I've never read Dumas, but I've wanted to ever since I read this piece, (reg req'd).
Like Shakespeare, Dumas painted on broad canvases. Shakespeare had written multi-part plays (today sometimes given as one whole, as with the Henry VI plays united into "The War of the Roses"). But Dumas had an even larger ambition than Shakespeare's: he would write the whole history of France, bringing it up to his own time. In great part he succeeded, although inevitably, there were gaps. In my nineteenth-century set of the Dumas novels, the story begins in the Renaissance world of Francois I and Catherine de Medici, and stops in the world of the French Revolution. Many of us--I am one as was my late friend James Chace--learned our French history from Dumas. So, it is said, did George Bernard Shaw.
As for The Hobbit, it was given to me as a child and I couldn't get into it. I didn't read Lord of the Rings until the first movie came out; so now I'm going to read the back story.