Ever nurse a book hangover? I have. And the most recent one came after I had finished reading “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien for the third or fourth time since becoming an adult. Oh, I’ve read it more than that. I probably read it at last that many times as a kid.
“The Hobbit” was my first foray into the world of high fantasy. I remember when the cartoon movie came out. I never missed watching it when it was on television, and I remember begging my mother to take me to the Central Valley Library so I could check out a filmstrip projector and the filmstrip of the movie. I would use my closet door as the screen and go on an adventure with Thorin Oakenshield, Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and the dwarves of Erebor.
Now we have a live action version and I don’t care if you like Peter Jackson’s trilogy or not, I do. And yes, I still cry like a baby at the end when – SPOILER – Thorin dies, in the movie or the book. I have a soft spot for Thorin. Always have.
While the book revolves around the adventure of Bilbo Baggins and the reader watches him go from a simple hobbit to hero, I’ve always been fascinated with the dwarves and the journey we see Thorin Oakenshield take. This is a character who saw his grandfather killed during the battle for the mines of Moria and whose father disappeared almost a year to the day Thorin sets out to reclaim his homeland. He was left to lead his people, creating a good life for them after Smaug arrives to take the dwarven horde at Erebor, yet he longs for home, the home stolen from him by a dragon.
While some may view Thorin as a character who feels entitled to what lies in Erebor and looks down upon him for not wanting to share it with the people of Laketown after promising he would, this is a journey Thorin must take. He has to prove to himself that he is not his grandfather, that the treasure of Erebor will not taint him. While his redemption comes almost too late, it still comes.
His love for his people, for the members of his company, for Bilbo who has become like family by the Battle of the Five Armies, breaks the spell and propels Thorin forward as the leader and King they all believe him to be. It makes his death at the end bittersweet, but redemptive, as it needed to be.
Are you suffering from a book hangover? Have you recently read something that you couldn’t put down? Share it with us in the comments on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.