Tuesday, January 16, 2007

There And Back Again

One of my goals this year is to re-read The Hobbit and the Lord of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I first read them back in 1981 and the impression these books made on my imagination proved a fertile soil for the seeds of fantasy role-playing to take root when I was first introduced to Dungeons & Dragons in 1982. Thus began my interest in role-playing games which would last for approximately the next 10 years.

So, with my reading goal set firmly in mind, I began the search for my paperback edition of The Hobbit (image above). I have a number of my favourite fiction paperbacks, the ones I haven’t been able to part with, stored in a cupboard in a room downstairs. These are the novels I have enjoyed in the past and wish to re-read again in the future. I knew The Hobbit was there, along with a three-book paperback edition of Lord of the Rings, and I soon located it.

I’ve only read The Hobbit three times in the last 25 years and the last reading would have been over 10 years ago. So the tale had faded somewhat in my memory, yet there remained recollections of high adventure that I was eager to once again explore in more detail. It was with a sense of excitement that I picked up The Hobbit early in the New Year and was once again transported to Middle-Earth to join a party of dwarves, a wizard, and a hobbit by the name of Mr Bilbo Baggins, in the search for a fabulous hoard of dwarven treasure guarded by a great and terrible dragon.

Page 104 of The Hobbit graphic novel illustrated by David Wenzel

You can click on the image for a closer view

With my busy life, balancing work, family and household commitments is a difficult task. The only guaranteed time I get a chance to read is for 20 minutes on the train ride to work, 20 minutes at lunch time and 20 minutes on the train ride home. When you add those together that is one hour per day. Multiply that by five working days gives me 5 hours a week to enjoy one of my favourite pastimes.

The adventure and story-telling were enhanced for me by reading The Hobbit in conjunction with the illustrated abridged-text version (graphic novel) of The Hobbit (image above). Every one of the 134 pages is packed full of beautiful illustrations by David Wenzel. I also consulted The Atlas of Tolkien's Middle-Earth (image below) by Karen Wynn Fonstad which allowed me to trace Bilbo’s journey across a number of very detailed maps. This really helped me to visualise the territory through which he travelled as well as appreciate the distances involved.

So over the last two weeks I’ve once again experienced Bilbo’s journey with the dwarves and Gandalf, his encounter with the trolls, capture by the goblins, riddles with Gollum, finding of the ring, rescue by the eagles, meeting with Beorn, fight with giant spiders, escape from the wood elves, conversation with Smaug and his role in the Battle of Five Armies. And so on Friday 12 January the first of my reading goals for 2007 was achieved with the completion of The Hobbit. Now, to start reading the Lord of the Rings again.

No comments: