"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." - so begins the fantasy classic. Bilbo Baggins, who lives a quiet and comfortable life, is suddenly plucked to go on a quest to help a company of 13 dwarves reclaim their treasure from Smaug the dragon in the Lonely Mountains.
If you've read The Lord of the Rings (or watched the films) you'll be in familiar territory with Gandalf, hobbits, dwarves, Gollum and the Shire.
For those who haven't, The Hobbit is a delightful introduction to the fantastical world created by Tolkien. Since it was originally written for his children, the storyline is less complex, the tone lighter and the prose friendlier - great if you are apprehensive about tackling Tolkien's more "difficult" works.
This book is best enjoyed by older children and adults. It contains all the ingredients for an exciting read: an epic quest, perilous adventures, as well as encounters with elves, goblins, dragons, and other strange and dangerous creatures of Middle Earth.
But this is more than just a journey in search of gold; it is also a journey of self discovery. Along the way Baggins becomes wiser and braver as he is forced to fight and use his wits.
We find out how he comes into possession an important magical ring from the mysterious Gollum, which sets the scene for another grand adventure. (Tolkien himself did not realise the significance of the ring as it was written before The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Hobbit was first published in 1937, and Tolkien had made several changes since then to accommodate the sequel, including the aforementioned scene.)
As testament to its timeless popularity, readers can look forward to seeing it on the big screen at the end of the year.
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