The Hobbit – Lord of the Rings – 100 Best Books

The Hobbit

Started: 5/2/2016

Finished: 7/15/2016

The Hobbit is the prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. I have included this series as a whole, as one entry on my list of the 100 Best Books of All Time and on my list of the 100 Best Sci Fi and Fantasy Books.

The Hobbit Plot Summary (Spoilers):

A wizard, named Gandalf, arranges a surprise meeting between a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins and a company of Dwarves, lead by Thorin Oakenshield, who are on a quest to recover their lost home and treasure from the clutches of a dragon named Smaug.

Bilbo is reluctant to join the Dwarves’ quest, in spite of Gandalf nominating him as the Dwarves’ burglar, but eventually he is persuaded/manipulated into joining the expedition.

The company must traverse The Wild on their way to The Lonely Mountain, where Thorin’s people once ruled. Along the way, they confront Goblins, Spiders and Elves. With some help from Gandalf, the Eagles and a shapeshifter named Beorn, the company manages to overcome these obstacles and reach their destination.

While lost in the Goblin tunnels, Bilbo finds a magic ring, which renders its wearer invisible. Bilbo encounters a strange creature named Gollum,  who challenges him to a game of riddles. Bilbo wins the game, but when Gollum discovers he has lost his precious ring and begins to suspect Bilbo of taking it, Gollum flies into a rage and attempts to kill Bilbo and take the ring. Bilbo uses the ring to turn invisible and escape Gollum and the tunnels.

Bilbo, who is thought of as something of a joke at the outset of the expedition, earns the respect of the Dwarves on the quest by using his magic ring to assist them in escaping first from the Spiders and then from the Wood Elves’ dungeon.

Bilbo is also instrumental in figuring out how to unlock the door to get into The Lonely Mountain and confront Smaug. Once inside, Bilbo uses his ring to scout out the Dragon’s treasure hoard. Bilbo discovers a gem called the Arkenstone, which he steals and then hides, and the dragon Smaug’s weak spot while scouting the treasure hoard. Bilbo shares the dragon’s weakness with the Dwarves, which an old Thrush overhears, but he keeps his possession of the Arkenstone, which Thorin has been searching for, a secret.

When Smaug discovers some of his treasure missing, he is enraged and having learned of the lakemen’s assistance to the dwarves from Bilbo, during his scouting mission, Smaug leaves the mountain and attacks the lake-town. The old Thrush shares the dragon’s weak spot with Bard, who leads the defense for the lakemen. Bard exploits the dragon’s weakness and kills him with an arrow.

The lakemen and a company of Wood Elves march on The Lonely Mountain and demand a share of the treasure as compensation for the destruction of the Lake-Town and Bard’s slaying of Smaug, but Thorin refuses and summons the aid of his relatives to fight Bard’s men and the Elves.

In an effort to avoid a war, Bilbo gives Bard the Arkenstone, so that Bard may  use it to bargain with Thorin. Thorin is enraged and casts Bilbo out. War seems imminent between the Dwarves and the coalition of men and elves, but Gandalf arrives warning of an attack by a large force of Goblins.

The Dwarves band together with Bard’s forces, but are nearly defeated. The Eagles and the shapeshifter Beorn join the battle just in time to fend off the Goblins, but Thorin is fatally wounded in the fighting. Before Thorin dies, he reconciles with Bilbo. Bard buries Thorin with the Arkenstone and Thorin’s successor, Dain, awards Bard his promised share of the treasure.

Bard offers Bilbo his fair share of the treasure, but Bilbo refuses. However, thanks to the treasure they hid after confronting the Trolls, Bilbo still returns home a wealthy man. Bilbo learns that while Gandalf was separated from the Dwarves, he had been meeting with other wizards and organizing a force to drive an evil being called The Necromancer out of the The Wild.

Bilbo is forced to deal with some legal issues and loss of reputation upon his return, having been presumed dead and become considered a bit reckless and foolish for running off on his adventure with Gandalf and the Dwarves. However, Bilbo lives quite happily, enjoys friendship with Dwarves, Men and Elves and often tells the tale of his adventures, and eventually records them in a book. Bilbo gifts most of his wealth to his nieces and nephews, making him a very popular uncle. However, he keeps his magic ring a secret for all of his many years.

The Hobbit Commentary (Spoilers):

Though their are some grim moments in The Hobbit, most of the novel has quiet a light-hearted tone to it. Bilbo and his companions get into one scrape after another, but there is much singing and joking and general frivolity throughout the adventure.

The story is an enjoyable tale about Bilbo’s transformation from a timid fellow who has no desire to ever leave his Hobbit Hole to a bold adventurer, who while not always entirely successful, plays a pivotal role in defeating the dragon Smaug and makes a valiant, if not exactly successful, attempt to avert a war fueled by Thorin’s greed and lust for treasure.

Bilbo returns home a different Hobbit and his actions on this journey set in motion the epic events to come in the far darker and more dramatic tale told in The Lord of the Rings.

 

 

 

100 Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novels – Read Them All

100 Best Fantasy Books

Other than a brief period where I was enamored with horror novels, my favorite book genres have always been Science Fiction and Fantasy.  I have already assembled a list of 100 best books I want to read, but in order to make sure I don’t miss out on any worthy science fiction or fantasy novels, I also wanted to compile a list of the best of those genres.

As with all of my other lists, I determined the top 100 by consulting popular top 100 lists on the internet and choosing the 100 with the most mentions, with ties going to the books I am most interested in reading.

Here’s the list:

  1. The Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert
  2. The Hyperion Chronicles by Dan Simmons
  3. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  4. Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) by George Orwell
  5. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin
  6. The Foundation Trilogy by Issac Asimov
  7. The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien
  8. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
  9. The Ender Series by Orson Scott Card
  10. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  11. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
  12. Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
  13. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  14. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  15. Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C Clarke
  16. Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  17. The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
  18. The War Of The Worlds by H G Wells
  19. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
  20. The Hobbit, or There and Back Again by J R R Tolkien
  21. The Forever War Trilogy by Joe Haldeman
  22. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
  23. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  24. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  25. Ringworld by Larry Niven
  26. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  27. Ubik by Philip K Dick
  28. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  29. Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
  30. Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
  31. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
  32. The Once And Future King by T H White
  33. The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
  34. The Dispossessed by Ursula K LeGuin
  35. The Left Hand Of Darkness by Ursula K LeGuin
  36. A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge
  37. A Canticle For Leibowitz by Walter M Miller
  38. Neuromancer by William Gibson
  39. The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester
  40. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
  41. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke
  42. Childhood’s End by Arthur C Clarke
  43. The City And The Stars by Arthur C Clarke
  44. The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
  45. Out of the Silent Planet by C S Lewis
  46. Contact by Carl Sagan
  47. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
  48. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  49. Uplift Universe by David Brin
  50. A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  51. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum
  52. The Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe
  53. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  54. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  55. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
  56. The Time Machine by H G Wells
  57. The Player Of Games by Iain M Banks
  58. The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
  59. The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov
  60. The Silmarillion by J R R Tolkien
  61. Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner
  62. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  63. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
  64. The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson
  65. Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
  66. The Mote In God’s Eye by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
  67. Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold
  68. A Wrinkle in Time by Madelene L’Engle
  69. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  70. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  71. Anathem by Neal Stephenson
  72. The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
  73. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  74. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  75. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
  76. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick
  77. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick
  78. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick
  79. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K Dick
  80. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
  81. The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
  82. Riftwar Saga by Raymond E Feist
  83. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  84. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
  85. Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan
  86. Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert A Heinlein
  87. The Door Into Summer by Robert Heinlein
  88. The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb
  89. Lord Of Light by Roger Zelazny
  90. The Amber Chronicles by Roger Zelazny
  91. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever by Stephen Donaldson
  92. The Stand by Stephen King
  93. The Malazan Book of The Fallen Series by Steven Erikson
  94. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  95. Stone Of Tears by Terry Goodkind
  96. The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett
  97. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
  98. More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon
  99. Earthsea Saga by Ursula K LeGuin
  100. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Sources:

Internet Top 100

NPR

Sci Fi Lists

This Recording

Fantasy Book Review

Half Price Books

100 Best Fantasy Books