Friday, 1 February 2013

The Hobbit meets Rhianna Pendragon


I finally managed to persuade my author to take me to see The Hobbit! They don’t have seats in cinemas for unicorns, of course, so I had to lurk in the aisle (which might explain why people kept stumbling over me in the dark when they crept out part way through the three-hour showing to use the bathroom.)

Now, you might think that three hours would be enough to cover the whole story of a short book like The Hobbit (at least, it’s short compared to the Lord of the Rings!). But no, it seems there are going to be two more Hobbit films to finish the story (hooray!) And since the story is shorter, and the films just as long, this means the pace is  slower than LOTR, which makes room for some of the gentle humour in the original book.

This first episode begins with a prologue that ties the story cleverly to the earlier Lord of the Rings film trilogy, opening with aging hobbit Bilbo Baggins writing his memoirs. Then we have a “60 years earlier” time shift, which magically turns old grumpy Bilbo into a younger but much less adventurous Bilbo, who is as house proud as a fussy old woman… until a bunch of dwarves arrive on his doorstep, and present him with a contract and an invitation to join them as a "burglar" on their quest to regain their mountain home from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Poor Bilbo is horrified, especially when they start throwing all his best crockery around and scoffing all his food. But when the dwarves finally leave, he has second thoughts and runs after them to help. That’s hobbits for you.

As a unicorn, I especially liked the ponies ridden by the dwarves. How brave they were when the trolls picked them up and carried them off to cook pony stew! Luckily no animals were harmed in the filming, and so the ponies (and the dwarves) are soon rescued by brave Bilbo, with a little help from Gandalf the Grey, everyone’s favourite wizard from LOTR - who does not look a day younger, let alone 60 years younger, but that's wizards for you.

Bilbo is no great warrior despite his little elf-blade that glows blue when evil is around, but he uses his clever tongue to get himself and his companions out of trouble. The climax of the film is the famous riddle game from the book, where we meet the pathetic but scary creature Gollum, and Bilbo picks up the ring that gets his nephew Frodo into so much trouble later on... Gollum’s “precioussss”. This magic ring proves very useful for a burglar, because it makes its wearer invisible so Bilbo is all set to make himself useful to the dwarves in the next episode.

Which brings me to the girls. There aren’t any in the Hobbit, until we meet the elf queen Lady Galadriel, who first appears glowing very unicorn-like on a cliff against a deep blue evening sky with a crescent moon shining over her shoulder. (If I were not already Katherine’s muse, I would be Galadriel’s any day…shh, don’t tell my author!) Galadriel is lovely, but she’s very much your regal queen-type, and not the sort of girl to get her hands dirty fighting dragons. This is a shame. Even if the hero Bilbo had to be a boy, a few dwarf girls might have been interesting.

Rhianna Pendragon
I'll tell you a secret. My author did not really like "The Hobbit" when she first read the book at school. She loved the magical story, but identifying with the hero/ine is important when you are younger, and she found it difficult to identify with Bilbo Baggins.

So she started writing about girls who have adventures, like the heroine of her new series Rhianna Pendragon, who does battle dragons, and who gets her hands (and hair and clothes) dirty on regular occasions. Rhianna is King Arthur’s daughter, and so has nothing much to do with hobbits as a rule, but if you’re observant you’ll spot a surprising number of things from the Hobbit and LOTR that have found their way into Rhianna’s quests!

Dragons.
Hobbit: Smaug, the firedrake.
Rhianna: The ice-beathing shadrake.

A significant hill.
Hobbit: The Lonely Mountain.
Rhianna: The Lonely Tor (today known as Glastonbury Tor.)

Elves.
Hobbit: Lord Elrond’s people, who live in a magical valley.
Rhianna P: Prince Elphin from the Isle of Avalon, who has six fingers on each hand and violet eyes.

A wizard.
Hobbit: Gandalf the Grey.
Rhianna: Merlin, King Arthur’s enchanter, whose spirit takes over a merlin falcon when Morgan Le Fay destroys his man’s body.

Magical horses.
Hobbit: Gandalf’s horse, Shadowfax.
Rhianna: Telepathic fairy horses from Avalon.

A witch.
Hobbit: Lady Galadriel
Rhianna: Morgan Le Fay

Did you spot any more? And do you think Rhianna Pendragon’s quests should be made into films to give the girls a chance to have some fun?

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Book 1 Sword of Light and Book 2 Lance of Truth are available in hardcover, paperback and ebook.

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