||"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."
||This 1937 fantasy is the prequel, or "prelude" to the classic epic trilogy THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Bilbo Baggins is the hobbit of the title: a short, round, and hairy-footed creature fond of small comforts and his rural home. What he doesn't like (or at least thinks he doesn't like) is adventure, but that's just what he gets when a wizard and several dwarves show up on his doorstep, eat him out of house and home, and induce him to join them on a perilous quest to steal a dragon's treasure. Along the way, he picks up a golden ring with the power to turn the wearer invisible; this ring will turn out to be central to the later volumes. While THE LORD OF THE RINGS is a serious epic about the nature of good and evil, written in highly formal language and intended for adults, this earlier work is considerably lighter in tone and clearly directed toward a younger audience, having sprung out of the stories that Tolkien used to tell his own children. However, that does not and has not prevented adults the world over from enjoying THE HOBBIT.