John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973), a former professor of English at the University of Oxford, was one of the great authors of his day. Though he did not receive very much recognition in his lifetime, Tolkien is now being recognized due to the success of a trilogy of books he authored, The Lord of the Rings. In The Hobbit, a prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Tolkien introduces to the reader a fictional world with vividly described creatures and places.
The Hobbit starts when a wizard named Gandalf summons a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins to go on an adventure with a troop of dwarves. Their ultimate goal is to retrieve a large sum of money in the form of gold and jewelry which should belong to the dwarves, but was stolen by a mighty dragon before it could be passed down. In their quest to find this dragon, Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves must pass through forests frequented by troll, caves used by goblins, and other perilous places. All that they have to help them are Gandolf's old friends, a bit of luck, and Bilbo's cleverness and ingenuity.
Bilbo Baggins is the main character of The Hobbit. Although Bilbo starts as a timid fellow, he turns into a capable leader of sorts as the book progresses. Along the way to reaching their goal, Bilbo finds a magic ring, which when worn will turn the bearer invisible to the eye (This is very important in the trilogy). In the first part of the book, he uses this ring to get the group out of many difficult situations, such as capture by giant spiders and imprisonment by elves, and thereby earns the respect of the dwarves. .
The second part of the book begins when the troop finally finds the home of the dragon they seek. They manage to awaken the dragon, which then goes on a rampage on a local town of humans. The dragon is killed, but not before it burns the entire town to the ground. Here, the plot thickens as people begin to claim the dragon's treasure for themselves.