Three books telling a tale of a group of different races working together to destroy a ring. Apparently the film adaptations were quite popular, google it. Go on!
Just The Facts
There are three books, all written by J. R. R. Tolkein
The general point of the story is to destroy a ring that is extremely powerful to stop an evil bastard getting his hands on it
Oddly enough, the evil bastard is an eye for the duration of the story, so even if he did get the ring, it wouldn't do him any good
Frodo Baggins - A "hobbit" who inherits the one ring from his uncle, Bilbo Baggins, who was the title character of the book, "The Hobbit" (Major plot twist, yes) Frodo must overcome his desire for the ring in order to destroy it.
Samwise Gamgee - Another hobbit who helps Frodo on his quest. He is a gardener and therefore should be assumed useless in hand to hand combat. He like taters (PO-TAY-TOES)
Gandalf - Gandalf is a wizard who is good friends with Bilbo and Frodo. He informs Frodo of the rings power and uses his magic staff to stop monsters and stuff. It must be cool being a wizard. Plus, he has an awesome beard.
Aragorn - A man who is the heir to the throne of the province of Gondor. He protects Frodo for as long as he can.
Legolas - An elf who is an expert bowman. He joins the fellowship to help Frodo.
Gimlee - A pompous dwarf who prefers using a battleaxe in fights. He's rather short. He also has an awesome beard. Beards seem to feature prominantly in this story.
Merriadoc Brandybuck - A hobbit who is good friends with Frodo.
Peregrin Took - Another hobbit who is good friends with Frodo.
Boromir - A man who is corrupted by the ring and tries to take it from Frodo.
Sauron - The Dark Lord Sauron is an eye on a tower. Almost like the batsignal. Except instead of calling for vigilantes in body armour, he points out areas he wants his minions to burn down or attack, which admittedly is slightly cooler than the batsignal.
Saruman - A wizard who wants the ring for himself. He is working for Sauron and captures Gandalf near the beginning of the story for a small amount of time.
Orcs and Uruk-hai - ugly fucks who have nothing better to do than hang around a volcano.
Smeagol/Gollum - A creature that was once one of the river folk, who became obsessed with the ring. It destroyed his mind, splitting it into two, one side is Gollum, an aggressive twat, and the other is Smeagol, a simple minded retard.
This is the simple minded retard. Easily confused and extremely irritating
The films were directed by Peter Jackson. They won a fuck load of awards, and will soon be followed by a feature film of The Hobbit by Guillmero Del Torro (is that spelt right?). The films were not straight copies of the books, since that would be an impossible feat, considering that each film would be about 5 hours long, and no cinema goer is that patient. Many things were cut from the films, but some were included in the directors cut dvd's.
Now, for the upsetting news...
There was an animated version made, focussing on the first two books. They were true to the story, but it didn't feel like it had any heart. It really felt like it was just another animated movie. For example, compare these two clips of one of the heroes, Samwise Gamgee:
You see? A hero in his own right, carrying his friend to safety, ending the absurd adventure. Now have a look at the animated version: