The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien, narrated by Inglis
Caution: There will be spoilers!

A couple of months ago I had the immense pleasure of listening to the Rob Inglis narrations of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. If you ever have the slightest wish to listen to these books, just do it. Inglis’ voices are fantastic; he even sings the songs! It was a true delight. 

A humble hobbit named Bilbo Baggins is unwillingly thrown into a “nasty adventure” when the wizard Gandalf thrusts himself into Bilbo’s home, a troop of dwarves in his wake. Gandalf has misinformed the dwarves that Bilbo is a burglar – the dwarves want Bilbo to burgle a gigantic horde of treasure from the dragon Smaug, who had stolen the treasure (with their mountain kingdom) from the dwarves’ ancestors decades before. This is a strange coming-of-age story, since the character is 50 years old already (which is youngish for a hobbit, but still firmly in the adult range). But as the story progresses, Bilbo recognizes that he is a brave hobbit, an adventuresome hobbit, and a very sneaky burglar. 



The Hobbit was Tolkien’s first major work about Middle Earth, and although it is an excellent book on its own, it is unfortunately overshadowed by his later work The Lord of the Rings. Although LOTR is a sequel to The Hobbit, these two books are very different styles. The Hobbit was intended for children, and therefore has a light-hearted, almost silly air to it. The songs tend to be funny and childish rather than somber and chilling, as in LOTR. An example is when the dwarves are teasing Bilbo with the song: 

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!

Cut the cloth and tread on the fat! 
Pour the milk on the pantry floor!
Leave the bones on the bedroom mat!
Splash the wine on every door!

Dump the crocks in a boiling bowl;
Pound them up with a thumping pole;
And when you’ve finished if any are whole,
Send them down the hall to roll!

That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates!
So, carefully! carefully with the plates!


Another factor of the young audience is that the characters in the book are much more silly than they are in the live-action movies. (I will discuss the movies in a later post.) A striking example is of Thorin’s character, who in the book is silly and long-winded, but who in the movie is dark and romantic (not to mention quite handsome). 

The spider scene in the movie is dark and scary. Bilbo is heroic and rescues his friends through cleverness and brave swordsmanship. In the book, he swings through the trees singing a silly song that diverts the spiders’ attention. 

Old fat spider spinning in a tree!
Old fat spider can’t see me!
Attercop! Attercop!
Won’t you stop,
Stop your spinning and look at me!
Old Tomnoddy, all big body,
Old Tomnoddy can’t spy me!
Attercop! Attercop!
Down you drop!

You’ll never catch me up your tree!

After dragging the spiders off on a wild goose chase, Bilbo is able to return to his friends and cut them down from the webs. 


The themes in The Hobbit also tend to be a bit black and white – probably for the sake of the young audience. There is a clear good and evil. The good characters always end up choosing mercy and righteousness over power and wealth. (Though, there is a bit of wealth to go around!) As in any good book, there are momentary shades of grey. Thorin, who is otherwise quite honorable, is temporarily blinded by greed – though he eventually redeems himself. 



An interesting fact that I found out while researching this review is that J. R. R. Tolkien changed The Hobbit after writing LOTR in order to better fit with the dark purpose of the One Ring. Originally, Gollum willingly bet the ring in the riddle contest. Gollum was dismayed when he found out that he could not keep his promise of the ring, and he instead bargained to lead Bilbo out of the cave. They parted on good terms. 

In LOTR, the ring changed from a helpful charm to a powerful device that would suck the soul out of the wearer. Because of this change in the ring’s nature, The Hobbit‘s Gollum had to turn murderous when he discovered the ring was missing. 

Overall, this story was quite enjoyable, and I’m glad that I decided to “re-read” it as an adult. I got a lot more out of it this time around than I did when a child. 

4.5 snowflakes for originality, adventure, humor, morals, and fun

Reason for reading: Interest, TBR Pile, Classics Club List
Format: Audiobook

Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin


Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin

What can I say about Game of Thrones that hasn’t already been said? I’m not even sure how to summarize it properly because there is so much that would be left out. But, briefly, Lord Eddard Stark is swept up into a web of conspiracy when he is suddenly demanded to go to the capital city to be the Hand of the King. He must protect his family, his honor, and the king from enemies – and everyone is an enemy. 

This is a sweeping epic that jumps from character to character to weave an intricate web of plots, subplots, and sub-sub-plots. The characters are heartbreakingly well developed – and I say heartbreakingly because you fall in love with the “good” ones and hate the “bad ones.”  As each character gets thrown into his or her own trap, your heart aches for them. None of the characters are all good or all bad – they’re very human. This is not Tolkien. It’s not a happy story where the good guys always prevail and only a few people die – and that for the sake of heroism. People die left and right. And they don’t necessarily die heroic deaths – they die because that’s what happens in the game of thrones. It’s as bloody and horrifying as the War of the Roses. And I think that’s what makes the book so good: it’s a story about human nature and the struggle between power and honor. 

Usually I drag my feet reading long books. No matter how good a book is, it’s hard because I’m such a slow reader that I feel I’m  not making progress. Not so with this book. This book was so smooth that I barely noticed the length. I didn’t want it to end. As soon as it ended, I bought the rest of the series so I could start them right away. But this book was also a very difficult read for me. There’s so much sorrow in Game of Thrones. The reality of the suffering attenuates the escapism that one usually feels when reading epic fantasy. And yet I couldn’t stop myself from reading. I was too invested in the characters – both the likable and the detestable ones. 



5 snowflakes for sheer awesomeness, intrigue, plot, unexpectedness, character development, world building, battle scenes


Reason for reading: Interest, TBR Pile
Format: ebook



As soon as I finished Game of Thrones, I wanted to watch the first season of the HBO show. I’ve been warned against the show many times because of the graphic violence and sex, which I tend not to like. But I loved the book so much that I just had to watch the show. 

The first season of Game of Thrones followed the book perfectly. It managed to get all the important bits from the plot – there were very few times when I turned to my boyfriend and said “it left such-and-such out.” There were no special scenes from the book that I wished the show had included. I hear the show deviates from the books in later seasons, and I’m ok with that. I don’t think a show has to follow a movie perfectly to be a good show. But I’m always impressed when the creators of a show are able to be so devoted to the book’s plot. 

In some ways, the show was easier to watch than the book was to read. The jumping around from character to character was more smooth, in the sense that I wasn’t spending time during one chapter wondering what happened to the person in the last chapter. But that also could have been because I knew exactly what was going to happen while watching the show. 

I love the opening theme of Game of Thrones – it’s so fitting to the story, and it provides a map that gives you a wonderful visual of where everything is respective to everything else. Of course, George R. R. Martin is so good in his descriptions that I already had a pretty good map in my head, but it’s nice to see a map on a show. I’m glad they found a way to work it in. Very clever. 


My favorite character in the show was Tyrion Lannister, who is played perfectly by Peter Dinklage. There’s just the perfect mixture of lovable and detestable characteristics in Tyrion. Tyrion is so funny, so clever, so conniving. He is kind, yet ruthless. I want him to win, even if he’s on the “wrong” side. Please don’t die, Tyrion! 

The character in the show that ticked me off the most was Cersei Lannister. Her facial expressions just made me want to punch her. And I guess that means Lena Headey is a fantastic actress. Because that’s exactly how I’m supposed to feel about Cersei Lannister. 

Overall, I loved this show, and as soon as I finish Clash of Kings I’ll dive into season 2. 



4.5 stars for sheer awesomeness, ability to follow the book perfectly, character development, plot, intrigue, mise-en-scene, visual effects, acting. Loses half a point for sex and violence, though that’s not entirely fair since the book had just as much sex and violence. But I’d rather read it than see it.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N. K. Jemisin

written by N. K. Jemisin, narrated by Casaundra Freeman


Reason for Reading:

First of all, let me thank Morphi who recommended this book a few weeks ago when I said I was reading authors-of-color…-of-speculative-fiction for the Diverse Universe Tour. This is EXACTLY what I needed after reading all those heavy literary works. This book was fun brain candy, but it also had some interesting messages as well. 🙂 





My Review:

When Yeine Darr’s mother dies, she is called for an unexpected interview with her estranged maternal grandfather, the ruler of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Under the guise of adopting her into the family, her grandfather’s twisted family holds Yeine against her will in the city of Sky. Presumably, she is a third contender to take her grandfather’s place as ruler–but what are his motivations for accepting her (as outcast) into the family? On top of that, Yeine is also being seduced by the charms of the “gods” of Sky…and one of them is the ultimate bad-boy. These gods have been treated as slaves by Yeine’s family for two thousand years, and they want their own piece of Yeine’s new life. Yeine must weave her way through a maze of deceit to decide who her allies are. I loved this book because I was in great need of some brain candy right about now. It’s light, fun, fluffy…as long as you approach it like brain candy, you’ll really love it. 🙂 Despite it’s fun fluffy nature, Jemisin manged to weave in messages about unbendingly dogmatic religions, slavery, women’s rights, and abuse of power. These messages do not overpower the story, but they’re there if you want to think about them. In my mind, this was a perfect mixture and just what I needed right now. 🙂

About the Author:
N. K. Jemisin was born in Iowa city in a year un-noted by Wikipedia. 😉 She grew up in New York City and Mobile, Alabama. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is her debut book…it was considered for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards the year it came out. I look forward to watching as Jemisin’s writing develops. 🙂 If her first book is so good, then perhaps her writing will get even better as time progresses!