A Reader posted a review at 2010-08-27 09:02:07.
As the Prequel to the thrilling Lord of the Rings trilogy, this work is a bit less than thrilling. As a chronicle of a certain part of the history of Middle Earth, it is an enormous success. As a story about finding oneself and finding out about one's world, it is a stunning masterpiece of English literature. The author makes the English language sing like one of the golden harps our heros find amid Smaug's treasure hord. The subject matter at first is light, initially the journey of Bilbo, the thirteen dwarves and Gandalf seems like the sort of scheme Tom Sawyer might cook up, dangerous but not deadly, fantastical, and half-baked. Then they enter Mirkwood, where giant spiders spin deadly webs for non-insect prey, and the elvenking is not exactly dwarf-friendly. However Bilbo manages to save the day twice, and our heros survive, barely. After that the book is suddenly serious, more akin to the darkly epic tone the author takes in LoTR. It is that rare thing, a finely crafted work for children by one of the greatest masters of the English language, light enough for the young, serious enough for the young at heart. This is a book to read over and over again. Recommended for children 10 and up.