Here you will find a The Hobbit summary (J. R. R. Tolkien's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.
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Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024
Bilbo Baggins, a complacent inhabitant of a cozy subterranean residence, experiences a disruption to his tranquil existence when the elderly wizard Gandalf arrives, convincing him to join an expedition with a band of thirteen combative dwarves. This group is on a crucial mission to reclaim their wealth from the fierce dragon Smaug, with Bilbo as their designated 'burglar.' Despite initial fears and skepticism from both parties, Gandalf reassures them of Bilbo's hidden potential. Soon after venturing out, the group, minus Gandalf, falls into the clutches of three famished trolls, which Gandalf cleverly petrifies by exposing them to sunlight. Following this, they discover an arsenal of weapons at the troll camp and arm themselves. After receiving counsel from the wise Elven leader Elrond at Rivendell, they march towards the Misty Mountains. Caught in a blizzard, they seek shelter in a cave where they are held captive by goblins. They manage to escape, but unintentionally leave Bilbo behind. Alone in the caves, Bilbo discovers a peculiar golden ring and encounters the creature Gollum, whom he outsmarts in a riddle contest using the mysterious ring, which grants him invisibility. The group then traverses the perilous Mirkwood forest, where Bilbo rescues the dwarves from giant spiders and hostile wood elves with his newly named sword, Sting, and his magic ring. Upon reaching Lake Town, they face Smaug, who, in his fury, destroys the town before being killed by the brave Bard. With the dragon vanquished, the human and elfin communities demand a share of the treasure as recompense, leading to a standoff with the dwarves. Bilbo attempts to negotiate peace, angering the dwarves' leader Thorin, but is saved by Gandalf's timely arrival. The situation escalates when an army of goblins and Wargs attack, leading to an unlikely alliance between the dwarves, elves, and humans. The heroic arrival of Beorn and the eagles ensures victory for the allies. Bilbo and Gandalf then return to their peaceful lives, with Bilbo now shunned by respectable society, but contented and forever changed by his incredible adventures.
Hobbits, as described by the narrator, are miniature beings, around half the size of humans. They have foot hair, round stomachs, and a fondness for delicious food, comfort, and security. Unlike some hobbits who live in houses, they are used to residing in earthy holes which are anything but gloomy or stinky but are rather homely underground homes with all conveniences. The hole inhabited by the hobbit Bilbo Baggins is named Bag End, a delightful hole with cosy furniture and an abundantly filled kitchen, situated in a cosy village beneath a hill. Bilbo has a respectable lineage among hobbits: his father was from the prosperous, traditional Baggins family, while his mother was a Took, a rich, peculiar family notorious for their uncharacteristic hobbit-like propensity for undertaking adventures. Despite his Took heritage, Bilbo favours a serene life at home. Bilbo is peacefully smoking a pipe outside his house when an elderly man with a long cloak and a staff appears. Bilbo identifies him as the wizard Gandalf, known for his impressive firework displays in Hobbiton. However, Bilbo is skeptical about him. When Gandalf proposes an adventure, Bilbo politely declines and hastily leaves. He courteously invites Gandalf for tea, but in truth, he wants nothing to do with the wizard or his adventures. The following afternoon, when the doorbell rings, Bilbo assumes it's Gandalf. Instead, a dwarf named Dwalin enters, pushing past Bilbo to start eating. More dwarves gradually appear, and Bilbo's tidy home starts feeling cramped, leaving him puzzled and irritated. Finally, Gandalf shows up with the head dwarf, Thorin. The thirteen dwarves and Gandalf raid Bilbo's pantry before settling down to discuss their plan. Gandalf has volunteered Bilbo to be a “burglar” for the dwarves' adventure. While Bilbo resists this idea and the dwarves doubt his suitability, Gandalf insists that Bilbo is more capable than he appears. Gandalf then presents an ancient map of a large mountain and highlights a secret entrance, which Thorin has the key to. Bilbo seeks clarification about their expedition. Thorin reveals that his grandfather, Thror, mined the mountain indicated on the map, finding an enormous amount of gold and jewels. However, this treasure attracted the dragon Smaug, who killed or dispersed Thror's people and has been guarding the wealth since then. The dwarves aim to reclaim their lost inheritance, despite not knowing what to do about Smaug. Bilbo fears he is expected to help kill the dragon. Despite his Baggins side urging him to stay home, his Took lineage sparks an interest in the adventure, and he finds himself unwillingly thrilled by the stories of dragons, treasures, and epic battles. After examining the map and discussing the adventure with the group, Bilbo prepares beds for his guests and spends the night in disturbed dreams.
After oversleeping the day following Gandalf's visit, Bilbo is both stunned and slightly pleased to discover the dwarves have departed without him. As he's enjoying a peaceful breakfast, Gandalf bursts in and pushes him to the Green Dragon Inn in Bywater, where Thorin and his fellow dwarves are awaiting departure. During the eastward journey, Bilbo is upset about having to leave without a proper second breakfast and preparations. The weather turns rainy and by evening, the entire group is fatigued, hungry, and ready to set up camp. Gandalf's inexplicable absence earlier adds to their irritation. They spot a fire's glow in the distance and move to inspect it. Bilbo is chosen to scout ahead, marking his first official act as a burglar. He stumbles upon three large trolls enjoying mutton around a fire in a forest clearing. Caught while attempting to steal a troll's coin purse, the trolls, known for being short-tempered and unintelligent, begin to argue over interrogating Bilbo. The ruckus attracts the dwarves, who approach the clearing one by one. Each time, the trolls halt their argument to capture the dwarf, leaving them all bound except for forgotten Bilbo. As they decide to cook the dwarves on the spot, a troll-like voice sparks another argument among them, causing them to fight until dawn. The first rays of the sun petrify the trolls, as sunlight has the power to turn trolls into stone. Reappearing, Gandalf reveals he'd been the troll-like voice arguing with them to delay until morning. He and Bilbo free the rattled but intact dwarves. They discover a cache of finely crafted weapons in the nearby trolls' cave, which they claim as compensation for their ordeal.
Gandalf guides the group from their starting point up to the last safe haven on their journey, Rivendell—a place inhabited by elves at the edge of the wilderness, near the Misty Mountains they must cross. As they near Rivendell, they are welcomed by elves who offer food and shelter. Here, they encounter Elrond, the esteemed elf leader, who is described as “as strong as a warrior, as wise as a wizard, as venerable as a king of dwarves, and as kind as summer.” Elrond deciphers an old language inscribed on the group’s weapons and on Thorin’s map of the mountain. He reveals that the swords they obtained from the trolls are famous goblin-slayers from the historic elf-goblin wars—Gandalf’s is Glamdring and Thorin’s is Orcrist. Elrond reads moon-letters from Thorin’s map—words only visible under specific moonlight—which provide clues to the hidden entrance on the Lonely Mountain. Despite the cryptic message, the group leaves Rivendell in good spirits, rested and ready for their journey.
Bilbo's group pushes forward towards the Misty Mountains, successfully locating a safe passage across the treacherous terrain thanks to the guidance of Elrond and Gandalf. Despite this, their ascent is grueling and a sudden thunderstorm forces them to seek refuge. Fortuitously, Fili and Kili discover a cave embedded in the mountainside where they decide to camp for the night. During their rest, Bilbo is abruptly awakened and witnesses the ponies being pulled into a cavernous crack that has appeared. He calls out in alarm, prompting goblins to emerge from the crack, who swiftly capture and remove every group member, barring Gandalf, who was alerted by Bilbo's outcry. The captives are taken deep within the mountain to a vast chamber commanded by the Great Goblin. He inquires about their intentions within his domain. Thorin attempts to justify their presence by citing the storm, but his cause is undermined when a goblin reveals Orcrist, the goblin-cleaver, a blade recognized and feared by goblins, which Thorin had in his possession while being detained. Angered, the Great Goblin lunges at Thorin in a fit of rage. Suddenly, the chamber's illumination is extinguished and the Great Goblin is felled by a flash of a sword in the ensuing darkness and chaos. A voice then guides the prisoners out of the chamber. The voice belongs to Gandalf, who navigates the dwarves through the mountain's labyrinthine paths. The goblins pursue them, with one managing to dislodge Bilbo from Dori's back. The poor hobbit knocks his head and falls unconscious.
Bilbo wakes up in total darkness. He discovers a ring on the ground and puts it into his pocket, unaware of its origin or the location of his companions. He stumbles across an underground lake where he encounters a peculiar creature, Gollum. Gollum, curious and somewhat hungry, approaches Bilbo who brandishes his sword in response. Instead of fighting, Gollum challenges Bilbo to a riddle contest. The stakes are high - if Bilbo loses, Gollum will eat him. If Gollum loses, he must guide Bilbo out of the mountain. Trapped, Bilbo accepts the challenge, ultimately winning by a trick question about the ring in his pocket. Gollum is unable to guess and loses, but he is not willing to let his dinner escape that easily. He heads back to his island to fetch his 'precious', the same ring Bilbo found, which grants invisibility to its wearer. Upon realizing his 'precious' is missing, Gollum accuses the hobbit and charges at him. In the ensuing commotion, Bilbo accidentally slips on the ring, causing Gollum to miss him. With the ring's power realized, Bilbo trails Gollum who, mistakenly believing Bilbo is up ahead, leads the way to the exit. However, the exit is crowded with goblins. Using the invisibility, Bilbo jumps over Gollum, bypasses the goblins, and narrowly escapes to freedom.
Escaping the goblins, an invisible Bilbo finds he’s crossed the Misty Mountains via the tunnels. He stumbles upon Gandalf and the dwarves, who were considering leaving without him. He removes the ring, surprising them, and shares his escape story, leaving out the part about the magic ring. Gandalf urges them to move on as daylight is the only thing preventing the goblins from chasing them. They are slightly off their original route and have tricky terrain to traverse. As darkness falls, they hear wolves, or Wargs, howling and quickly climb the nearby trees. The Wargs, allies of the goblins, alert them to the stranded company. The goblins arrive, make light of their predicament, and light fires beneath the trees where the group hides. Gandalf gets ready to confront the goblins, hoping to eliminate as many as possible. However, the Lord of the Eagles, observing the situation from his mountainous nest, comes to their rescue. He, along with other eagles, swoops down, rescues the stranded group, and carries them to safety. The eagles, friends of Gandalf and foes of the goblins, offer food and rest to the weary travelers before they resume their journey.
Gandalf informs the team of his impending departure, but not before aiding them in securing food and ponies for their journey through Mirkwood, their final major hurdle before reaching the Lonely Mountain. He introduces them to Beorn, a being who is part man, part bear, and resides in a vast wooden home near Mirkwood. To prevent frightening Beorn, Gandalf brings the dwarves to him in small groups and shares their mountain adventure tale. Beorn finds the story entertaining, having a strong dislike for their goblin adversaries. Beorn provides the group with sustenance and shelter, and discovers that the Wargs and goblins are forming an attack party to locate the dwarves and wizard responsible for the death of their leader, the Great Goblin. To dodge this threat, Beorn suggests they use the northern pass (known as the elf path) through Mirkwood, which will lead them to the Lonely Mountain. This route will confuse their enemies and help the group avoid the perilous southern pass. However, the northern path also holds dangers, and Beorn repeatedly cautions them never to wander off the path. The group is supplied with food and ponies by Beorn to reach the path's entrance. However, they have to return the ponies and proceed on foot from there. Upon reaching the path, Gandalf too takes his leave, wishing them luck and reinforcing Beorn's advice not to deviate from the path due to the unknown, sinister creatures lurking in Mirkwood. With this, the dwarves and the hobbit embark on their journey into the forest.
Bilbo and the dwarves journey through the eerie Mirkwood forest, feeling disoriented and anxious. They can't tell day from night and desperately want to escape the forest's oppressive atmosphere. They encounter a stream they were advised against touching by Beorn. Bombur, one of the dwarves, accidentally falls into the water and is put into a deep slumber, leaving the rest of the group to carry him. Their situation seems bleak as they are hungry, fatigued, and fearful. After spotting lights amidst the trees, they disobey Beorn and Gandalf's instructions and approach the source, hoping for relief. Elves are seen feasting around a fire, but upon their arrival, the lights suddenly go out, causing chaos. This frightening experience repeats twice, eventually leading to the group getting separated in the darkness. An exhausted Bilbo seeks refuge by a tree and falls asleep. Upon waking, Bilbo finds himself bound in sticky spider web with a giant spider approaching. He manages to free himself and kill the spider using his sword, which he now calls Sting. He then learns that the dwarves have also been caught by the spiders and are hanging from a tree. Invisibly cloaked by the ring, Bilbo distracts the spiders by throwing stones and yelling, thus saving the dwarves. Although Bilbo successfully frees the dwarves, they are poisoned and unable to put up a strong fight against the returning spiders. However, the spiders retreat when the group unknowingly move into a clearing frequented by elves. While resting there, they notice Thorin's absence. Thorin was actually captured by the wood elves, who are generally kind but wary of outsiders. The Elvenking interrogates Thorin, but when he does not reveal the group's purpose, he is imprisoned. Nonetheless, he is kept well fed and treated fairly.
Shortly after their encounter with the spiders, Bilbo and his dwarf companions are intercepted by a group of wood elves. They are taken, blindfolded, to the Elvenking's palace. The dwarves are interrogated by the king but, like Thorin, they withhold information about their quest to retake their treasure from Smaug, fearing the elves would demand a cut. As a result, they're imprisoned. During this time, Bilbo, unseen thanks to his ring, follows his friends and starts planning an escape. The elves conduct trade with the people of Lake Town through barrels transported on a river beneath their abode. After use, these barrels are set adrift back down the river from a storehouse. Bilbo seizes an opportunity here. He finds a guard asleep, snatches his keys and frees the dwarves. He then enacts his escape plan: each dwarf is hidden inside an empty barrel right before the elves return to push them into the river. Invisible Bilbo rides an empty barrel as well. The trapdoors open and the dwarves, hidden in barrels, are swept along the river towards Lake Town.
The barrels carrying Bilbo and the thirteen dwarves flow out of Mirkwood forest, heading down the river towards Lake Town, a human settlement built on Long Lake, located south of their ultimate destination, the Lonely Mountain. As the barrels near the shore, townsfolk row out to bring them in. With the men distracted, Bilbo helps his companions escape the barrels. They are all safe but uncomfortable and starving. Emboldened, Thorin walks confidently to the town hall, declaring his royal lineage to the Master of Lake Town, and asserting his claim to his ancestral inheritance. The townsfolk celebrate, remembering tales of the wealth that once flowed from the Mountain. The dwarves, and even Bilbo, are honored like royalty. After two weeks, the group regains strength and determination, despite lacking a plan to defeat Smaug. Thorin secures boats, horses, and supplies from the Master, and they depart, following the River Running to the Lonely Mountain.
As they near the Lonely Mountain, the landscape becomes desolate, devoid of life due to Smaug's devastation. On reaching the mountain's base, Bilbo and three dwarves scout the south-side main entrance. Deeming it too perilous—the dragon's exit—they opt to seek the hidden door detailed on their map, located on the mountain's western face. Bilbo discovers a slim path leading to a flat, smooth mountain surface after hours of relentless search. Despite recognizing it as the door, the dwarves can't figure out how to open it, having forgotten Elrond's map message. Their attempts to force it open with their tools prove fruitless, leaving them disheartened. One dusk, as Bilbo sits ruminating by the door, he spots a thrush cracking a snail against a stone. The scene sparks his memory of the map's riddle. He assembles the dwarves at the door, and they watch the sunset. As twilight descends, a single sunbeam illuminates a part of the door, revealing a keyhole as a rock shifts. Thorin uses the key from the map to unlock it, and the door's outline becomes visible. Together, the hobbit and dwarves push the door open, peering into the mountain's mysterious depths.
The company stands at the entrance of the dark mountain passage. Bilbo, their designated burglar, is chosen by Thorin to venture inside. Invisible due to his ring, Bilbo goes deep into the passage leading to Smaug’s lair. The terrifyingly magnificent dragon, red and gold in color, sleeps atop a mound of treasure. Despite his fear, Bilbo musters the courage to steal a golden cup and rushes back to the astonished dwarves. Smaug, who has a precise inventory of his treasure, notices the missing cup upon waking and flies into a rage. He breathes fire around the mountain, spots the company's ponies at the mountain base, and eats them. Bilbo and the dwarves take refuge in the hidden passage, fearing for their lives. When Smaug eventually returns to his lair and pretends to sleep, a brave Bilbo decides to return, only to find Smaug fully awake and expecting him. Despite being unable to see Bilbo due to the ring, Smaug senses his presence and taunts him. Bilbo cleverly responds in riddles, distracting the dragon and suppressing his anger momentarily. Then, he flatters Smaug into showing off his armored underbelly, revealing a weak spot above his left breast. Bilbo escapes narrowly from the dragon's fury and informs the dwarves about his discovery. A thrush seemingly eavesdrops on their conversation. Suddenly, they hear the roar of the dragon and seal the passage door, moments before an avalanche buries it. They are now trapped inside the mountain.
Smaug, having guessed from Bilbo's riddles that the men of Lake Town are involved, launches an attack on the town. As the dragon leaves, the hobbit and dwarves, who've been anxiously hiding, begin to venture towards Smaug’s former resting place. Realizing that Smaug has indeed departed, the dwarves rush forth, thrilled at the sight of the treasure, and are reminded of their once-rich past. Bilbo, however, takes only a few items, including the Arkenstone, a valuable gem that Thorin desires but Bilbo decides to keep. He also discovers a magnificent mithril-made coat of mail, a rare and valuable metal. Once the initial thrill subsides, Thorin guides the group through the mountain's passages and out the main gate at the River Running’s origin. They are clueless about their next move when Smaug comes back. In addition, they are starving and thus decide to follow the river. It leads them to an old, unused guard-post cave, which was last used during the times of Thror, Thorin’s grandfather. There, they rest, eat, and ponder about the dragon's whereabouts.
The tale veers away from Bilbo and the dwarves, spotlighting Smaug as he flies to Lake Town for revenge. The townspeople spot him from afar and mistake his flames for a river of gold. Despite arming themselves with arrows and buckets of water, the town's defenses prove ineffective as Smaug sets the town ablaze and their arrows deflect off his diamond-hard scales. As the city empties, Bard, the archery captain, prepares his final arrow. A thrush lands on his shoulder, informing him of a weak point in the dragon's left breast. Bard spots the vulnerability, releases his arrow, piercing the dragon's heart. Smaug crashes into the town, causing further destruction. Bard escapes into the water joining his grieving people, who blame the dwarves for rousing Smaug. However, hope blossoms at the thought of the unclaimed gold in the Lonely Mountain. Word of Smaug's demise spreads rapidly, reaching the Elvenking and his elf army who offer aid to Lake Town. The elves and humans form a unified force and march towards the Lonely Mountain, anticipating the unguarded treasure.
The thrush comes back to the group at the mountain, but since they can't comprehend its language, it brings an old raven that can converse in a language they all understand. The raven breaks the news of Smaug's demise, leading to a brief moment of happiness among Bilbo and the dwarves. But joy turns to worry when the raven recounts the massive human and elf army advancing towards them, and the plight of the inhabitants of Lake Town who seek a portion of the huge treasure in the mountain. Unmoved, Thorin insists on defending his inherited wealth, regardless of Lake Town's misfortunes. Following Thorin's instructions, they withdraw to the mountain and erect a strong wall at the main entrance. As they stand guard, Bard along with elf representatives approach them. Bard shares his triumph over Smaug and the devastation of Lake Town. He pleads the dwarves to distribute the mountain's riches due to the human's massive losses. However, Thorin denies owing anything to the humans as he claims the gold was his people's to begin with. Despite giving Thorin a chance to rethink, his stance remains firm. The mountain becomes a battleground, with elves and men ensuring no entry or exit. Meanwhile, Bilbo desires to distribute the treasure and is disheartened by the escalating tension. However, the dwarves unconditionally support Thorin's decision, leaving Bilbo with no influence over their choice.
While Thorin is preoccupied with finding the Arkenstone and the other dwarves are fretting about the encamped armies nearby, Bilbo takes a daring leap of action. With the aid of the ring, he covertly leaves the mountain at nighttime, making his way into the encampment of the lake-men and the wood-elves. Once there, he unveils his presence and is taken before Bard and the Elvenking, the leaders of the camp. Though initially regarded with suspicion, the tension eases when Bilbo produces the Arkenstone. He willingly hands it over to Bard, hoping it can be used as a leverage against Thorin. The audacity of the hobbit, risking dwarf wrath to avoid a war, leaves Bard and the Elvenking in awe. Despite their offer to provide shelter within the camp, Bilbo chooses to return to the mountain. As he exits the camp, Gandalf unexpectedly shows up, offering a reassuring pat for Bilbo’s courageous actions. Having just returned from his other engagements to oversee the concluding events of this sensitive situation, Gandalf's arrival fills Bilbo with renewed hope. Unseen, he makes his way back to the mountain.
In the new light of day, Bard approaches Thorin once more to peacefully negotiate. Thorin remains stubborn until Bard produces the Arkenstone, Thorin's most coveted treasure piece. Seeing this, Thorin is devastated and turns his fury onto Bilbo, the one who gave Bard the Arkenstone. Just as Thorin is about to lash out, one of Bard's messengers reveals himself to be Gandalf. The wizard orders Thorin to let Bilbo have his say. The hobbit explains that taking the Arkenstone was simply his fair portion of the loot based on his burglar contract. Thorin begrudgingly agrees, offering to pay a fourteenth of the total treasure to reclaim the stone. This satisfies the elves and men. However, Thorin secretly hopes his kin, who are on their way to the battlefield with an army under Dain, will seize the stone by force. The arrival of the new dwarf army causes tension among the elves and men. Just as they are about to clash, the sky darkens from the west. Gandalf declares that an army of goblins and Wargs has arrived, seeking the treasure for themselves. Thus, the dwarves, elves, and humans unite against the goblins and Wargs in the Battle of the Five Armies. The allied forces fight bravely against the fierce goblins and Wargs. Bilbo watches the battle from the mountain, witnessing the initial victory of the elves and dwarves over the goblins, followed by a forced retreat from the ruthless Wargs. Thorin fights valiantly alongside the men of the lake. As the goblins start to gain the upper hand, Bilbo is compelled to retreat to the elves' camp, now almost encircled. Just when all seems lost, Bilbo spots the great eagles soaring toward the battlefield. However, before he can react, a stone dislodged from the mountain strikes him and he blacks out.
Bilbo finds himself with a throbbing headache on the mountain's slope but otherwise undamaged. He observes from his elevated spot that his comrades were victorious in the fight against the goblins and Wargs. A man scours the area for Bilbo, only finding him once the hobbit removes his magical ring. Upon his return to the camp, a thrilled Gandalf greets him. Unfortunately, a melancholic duty awaits Bilbo, bidding goodbye to the fatally injured Thorin, who seeks Bilbo’s pardon for their previous heated exchange. The death of Fili and Kili, alongside Thorin, cast a shadow on their victory, though the remaining dwarves have lived. Gandalf narrates the crucial moments of their victory to Bilbo: the eagles' timely intervention, observing the goblins' actions, shifted the battle in their favor. However, the situation could have ended differently if not for the unanticipated arrival of Beorn, transformed into a massive, wrathful bear. This intimidating presence sent the remaining goblins fleeing, leaving them either dead or hiding.
Dain replaces the fallen as the Mountain King, reconciling with the lake dwellers and forest elves. Bard, now Lake Town's leader, generously gifts Bilbo from his portion of the treasure. As Bilbo's departure nears, he chooses a circuitous route home, deliberately avoiding Mirkwood, with Gandalf and Beorn by his side. They weather the severe winter at Beorn's house, enjoying plentiful feasts and joviality. When spring arrives, their journey takes them to Rivendell. As Gandalf and Elrond share histories and heroic tales, Bilbo heals from fatigue and injuries, aided by elfin magic. Here, the reason for Gandalf's earlier departure is revealed, as he was combating the Necromancer in Mirkwood with other magic users. After this, Bilbo and Gandalf embark on the final segment of their journey, leading back to the hobbit territories. At home, Bilbo finds an unpleasant surprise, as he was believed to be dead and his belongings are being sold. Even though Bilbo puts an end to the sale and retrieves most of his possessions, other hobbits never really accept him again. They remain skeptical about his escapades, with his return laden with gold and dragon tales only fueling their doubts about his undertakings. But Bilbo is unfazed—his visitors are now wizards, elves, and occasional dwarves, making him indifferent to the approval of his hobbit peers. Above all, he still has his beloved kettle, pipe, and all other home comforts at Bag End.