“In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.” It’s a quiet, humble beginning to an epic fantasy adventure tale, but then, hobbits are quiet, humble creatures. Despite this, a little hobbit is the hero of J. R. R. Tolkien’s adventure tale The Hobbit, prequel to his famous Lord of the Rings trilogy.
It all begins in the Shire, a quiet, idyllic community inhabited by hobbits. At about half the size of a human, hobbits are small in stature but rich in warmth; they are a peaceful race who love predictability and a relaxing evening at home by the fire. Certainly they are not adventurers or rabble-rousers—in fact, doing anything unexpected is frowned upon in the hobbit community. Bilbo Baggins is a very respectable member of his community who spends his days smoking his pipe, reading his books, eating frequent meals, and drinking tea in his cozy hobbit hole; he certainly never goes on any adventures or does anything unexpected. That is, until one day thirteen loud, boisterous dwarves show up on his doorstep and force their way in with no explanation whatsoever. Against all odds, the wizard Gandalf has chosen Bilbo as the fourteenth member of the dwarves’ dangerous expedition to slay a dragon and reclaim their homeland. He is to be their burglar, tasked with sneaking into the dragon’s lair to assess the situation and steal a very important jewel. So it is, despite his protestations that he is unfit for such a quest and is certainly not a burglar, that Bilbo reluctantly sets out on a great adventure.