Bilbo Baggins, a respectable and unadventurous hobbit, is paid a visit by Gandalf, a wizard, who offers him the chance to go on an adventure. Bilbo, in trying to get rid of the wizard, inadvertently invites him to tea the next evening. The next day, Bilbo is flustered to find that in addition to Gandalf, he seems to have invited thirteen dwarves to tea as well. As he serves the dwarves and Gandalf tea and then supper, Bilbo learns that Gandalf has advertised him to the dwarves as a burglar. The dwarves wish him to help them on their quest to the Lonely Mountain, where they hope to recover treasure from Smaug the dragon, who destroyed their ancestral home under the mountain. Though at first Bilbo quakes at the suggestion of meeting a dragon, he is challenged upon hearing the dwarves' disparaging his courage and abilities. Stung by their remarks, Bilbo throws himself into the adventure with uncharacteristic boldness and determination.
The adventures quickly begin; the dwarves and Bilbo are caught by three trolls, who put them into sacks. They are saved by Gandalf, who sets the trolls squabbling amongst themselves until daybreak, when they are all turned to stone. Once set free, the dwarves find the trolls' cave, where they discover food, gold, and weapons. Soon after, they have a short rest at Rivendell, home to Elrond, an elf- lord, and his people. Refreshed and restored, the company sets off once again.
As they venture into the Misty Mountains, they are caught in a tremendous storm and take shelter in a cave, along with their ponies. While resting in the cave, all but Gandalf are captured by goblins. Gandalf again saves them, but as they are fleeing in the dark, underground tunnels, Bilbo bumps his head and is separated from the party. As Bilbo wanders about, scared and nervous, he finds and pockets a small silver ring. A little later he comes to a lake. There he meets a strange creature, Gollum, the previous owner of the ring, who challenges him to a riddle game. Gollum figures out that Bilbo has the ring and tries to attack Bilbo, at which point Bilbo discovers that the ring makes its wearer invisible. With the help of the ring, he escapes from the tunnels and is reunited with his companions, who are surprised to find him alive.
Soon after their reunion, they are caught and treed by Wargs, evil wolves who are allies of the goblins. Gandalf tries to rescue them by throwing burning pinecones at them, but the goblins soon arrive and set fire to the trees. At the last minute, they are rescued by a flock of eagles, which carry them to a safe spot. The next day, the eagles carry...