if you like. Some of them do. It’s all the same to us. Gandalf told us that there was a man of the sort in these parts looking for a Job at once, and that he had arranged for a meeting here this Wednesday tea-time.”

GANDALF. WHAT ARE YOU DOING. How did you even choose Bilbo without having seen him for DECADES. I’m glad that he admits to being the one who puts the sign on the hobbit’s door, but I’m completely lost as to what he sees in this hobbit that assures him he’ll make a great burglar. Which is not to suggest that Bilbo is a waste of space or anything, as I’m sure he’s an awesome hobbit! It’s just that….what?

With this basis, Tolkien launches into the explanation for why all these dwarves and Gandalf are in Bilbo’s hobbit hole home. (THAT IS A MOUTHFUL.) Again, like before, this is….detailed. I can’t say it’s the most exciting story in the world? This dude is verbose. The dialogue over the best way to reach Smaug and the gold is interesting enough, though I still have no idea of scope or geography quite yet. Thorin is the one to oblige Bilbo when the hobbit finally tells the others that HE HAS NO FUCKING CLUE WHAT ANY OF THEM ARE TALKING ABOUT.

“Bless me!” said Thorin, “haven’t you got a map? and didn’t you hear our song? and haven’t we been talking about all this for hours?”

Oh, it’s going to be like that, is it? Even with the slight condescension, it seems Thorin is more than a little excited to tell the tale attached to this adventure. And maybe this is going to be the one thing I latch on to that I’ll make fun of constantly, but Thorin. Thorin. I think you might want to write down an outline of what you’re going to speak about next time because holy shit dude. While I understand that Tolkien is using this to introduce a whole lot of information to the reader, that’s the problem as well. THIS IS A LOT OF INFORMATION ALL AT ONCE. Surely, you could have just told Bilbo that a dragon named Smaug stole your family’s gold, burned most of the dwarves alive, and only your father and grandfather survived. Gandalf was given the map by Thrain (Thorin’s father) right before the dwarf disappeared and it has taken him until this moment to find Thorin and now they are enacting this plan. THERE I DID IT. That didn’t take SEVEN THOUSAND WORDS.

I’m just going to have to get used to this, aren’t I?

What amuses more than anything, though, is the bizarre sense of entitlement that drips across the pages. I think it’s just part of dwarf culture, perhaps, but Thorin not only insists that Bilbo is coming along with them on the journey to get his gold from Smaug, but he then tells Bilbo his precise breakfast desires:

“I like six eggs with my ham, when starting on a journey: fried not poached, and mind you don’t break ‘em.”

WELL EXCUSE ME.

After all the others had ordered their breakfasts without so much as a please (which annoyed Bilbo very much), they all got up.

No, seriously, never inviting a dwarf into my house. Because then I’ll end up just like Bilbo: falling asleep in total fear that they are going to make go on adventures to steal gold from a dragon. Okay, I admit that’s pretty awesome, but maybe a bit more of a heads up would have been nice? Oh, Gandalf, as long as you were actually Ian McKellan, I could probably never get mad at you anyway.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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440 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Hobbit’: Chapter 1

  1. Laura says:

    I just want to say that I have an INSANE love for Gandalf(I even played him in a school play). He tops my list of Fictional Characters I Wish Were Real.

    • monkeybutter says:

      Please don't use the word "insane."

      • Laura says:

        Oops! Right, I forgot that I can't use words like that.

        Okay, I have an MASSIVE love for Gandalf. Or incredible? Actually, I can't really describe the love I have for this character.

    • threerings says:

      Solidarity. I have loved Gandalf to an insane degree since I was 11. I'm pretty sure it's an unhealthy love. (Although he is actually second on my Fictional Characters… list, after Sherlock Holmes.)

    • Kiryn says:

      V qba'g xabj. Vs V unq gb unir na YBGE punenpgre pbzr gb zl ubhfr naq fjrrc zr bss bagb na nqiragher, V guvax V'q engure unir Nentbea qb vg. Tnaqnys vf xvaq bs raqrnevatyl phezhqtrbayl, ohg V guvax Nentbea jbhyq unir orra n yrrgyr cbyvgre nobhg vg, rfcrpvnyyl jvgubhg gur guerng bs QBBZ naq GUR RAQ BS GUR JBEYQ gung unatf bire gurz va YBGE.

      Guvf qbrfa'g unir zhpu gb qb jvgu Tnaqnys, ohg hayvxr gur qjneirf, V qba'g guvax Nentbea jbhyq unir whfg tbar onetvat vagb Ont Raq jvgubhg Ovyob'f crezvffvba gb qb fb. Ryebaq envfrq uvf obl jvgu fbzr znaaref, qnza vg! ;)

  2. Smurphy says:

    I've decided. I'm finally going to do it. I'm actually going to read markreads with mark. I'm NOT absolutely NOT going to read ahead. Easy. First off I've already read it so no big surprises. Second off its more challenging then a lot of the other books I've read with mark. Third I read it for the first (and only) time in middle school and now armed with a much fuller knowledge of the series (thanks to reading the entire series, the movies, the Similarion and just a general love of middle earth and all things Tolkien) I am going to read it at a much slower pace and pick up on all the details and references I missed the first time.

    How wrong was I.

    "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."

    I am going to tear this apart. Oh well, at least I attempted to try.

    Now on to actually reading your review.

    I know how often you talk about your childhood and living under a rock but TOLKIEN? Really? You can go to college and major in Tolkien.

    "a mixture between a Cabbage Patch doll and a potato." – lols

    and there it goes… you are poking funs at one of the greatest minds ever…. and if it was anyone but you I'd probably be very upset.

    Aw shit. I wanna say something and although it is completely vague I think it would technically be a spoiler. :(

    Do you have a book with maps. I WAS OBSESSED with the maps as a kid when I first read it…. I remember staring at them for hours. I was obsessed with maps in general as a kid. i have a mean sense of direction thanks to that (or thanks to my mean sense of directions I had a love of maps. idk)

    haha… you are such a hobbit and I say that with deepest respect for all shire-folk.

    thank you. I am seriously going to enjoy this.

  3. Queen Islanzadi says:

    !!!!!!!!

    OMG WHAT YOU ARE READING THE HOBBIT

    O M G SO EXCITE

    JHFSHJGLF;JASKFL;DSAJKL;

  4. MsSmeagol says:

    OMG SO MANY COMMENTS!!! This makes me so happy. I have a feeling the Hobbit-LotR adventure here on MarkReads will be just as exciting as the Harry Potter adventure. Yay!!!!!!!!!

  5. Ida says:

    You know, I have read Lord of the Rings… once. When I was 12. And while I thought they were okay, I didn't, and still don't, understand the greatness of them. Maybe I was too young. Maybe, I don't know. I can see that the story itself is very interesting, and master Tolkien sure did put a lot of work into the world and the creatures inhabiting it, but… His language is very sloooooow. He loves to describe things. And he has this little problem when it comes to characterization: he has none. Not so much a problem in The Hobbit, which I remember as a pretty nice and cute, even funny, little story, but in LOTR – OH MY GOD. We know exactly what the characters look like, their favorite food and their family tree in fifteen generations, but not what they're thinking or feeling about stuff that happens. Plus, the books have serious pacing problems. I'm sorry. It could also be that I just don't remember them correctly and should reread them. In any case, no, not my favorite books in the world, and I generally LOVE high fantasy (I probably should be ashamed of myself; alas, I'm not.)

  6. Nikki says:

    Oh, yes. It must have taken me months to get through LOTR because every other page I was losing interest thanks to the mounds of description. I would put the book down and have no desire to pick it back up and read about more description that had nothing to do with the plot. I don't even remember that much of the actual story because all that really comes to mind when I think of those books is frustration.

    I do like The Hobbit more, though. It's slightly better about keeping the story moving.

  7. Pooslie says:

    “Now you know enough to go on with.”

    Dare I suggest that I knew enough to go on with two pages ago?

    UGGH! this is exactly why I have only read these books once (back when the 1st LOTR movie came out).
    Though i suppose that is how they can make the movies so gorgeously awesome…

  8. threerings says:

    OMG, Mark reads The Hobbit! It's been a VERY long time since I've read this book, (as I prefer Lord of the Rings and have reread that a LOT) so I think I'll read along with you, starting tomorrow.

    But for now, here's my story of how I read The Hobbit. When I was eleven, one of my parent's best friends was from England. One night at his house, he discovered I'd never read The Hobbit, and made a huge fuss over it, and forced the book on me. I really didn't want to read it for some reason. Maybe because an adult gave it to me, maybe just the cover looked weird. But I avoided it for as long as possible, knowing that eventually I would HAVE to read it because he would ask and eventually want his book back.

    And then I had a friend sleeping over and she pulled out a book and started reading, so I had no choice but to read something, too, and all I had at the moment was The Hobbit. So I started it, and then COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN. I read it in a week, I think, which for that book was really fast at the time. I went out that same week and made my mom buy me the whole paperback set of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Of course, it took me a year to get through Lord of the Rings, but it did become my favorite book ever.

  9. snakebyte42 says:

    Hahahahaha thank you for exploding with unqualified like over this. I have always thought my brain was a little bit broken for not enjoying Lord of the Rings in book form, even though I have a ton of books and read A GREAT MANY THINGS. Tolkein describes far more than is necessary and I weep for your inevitable encounter with Tom Bombadil.

    Oh Tom Bombadil, why do you still make me want to burn you with fire from my eyes?

    • Kiryn says:

      Personally, I'm curious to see if Mark can cure my dislike-bordering-on-hatred of the first 9 chapters of the Fellowship. I was totally fine with the slogging with all the rest of it (except for the end of RotK, really), but those first chapters of FotR…man, that was when I nearly lost it. So, I sympathize. But I also recognize that my criticism of said chapters is a bit unfair and harsh, because there is a very specific reason as to why those chapters are such a pain, which I will no doubt be expanding upon when we get there, but it's a personal thing of impatience. Normally, I can savor the work, but not in this case. This was An Exception. And if you've read FotR, you can probably guess what I'm attempting to refer to in the vaguest way possible.

      • snakebyte42 says:

        I can't, because I was… 11 when I was trying to read it? But I eagerly await your diatribe. :D

        • Kiryn says:

          If you have a copy of FotR, look at the table of contents. Look at the title for chapter 10. Now guess why I hated the first 9 chapters. ;)

          • Kiryn says:

            Naq abj gung V'ir sbhaq n ebg13 yvax, V pna fgngr gb lbh syng bhg jul gubfr svefg 9 puncgref bs gur Sryybjfuvc znxr zr frrgur jvgu vzcngvrapr:

            Vg'f orpnhfr Nentbea'f abg va gurz. Nentbea vf zl SNIBEVGR punenpgre va nyy bs YBGE, naq fvapr V ybbxrq bire gur gnoyr bs pbagragf orsber ernqvat, V xarj gung ur jbhyq or nccrnevat va gur puncgre pnyyrq "Fgevqre", ohg gung jnf puncgre GRA, naq V whfg qvqa'g jnag gb jnvg gung ybat. Pbzovar jvgu Gbz Obzonqvy naq gung Oneebj-Qbjaf shpxrel, naq V whfg jnagrq gb TRG BA JVGU VG NYERNQL, NAQ YRG NENTBEA TENPR HF JVGU UVF HORE-NJRFBZRARFF. Lbh nyfb unir gb haqrefgnaq gung V'q nyernql ernq EbgX naq GGG nyernql orsber V ernq SbgE sbe gur svefg gvzr, naq fb V ernyyl jnfa'g hfrq gb Nentbea orvat pbzcyrgryl TBAR NAQ ABG RKVFGVAT yvxr guvf. Naq gura pbzovar GUVF jvgu gur snpg gung gjb bs zl bgure irel snibevgr punenpgref ner Snenzve naq Rbzre, naq…jryy.

            • snakebyte42 says:

              Nu, haqrefgbbq. V npghnyyl ernq gurz va n yvarne snfuvba (V xabj. Fb cnffé. V'z fbeel.) naq jnfa'g njner bs Nentbea orsber uvf nccrnenapr. Gur Gbzo Obzonqvy naq Oneebj-Qbjaf shpxrel jnf fybj naq fybttl rabhtu gb znxr zr frrgur NYY BA VGF BJA.

              Nyfb, V gbgnyyl sbetbg nobhg uvz orvat pnyyrq 'Fgevqre'. Vf vg onq gung V pna ab ybatre frr gung jbeq jvgubhg zragnyyl nccraqvat 'Uvelh'?

              • Kiryn says:

                Naq V fgvyy guvax vg'f xvaq bs evqvphybhf gung vg gnxrf gurz fb ybat gb trg bhg bs gur Fuver. Frevbhfyl! OVYOB WHFG YRSG JVGUVA N SRJ FRAGRAPRF. GUR SHPX. Lrf lrf, V xabj, orvat punfrq ol gur Anmthy vf gbgnyyl qvssrerag gura zreevyl evqvat bhg ba cbavrf, ohg ntnva….gur Oneebj-Qbjaf vf jurer V gubebhtuyl ybfg cngvrapr, naq raqrq hc fxvccvat gung puncgre. Naq, hu, V znl unir fxvzzrq zbfg bs Gbz Obzonqvy. Onq sna, V xabj. Ohg vg'f NENTBEA! Va zl oyngnagyl ovnfrq bcvavba, gur NJRFBZRARFF qba'g trg fgnegrq gvy Nentbea vf va gur ubhfr! Yby.

                Naq V qba'g xabj jung "Uvelh" ersref gb, fb V qba'g xabj. Naq lrnu, ur vf vaqrrq svefg xabja gb hf nf Fgevqre. V'z nyernql cercnevat gb znxr fher V bayl hfr guvf anzr gb ersre gb uvz hagvy uvf erny anzr vf erirnyrq. Naq vg vf shegure gb zl jbr gung Nentbea qbrf abg fubj hc va guvf obbx ng nyy. Bu jryy. V'yy whfg pbagrag zlfrys jvgu Tbyyhz naq Yrtbynf va gur zrna gvzr.

                • snakebyte42 says:

                  Not a gamer I take it? Well, allow me to mindvirus you.
                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strider_Hiryu

                  (I went to rot13 this, and then realized I had gone so far off topic that I was /not even talking about lord of the rings anymore./ Dear god. This place. I love it so. :D )

                  • Kiryn says:

                    If by "not a gamer", you mean that I'm really far from being an extremely dedicated one, then yes. I had the N64, then Gamecube, and a Gameboy Color growing up. It's only been within the last couple years that I've bought myself the Playstation system(s), and mostly I just play the Kingdom Hearts series, and am breaking into Soul Calibur and Final Fantasy a little bit, specifically VII and XIII (I have X also, but that Sphere Grid thing breaks my brain). So no, I'd never heard of that game before. :)

  10. allonsy10 says:

    You know I never really got annoyed at the dwarves. I saw it as a clash of cultures. By the way they acted it was as if in their culture it was completely fine to do the things they did, perfectly good-natured fun and BILBO was the one being rude.

  11. Amanda says:

    I laughed all the way through this review.

    I'm a hug fan of the LotR movies, but I've never read the books ,and I've never read the Hobbit. I'm going to read it vicariously through your reviews, and simultaneously long for more time to actually read it and laugh myself silly, because you are a completely awesome and fabulous person.

    I love you to pieces, please never change.

  12. Peg says:

    Mark: I really recommend that you check out the podcasts of The Tolkien Professor, who is Corey Olsen at Washington College:
    http://www.tolkienprofessor.com/lectures/lectures

    He has been working through Tolkien's works, including the Hobbit, with chapter-by-chapter podcasts. I have read the books many times, and I was amazed by how much the insights of his fascinating commentary and scholarship had added to my enjoyment of the books. He is an incredibly friendly and engaging guy, and I highly recommend his work. You can follow him on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/photos.php?id=109778467194#/pages/The-Tolkien-Professor/109778467194) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/tolkienprof), too.

  13. klmnumbers says:

    but I’m a gay man who thinks RENT is the most important contribution to musical culture in the last couple decades.

    Mark. What.

  14. klmnumbers says:

    OMG YOU ARE READING THE HOBBIT. WHERE HAVE I BEEN?

  15. Susankh says:

    YOU’VE NEVER READ THE HOBBIT OR THE LORD OF THE RINGS!? Clutches pearls and backs away in horror! No worries, I didn’t read them until this year and I’m 41! So excited to be reading along with you! Tolkien actually did write The hobbit for his kids so it is laced liberally with narrative. Get use to Tolkien’s verbose prose, The Lord of The Rings is generously filled with it! Happy reading!

  16. Dreamflower says:

    Goodness! Bless me! Good heavens! *grin* I don't know if you will even see this comment, coming late as it is, but I love your review. You see it is chock full of all these marvelous QUESTIONS!

    Because as "verbose" as JRRT is (and I confess I LIKE his verbosity) he actually tells us very little, leaving it up to our own imaginations to figure out hobbit culture (such as who works and at what) and a number of other things– and the the very questions you ask have led to my writing, oh a couple of million words-worth, of fanfiction over the last several years, almost every single one of which is about hobbits!

    I'm so glad to get pointed in your direction! I've often wished I could get amnesia and read TH and LotR again for the first time– this will be the second-best thing ever.

  17. flootzavut says:

    Regarding the narration style, I think it's partly what Tolkien was trying to do with the books – he was, in effect, trying to create a mythology for England, because he felt that we missed out as compared to the Celtic nations. If you read the Silmarilion it's even less novelistic in places. But also I think just a product of its time, writing styles have changed so much.

    In other news I AM SO EXCITE because I had got utterly behind and now I have FIVE HOBBIT REVIEWS to read… yay!

  18. whovianforever says:

    GOD YES! I'm so glad that someone actually agrees with me that J.R.R. Tolkien is a little wordy. LIke, here I am, and the people who like LOTR and the Hobbit are all, "HIS WRITING IS PERFECTO" and i'm like, "but he describes too much!"

    I love you Mark!

  19. Pingback: What Has J Been Reading? [All Souls Day, 02 Nov 11] | J. Nelson Leith

  20. Rae says:

    you know you're a Potterhead when you keep picturing, hearing, and reading Gandalf as Dumbledore.

  21. Hailey says:

    Oh dear god, Tolkien does describe. I'm afraid you're going to have to deal with him beating a dead horse with these books. I loved them and was obsessed with them in third grade. now I have no idea how I got through them. I'd keep in mind that these are older books though.

    Did you know Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were friends?

  22. Velox says:

    The only thing I know about LOTRO is "You. Shall. Not. Pass." and that I've played the MMORPG version of it which, while most of the content was pretty cool, the end game sucked and the PVP was a joke.

  23. LunaKyria says:

    Hey Mark, I'm totally late in catching up on my MarkReads!fix, but – will it make you feel bad if I tell you that I'd read both The Hobbit and the LOTR trilogy by the time I was seven?
    It would?
    Oh, darn. Sorry.
    __
    <(^_^)>

  24. Kum Trendell says:

    Superb website you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any community forums that cover the same topics talked about in this article? I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get suggestions from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Appreciate it!

  25. cait0716 says:

    I think the chapter-a-day rate is going to be perfect for these books, because it allows for breaks between long descriptions. I don't think any single chapter is particularly long or overwhelming, but the history and geography certainly piles on when you try to just plow through these books.

  26. Jenny_M says:

    Cumberbatch is going to be playing gur ibvpr bs Fznht, juvpu zrnaf V'z tbvat gb or frkhnyyl nggenpgrq gb gur fbhaq bs n qentba. V'z…abg fher ubj gb qrny jvgu gung.

  27. cait0716 says:

    Tb jngpu QentbaUrneg, jurer gur qentba vf ibvprq ol Frna Pbaarel. Vg jvyy uryc npphfgbz lbh gb orvat frkhnyyl nggenpgrq gb n qentba

  28. bookworm67 says:

    Oh, that's right, he is in there! And yeah, he's being ^ that character – it's pretty perfect, you have to admit.
    But yes, I need new Sherlock! Isn't the next series in like early 2012 or something?

  29. Mauve_Avenger says:

    I just looked it up and apparently ur'f nyfb cynlvat gur Arpebznapre va fbzr sbez. V guvax gur zbivrf ner fhccbfrq gb rkcnaq ba naq oevqtr gur tnc orgjrra guvf obbx naq gur znva gevybtl, fb V'z thrffvat ur zvtug culfvpnyyl or va gur zbivr, engure guna whfg nf n ibvpr?

    Lrnu…QAJ gb or nggenpgrq gb Fnheba.

  30. …Qnzzvg, abj V'z nggenpgrq gb Fnheba. Qb abg jnag.

  31. calimie says:

    Uryybbbbb!
    V yvxr onq Znvnef.

  32. calimie says:

    Jr qb unir gur Juvgr Pbhapvy, evtug? Jr zvtug trg gb frr gurve nggnpx ba Qby Thyqhe.
    V'z fb rkpvgrq sbe gubfr zbivrf!

  33. Mia says:

    It's funny–I love the FACT that the books are written more like history textbooks than novels, because I think that whole idea is awesome. I love the fact that he created this entire world and then proceeded to treat it like it was real and he was just recording its history, its language, its culture, etc. I totally geek out about that sort of thing, and I've dabbled around it similar world-building myself.__That said, all the world building I do is pretty much for my eyes only, because as fascinating as it is to ME to write about Thame beget Thrane beget Thropox, etc., I can only imagine it would be terribly boring for anyone else. And that's how I feel about the LotR books–not that they're terribly boring, but that they're not the sort of thing you'd typically make into a novel. For me, reading them once is enough, but they're not the sort of thing I'd reread. (Well, okay, I might actually reread along with Mark, but that's because I've forgotten 99% of the books since I haven't read them since they were read to me as a little kid.)__For sheer storytelling purposes, I honestly prefer the movies. But I love the books for what they are.

  34. Carrie Ann says:

    I could think of those all day, really. I kind of wanted to go on for like 40 generations. I guess I deeply understand Tolkien now. :)

  35. @LizatLAX says:

    And just think, this need to hold ourselves back is going to be EVEN WORSE when we get to LotR. although maybe when we get to certain meetings toward the beginning of that volume we can expound on some of the history? cuz it's not really spoilery? It's just detailed more out of stuff in the appendix and the like… I don't know, I foresee an awful lot of rot13 otherwise, because I don't know if I can NOT talk about it. lol

    Maybe Tolkien fans are also verbose? :)

  36. MidnightLurker says:

    I never did finish that game :)

  37. @LizatLAX says:

    OH YES. I love that story.

    (I'm sorry, but I did warn you! we can't help it! LOL)
    V nz nyfb ba gung fvqr! Gur Qjneirf ner fb vaperqvoyl ehqr. Naq ryirf ner pbby. V'ir nyjnlf orra fnq Guenaqhvy qbrfa'g trg fbzr orggre (naq avpre) qrirybczrag rvgure va Gur Uboovg be rira YbgE. Gur qhqr fheivirq gur funqbj ba uvf qbbefgrc sbe gjb gubhfnaq lrnef jvgubhg n evat, gunaxlbhirelzhpu, ur qrfreirq orggre!

    Ohg uru, pna jr rira hfr Guenaqhvy'f anzr jura jr trg gur Zvexjbbq frpgvba va gur erernq? Vg'f abg rire zragvbarq va Gur Uboovg, evtug?

    Gubhtu V unir gb fnl V graq gb guvax bs Gur Uboovg nf abg dhvgr pnabavpny jvgu gur erfg bs gur 'irefr; V cergraq vg'f n yngre puvyqera'f be ovnfrq irefvba bs riragf juvpu jrera'g dhvgr cebcreyl puebavpyrq. Whfg gb znxr gur rqtrf svg n yvggyr orggre. (creuncf vg'f abg bayl ireobfvgl gung znxrf bar or n Gbyxvra sna, ohg nyfb n pbzchyfvba gb ZNXR VG NYY SVG).

  38. calimie says:

    http://www.rot13.com/index.php
    Rot13 is a code (by Ceasar? idk) in which each letter is moved 13 places forward. Perfect for spoilers!

  39. Liakela says:

    Bless you, bless you, bless you. I really thought there was something wrong with me.

    Well… there are plenty of things wrong with me, but this at least I can check off of my list!

  40. @ltrouton says:

    THANK YOU! I was equally confused!

  41. Jenny_M says:

    I did midnight meet ups in New York for the release of the second and third movie in the trilogy, and oh my GOSH could we talk. Someone was there doing a documentary on Tolkien nerds and she actually ran out of tape because once we got in front of the camera, none of us would shut up.

  42. notemily says:

    I asked Mark if this stuff was okay to talk about, but he didn't answer my question SO NOW I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

  43. Inseriousity. says:

    oh just read all the other posts and maybe I'm not so weird after all woooo

  44. notemily says:

    I kind of think of it like old musical films. If you go back and watch "Singin' in the Rain" or "An American in Paris," they have musical numbers that happen for no reason and go on forever. If these films were released today, the audience would be yawning and fidgeting in their seats, but it was the style at the time. "An American in Paris" even won Best Picture.

  45. notemily says:

    I mean, you're basically clearing up something to make it easier to understand

    Lrnu, ohg YNGRE, jr qb svaq bhg gung uboovgf pbzr bs ntr ng 33, fb vg'f grpuavpnyyl fbzrguvat gung Znex unf lrg gb ernq nobhg… V'z fb pbashfrq…

  46. stefb says:

    V nibvqrq fgngvat gurl pnzr bs ntr ng 33 sbe gung irel ernfba (V unq gb fgbc zlfrys) but I think you're safe.

  47. stefb says:

    Ask and ask until he answers :)

  48. stefb says:

    Gurer'f frireny ybiryl rffnlf va qrsrafr bs Guenaqhvy nebhaq gur vagrearg, zbfgyl gb cebir gung ur'f abg n ubeevoyl nohfvir sngure gb Yrtbynf, juvpu jnf cbchyne snaba jura ybge snasvpgvba jnf orpbzvat zber cbchyne orpnhfr bs gur zbivrf. Gur bayl "cebbs" gurl unq jnf gung ur jnf "zrna" gb gur qjneirf–ohg jbhyqa'g lbh dhrfgvba fgenatr orvatf jnaqrevat guebhtu lbhe xvatqbz jvgubhg crezvffvba, naq vagreehcgvat lbhe zreelznxvat abg bapr, ohg guerr gvzrf? (ubj qner lbh vagreehcg gur Ryirf' zreelznxvat, qjneirf!)Ohg va gur raq, Guenaqhvy jnf gur BAYL crefba abg jvyyvat gb tb gb jne bire gur wrjryf, naq Ovyob cersreerq gb fvqr jvgu uvz bire nal bgure (rira gur qjneirf). Nyfb, Tnaqnys guvaxf ur'f fjryy.

    Naq lrnu, ur'f bayl ersreerq gb nf 'gur Ryiraxvat' va 'Gur Uboovg,' naq uvf anzr vfa'g tvira hagvy gur Pbhapvy bs Ryebaq, V guvax. Fb V oryvrir anzvat uvz jbhyq or n fcbvyre.

    Nyfb, 'Gur Fvyznevyyvba' vf rfcrpvnyyl sehfgengvat vs lbh'ir ernq UbZR (be yvxr zr, ybbxrq hc rkgen vasb). Nygubhtu rira Puevfgbcure Gbyxvra fnlf ur'f yrsg va fbzr zvfgnxrf (znxvat Bebqergu Tnynqevry'f oebgure vafgrnq bs arcurj, rgp) naq gung abg rirelguvat va Gur Fvy vf ubj uvf sngure cebonoyl zrnag vg gb or.

    THIS COMMENT WENT ON WAY LONGER THAN I MEANT IT TO.

  49. notemily says:

    Haha, but I don't want to be THAT ANNOYING PERSON who is always bugging Mark!

  50. notemily says:

    uggc://tvatreunmr.ghzoye.pbz/cbfg/8936932091/fbzr-bs-zl-orfg-sevraqf-ner-qjneirf

  51. FuTeffla says:

    Me neither! :D

  52. stefb says:

    I'm writing my comment, so I'll put that question in there, so maybe he'll see it then and be like "oh i forgot to answer that before"….maybe, but I guess we'll see :)

  53. stefb says:

    LOL I love the sassy pose.

  54. chikzdigmohawkz says:

    That is beautiful.

  55. notemily says:

    Again I don't know if Mark is reading from the very beginning, but the "Author's Note" in the Kindle edition has an explanation of "dwarfs" vs. "dwarves." It also has an explanation of a word we haven't heard yet though.

  56. Saphling says:

    It's a great way to talk about spoilers without spoiling people who haven't read the book(s) yet. ^_^

  57. SporkyRat says:

    My dad used to call what Bilbo does 'counting cotton'.

  58. Shanna says:

    And yet, my friend has read the LotR every year since she was 10 – she loves the books – I suppose even the history text feel.

  59. Also a great way to look like you're speaking Klingon :D

  60. @halvedfool says:

    E. Nesbit, who was mentioned elsewhere in the comments, is a good example of that strain of British kidlit, I think. I'm pretty sure Kenneth Grahame also employed that device in The Wind in the Willows along with a penchant for scenery description similar to Tolkien's, as did Beatrix Potter. *grew up reading that style*

  61. threerings says:

    Tangential, but I agree with the comparison to various forms of old cinema. But while 'Singin' in the Rain' is one of the best movies of all time, I tried to watch 'An American in Paris' recently and it…just wasn't all that good. I mean, ok, there were some good dance numbers, but as a movie? It kinda sucked.

Comments are closed.