With the first part of the new movie version of The Hobbit due next month, you may want to brush up on the people and places of the Tolkien universe. While it's true that the Peter Jackson Lord Of The Rings movies varied quite a bit from the written trilogy - and it's likely that The Hobbit will do the same - the main story and characters are there, and many of the set pieces will no doubt be recreated for the new movies. One site I have used myself over the years and can recommend is The Encyclopedia of Arda. J.R.R. Tolkien created the world of Arda as a setting for the stories, and Middle Earth is part of Arda. If nothing else, the complexity of his creation should become clear, as Professor Tolkein created a whole mythology as a backstory and setting for both The Hobbit and the Lord Of the Rings stories.