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The Hobbit

By: J. R. R. Tolkien
Narrated by: Andy Serkis
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Editorial review

By Alanna McAuliffe, Audible Editor


I was still in diapers when the bar for fantasy world-building was set unreasonably high. My mother, who had been a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work since she herself was a child, passed along her fandom to me. To this day, that sense of awe hasn’t faded, and even as an adult, I find myself wide-eyed and wonderstruck by the world that Tolkien created—dragons and dwarves and hobbits and elves and wizards, dark forces unseen and simple goodness unparalleled, a good old-fashioned tale of whimsy and adventure that completely redefined what it meant to tell a story.

But when Tolkien wrote The Hobbit back in the 1930s, he did not set out to create a work explicitly for children. Rather, he was crafting a fairy story, one rooted in his fascination with language, mythology, and history, that allowed him to build out a lore of his own. Nevertheless, it captivated readers young and old and has since become both a staple of kidlit and a foundational work in the overarching fantasy genre. Many stories are hailed as timeless, as enjoyable for little ones as they are for those several generations ahead, but few are as truly universal as this one, an accessible entry into a fully realized world in which you may wade as shallowly as you like or dive deep into ages of lore and backstory.

At its core, the story, following a most unlikely hero in the reserved, slightly curmudgeonly Bilbo Baggins, is a quest not just to slay the dragon and conquer evil but a journey into one’s own. Before Gandalf’s intervention, Bilbo has no inclination of taking on such an exploit, preferring instead the comforts and safeties of the only home he’s known. Hobbits, seemingly representative of England’s common countryfolk, are not heralded for theatrical acts of daring or brawn. But what Bilbo does have, in spades, is heart, goodness, and the capacity for tremendous courage, given the opportunity. Over the course of the story, we listen as Bilbo transforms into the confident hero of legend, the kind of pathfinding traveler that would write of his ventures, which in and of themselves create his memoir and center the narrative of The Hobbit. Bilbo is such a beloved figure in literature because he is all of us—as a timid, cautious child, his capers rang as evidence that I, too, had something to offer.

Continue reading Alanna's review >

Publisher's summary

This brand-new unabridged audio book of J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved The Hobbit will be coming to listeners everywhere this September, read by the BAFTA award-winning actor, director and author, Andy Serkis.

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf, and a company of 13 dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day, to whisk him away on a journey "there and back again". They have a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon…

The prelude to The Lord of The Rings, the Hobbit has sold many millions of copies since its publication in 1937, establishing itself as one of the most influential books of the 20th century.

©1937, 1951, 1966, 1978, 1995 The J.R.R. Tolkien Copyright Trust (P)2020 HarperCollins

Featured Article: Who Is J.R.R. Tolkien? Celebrating the Incomparable Creator of Middle-earth

J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings epic, has an annual day devoted to reveling in his books. Established by the Tolkien Society in 2003. Tolkien Reading Day is held each year on March 25—the date marking the downfall of the terrible Dark Lord, Sauron (the Lord of the Rings). Before you dive into re-listening to your favorite passages, why not take learn more about the writer, scholar, linguist, and visionary behind the fantasy phenomenon?

Continue Your Journey Through Middle earth

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