Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is a prelude to the "Lord of the Rings" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

In the fantasy world of Middle Earth, hobbits are half the size of humans. Bilbo Baggins is a respectable hobbit who enjoys his calm life until Gandalf the wizard tells him to prepare for an adventure. Gandalf has volunteered Bilbo to join a group of dwarves who are going to a faraway mountain. The dwarves want to steal their gold back from a dragon named Smaug. Bilbo is hired as the burglar of the company, even though he has no experience in stealing treasure or having adventures.

Bilbo is used to the comforts of home and finds the journey uncomfortable. Trolls capture Bilbo and the dwarves, but Gandalf rejoins the company in time to save them. The companions travel to Rivendell, a city of elves, and learn of a secret entrance to the dragon's lair. As they travel, they are captured by goblins, chased by wolves and taken prisoner by Wood-elves. Every time trouble arises, either Bilbo or Gandalf manages to save everyone from destruction.

Along the way, Bilbo gets lost in an underground tunnel and finds a ring. He meets an evil creature named Gollum and escapes by putting on the ring, which makes him invisible.

When the dwarves finally reach the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo goes into Smaug's cave and talks to the dragon, but Bilbo does so with the ring on his finger, which makes him invisible. Bilbo discovers a weak spot in Smaug's armor. Later, a human archer kills Smaug by shooting an arrow into that weak spot.

The dwarves reclaim their stolen gold, but men and elves also lay claim to the treasure. The different armies are about to fight each other for it, but an army of goblins arrives and the dwarves, men and elves join forces against the goblins. The goblins are defeated, but some of the dwarves that started the adventure are killed in battle.

Bilbo returns home with a small share of the dragon's gold and settles back into a quiet life in his hobbit village.

Christian Beliefs

Christianity does not exist in Middle Earth, but many Christian readers find biblical principles in Tolkien's writings.

Other Belief Systems

The dwarves are superstitious; they are reluctant to travel with only 13 companions. Bilbo is mainly accepted into their company because he makes 14.

Gandalf is a wizard. His use of magic is intermittent. Often, he simply solves the dwarves' problems by applying his superior knowledge.

Three trolls turn to stone when they are caught outside in the daylight. Trolls were supposedly made out of stone originally, but their maker is not mentioned.

Elves are said to be magical.

Bilbo's magic ring makes him turn invisible. The ring's power is explained in J.R.R. Tolkien's later book The Fellowship of the Ring.

Beorn is a skin-changer who spends part of his time as a bear and part as a man.

Gandalf mentions a black sorcerer called the Necromancer.

Authority Roles

Gandalf maintains a grumpy attitude, but he always acts in the best interests of others.

The dwarf Thorin acts formally and thinks highly of his own importance, though he usually does whatever is best for all of his companions. However, once he gains greater authority and is dubbed King Under the Mountain, he becomes greedy and his pride nearly destroys his friends.

Elrond is a wise and kind leader of the elves in Rivendell.

The king of the Wood-elves is greedy and suspicious. He imprisons the dwarves even though they are weary travelers looking for shelter. He later joins forces with them to fight the goblins, and he shows kindness to Bilbo.


The word queer is used to mean something unusual. One of the trolls says h---, and the trolls insult each another with the word booby. The word faggots is used in the archaic sense and means a bundle of sticks or firewood.

Most of the violence is confined to spoken threats. The trolls are cannibals and have an argument about how they are going to cook and eat the dwarves. Goblins sing about killing and eating the dwarves, and giant spiders also discuss how to eat the dwarves. Gollum wants to eat Bilbo.

There are many deaths and casualties at the Battle of Five Armies.



Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Alcohol: Characters drink wine and beer with meals. Bilbo helps the dwarves escape from prison because the Wood-elves who guard them are drunk.

Tobacco: All the main characters smoke pipes.

Movie tie-in: Producers often use a book as a springboard for a movie idea or to earn a specific rating. Because of this, a movie may differ from the novel. To better understand how this book and the movie differ, compare the book review with Plugged In's movie reviews for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

10 and up


J.R.R. Tolkien






Record Label



Houghton Mifflin in the U.S.; George Allen & Unwin, Ltd. of London was its original publisher.


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!