'Hardly the clatter of plates died down And the first course been duly served to the court When a monstrous apparition strode in the door,
One of the tallest creatures in the whole of the earth. So square and powerful from neck to wait, His thighs and his forearms so muscly and long You'd think that he was some kind of half-giant.'
These are the great epic stories that inspired J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Conjuring up a twilight world of quests, treachery, magic, evil and fellowship, they are the most ancient narratives from Northern Europe and bring us as near as we will ever get to the origins of Tolkien's Middle Earth.