I'll admit I picked this one up after seeing the first movie; primarily because I wanted to read the book in order to properly brace myself for any impending character deaths. Going into this, I did not expect the ending to be a freakin bloodbath of main characters. I had thought that out of the group at least one of the survivors would be either Thorin, Fili, or Kili. Nope. All dead. Ugh, the last Hobbit movie is going to be painful to sit through.
Anyway, while I enjoyed the world and characters, Tolkien has created in this novel. I have a few complaints. One is that this story moves extremely slow. It took me quite a while to get into what was going on, but once it sucked me in, I loved it.
Another complaint is that the final confrontation with Smaug was a huge let down after all that build-up surrounding it. I wish there had actually been a confrontation between Smaug, Bilbo, and the dwarves. Instead, the freakin Dragon gets taken down by some random guy that I'm fairly certain we never actually saw until he randomly popped-up in one of Tolkien's cut-away scenes. Lame.
I also had a problem with Tolkien constantly knocking Bilbo out during action scenes. It kind of killed the suspense to have this huge battle getting started only to have Bilbo smashed upside the head and a "and then he knew no more" thing happen. When he wakes up its pages and pages of summary about what happened in the battle that Bilbo was unconscious for. What really bothered me about this is that Thorin, Fili, and Kili's deaths didn't have any real impact since it was pretty much a character saying, "Oh by the way, Thorin is dying and he wants to say peace-out to Bilbo. Also, Fili and Kili are dead. I'm not actually sure on what happened but I'm positive their deaths were honorable."
Other than that, I enjoyed the story. But, and I hate to admit this, so far I'm enjoying the movie adaptation more.