EDIT: Woops, I dropped the ball on this one. It’s been a while since I read the Hobbit and the version I read was a super old one my grandfather had. I’m not sure if I just failed to remember things properly or if the text was actually different, but I did not remember Bilbo talking to Gandalf about the ring. I’ve changed the text in the second panel so it’s not totally inaccurate. My bad!

Damn it, Bilbo! If you’d just told someone about that ring, maybe we could have avoided that whole mess with the war! Oh well…at least it will make for a decent series of books and some extremely profitable films.

Alright, so Bilbo does eventually tell Gandalf about the ring after The Hobbit, and Gandalf was supposedly already suspicious about Bilbo’s sudden skill at burgling after living a life where nearly every moment of the day was filled with stuffing his face full of food. All that wasn’t really covered until later, when Tolkien decided to include The Hobbit in the much larger epic of The Lord of the Rings. What is really interesting about all this is the idea that one simple action, one small event, ended up having such far reaching consequences for an entire world. If Bilbo had never gone on his Journey, would things have played out as they had? If he had told Gandalf sooner and more clearly about the ring, would he have investigated it properly?

Maybe if he’d let Gandalf take it away for examination, we could have been spared the horror of “Terror-Bilbo” in the Lord of the Rings movies. Then again, we’d probably have to see a horrifying Gandalf or something later…There’s probably no good solution there.

Anyway, as I’ve said before, The Hobbit is probably one of my favorite books of all time and definitely my favorite of Tolkien’s works. It’s a wonderful story, packed with adventure and powerful themes. I’ve always loved the purity of the tale and how rich its world is. Part of me sort of wishes that Tolkien had just left it as he’d originally intended it: a singular tale from a fantasy world with no connection to anything larger, but it is interesting to see how he ended up bringing the two tales together. It does make for a few confusing elements, but they are mostly retconned in later works and it never makes the reading unenjoyable.

Regardless of whether or not you prefer the Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, it’s hard to deny the quality of Tolkien’s works. They’ve made a lasting impression on the world of fantasy literature that we’ll continue to see for many years to come and now they’re making an impression on film. While I will always prefer the books to the movies, it’s still fun to see them brought to life on screen, to see others’ ideas of what the Shire might look like or how Gandalf might move and act.

…Or how Bilbo might react when the ring is taken from him.

Gods, I think that scene traumatized me for life.