Immerse yourself in Middle-earth with Tolkien's classic masterpiece, telling the complete story of Bilbo Baggins and the Hobbits' epic encounters with Gandalf, Gollum, dragons and monsters, in the quest to destroy the One Ring. When they were first published, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings became instant classics. Treasured by readers young and old, these works of sweeping fantasy, steeped in unrivalled magic and otherworldliness have sold more than 150 million copies around the world. This new boxed set, published to mark the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit, offers readers a new opportunity to discover Tolkien's remarkable world of Middle-earth and to follow the complete story of Bilbo Baggins and the Hobbits' part in the epic quest for the Ring -- beginning with Bilbo's fateful visit from Gandalf and culminating in the dramatic climax between Frodo and Gollum atop Mount Doom and Bilbo's departure to the Grey Havens.
Hobbits and wizards and Sauron--oh, my! Mild-mannered Oxford scholar John Ronald Reuel Tolkien had little inkling when he published The Hobbit; Or, There and Back Again in 1937 that, once hobbits were unleashed upon the world, there would be no turning back. Hobbits are, of course, small, furry creatures who love nothing better than a leisurely life quite free from adventure. But in that first novel and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the hobbits Bilbo and Frodo and their elvish friends get swept up into a mighty conflict with the dragon Smaug, the dark lord Sauron (who owes much to proud Satan in Paradise Lost), the monstrous Gollum, the Cracks of Doom, and the awful power of the magical Ring. The four books' characters--good and evil--are recognizably human, and the realism is deepened by the magnificent detail of the vast parallel world Tolkien devised, inspired partly by his influential Anglo-Saxon scholarship and his Christian beliefs. (He disapproved of the relative sparseness of detail in the comparable allegorical fantasy his friend C.S. Lewis dreamed up in The Chronicles of Narnia, though he knew Lewis had spun a page-turning yarn.) It has been estimated that one-tenth of all paperbacks sold can trace their ancestry to J.R.R. Tolkien. But even if we had never gotten Robert Jordan's The Path of Daggers and the whole fantasy genre Tolkien inadvertently created by bringing the hobbits so richly to life, Tolkien's epic about the Ring would have left our world enhanced by enchantment. --Tim Appelo