Are J.R.R. Tolkien's other novels as good as LOTR?
In my opinion, The Hobbit is not only as good as The Lord of the Rings, in many ways, it is the better-written book.The Hobbit is pacy, it has internal coherence, and the development of the central character is more satisfying. It is basically the story of the making of an individual -- of how Bilbo is saved from a small-minded, mediocre existence and becomes (in the words of David Copperfield) "the hero of [his] own life".In The Lord of the Rings it is Sam who undergoes this process. The protagonist, Frodo, undergoes a disintegration. He is a diminished being at the end of the story. This diminuition is entirely consistent with the internal logic of the book. But it is pessimistic and not very inspiring.In addition, The Hobbit gives you an interesting perspective on the characters of Bilbo and Gandalf that is different to their treatment in The Lord of the Rings.The Gandalf of The Hobbit is a much more mercurial character than the heroic, unambiguously good, patriarchal figure of The Lord of the Rings. Even as a child, I remember wondering, when reading The Hobbit "why is Gandalf helping the dwarves? What's in it for him?"He gets Bilbo mixed up in a very dangerous adventure and then keeps buggering off just when his help is needed. I suspect that this is partly a plot device because things would be too easy if he'd been a full-time member of the quest but it also adds to his mysterious and slightly sinister character. It makes Gandalf more interesting.One of Bilbo's outstanding, heroic qualities in The Hobbit is his honest altruism. He is determined to fulfil his contract to The Dwarves even at the risk of his life, and he bravely saves Thorin's bacon at least three times. By contrast, in The Lord of the Rings Bilbo has matured into a self-centred smart arse.The Lord of the Rings is a great book. But it is a sort of War and Peace of children's literature. And like War and Peace it is so vast and ambitious that it contains aspects that delight and exasperate the reader.The Hobbit, on the other hand, is a skilfully-crafted jewel of a book.