techiemonkey uh might I ask how old you are? If you're under 16 I'll remove my comments about a Song of Ice and Fire. I don't want to be responsible for corrupting a child, it worked out badly for Socrates.
Inheritance Cycle is the hero's journey played out pretty faithfully. The reason is resembles other works is because they also used the formula. They also did a better job with it. I own copies of the four books, they're okay for what they are but you can find better tellings out there.
You don't have to read The Hobbit first, you can if you like but anything you need to know is explained in the prologue of the Fellowship of the Ring