J. R. R. Tolkien, as a professor at Oxford just didn’t seem the type to write a fantasy such as The Hobbit, but the gentle college professor not only wrote the groundbreaking book, but created an entire fantasy world called Middle Earth which he peopled with Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, Wizards, and foul goblins. After Peter Jackson’s award-winning trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, was released, new interest appeared for the ‘1st” of the Hobbit tales, published in 1937.
Bilbo Baggins is an unusual hobbit in the fact that he enjoys adventures. Most hobbits would rather stay at home, digging in the earth and preparing lavish meals, but Bilbo is different. When the kindly wizard Gandalf arrives with a party of 13 dwarves (a very unlucky number) all try to convince Bilbo to join them as a thief, in hopes of stealing back the dwarf treasure stolen by the dragon Smaug who lives in the Lonely Mountain.
When Bilbo awakes, not sure he really wants to embark on any adventure, the dwarves are already gone and Gandalf presents him with a letter from Thorin (the leader of the dwarf party) which states Bilbo will receive 1/14th of any of the profits gotten from this enterprise and could he meet them at the Dragon Inn at 11 sharp. Unable to resist the challenge and prodded by Gandalf, Bilbo’s adventures begin. The dwarves are captured by trolls who want to roast and eat them but Bilbo manages to save them by causing the trolls to argue and the rising sun turns them into stone. Not much later, the dwarves run into goblins and Bilbo ends up in a deep cave and finds a plain gold ring in the passage. Later he meets the mysterious river creature, Gollum, with which he has a riddling duel. Finally, running out of riddles and afraid he will be eaten by the duelist he asks the pale-eyed creature what is in his pocket. After three guesses Gollum is stumped and seeks the help of his ring, but it is lost! To escape him, Bilbo slips the ring onto his finger and slips out of the cave.
Later, when he and the dwarves are safe, Gandalf departs, warning them to not leave the path. They encounter nasty spiders and Bilbo, with the help of the ring, fights the arachnids and wins. While in the forest of Mirkwood the thirteen are taken captive by woodland elves.
(Dwarves and Elves are longtime enemies). Using the ring, which Bilbo now realizes makes him invisible, he manages to hide the dwarves in wine barrels and roll them into the cold water.
After their escape they climb the mountain and find the hidden door which can only be revealed by a full moon. The dragon Smaug is busy attacking a village called Lake Town and the dwarves steal back all their treasure and the Arkenstone. Bilbo returns to where he thinks the dragon is sleeping, but forgets about Smaug’s acute sense of smell. Once again he is prompted to trade riddles and manages to discover the dragon’s only weak spot. Bilbo flees and luckily for him the dragon cannot squeeze through the passageway and he escapes. Later he returns with the dwarves and the dragon, enraged, attacks the town and a captain named Bard hears from a thrush that a vulnerable spot is located on the dragon’s underbelly. He aims true and fires and the dragon Smaug is no more! Bard is made King and the birds return to the dwarves and Bilbo and tells them that Smaug is dead. Unfortunately the Elves and Dwarves are still fighting and Bilbo decides to try and make a peace between them. Thorin, the leader of the dwarves resents Bilbo and views him as a traitor. A battle breaks out between the five armies and Thorin while dying from wounds received in battle makes peace with Bilbo before he passes. The Arkenstone is buried with him and eventually the goblins are dislodged from the mountain with the help of the eagles and finally his adventure over, Bilbo returns to the Shire, a much richer and wiser man. And, unbeknownst to him, Bilbo has the most powerful ring of them all in his possession. But what happens to that and his nephew Frodo is another tale in itself!