The Annotated Hobbit is the best way for J.R.R. Tolkien fans to enjoy re-reading through this fantastic, action-packed and fun fantasy tale. The hardcover edition of this book packs information on to every page. So much so that I would hesitate to recommend this particular book for someone who has never read through this cherished story before.
There is a good reason why I believe that new readers should steer clear of this book. Having all the added information printed along with the story really will give a distracting read of what is a rather fast-paced narrative. If you've never read The Hobbit before, or at least not read it for many years, you will be better off enjoying the original story as it is, without any added descriptions and details.
For fans who know this story well and are very familiar with it, this is a great way to get even more from the original telling. I tend to read this book around once a year because it does not take too long to get through it all and I still find new things to enjoy. For someone who loves all things Tolkien, this makes a wonderful gift and is a great way to keep this fantasy feeling both fresh and exciting.
How the Annotations Work in This Edition
Annotations are extra snippets of information that can offer more detail on what you are reading. They are always separated from the main text. In this book, you can read straight down the center portions of the hardcover edition to enjoy the main story as you normally would. Alternatively, you can choose to stop and read through the annotations as they are printed over on the edges and sometimes at the bottom of the pages.
You can differentiate between the main story and the extra added information since the annotations are in a slightly smaller font size. To someone who is completely new to this tale, this format may feel a little busy or confusing and that is why I cannot recommend it for a newbie. But when you already know The Hobbit tale so well, these extra texts really freshen up the tale and breathe some new life in to it. It certainly gives you a lot more to mull over.
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A Book Ideal for Fans with Inquisitive Minds
People tend to think of books with annotations as being rather dry and academic affairs and that would be correct in so many cases. Here, there are plenty of delightful snippets of information which allow you to gain a better insight to: the author J.R.R. Tolkien, the illustrations, the numerous edits and changes this book has seen over the years and tying up this with his other Middle Earth offerings as well.
I was lucky to first find this book at our local library where I borrowed it for free on many occasions until I was able to go and buy a personal copy of it instead.
You can discover why scholars think that J.R.R. Tolkien based The Lonely Mountain in this tale on the Matterhorn which is in the Alps. You will learn a lot about other pieces penned by this author, including poetry based on fantasy creatures such as trolls. There is a wealth of detail on the various black and white illustrations that go with this edition.
If you've never read this tale about Bilbo Baggins before, and how he goes off on a magnificent adventure with a company of 13 dwarves and a wizard called Gandalf, I urge you to grab a normal copy of the story. Reading the extra commentary is likely to spoil the pace of the tale on a first reading. For someone who is looking to learn more about Middle Earth and Tolkien's writings, this is an excellent choice.
Fantastic Way to Re-Read this Classic Fantasy Tale
From Part of My Book Collection
More Books I Recommend for Hobbit Fans
The Hobbit: Illustrated Edition: This is a beautifully illustrated edition (released October, 2013) which is ideal for both older children and adults. There are many whimsical and colorful pictures inside made by the artist, Jemima Catlin.
The pictures in here are fantastic and drawn in a slightly child-like way which works very well with the story. There is a wonderful illustration of Smaug the dragon in here which shows his scaly red head and neck resting on a mountain of gold and treasure. This edition should appeal more to children from around age 10 and up. It is a lovely book that deserves some appreciation and careful handling.
A Hobbit Devotional: With the religious slant it will not appeal to everyone. However, I have the digital Kindle version of this which I really enjoy reading on my tablet. It is a very fun and insightful book to look through with 60 devotional readings for you to devour and enjoy. This is a great read and not at all dry or academic. It gives another fresh way to enjoy this fantasy tale with some interesting spiritual insights and meanings sprinkled in.
A Fresh Way to Re-Read an Old Favorite
Like a lot of followers, I enjoy re-reading this book every year. It's a pretty quick read and especially compared with the longer The Lord of the Rings volumes which I re-read slightly less often. Having the annotations gives me another dimension to the familiar story that I can enjoy. The extra snippets go into a lot of detail which may not appeal to everyone. If you are not interested in any of the origins to illustrations, places and characters, then just stick to the story instead.
There are lots of images and illustrations in the hardcover version in black and white and a few that come in color in the middle section. As an adult fan and collector of Hobbit items and merchandise, it's one of my favorite keepsake items.
Image Credits: The introductory image is in the Public Domain from Pixabay and has been altered by the author. All other images (unless watermarked with the author’s name) are product photos from Amazon.