by J. R. R. Tolkien
Elves in the forest, dwarves mining in the mountains, and Halflings living in their quiet homes under the hills; the hero stepping out of his comfort zone and travelling far and wide to overcome significant challenges. (And magic, of course.) To me, it seems odd that the tropes and races of the “standard fantasy setting”––as well as the phrase itself––can be employed constantly and consistently with such familiarity that the usage can almost be taken for granted. And, yet, there was a time when this wasn’t the case, not exceptionally long ago, a time that started with The Hobbit.
The flaws of The Hobbit are many, mainly in plot––flaws that I may one day delve into in a blog post riddled with spoilers––but nothing ever proved to be a deal-breaker, and why is that? Perhaps, it comes from the rich world the characters find themselves in. Perhaps, it’s the voice the author employs, narration sounding like a legitimate myth or legend being handed down. (Unlike his contemporaries, which can sound more, at times, like an author attempting to emulate Tolkien.) I think the best word to linger on is ‘legitimacy.’ Tolkien’s originality and skill with the language easily stand the test of time, in my humble opinion.
If, like me, you are able to forgive the flaws as you read, it won’t be hard to see how The Hobbit originally caught on and how its legacy continues to this day, a legacy that The Lord of the Rings trilogy proved to cement. Read it and enjoy it, but, please, don’t take it too seriously.