”The Hobbit” breakdown
J.R.R. Tolkien’s first voyage to Middle-earth revolved around a fuzzy Halfling named Bilbo, and launched readers into a fantastic new world. A primer.
The little hero of the book’s title is fat, hairy, and fond of his quiet life in the village of Hobbiton. But when the wizard Gandalf persuades him to help 13 dwarves reclaim their treasure from the dragon Smaug, Bilbo sets off, confronting trolls, magical elves, and giant spiders on an epic journey.
A centuries-old dragon who can breathe fire and speak, Smaug stole the dwarves’ treasure when he took over their stronghold, Lonely Mountain. He unwittingly reveals a weak spot in his scales to Bilbo and dies by an arrow to the breast — but not before laying waste to the human settlement Esgaroth.
Bilbo finds an enchanted golden band in the caves of the Misty Mountains, home to the creature Gollum, who calls the ring his ”precious” and wants to eat the hobbit. Fortunately, Bilbo slips the ring on and disappears. Decades later, he passes it along to his relative Frodo, who, in the ‘Rings’ trilogy, must destroy it to save Middle-earth.
A powerful wizard with a white beard, Gandalf has long been a friend to hobbits. He persuades the dubious dwarves to trust Bilbo as their fellow dragon hunter. Weaving in and out of the story, Gandalf often shows up just in time to help his do-gooders out of life-threatening binds. He reappears in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy.
The grandson of the dwarf king Thrór, Thorin is a proud warrior who leads his brethren and Bilbo in their fight against Smaug. He’s haughty and stubborn, and even clashes with Bilbo. But the two make peace before Thorin dies, fatally wounded in the Battle of Five Armies.