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 to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort. Written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s own children, The Hobbitmet with instant critical acclaim when it was first published in 1937. Now recognized as a timeless classic, this introduction to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth recounts of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent. The text in this 372-page paperback edition is based on that first published in Great Britain by Collins Modern Classics (1998), and includes a note on the text by Douglas A. Anderson (2001). Unforgettable!, 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 mission 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., Written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s own children.