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Walking with Bilbo - Sarah Arthur

There are a myriad of books about the various themes and ideas presented in Lord of the Rings. I have always enjoyed mining them for a new interpretation or a clever detail I’ve previously missed. The three books of the trilogy themselves hold up to countless rereads and yield deeper and richer thoughts each time. But Tolkien nut though I may be, I’ve always considered The Hobbit to be a fairly lightweight kids book. So when I heard that Sarah Arthur had written a follow up to Walking with Frodo that was focused on The Hobbit, I was immediately intrigued.

While it might be tempting to assume that this is an attempt to cater to the hoards of people who will be watching The Hobbit in theaters this month, I found it a truly thought provoking book that gently suggested I may have dismissed its source material a little too quickly.

Unlike Peter Jackson, Mrs. Arthur doesn’t feel the need to focus on what things will become in the next books. The Bilbo she examines is much the same Hobbit I met so many years ago: a funny, rather bumbling character that pulls it all together at the end. However, she looks at him and the journey he takes through the lens of scripture, and I at least, was surprised by the Bilbo I was reintroduced to.

Mrs. Arthur presents The Hobbit as a journey…but this is not the journey to Mordor and back. Rather it is a journey of becoming. Instead of the tearing down Frodo experienced, Bilbo is built and matured. Lord of the Rings may have been the story of the Everyman succeeding when all the great and mighty failed, but this book presents Bilbo as the true Everyman, and his story, is our story as faith opens our eyes to whole new world. The scripture Mrs. Arthur uses and the questions she ends each chapter with were amazing springboards for further thought and study, and I’ve been rereading The Hobbit and seeing it in a whole new light.

The book is set up like a devotional, with short chapters that can be read quickly and then contemplated throughout the day. I decided to read it as such and found it a much better way to take in all the new ideas. I read Walking with Frodo straight through and am sure I didn’t retain as much that way. So it’s probably best to take it in smaller sections at least. Otherwise, I could see some people finding the layout distracting.

 

My thanks to Tyndale for sending me a review copy of Walking with Bilbo, in return for my honest opinion of this book.