The Hobbit turned 80 this week and here is my blog post titled “An unexpected change of pace” from a couple of years ago where I re-read the classic novel by Tolkien.wp-1455455294830.jpeg


My copy of The Hobbit

I have been reading The Hobbit to my seven-year-old son. He is loving it as his bed time story and I am enjoying re-reading the childhood classic I loved. It was one of the early books I selected for myself and I whizzed through it when I was 11.
But during the bedtime re-read I have noticed something – and it is a bug bear I have with other books – the pacing.
So, the first 10 chapters cover about 200 pages, with some chapters pretty heavy going (just before the woods, the slog through those woods, the bit with the elves) but the last 9 chapters cover about 100 pages and quite quickly zip along. Short and to the point, the plot moves much faster than in earlier chapters.
Sometimes I feel like I am reading a completely different book.
Now Tolkien has form for poor pacing in my opinion, when I was reading The Two Towers at 12 years old, I was aware of the weary trek of Frodo and Sam which went on and on and on . I nearly gave up on that book , abandoning the two of them to those marshes. Much later I would laugh heartily at Clerks 2 with the comment on the film adaptations: “even the trees walked in those movies”.
But, back to my point. It feels like two different books, kind of jammed together. The long saga of The Unexpected Journey and the fast pace of the adventures at the Lonely Mountain.
How did this happen? A fast approaching deadline, perhaps? A change of editors halfway through the job.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved the book when I first read it and I am enjoying the re-read with my son. If not for this book, many of the books I have enjoyed would never have happened.
And Tolkien is not alone in having pacing issues. I often find myself frustrated at books, films and tv series for this exact reason. I may blog about another more modern example at some point, but for now, feel free to tell me if you agree or disagree with my view of this legendary and much loved book.

What book did you really like when you were a kid?

When I was reasonably young, I really loved The Shrinking of Treehorn by Florence Parry Heide.

When I was at school there were some books about pirates (the blue pirate, the red pirate, the green pirate, as I recall). But I have no idea who they were by or what they were called. I remember loving them when I was in the first year at junior school. I think one of the pirates got stuck on an island and met a Griffin.

A little older and I got into Roald Dahl. I don’t think I ever read one of his books I didn’t like.After reading his children’s books it was pretty awesome to discover his adult fiction also rocked.

Eventually I read The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien and from fantasy I got into sci-fi as well with John Christopher and The Tripods Trilogy.

Any recommendations from your childhood welcomed:

(and if you know anything about the pirate reading books, I’d love to hear from you.)




%d bloggers like this: