The events depicted in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey are set 60 years before what happens in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but just because it’s an origin story doesn’t mean that all of the answers are out on the table from the very beginning. There are plenty of people who will go to see The Hobbit having never seen Jackson’s original trilogy, and, as a result, will have a harder time going in simply because they don’t know exactly what a Hobbit really is. For those folks I am happy to be of service.

The Hobbit is in theaters today and in celebration I have thrown together a quick guide breaking down all of the most important elements of the story so that you know exactly how they fit into the new film. Check it out below!

WARNING: This article contains some minor spoilers about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure. While the first seven entries are safe, the last two may affect the surprise element for those 100% unfamiliar with the film’s story, and, has a precaution, they are clearly marked.

What Are They? The hobbits are a race of tiny creatures living in the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Populating an area of the map called The Shire, most members of the species are known for being very reserved and quiet, never finding a reason to put themselves in danger or even slightly at risk. The usually don’t stand between more than two to four feet tall and typically have curly mop of hair on their head and big, furry feet. They live in what are called Hobbit holes, which are small houses built directly into the ground.

How Do They Fit? As the singular article implies, there is really only one Hobbit at the center of The Hobbit, but as you might have guessed it’s a pretty damn important part. The entire story is told through the eyes of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who is selected to go on an quest with a group of dwarves to help them defeat an evil dragon. While he acts like a normal Hobbit when it comes to the idea of adventure, rejecting the thought and instead wanting to stay in his own world, the truth is that Bilbo has dreams that extend beyond The Shire and is driven to explore them.

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