Can you get into this game even with the bare minimum knowledge of Lord of The Rings?
I certainly have. Especially since not even World of Warcraft kept my attention for very long. The quests are interesting and engaging, there's a story going on just about everywhere, and the first thing you do in the game is stop a bandit raid! I also love how you can slowly earn the currency that normally you would have to pay real money for through Deeds. The community is also nice from what I've seen of it, and the plugins are very useful. In short, I love how this can truly be Free 2 Play, if you play it right.
As for the title, I have never read or watched any Lord of the Rings books or movies, and yet I don't find myself not understanding the stories, locations, and characters I come across, so that's a big plus in my book.
It's great that you can get into the game without reading Lord Of The Rings but you will be able to get much more out of it if you do read the books. If you get a chance pick up the books and give it a shot, I don't think you will be disappointed in knowing more on the original fantasy that drives all fantasy stories.
Welcome! While you're certainly right, you can enjoy the game to a certain degree even without having watched the movies/ read the books (a friend of mine did), there are *a lot* of small details you're going to miss, so if you find the game engaging enough do consider giving them a try!
That being said... have fun!
The books cover the War of the Ring pretty linearly, mostly following the Fellowship members as they struggle through the War. The books introduce a lot of areas, characters, issues, and substories, but then drop them in favor of following the main characters and theme.
The game picks up a lot of these "dropped" characters, issues, and substories and fleshes them out much more fully. Turbine has invented or hugely amplified a lot of things that remain true to the overarching storyline and have the approval of the current owner of the War of the Rings license that Turbine acquired.
Right along, the game's epic storyline and many of the subsidiary storylines "echo" or supplement or amplify the book's main storyline without repeating it. That is to say, we encounter the fellowship and its individual members from time-to-time in the game, but we are not in the fellowship. We deal with things directly, partially or indirectly affecting the fellowship and "help" them along, or deal with things that happen in the wider world of the War of the Rings.
Knowing the book's main storyline will help you understand what you are seeing, encountering, doing, accomplishing, etc. in the game.
But, as I and others have said, you can immerse yourself readily in the game without having read the books. However, I strongly encourage you to read them.
That all said, you can also look at the three Lord of the Rings movies, if you haven't already. Watching them will help you pick up a lot that will help you understand what is happening in the game as the movies DO follow the fellowship and its members along the book's main storyline. The movies are not terribly accurate in many respects as written by Tolkien in the books: a LOT is left out of the movies, set in the wrong timeframes, or modified etc. to make the movies a coherent whole.
However, I love the movies, too, and you'll learn a lot and can get a real handle on the main War of the Rings books and the game by looking at them. Watching the movies will take a lot less time than reading the books, but the books are, of course, wonderful, imo.