Mark Reads ‘The Hobbit’: Chapter 3

In the third chapter of The Hobbit, the party of dwarves, Bilbo, and Gandalf continue to travel, only to take a break in Rivendell. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hobbit.


I’m keeping an open mind about all of this, and I do think this story is pretty interesting so far. I know that this book was written a long time ago and that I don’t what the hell is going on. But this is weird. I’m trying to get used to it, but Tolkien’s constant insistence to inject himself into the story is bizarre to me. And it’s not like this isn’t a fascinating story or anything like that! But I don’t understand why he does this or why it’s necessary.

At the same time, as Tolkien expands the world these characters travel through, I find myself loving the landscape more and more. Thankfully, none of this is really over-described, and Tolkien is able to convey the vast amount of land that these characters cross over in this chapter. Bilbo himself seems to be able to handle this quite well, too, especially since this is essentially the first time that he’s left The Hill in his whole life. That’s….weird, right? Didn’t he also live in the same home, too? SHELTERED HOBBITS. I mean, the fact that Bilbo sees a mountain for the first time and believes it to be The Mountain, when it’s just THE VERY FIRST ONE OF THE ENTIRE MISTY MOUNTAINS RANGE speaks of his naivete here. Plus:

“O!” said Bilbo, and just at that moment he felt more tired than he ever remembered feeling before. He was thinking once again of his comfortable chair before the fire in his favourite sitting-room in his hobbit-hole, and of the kettle singing.

While this might be read as a hyperbolic statement, I truly believe that this is the most tired that Bilbo has ever been. The dude has probably NEVER RIDDEN A PONY BEFORE. Well, okay, neither have I, but you get the point.

So the group continues to their next destination: the Last Homely House of Elrond in Rivendell. I am going to assume it’s called that because there’s nothing but mountains and death and dragons beyond Elrond’s home, so this is literally the last house that is homely in this area. But even before they get there, the journey is treacherous. Well, no one dies or anything, at least not yet. But this flat plain that leads to the foot of the mountains is not as flat as it seems, as they come upon sudden valleys, gullies, ravins, and bogs which all threaten to disrupt their passage. I like that Tolkien provides all these physical descriptions along the way because for someone like me, this is all very new. I have no concept of this universe, its geography, or the places that are referenced. This is my first introduction to Middle Earth! (Oh god, am I still getting this wrong?)

And part of that introduction includes my very first scene with elves. Tolkien seems to be taking legends from various mythologies and using them in the construction of this world, as he did with trolls. The elves are apparently the moral enemies of the dwarves because they laugh at dwarves. Which is kind of adorable to me because the dwarves are so protective of their own beards. And I have had a beard for many years! So I understand this! Should I feel morally opposed to the elves because of this?

Strangely, though, I was taken aback by the fact that the elves seem to know who Bilbo is? Um….how is that even possible. Clearly, this is something to be dealt with later, but allow me to flesh this out: Bilbo, as far as I understand it, has never left The Hill, and has only had one interaction with Gandalf. Now, in his fiftieth year (give or take) of life, Gandalf suddenly believes that Bilbo is the best possible “burglar” for this adventure and elves know who he is. So….what’s happened since Gandalf first visited Bilbo’s village and now? WAS THERE A PROPHECY. There’s always a prophecy in these sort of stories, right?

Maybe the prophecy is just THE ELVES ARE REALLY MEAN. SERIOUSLY. The first things they say after they’ve stopped are:

  • Thorin’s beard is ridiculous.
  • Bilbo is fat.


Then Tolkien does that thing again: he takes the flow of an interesting story, and he disrupts it all on his own.

They stayed long in that good house, fourteen days at least, and they found it hard to leave. Bilbo would gladly have stopped there for ever and ever–even supposing a wish would have taken him right back to his hobbit-hole without trouble. Yet there is little to tell about their stay.

Ok, first of all, aren’t they on some important mission to steal gold back from a dragon? Maybe I just don’t understand how fantastic elvish homes are, so I’ll concede this to Tolkien. Perhaps this is so amazing that the dwarves and Gandalf are just like, “FUCK IT. TWO WEEK PARTY. NOW.”

However, telling me directly that there is “little to tell about their stay” is just lazy writing. It makes me think that what’s about to come is so boring that you were forced to write it at gunpoint. Like, “GOD, I guess I have to do this for you ungrateful assholes. GOD.” Even worse, as he starts to tell us about the glorious Elrond, he drops these two bizarre sentences. First:

He comes into many tales, but his part in the story of Bilbo’s great adventure is only a small one, though important, as you will see, if we ever get to the end of it.

Okay, THIS JUST CONFUSES ME. Dude, YOU ARE TELLING THE STORY. Surely you know the end of it??? But perhaps the narrator is meant to be in the moment, I thought, as if the narrator is experiencing things as they happen. However, that doesn’t make any sense either; there are constant references to the future in the narration, so….WHAT?

I wish I had time to tell you even a few of the tales or one or two of the songs that they heard in that house.

You are the narrator!!! You have all the time in the world!!! WHY DO YOU NARRATE LIKE THIS?

But to be fair, I really did like all of the planning between the dwarves, Elrond, and Gandalf at the end of chapter three. It’s fascinating to me because, again, I don’t know anything about all this, so it’s helping me to understand this world.


  • There are High Elves of the West! I don’t know what those are though!
  • There was a war between the dwarves and the goblins. Only one? I think so, as Elrond can reference the war without directly naming it.
  • There are such things as MOON-LETTERS, runes you cannot see only when the moon shines on them and only on a specific day. Holy shit, that is both awesome and horrifically inconvenient.
  • Durin’s Day is the first day of the dwarves’ New Year, so….each species has a different calendar? Is it similar to the hobbits’ calendar?

AND THEN MORE ADVENTURES AWAIT THEM. I’m not gonna lie. I’m pretty excited to see what’s in the Misty Mountains.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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282 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Hobbit’: Chapter 3

  1. Ryan Lohner says:

    The story began as something Tolkien told to his kids, supposedly based on a historical account of all this he'd discovered which he called The Red Book of Westmarch. Hence, the tone is meant to actually be someone from Middle Earth recording this for posterity, and wanting to get to the good parts. Or alternately, a Princess Bride style of Tolkien's own abridgements to an extrememly dry and boring work.

    • cait0716 says:

      I've been thinking of The Princess Bride, too. Gbyxvra'f fgngrzrag gung abguvat zhpu unccrarq ng Eviraqryy erzvaqf zr bs Tbyqzna'f "Jung, jvgu bar guvat naq nabgure, guerr lrnef cnffrq."

      • Pooslie says:

        why do people do that (the other language thing, i don't even know which of the languages it is)? I find it very elitist. like "oh unless you are a DIEHARD Tolkein fan, you don't get to read 1/3 of the comments! lolz sorry newb"

        • cait0716 says:

          It's not meant to be elitist. It's meant to protect Mark and the rest of the community from spoilers, since the spoiler policy is very strict here. The language is a simple translation using the rot13 code (rotates every letter 13 spaces in the alphabet, so a -> n, b -> o, etc). You can decipher it by going to Just copy the text from here, paste into that box, and hit cypher. There are also a variety of plugins you can get for various browsers that will let you translate the text in-page, so you don't need to open another tab and deal with all the copy/paste (which, admittedly, can be a hassle during some conversations). I don't know what any of these plugins are, or I'd point you to them.

          In the case of this particular comment, there are spoilers for The Princess Bride book, which is on Mark's to-read list. I rot13ed it for that reason.

          I'm sorry the code was off-putting to you. It's meant to enable discussion of future plot-points, character arcs, and foreshadowing while still protecting anyone who doesn't want to be spoiled (since there are several people who are brand new to Middle Earth)

          • Pooslie says:

            oh. sorry, i thought it was one of the like 50000 languages in this series since SO MANY of the posts are using it…

            thanks for the info, now i don't feel so dumb!

        • Andy says:

          It's not a Tolkien language; it's using a rot13 code so as to avoid spoiling a) Mark or b) anyone for a series they haven't read, while still being able to comment. You go here to cypher it if you want to read it 🙂

    • monkeybutter says:

      Yeah, it seems like a narrative technique to make it feel as though you're being read a story. Tolkien's like a more emotionally-involved Death from The Book Thief. Give into the whimsy!

    • ladililn says:

      Yeah, and he said later on that he really regrets those little interjections, because looking back he thinks it comes off as condescending to children. So Tolkien actually agrees with you about that aspect of his narration, Mark.

  2. Jenny_M says:

    I read these books out of order – LOTR first, then the Sil, then a few years later, the Hobbit. So I knew all about the society of the Elves when I started reading the hobbit. Therefore when I got to this chapter yesterday, I was kind of surprised at how…anti-climactic it seemed. (Rot 13ing for expectations poilers, but not plot spoilers). V zrna, gurer ner ryirf naq Ryebaq vf gurer naq ur'f pbby ohg V thrff V jnf rkcrpgvat n zber shyyl syrfurq bhg qrfpevcgvba bs Eviraqryy. Orpnhfr Eviraqryy vf qrsvavgryl n cynpr lbh jbhyq jnag gb fgnl sbe n sbegavtug BE SBE LBHE JUBYR YVSR ZNLOR.

    Tolkien's narrative style has never bothered me, mostly because I grew up reading a lot of British kids lit from that time period. It was very much in the style for the narrator to interject themselves in odd ways. One of my favorite books is "Ballet Shoes" by Noel Streatfeild, and she does the same sort of funny little interjections and time jumps and "oh you couldn't possibly be interested in that nonsense!" I think I adore it because it gives strange little insights into the author and what they thought was important, as well as the fact that in some cases, it gives a fantastic glimpse into the world they lived in. But what is quaint and adorable to me because of how I grew up is definitely not the same for everyone so…to make a long paragraph summed up nicely, YMMV, or in this case…Everyone's MMV!

    • Threeparts says:

      Yes, exactly this! I grew up with CS Lewis and Enid Blyton all the rest, where those kinds of interjections were commonplace. It’s actually seeped into my own writing style, so I don’t really notice it at all until a new-to-the-style reader like Mark gets puzzled by it.
      It’s a sweet, interesting little device, and I hope Mark can get used to it or overlook it to the point where it’s no longer bothersome. Otherwise – and especially if he ever reads the Series of Unfortunate Events books – it may drive him up the wall.

      • BumblebeeTuna says:

        I personally adore it as a story telling device. It makes the whole thing seem a little realer, a little more personal. Any story that uses it, no matter how bad the rest of it is, gets a massive boost in my book. I've tried writing in that style, but I find it surprisingly hard to do well.

      • ferriswheeljunky says:

        I always liked it, too, especially when C. S. Lewis does it. I loved that he threw in these little comments like 'of course, you know that you should always clean your swordblade after killing a wolf/kick off your shoes if you fall into the sea/make sure you don't lock yourself into a wardrobe'. I felt like I was getting good advice without being condescended to. I can see how it would be annoying for an adult, though.

        • notemily says:

          I think my favorite is from Diana Wynne Jones, about being the eldest of three–"Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes." I was like, really? Everyone knows that? But I love it, especially in fairy-tale type stories.

          • arctic_hare says:

            Well, since she was making fun of that fairy tale trope, yeah, anyone who reads fairy tales will know that. xD I love how she turned that on its head in that book.

      • Lady X says:

        SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS. YES. But didn’t Mark already read that?

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      I've read quite a bit from that period as well, and for me, its always felt like the author's there, telling you the story in person, which is kind of nice. It gives me the sense that the narrator isn't just some…voice, that hangs over the land and talks about everything that happens, but a person engaging with me, a kind of nice balance between first and third person.

      Still, it can be a little bit distracting when he says "we don't have enough time" and things like that, and I can see why someone new to the style wouldn't like it.

    • flootzavut says:

      Jane Austen uses it too – the famous "It is a truth universally acknowledged" thing is basically her "speaking".

      IMO sometimes it can be jarring but growing up on a steady diet of British children's books (being British!) it is something I am very used to. And it is very of its time!

  3. cait0716 says:

    I know it's annoying you, Mark, but I'm sort of falling in love with Tolkien's style this time through. I'm just sitting here excited about the possibility of more Elrond stories. And I think the technique of hinting at all these tales goes a long way to establishing this massive world with a rich history. Also, I kind of love narrators who interrupt themselves, it feels a bit more like I'm being told this story late one night over a cup of tea.

    • Jenny_M says:

      That's so true, about the hints. I mean, when he says that there is not enough time to tell those stories, he's right: the book would literally be about five times longer than it is if he told Elrond stories.

      (Gubhtu jul ur pbhyqa'g grzcre uvzfrys jvgu gur Gbz Obzonqvy fghss va SBGE V jvyy arire xabj. Whfg jevgr n sevttva' Gbz Obzonqvy obbx! V nyjnlf fxvc gubfr puncgref. V nz n onq trrx.)

      • cait0716 says:

        Bu zna, jura V svefg fnj gur zbivrf, V jnf fb qvfnccbvagrq gung Gbz Obzonqvy jnfa'g rira va gurz. Ba ersyrpgvba vg znxrf nyy gur frafr va gur jbeyq. Ohg V fgvyy ybir jurarire Fgrira Pbyoreg tbrf bss nobhg Obzonqvy (uvf snibevgr punenpgre). V pna'g jnvg hagvy vg'f abg fcbvyrel gb fubj Znex Pbyoreg'f vagreivrj jvgu Arvy Tnvzna (juvpu jvyy cebonoyl or nsgre ur frrf gur svefg zbivr)

        Nyfb, ZBER RYEBAQ! Guvf znl or gur svefg gvzr guebhtu gur obbxf gung V'ir orra grzcgrq gb ernq gur Nccraqvprf. Naq V'ir bjarq Fvyznevyyvba fvapr gur svefg zbivr pnzr bhg, ohg V'ir arire npghnyyl cvpxrq vg hc. V'z obhaq naq qrgrezvarq gb nsgre V svavfu gur frevrf, guvf gvzr.

        • Jenny_M says:

          Vg'f abg fb zhpu gung V ungr Gbz Obzonqvy, V whfg jnag gb trg gb gur njrfbzr nqiragherf NSGRE Gbz Obzonqvy fb V trg sehfgengrq jura ur fgnegf uvf sbhe uhaqerqgu fbat.

          Gur Fvy vf ybgf bs sha, naq vg'f frg hc va n jnl gung lbh pna fxvc nebhaq. V yvxrarq vg gb gur Ovoyr va gung vg'f ybgf bs yvggyr fgbevrf va bar ovt obbx, naq juvyr gurer'f fbzr puebabybtl, vg'f abguvat yvxr na birenepuvat cybg.

          • Kiryn says:

            V whfg jnagrq gb trg Nentbea va gur fgbel nyernql. Qvpxrevat nebhaq jvgu Gbz Obzonqvy jnf abg urycvat guvf pnhfr. 😉

        • monkeybutter says:

          Bu tbq, V jnag n qnl jurer jr pna whfg cbfg pyvcf bs Pbyoreg areqvat bhg nobhg Gbyxvra, juvccvat bhg Naqhevy jurarire nccebcevngr. V ybir uvz.

      • notemily says:

        the book would literally be about five times longer than it is if he told Elrond stories.

        Fb… vg jbhyq or Ybeq bs gur Evatf, gura. *ehaf njnl*

    • Smurphy says:

      I have to agree with you. I don't know if I was just too young when I read it the first time but I am really enjoying it this read through… I guess I also like it because that's the way I tell stories.

      • cait0716 says:

        Yeah. I think part of it is also that I have a better sense of the world now. A lot of Tolkien's random tangents actually mean something to me, and that makes them more exciting.

  4. tethysdust says:

    Bilbo might be in decent physical shape for a Hobbit, as it mentions how much he loves going on walks. He has a map marked with all his favorite walking-paths in the Shire, after all! I agree that he probably is the most tired he's ever been though, because riding ponies for days is a bit different than having a pleasant stroll.

    Concerning their two-week party, I don't think they're on an especially urgent adventure. That gold's been gone for a long time, and the dwarves have been doing pretty well without it. The mountain's been lost for years, and Dale seems to be pretty much ruined already. I saw this as more of a 'reclaiming our heritage!' sort of adventure. So, while it's important to them, it's not like Smaug's going anywhere anytime soon.

    To me, it sounds like Tolkien is writing it as if he's telling the story to a child. So, "if we ever get to the end of it" would mean "if I ever finish telling you this story, kiddo." At the same time, he's skipping over the tales and the time they spent in Elrond's house because they aren't directly relevant to the story. However, he still mentions these irrelevant events, because he's telling this as if he is relating events that actually happened.

    • nanceoir says:

      To me, it sounds like Tolkien is writing it as if he's telling the story to a child. So, "if we ever get to the end of it" would mean "if I ever finish telling you this story, kiddo."

      And all of a sudden, in my head the narrator's voice becomes dad!Ted Moesby, and we the audience are his two kids, totally rolling our eyes at dad taking us through, what, at least six or seven years of stuff before he even gets to meeting our mom.

      • Ryan Lohner says:

        And we haven't even gotten to Gbz Obzonqvy yet.

        I've learned my lessson with revealing character names! Though anyone familiar with the books can probably tell who I'm talking about just from the number of letters there.

        • BumblebeeTuna says:

          Haha yes! I tend to just skip those chapters, much as I love that character!

        • Danielle says:

          That whole thing was kind of a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.

        • Hanah_banana says:

          Am I the only person with a massive love of that particular person? Not just as a person but the whole part about them is just, ugh, I know it's a weird part but I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I think there are much more random waffly parts than that which I'd prefer to skip, to be honest.

          • monkeybutter says:

            Haha, as mentioned in caito's comment thread above, there's at least one person who loves him, too. 😀

          • Neet says:

            No, I loved him too. The first time I read it, I was small and easily traumatised, so ybgf bs fvatvat naq yrff zbafgref jnf n jrypbzr oerngure.

          • threerings says:

            Every time I read LOTR, I enjoy different parts. In particular, after the movies I enjoy the parts that AREN'T in the films the most, including that particular section.

          • @threeparts says:

            Not at all, I'm a big fan too. I wish we could have spent more time with Gbz naq Tbyqoreel, they seem so nice!

          • tethysdust says:

            Oh, I loved that person, too. Though I have to admit, the first time I read it, V jnf fb fher ur jnf rivy, naq jnf whfg jnvgvat sbe gur evtug zbzrag gb qrfgebl gur uboovgf! Granted, I was a kid, and I just really wasn't used to seeing trahvaryl avpr ohg zlfgrevbhf fgenatref gung fvat raqyrff fbatf naq uryc lbh bhg in books.

  5. knut_knut says:

    Just think of it as Tolkien reading you a bedtime story! Which may actually be kind of creepy… Anyway, THE ELVES!!!!! <3 <3 <3 I loooooooooove the elves and I always feel like Tolkien pretty much passes over Rivendell here. He’s so wordy, can’t he spare a few now? Also, am I a bad fan for saying the elves’ songs remind me a bit of the Oompa Loompa’s songs? V sbetbg ubj yhyml gur ryirf ner- V pna’g frr CW’f irefvba bs gur ryirf fvatvat Bbzcn Ybbzcn fbatf. V qba’g xabj vs guvf vf n fcbvyre, ohg V whfg arrq gb synvy bire ubj nznmvat Eviraqryy jnf va gur zbivrf NAQ GUR ZHFVP!! ;NFQXSW;NXQWS;NFQXSN;X

    • @redbeardjim says:

      Yes, this is exactly how I see it. "The Hobbit" is a book that is meant to be read, out loud, to a child, at bedtime, one chapter per night.

      • rabbitape says:

        Which is exactly how my big brother read it to me when I was little, in order to tempt me to pick it up and read it myself. (There was a period where I was a very poor reader. It was a short period, because his strategy worked like a charm.)

        So to me, the narrative style feels very much like it came out of an oral tradition. I highly recommend everyone read at least one chapter out loud at some point, preferably with different voices for the characters, as my brother did. It really adds to the story experience!

      • Jenn says:

        This was my bedtime story for about a year and a half starting when I was 5. My dad is awesome.

        • notemily says:

          I'm endlessly disappointed that my sister doesn't like fantasy, because she just had a kid and she and her husband read to her all the time. So like, they started reading her the first Harry Potter book, but stopped because my sister found it "too weird." I was like AF:KLDF:HLSDLSDFJ:

          Her time will come, though. When she gets a bit older, she will get ALL THE FANTASY BOOKS from me as gifts. Muahahaha *evil aunt laugh*

          • knut_knut says:

            Harry Potter as TOO WEIRD?????!!!!!! O_O

            My dad loves LOTR but haaaaaaaaaates Harry Potter because the adults are irresponsible

            • notemily says:

              my sister thinks that anything that doesn't take place in our universe, with all the laws of physics and logic fully intact, is too weird. *shrug* I have no idea how we came from the same gene pool.

              • stefb says:

                …but Hogwarts is real.

              • Kiryn says:

                I can emphathize….my own older sister has kids, but her eldest is only 10 at the moment, and so my sister pretty much has forbidden me from giving my niece any of my fantasy books, like HP and LOTR, because, my sister claims, they are beyond her reading level. Honestly, I feel like my niece hasn't even been given the opportunity to try, so saying that she obviously *can't* read them bothers me, but I'm going to be patient. Give it a few more years, and she too is going to be getting ALL OF THE FANTASY from me. 😉

                • Karyn says:

                  Your sister is spouting arrant nonsense. Tamora Pierce to the niece. ASAP.

                  (sorry, bossiness occasionally overwhelms me!)

          • episkey825 says:

            Oh god I can't wait to read Harry Potter to my kids.

        • hpfish13 says:

          My mom read us most of the Hobbit about 4 times when I was a kid, then decided we were to young for the end of the story. As a result, I never heard the end until I read it myself.

            • hpfish13 says:

              Vg'f shaal orpnhfr rira nsgre gur tboyvaf (juvpu tnir zr avtugznerf jurer zl orqebbz jnyy bcrarq hc naq gur tboyvaf pncgherq zr), Tbyyhz, gur perrcl sberfg, gur fcvqref naq Fznht, fur qrpvqrq gung gur Onggyr bs Svir Nezvrf jnf gbb vagrafr naq gbb fpnel sbe n 5 naq 7 lrne byq.

  6. tethysdust says:

    Oh also, I have a comment on the topic of the incredibly detailed world the Hobbit/LOTR. For people unfamiliar with the world is a great online encyclopedia. However, use it at your own risk. If you just start looking up all the people and places that are mentioned in the Hobbit, I can pretty much guarantee you'll be spoiled for something or other.

    • notemily says:

      I spent several happy and unproductive hours on that website one night. However, when I went back to look at things later, it seemed they had taken out some of the details–maybe because of copyright issues with Tolkien? Like, it seemed to me they were no longer allowed to tell you everything because you're supposed to read the books, or whatever. Not sure what happened there.

      • Apparently they were hacked or something and the person deleted a ton of information. There are plans to go back and re-add it all, but apparently no one had backups, so it's taking a while.

        Or so I heard, anyway. Internet grapevine and all that.

        • notemily says:

          Oh, that's too bad! I'm glad they're going to re-add it, but that really sucks.

          • tethysdust says:

            That's really a shame :(. I haven't spent time on it in a long time, but it was great before. I looked around, and I still think it's a nice resource (it has maps and still lots of information). I hope it recovers fully.

  7. Ashley says:

    Mark, you're really overthinking this narrator thing. Tolkien is a conversational writer. You're supposed to imagine someone is telling you this story next to a roaring fireplace, with a cup of tea in your lap, and you're all tucked into a blanket. It's supposed to make you feel like the narrator is his own person, and the fact that he constantly hints at things without really telling you about them, is supposed to give you the feeling that this world he has created is much larger than the little piece of the story you're seeing. He wasn't just creating a story, he was creating a mythology, very consciously and methodically.

    You should probably give up trying to *understand* it, and just go with it, otherwise it's going to be all you talk about for the rest of the book. It's his style.

    • Genny_ says:

      Agreed, especially on the way Tolkien uses hints to create the illusion (well, I say 'illusion') that the story has more breadth than it seems. The Hobbit is often silly and fun, but it's still Tolkien trying to make it seem like he's telling you a history rather than writing a story.

    • Jen says:

      I agree 100%, let it go.

      I really loved (and still love) the Hobbit when I was a kid. It was the first fantasy book I ever read, and it got me into the genre.

    • Ms Avery says:

      Yes! I am a bit weirded out that Mark is so baffled by this technique because it was in SO MANY books I read as a kid. I like it, it makes the storytelling feel cosy and friendly. But… yeah, it's really common.

  8. Genny_ says:

    I think I kind of like how Tolkien interjects into things, because it makes it seem slightly more like "history" to me, which was obviously something he was very interested in when it came to his writing. It creates a sort of distance between yourself and the story with the narrator in the middle which can be really infuriating, but which gives it a really specific feel. On the other hand, sometimes it's just clumsy.

    And god, I'd forgotten there were even songs in this book. Tolkien, YOU LIKE SONGS TOO MUCH. It's kind of making me want the Hobbit to be a musical.

    • tethysdust says:

      I love how everyone in Middle Earth seems obsessed with music. I think life there IS a musical! 😀

      • Genny_ says:

        I wouldn't be surprised if people had the ability to spontaneously come up with suspiciously accurate lyrics on demand…

      • hpfish13 says:

        Have you heard of the musical Fellowship! It's a musical parody of FotR (the movie though, not the book) and is infinitely hilarious!

        • tethysdust says:

          I have not! I'll have to look it up!

        • ladysugarquill says:

          Starkid even did a musical parody of LotR, years before AVPM! Sadly, it wasn't filmed, so it's practically lost 🙁

          (And Tolkien fans in the audience really didn't like it. I heard in an interview that hey'd made their usual random, nonsensical changes to the plot, specially then ending, and that fans came up to them after the show to tell them "you know that's not how it really ends, right?". Between that and their usual loose attitude towards scripts and such, it's unlikely it will be remade.)

          • notemily says:

            Oh interesting! I would love to see that. I wonder if that's a difference between the two productions themselves or just a difference in the fans–HP fans are more willing to accept plot changes and/or make fun of the source material? I consider myself a Tolkien fan, but one who is more than willing to affectionately poke fun at the source, so I don't know if I would have been upset if they changed the ending.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        I think it makes perfect sense that Middle-earth is obsessed with music – after all, gur jbeyq (Neqn) jnf perngrq guebhtu zhfvp – Nvahyvaqnyr, juvpu vf cebonoyl gur zbfg tbetrbhf perngvba zlgu rire. <3

      • Lady X says:

        I think Gail Carson Levine did a fantasy childrens book that was a musical…

        • notemily says:

          Are you talking about Fairest? That's a Snow White retelling that takes place in a land where singing is VERY important and they sing about everything.

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      Sebqb bs gur avvvvvar svatref!

    • earis the istarwen says:

      There IS a musical of the Hobbit.

      But the singing is also a very important world building device, like the history bits. Ryirf, sbe rknzcyr, genafsre gurve uvfgbel guebhtu fbat, nf jr'yy frr va SBGE. Rira qjneirf, jub ybir pyrire jevgvatf naq cerfreir gurve uvfgbel gung jnl, erzrzore vzcbegnag riragf va fbat. Vg'f gur uhznaf naq gur uboovgf jub frrz gb cersre gurve uvfgbevrf naq fgbevrf va cebfr, abg irefr.

    • One of the reasons that I love the BBC versions of Tolkein's works is how well done the songs are. Even now, years since I've last heard them I still remember all the lyrics and the tune to "Far Over the Misty Mountains" and a large chunk of the ones from Return of the King.

    • stefb says:

      I think the characters like music so much, because what else are they supposed to do? It's not like the had the internet. Singing was a source of entertainment before computers/tv/and stuff.

      • notemily says:

        Yeah, singing, music-playing and story-telling were way more important before TVs and home stereos. I love thinking about that, because how many people must there be who would have been REALLY AWESOME at just telling stories around the fire? Do those people become writers these days, or do they just never discover their talent because everyone is too busy watching TV?

    • …and now I have the chorus from that Leonard Nimoy song stuck in my head.

  9. bearshorty says:

    The narration never bothered me because it is a children's story and many children's authors do this. But after reading the assessment of narration here, it actually occurred to me why Tolkien is narrating this way. Vfa'g guvf Ovyob npghnyyl jevgvat n fgbel bapr ur trgf onpx? Vg unf orra n juvyr, fb V'z abg gbb fher. Ohg vs vg vf, gur aneengbe vf abg Gbyxvra ohg Ovyob fb gur jubyr fgbel vf ernyyl Ovyob'f crefcrpgvir naq uvf cbvag bs ivrj. Juvpu vf xvaq bs vagrerfgvat gb ernq.

    • @redbeardjim says:

      Lrf, Ovyob vf gur va-havirefr nhgube bs "Gur Uboovg", be "Gurer naq Onpx Ntnva" nf ur pnyyf vg. Sebqb jevgrf hc "Ybeq bs gur Evatf", naq V'z cerggl fher gung gur "Genafyngvbaf sebz gur Ryivfu" gung Ovyob tvirf Sebqb vf fhccbfrq gb or Gur Fvyznevyyvba.

      • BumblebeeTuna says:

        Bu, gung'f nznmvat. V'q arire gubhtug bs gung. Nygubhtu gung qbrf znxr vg nyy n yvggyr fgenatr gung vg'f va guveq crefba. Nyfb n ybg bs gur aneengvba qbrfa'g ernyyl svg jvgu ubj V'q vzntvar Ovyob gb jevgr. V whfg vzntvar uvz znxvat uvzfrys ybbx n ovg orggre…

        • hpfish13 says:

          V guvax va YbgE vg'f zragvbarq gung Ovyob qvq va bar bs uvf rneyvre irefvbaf ertneqvat gur fvghngvba jvgu Tbyyhz naq gur Evat naq gura Tnaqnys unq uvz punatr vg (gubhtu V znl or zvferzrzorevat naq vg'f whfg gung ur gryyf gur qjnesf naq Tnaqnys n irel qvssrerag vavgvny fgbel guna gur gehgu).

          • notemily says:

            Ab, lbh'er evtug. Gur bevtvany rqvgvba bs gur Uboovg unq n qvssrerag nppbhag bs gur svaqvat bs gur Evat, naq gura yngre rqvgvbaf jrer "hcqngrq gb ersyrpg gur gehgu," v.r., ergpbaarq.

            • Tauriel_ says:

              And it's one of the few, few occasions where gur ergpba znxrf frafr obgu va-havirefr naq bhgfvqr-havirefr. 🙂

    • earis the istarwen says:

      Guvf vf vaqrrq gur ortvaavat bs gur Erq Obbx bs Jrfgznepu, jevggra ol Ovyob Onttvaf, Sebqb Onttvaf, naq Fnz Tnztrr, naq yrsg gb Fnz'f ryqrfg qnhtugre Rynabe jura Fnz yrsg sbe gur Terl Uniraf nsgre gur qrngu bs uvf jvsr.

      Gbyxvra, va gur Zvqqyr Rnegu irefr, vf gur zna jub genafyngrq gur Erq Obbx sebz gur Pbzzba Gbathr vagb zbqrea Ratyvfu, naq guhf gur pbzzragnel pna or ernq nf obgu Ovyob'f nfvqrf naq Gbyxvraf znetvanyvn.

      Be, guvf jnf n cbchyne fglyr bs puvyqera'f jevgvat gung Gbyxvra hfrq juvyr chggvat gbtrgure gur Uboovg sbe uvf puvyqera.

  10. settlingforhistory says:

    Somehow it bothered me that Tolkien simply skipped all the interesting things like the songs and anecdotes and almost two weeks entirely WITH ELVES! I want to know details about elves and Elrond!
    I can't imaging someone reading this book to me as a kid, there would be too many questions buzzing in my head that I would have wanted answers to immediately:
    Does the fact that Elrond is an Elf-friend and has elves and heroes (humans?) as ancestors mean that he is en elf, human or a half-elf?
    Why did the elves know Bilbo's name?
    Why do these elves life so far from other people?
    Do elves have a different calender, like the Hobbits and dwarfs?
    Well, I guess I'll have to wait for the answers, but that's ok. Can hardly wait to continue reading though.

    • Dent D says:

      I believe the elves are explained to be afficionadoes of news. To me it is not unconceivable that somehow word spread that Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, left his house in a hurry with a group of dwarves.

    • nonnyW says:

      Re: Elrond

      Gbyxrva qbrf shyyl rkcynva jung uvf urevgntr zrnaf na jurgure ur'f rys, uhzna be n unys-rys. Vg'f nyy va gur Fvyznevyyvba, naq vs lbh ybbx Ryebaq hc va gur vaqrk, lbh fubhyq or noyr gb svaq gur cntrf jurer vg'f rkcynvarq jvgubhg univat gb ernq gur jubyr guvat. (rot13 for vague Silmarillion spoilers.)

    • notemily says:

      Does the fact that Elrond is an Elf-friend and has elves and heroes (humans?) as ancestors mean that he is en elf, human or a half-elf?

      Yes. 😉

  11. mirima says:

    I don’t think it’s excessive of the dwarves and Bilbo to take a two week rest in Rivendell seeing as they have been traveling for over a month and for almost 400 miles with no rest in sight for the rest of the journey.

    You wrote yesterday’s review as if all that happened took place in one day and I wondered if you had thought all that only took one day. Chapter two actually covers over a month and there’s 332 miles from Bag End to the Trolls.

    I’ve been trying to “walk to Rivendell” (I got the idea from Gur Ébjla Punyyratr* site which has wonderful mileage charts for Middle-earth) since August and my goal is to reach the Trolls by Halloween and I am not there yet. I’ve managed to get approximately 290 miles under my belt by now and I’m at “Open country. No streams”. Before this it’s been “Continue East. Road worsens.” and then “Road deteriorates still more.” for weeks now. It’s been a lot of fun to do this walk thing, because it’s giving me a much better understanding of the distances in the book.

    Also, hello everyone! I’ve been a reader here for over a year but his is my first comment. Figures it was Middle-earth that pulled me into commenting 🙂

    *Site name in rot13 for spoilers, which the site is also full of. I would've made a link but don't know how…

  12. pennylane27 says:

    AAARGH I CAN'T BELIEVE I MISSED THE FIRST TWO REVIEWS! But I had such a splitting headache that just thinking about looking at a computer screen made me want to scream.

    Anyway, like most people have said already, you have to imagine Tolkien is telling you a story. It's hard to get used to the long descriptive paragraphs (my sister has skipped many of them!), but I just love them. I want to absorb every word the man has ever written just so I can understand more about this world he's created.

    Sort of spoilers for LOTR
    V unir gb fnl gubhtu, vg nyjnlf fhecevfrf zr ba er-ernqf gung Eviraqryy nccrnef va gur guveq puncgre naq abg zhpu vf fnvq nobhg vg, rira gubhtu V ernq guvf orsber YBGE.

    I'm starting to think that the comments are going to be filled with rot13 bits, so I'll refrain from including too much.

    So, to conclude, I love Bilbo. And Gandalf. And I'm not ashamed to say that I know all the dwarves' names.

  13. SteelMagnolia80 says:

    Oh Mark, can't we just enjoy the fun times before the SHIT GETS REAL? ; ) Cause you know it's gonna.

  14. Ha, I totally don't remember Tolkien's weird narration thing! I probably really dug it when I was a kid, though.

    The elves are apparently the moral enemies of the dwarves because they laugh at dwarves.
    Laughing at dwarves seems pretty immoral to me.

  15. Dent D says:

    I've never seen a mountain (or a mtn range) in person, or an ocean for that matter. So I would probably have the same reaction as Bilbo and then lose respect cred from the dwarves.

    I honestly believe Tolkien when he writes, "Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway." The two week stay at Elrond's, while peaceful, really is boring to talk about. It isn't exciting or interesting beyond the novelty of a hobbit and some dwarves staying in a place of elves. We are told (and shown) the important parts: the map reading and explaining about the swords Thorin and Gandalf keep.

    The swords are so amazing! I absolutely love their names, Glamdring and Orcrist. Tolkien's fictional names are beautiful and lyrical, even when they are names of swords! How cool is a wizard who wields a sword that was previously used by A KING OF ELVES. Pretty BAMF if you ask me.

    • notemily says:

      Weapons with names are awesome. LOTR spoiler (movies only? not sure): Vg znxrf zr guvax bs gur hehx-unv naq gurve znff-cebqhpgvba bs pehqr zrgny fjbeqf gung jrer zber yvxr znpurgrf. Pbzcner gb gur "tbbq" enprf, jub chg gvzr naq gubhtug naq rira anzrf vagb gurve cbffrffvbaf. Gurl pner sbe gur guvatf gurl znxr, juvyr gur hehx-unv pner bayl nobhg qrfgehpgvba.

      • episkey825 says:

        V srry yvxr gur Hehx-unv gurzfryirf jrer znff cebqhprq va gur fnzr jnl. Ng yrnfg va gur zbivrf naljnl.

  16. Elexus Calcearius says:

    I've got to say, I was somewhat disconcerted by the elves in this chapter. Since Tolkien, there's been a very specific portrayal of elves in media; dignified, beautiful, nature-loving, and pompous. And while I got that with Elrond, the little songs the elves before that sung put me in mind of little annoying people laughing in the trees….I'm not sure whether to shake my head at my own unpreparedness, or if this is just a bit of 'early installment weirdness' or if pop cultural osmosis just choose the most haughty of their elements to be carried on.

    • I had the opposite problem since I read The Hobbit first- I found the laughing and silly elves really fun and had a hard time getting used to it when I came across all these solemn and mournful elves in other fantasy stories. V guvax vg vf 'rneyl vafgnyyzrag jrveqarff fvapr gur cbegenlny bs gur ryirf va YBGE vf irel qvssrerag. (rot13'd because I'm paranoid).

      • Tauriel_ says:

        I think it comes from the fact that when Tolkien first wrote the Hobbit, he wasn't sure whether it was going to be tied to the larger Middle-earth story that began in the Silmarillion. Keep in mind that even though the Silm was published after his death, the myths and stories contained in it were the first things that Tolkien wrote about his fantasy world. Hobbit came later than that and I imagine that if Tolkien had decided to fully "integrate" Bilbo's tale into the grand story of Arda right from the beginning, the Elves of Rivendell would look a bit different.

        Or their silliness might have been fully intentional since the Hobbit was clearly intended to be a children's book…

    • Geolojazz says:

      Christopher Paolini is the worst for that. His elves come across as snooty and classist. Not sure that's what he intended.

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        I read somewhere that he used the elves to represent his own views…so probably not. That didn't stop them from coming off that way.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        I haven't read any of his books (I only saw the dreadful Eragon film and had enough), but the Elves of Andrzej Sapkowski are pretty snobbish and dismissive to other races, too… (but Sapkowski's "Witcher" books are BLOODY FANTASTIC and I recommend them to everyone. Pity they haven't all been translated into English yet… He's been labelled as "the Polish Tolkien" and his world is fantastically detailed and rich.)

      • stefb says:

        Minor spoiler for LotR (and Eragon too, I guess):
        Gurer'f n fgbel va Rentba gung'f n OYNGNAG EVCBSS bs gur gnyr bs Nzebgu naq Avzebqry gung Yrtbynf fvatf gb gur Uboovgf va SbgE

        • Geolojazz says:

          Heh, well, the whole of Eragon is a ripoff of fgne jnef down to the T….well, until Eldest where he grinds the plot to a halt and tells everyone how awesome and better than you the elves are…

          Still haven't gotten around to reading Brisingr. Maybe someday I'll finish reading them. Meh…

          • hpfish13 says:

            He and Stephenie Meyer would probably get along, considering how much they both like ridiculously old, pretty, non-human people….

          • t09yavosaur says:

            "Heh, well, the whole of Eragon is a ripoff of fgne jnef down to the T"

            Which some consider to be a rip-off of qhar.

            I never liked the elf chapters in Eldest. Too much cvavat* going on. But Ebena* is the best part of those books hands down and is my favorite ever.

            [*sorry for the random rot13 words I didnt was to cypher the whole thing but I'd hate to spoil for anyone]

    • And then we have the elves in the Dragon Age video-game franchise: either second-class former slaves living in ghettos or outcast exiles scraping out a nomadic existence in the woods, but both groups fallen a long way from their cultural and magical peak of centuries past (thanks to religious crusades, whee). Our Elves Are Different, indeed.

    • SisterCoyote says:

      For me it was the other way around; my first exposure to elves was with LotR, then the Hobbit, then the Silmarillion– so I was used to seeing them as "Like humans, but immortal, and very old cultures, which vary from nation to nation." I mean… (Rot13'd for Silm spoilers) Lbh jbhyqa'g pbashfr gur Gryrev jvgu gur Ñbyqbe, be gur Fvaqne jvgu gur Anaqne– naq bapr lbh ernq bs gur Xvafynlvatf, nyy ivfvbaf bs gur ryirf nf Fhcre Fcrfuhy Cresrpg Fabjsynxrf vf sberire gneavfurq. V zrna, Sënabe unq <v>vffhrf</v>, zna. (V zrna gung va gur zbfg pyvavpny frafr– abg gb or bssrafvir. Ur whfg… V zrna, frevbhfyl. Gur qhqr arrqrq uryc. Gurl'er whfg fuvavrf, Sënabe! Abg jbegu gur oybbq bs zbfg bs lbhe xva!)

  17. stellaaaaakris says:

    I'm not a big fan of Tolkien's conversational style for such lengthy books. I only like it in little bits and pieces so I understand your feelings. But good news! I soon got used to it and was able to heartily enjoy the books while not really noticing all his random interjections. I did still skip all the songs though.

    I really like all the dwarf names. I spent my entire train ride to work today (about an hour) thinking about which dwarf was my favorite, based purely on names. I had a hard time making up my mind because they're all so awesome sounding. Still haven't really decided because my opinion keeps changing. At this moment, I'm leaning towards Fili and Kili.

    I'm so glad you're doing this series Mark. I rewatched the movies every fall and summer break during high school and college and whenever I feel like it since, but I haven't read these books in almost a decade (whoa, so weird to think about – I was a freshman in high school when I read LOTR). Anyways, yay! I'm enjoying this trip down memory lane.

  18. I completely forgot how adorable Bilbo was in this chapter. I think I would have reacted the exact same way to seeing the mountains if all I'd known was my hobbit-hole.
    And the elves. I like them, strange as they are- it's kind of nice to know that they don't really have many concerns in life other than singing and making fun of people 🙂 And I'm not gonna lie, I always get a bit of a shiver whenever Gandalf says "Valleys have ears and some elves have over merry tongues." It's a bit of a reminder that, yes, in fact there are dangers in this world, even if they're hearing music and laughter now.

    And Elrond! How I love him in this chapter. The scene with the moon-letters is to me so cool- I love mysterious inscriptions anywhere in stories, and the one that's on the map is so cool to me: "Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks and the setting sun with the last light of Durin's Day will shine upon the key-hole." There's something pleasantly archaic and intriguing about it, and the image of Elrond, Gandalf, and Thorin looking at the map in the moonlight is really a charming one. And Bilbo loves the runes and maps too! That's an interesting love for a hobbit who never wanted to go on an adventure. Now he gets to see moon-letters. So cool. Not to mention it gives us really subtle hints of dwarven culture with their writing, maps, and New Year.

    As a sidenote, I love that Elrond knows about Dale. Clearly he is well-traveled. And he's knowledgeable about the swords that Gandalf and Thorin just happened to pull from the troll's den. There is so much I want to know about this man… (dashes off to copy of Silmarillion)

  19. notemily says:

    OHAI ELROND. You are a bit of a crotchety elf, aren't you?

    I really like the idea of Rivendell being in a hidden valley that you can't see until you're right on top of it. There have been some really beautiful illustrations of Rivendell over the years, some of which I'm sure will be posted here by our wonderful commenters.

    There are such things as MOON-LETTERS, runes you cannot see only when the moon shines on them and only on a specific day. Holy shit, that is both awesome and horrifically inconvenient.

    Right? Like, worst way to get information across ever. The thing about code is that you want the people who are on your side to be able to decode it.

    I do like Tolkien's songs, even though they're a bit ridiculous with the tra-la-lallys and stuff. I like how he switches up the rhyme scheme.

    V unira'g ernq gur Uboovg va lrnef, fb V guvax vg'f n ovg shaal gung fb sne Ovyob'f wbhearl vf fvzvyne gb Sebqb'f–jnyx nybat naq fvat fbzr fbatf, unir n oehfu jvgu qrngu be gjb, unat bhg jvgu Ryebaq.

    Lbh ner gur aneengbe!!! Lbh unir nyy gur gvzr va gur jbeyq!!! JUL QB LBH ANEENGR YVXR GUVF?

    Bu, fb lbh JNAG uvz gb jevgr qbja rirel fbat gurl fvat? Or pnershy jung lbh jvfu sbe… 😉

  20. ravenclaw42 says:

    We talked exhaustively about the fourth-wall-breaking in The Hobbit in my Tolkien class in college (hell yes, nerdiest Languages & Literature dept. in the area), because it irked so many first-time readers for all these same reasons. We are just not used to it in the writing styles of (most) modern YA lit. But that's partly because modern YA lit is an accepted thing: it's quite a large genre and it's actually pretty respectable to be an author who focuses on that market or who wants to write about complex themes for the benefit of young minds. Tolkien had already been writing The Silmarillion for quite some time with no one but the Inklings to bounce ideas off of before he spontaneously started scribbling down ideas for The Hobbit. But because he would basically be laughed out of his stuffy Oxford office for daring to write fantasy, which was largely regarded by academics at the time as total fluff and nonsense and incredibly low-brow (like if he'd started writing Harlequin romances), he felt that he had no choice but to take this intimately detailed world he'd been creating and write about it for children. Because the feeling was that fantasy was only suited for children, who couldn't possibly be sophisticated enough to recognize it as a trash genre, and were expected to grow out of liking it as their tastes developed.

    So essentially Tolkien wrote as if talking to his son, partly to tell his son a wonderful story about this world he had made, and partly because his son was the only acceptable audience for that story. Then when The Hobbit came out and did really well, he could basically tell the other academics to go stuff themselves and write whatever he wanted. So really, Tolkien spent a lot of time in the fantasy closet and his frustration at not being taken seriously comes out as a slight condescension towards the reader.

    Imagine reading it aloud to an excitable child, though, and the purpose of the exclamation marks and brief "we're skipping that bit" statements becomes clear. I could see the "if we ever get to the end of [this story]" line as being a dry quip tossed in there for the parent who might be trying to read the story aloud, and of course their kid's interrupting all the time and at the rate of a few pages a night, it's taking forever… that sort of thing.

    Only one illustration today, as it's quite a short chapter!

    <img src=""&gt;

    • cait0716 says:

      I don't know why, but Bilbo looks rather feminine in that illustration.

      • ravenclaw42 says:

        You're right… Hague kind of draws hobbits as androgynous children rather than small adults, though. I always found that weird, even when I was a kid, because Bilbo is supposed to be 50.

    • notemily says:

      Aw, poor Tolkien in the fantasy closet. I can relate–my parents gave me all sorts of fantasy books to read when I was a kid, but now that I'm an adult they think I'm kind of weird for continuing to love it. 😛

    • Dent D says:

      "Fantasy closet" oh gosh sometimes I feel that way when I explain to newly met people that I'm a nerd/geek and Iove fantasy/sci-fi and YA lit even though I'm 26 and really should read books geared toward adults.

      But it would be a bit funny to say to my parents, "Mom, Dad… there's something I have to tell you. I love fantasy." Granted my father still reads fantasy books so it wouldn't really work in my situation.

    • MsPrufrock says:

      I took a Tolkien class in college as well! I don't remember talking too much about his habit of breaking the fourth wall in The Hobbit, though, but that might've been because we were basically studying all of the Norse/Anglo-Saxon sources that Tolkien was "influenced" by (read: blatantly took character names and plot points from). I don't think we focused on Tolkien's narrative style much, if we did at all.

      I absolutely love nerdy classes like that, and I will forever remember that pretty much all of the Dwarves' names– and Gandalf's– come straight from the "Seeress's Prophecy" in the Poetic Edda. And that "Gandalf" actually means Wand-Elf. (Maybe that means Gandalf is also Half-Elven?)

      • ravenclaw42 says:

        Yay for nerdy classes! Oh my gosh, we had such an intense case of nerds running the asylum in our humanities department. All but maybe three of the faculty were like walking pop culture reference books. The same prof. who taught the Tolkien class also taught History of the English Language and used Tolkien as an example all the time, so if you wanted the linguistic background you could take that class, so the regular Tolkien class was mostly long discussions of narrative style, comparing books to films, (watching hilarious videos on youtube), etc… That same teacher also managed to push through a Star Trek class for the semester after I graduated. whhyyyyy

        Also, my Capstone teacher let me do my final 40-page thesis on The Sandman. XD

        • MsPrufrock says:

          I think perhaps we might be academic doppelgangers, because while it was not for my Capstone, I also wrote a term paper on The Sandman. It was a pretty badass paper, if I say so myself– V jebgr nobhg "naguebcbzbecuvp ercerfragngvbaf bs qrngu," va gur jbexf bs Tnvzna naq Cbr. (Also, for my Intro to Literary Studies class, I wrangled it so my term paper was a cultural criticism on Harry Potter. Nerdy classes and paper topics FTW.)

          • ravenclaw42 says:

            Nice! I love finding other people who believe that term papers can be badass. 😀 My roommate and I had an ongoing battle to try to out-epic each other in paper titles (specifically, ones split with colons). I think my Sandman paper is my favorite paper I've ever written… Vg jnf znvayl nobhg ubj Tnvzna pbasyngrf gur "qrngu bs gur nhgube" gurbel jvgu gur qrngu/erovegu plpyr bs tbqf cerfrag va gur zlguf bs nyy jbeyq phygherf. V arire unq gb fryy zl cebsrffbe ba Tnvzna, V unq ure jura V zragvbarq gung V jnf tbvat gb hfr Gur Tbyqra Obhtu nf n fbhepr. KQ V unq fbbb zhpu sha jevgvat gung cncre. Vg unq cvpgherf!

      • notemily says:

        Ohg Tnaqnys vf n Znvn! Ur unf rkvfgrq fvapr gur qnja bs Neqn! Ur pna'g or unys-ryira, gung'f whfg fvyyl. 😉

        (Ernyyl Tnaqnys vf whfg uvf "jvmneq anzr" naq nppbeqvat gb gur Raplpybcrqvn bs Neqn, uvf erny anzr zrnaf "qernzf" be "zrzbevrf.")

      • threerings says:

        I was unable to take my college's Tolkien class, because of a conflict. I was so sad.

        But when I read Beowulf my sophomore year of high school, I commented to my (Anglo-saxon geek) teacher that the names reminded me of Tolkien. Her response was, "Well they should, because Tolkien was an Anglo-Saxon scholar and stole pretty much everything from these stories."

    • Meltha says:

      which was largely regarded by academics at the time as total fluff and nonsense and incredibly low-brow

      ::the professor sighs:: Oh, believe me, they still do.

  21. Geolojazz says:

    Reading Tolkien inspired me to take a walking holiday through the English countryside…I loved the concept of being able to walk from place to place, sometimes even having an inn to stay at and breakfast provided.

    I walked from Stratford-upon-Avon to Oxford…and imagined I was walking through the Shire. 😀 It was awesome.

    (psst, if anyone wants to do this, I highly recommend it and can send you to a website!)

    • Geolojazz says:

      Also, for you Tolkien uber-geeks, I went to the Bird and Baby and had a pint. 😀

    • Saphling says:

      Walking along the Ridgeway Trail from Avesbury to Wantage gave me the same feeling. It was delightful!

    • ladililn says:

      Walking holidays? That sounds fascinating! I'd love a website. 🙂

      • Geolojazz says:

        These people booked all my accommodation, sent me all the maps/guidebooks I needed, and were there to contact in case something went wrong. I walked each day, and my luggage was sent on ahead of me, so all I needed to carry was rain gear and lunch. 😀 I went totally solo, but going with a group would be cool!

  22. elyce says:

    Oh, Mark, you are so not prepared.

    And perhaps Tolkien injecting himself is annoying but I hardly notice it. It's such a tiny part of the narrative.

    Okay, so this was going to be the first book I read along with you for realsies, but… well, that's not gonna happen. I read ahead. Oh well. It's a bit of a short chapter and there's not nearly enough about the elves as I would like but there's plenty of time for that.

    • Dent D says:

      I read the next chapter already. It is taking all my will to wait until tomorrow to read on further. I don't know how Mark does it.

      • stefb says:

        Is this your first time reading it?

        • Dent D says:

          It's my first time reading it as an adult, and as a child I never made very far through the next couple chapters.

          I honestly know nothing about the Hobbit beyond Ovyob trgf gur evat, gurl geniry ivn oneeryf va Zvexjbbq, fbzr thl anzrq Oneq (V guvax?) fubjf hc va Qnyr, naq va gur raq Ovyob trgf rira evpure.

          I am a terrible geek.

      • elyce says:

        lol. I've read the book at least 3 times before, but it's been ten years since the last time I read it. Apparently I've forgotten a lot. I'm so excited for the movie! Too bad we have to wait an entire year.

  23. arithmancer says:

    A review I read of "The Hobbit" (long ago and far away, no idea who wrote it anymore) expressed the opinion that the only readers who could really love this book, because of the odd narrative style, are very precocious children. Because the narrator is like someone telling a story to his grandchildren, only using all these long words and complex syntax that would be a bit much for those same kids, were they actually reading it themselves. I thought this hit the nail on the head, and may have helped explain my obsession with this author's work. I was a precocious child when I read the Hobbit for the first time – I was 6.

    I don't know whether you are planning to go on to read LOTR – but it is quite different in style. None of the narrator, or the (I presume) child-targeted humor about the rude, chubby dwarves and hobbits. (Though 8 year old me still loved it to pieces).

  24. arctic_hare says:

    Only one illustration today, I'm afraid – there were multiple ones for previous chapters, but for this one, just a single illustration. Still, it's as lovely as ever.

    <img src="; border="0"/>

    Rivendell! I love Rivendell. It seems like the most beautiful, relaxing place and I'm sure I'd want to spend ages and ages there too. As for the elves, I'm surprised you're not pro-elf, considering your previous "justified bigotry" against the super-rude dwarves. xD I find them kinda hilarious, especially the comment about how Thorin's beard is long enough without watering it. They're trolling them as they come into Rivendell, and it amuses me greatly.

    Oh Bilbo, I know how you feel. There's nothing quite like thinking you're almost there and then seeing that you're quite a long ways off still to make you feel incredibly tired. Bless his little hobbit heart. <3

    I dunno, I kinda like Tolkien's conversational, "I'm telling you this story myself" style here. It just works for the kind of story The Hobbit is. I don't think the quest is particularly urgent and time-sensitive, either: they want their shit back, yes, but they're also not on a schedule (till now, anyway). They need time to rest and resupply in prep for a tough journey over the mountains, too. Also, now that you've read this chapter, I can say it in non-rot13: the text on the banner is in a moon-letters font. I thought it rather appropriate. 😀

    Lastly, I don't remember the *specifics* of the calendars, but Tolkien did go to the trouble of drawing up these calendars for Middle Earth, and it is fantastic attention to detail and world building. Man was dedicated.

  25. feminerdist says:

    Perhaps this is so amazing that the dwarves and Gandalf are just like, “FUCK IT. TWO WEEK PARTY. NOW.”


    I read this line like 5 minutes ago, and I'm STILL giggling.

  26. Doodle says:

    Mark! I was in San Francisco all weekend and I rode the BART and I kept expecting to see you even though I knew it was pretty much impossible….and I didn't, so I was sad. I hope you are enjoying The Hobbit 🙂

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      omg the only reason you didn't see me is because it was BIRTHDAY EXTRAVAGANZA weekend for me so I was ACTUALLY IN A CAR. WHICH WAS WEIRD.

      • Doodle says:

        Was it your birthday?!?! How did I miss this! If it was then happy birthday!

        Gotta go catch up on The Hobbit!!!!!

  27. Mary Sue says:

    Seriously. Moon letters. Stupidest communication device ever, and this is from someone who owned a Newton.

    Which I bet dates me ever so much. Damn you kids! Offa my lawn NOW!

  28. Tauriel_ says:

    Maybe the prophecy is just THE ELVES ARE REALLY MEAN. SERIOUSLY.

    GUR QBBZ BS ZNAQBF. It makes sense, I tell you – after all, Rivendell was inhabited mostly by the remnants of the Abyqbe. Naq gurl ner xabja gb or gur unhtugvrfg naq yrnfg cyrnfnag oenapu bs Ryirf – jryy, abg pbhagvat gur Ninev, boivbhfyl…

  29. Kelsey says:

    This book is meant to be like a story told to someone. Consider it a translation of a bedtime story one would tell to young children. When my dad told me and my brother bed time stories he would constantly interject to tell us some random fact or two. Make sure we were following. Of course in this novel you can't actually respond but…

  30. John Small Berries says:

    Regarding the narrative style: compare The Hobbit with some of the historical works Tolkien translated and/or edited, such as Gawain and the Green Knight and Beowulf; self-insertion of the narrator was fairly common. Gawaine was more explicit, with phrases like "than any other that I know" or "as I have heard told" sprinkled throughout; in Beowulf, while first-person references to the narrator were less common, there are still frequent offside remarks inserted, pulling the listener out of the flow of the action.*

    Tolkien seems to have drawn upon his knowledge of historic narrative forms to craft his tale, and I suspect his intent was to give the reader the experience of sitting around a fire listening to a skald tell an oral history, the way such tales were passed on from generation to generation before finally being committed to paper.

    * But it's not necessarily as jarring when done by a storyteller as when reading it. Last year, I had a chance to go see Beowulf performed live by Benjamin Bagby.** The narrative insertions were blatantly there, but the *way* they were told made them seem completely natural.

    ** I expected to be bored as hell – he does the whole first part (the tale of Grendel) in Anglo-Saxon, entirely from memory; two hours hearing someone sit in a chair talking in a dead language which I don't speak, with "subtitles" projected behind him? Yawn city! – but I was completely and utterly spellbound. Whenever he came to a pause, you could hear the whole audience let out their breaths and settle back into their seats. Now THAT is a storyteller.

    • Chloe K. Evil says:

      You got to see Benjamin Bagby live? I am so jealous. I did a class on Old English last year and our prof showed some parts of a recording of his story- he's amazing.

      • John Small Berries says:

        He really is. I have no idea how he managed to make it that riveting. I think he's a wizard.

        His website indicates he'll be doing a US tour the first part of next year (though no dates or locations are listed yet), so if he comes anywhere near me I'm definitely going back and bringing my wife.

  31. Totally and completely random here, but I wanted to say your exclamation points in this:

    There are High Elves of the West! I don’t know what those are though!

    made me think of Bilbo. Mark, are you secretly a hobbit? Because your reactions to some parts of this book are making me think of Bilbo's reactions to adventure 🙂

  32. Tauriel_ says:

    Another thought occurred to me re: the Company staying for two weeks, even though they're on an important mission:

    Vg'f cebonoyl gur fnzr guvat nf jvgu Ybguybevra – gvzr frrzf gb sybj qvssreragyl va gubfr cynprf, juvpu vf cebonoyl qhr gb gur snpg gung Eviraqryy naq Ybguybevra ner ubzrf gb gjb Evatf bs Cbjre – Ivyln, juvpu vf xrcg ol Ryebaq, naq Araln, juvpu vf xrcg ol Tnynqevry.

    • earis the istarwen says:

      Also, the company has been on the trail for about a month by now, and while Bilbo is smoking pipe-weed and eating, chances are that Gandalf is trying to get shit done.
      Ryebaq naq Tnaqnys ner nyfb qrnyvat jvgu gur Arpebznapre evtug abj. V guvax guvf vf gur cbvag jurer gur Juvgr Pbhapvy jnf gelvat gb qevir gur Arpebznapre bs Qby Thyqre/Fnheba bhg bs Zvexjbbq. Gur ernqre, naq Ovyob, ner vtabenag bs guvf evtug abj, ohg yngre vg jvyy orpbzr pyrne.

  33. writerscramp says:

    Mark, it might make it easier for you to acclimate to the narrative device Tolkien uses by thinking about his authorial voice as a storyteller rather than a narrator. That may seem like a subtle difference, but if you've ever had the opportunity to hear a story told to you rather than reading it, you may have experienced the more conversational style that storytelling usually incorporates.

    (As others have explained, this was a common narrative device for children's books at the time (see also: C.S. Lewis, Enid Blyton, among many others), and really does have a charm of its own, but I can understand why it might seem unusual to a reader of more modern writers, particularly for a reader hasn't been reading this type of fantasy for a long time.)

  34. Jenny_M says:

    Regarding Elrond, specifically filmed versions of Elrond, (rot13ing just in case) nz V gur bayl crefba jub pna'g uryc ohg nqq "ZVF-gre Naqrefba" gb nyy bs Uhtb'f yvar ernqvatf va gur zbivrf?

    "Bhe yvfg bs nyyvrf tebjf guva, ZVF-gre Naqrefba."

    Gung'f abg gb fnl gung Uhtb vfa'g n terng npgbe jub qbrf n terng wbo ohg nsgre frrvat gur zbivrf FB znal gvzrf…vg whfg trgf rnfl gb fgneg tvttyvat bire guvatf! Zl sevraqf naq V fgnegrq punatvat yvarf gb vapyhqr "va zl cnagf" nf jryy. Yvxr "n funqbj naq n guerng unf orra tebjvat va zl cnagf."

    BZT, V zvff gur rneyl nhtugf naq gur sha zbivr snaqbz!

    • Dent D says:

      V nz ubcvat gung V jvyy or trggvat gur YbgE rkgraqrq rqvgvba gevybtl ba Oyh-Enl sbe Puevfgznf. Vs gung vf gur pnfr V cyna ba univat n YbgE ZNENGUBA jvgu sevraqf, naq V jvyy or rapbhentvat nyy bs gurz gb znxr sha bs rirelguvat ba fperra. Abg orpnhfr V ungr gur zbivrf; V nqber gurz. Ohg orpnhfr ynzcbbavat rira gur guvatf lbh ybir vf sha.

  35. Mitch_L_Grooms says:

    I don't understand your problem with the details! It's not nearly as bad as GRRM (though you seem to think otherwise, which baffles me?), and then you also get upset when it's interrupted? I am just so confused about your approach to this book, Mark, not gonna lie.

    Also, this is a book that was written for children. Not LotR so much, but the Hobbit definitely was. And children's authors are forever inserting themselves in the stories to make sure their tiny readers keep paying attention!

    • snakebyte42 says:

      …What? Written for children? Oh wow, what was he THINKING? Having been read this as a child… NOPE.

      • Mitch_L_Grooms says:

        Aw, really? I read it when I was eight and I loved it! I guess it's just the sort of story/writing that's divisive. Which makes sense, really!

  36. fantasylover120 says:

    I've always held the opinion that elves are sort of snobs. This book just proved it for me 😉 But seriously I love that they stop the quest to have what is essentially a Middle-Earth kegger.

  37. kartikeya200 says:

    Okay, I have absolutely NO intention of including this many screenshots with future posts, but you know, Rivendell in this game is just so perfect, so here you go.

    One morning they forded a river at a wide shallow place full of the noise of stones and foam. The far bank was steep and slippery. When they got to the top of it, leading their ponies, they saw that the great mountains had marched down very near to them.

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    "You are come to the very edge of the Wild, as some of you may know. Hidden somewhere ahead of us is the fair valley of Rivendell where Elrond lives in the Last Homely House."

    <img src=""&gt;

    "Here it is at last!" he called, and the others gathered round him and looked over the edge. They saw a valley far below. They could hear the voice of hurrying water in a rocky bed at the bottom; the scent of trees was in the air; and there was a light on the valley-side across the water.

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    There was only a narrow bridge of stone without a parapet, as narrow as a pony could well walk on; and over that they had to go, slow and careful, one by one, each leading his pony by the bridle.

    <img src=""&gt;

    And so at last they all came to the Last Homely House, and found its doors flung wide.

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

  38. stefb says:

    "V’z abg tbaan yvr. V’z cerggl rkpvgrq gb frr jung’f va gur Zvfgl Zbhagnvaf."

    Qb lbh? Qb lbh ernyyl? Not prepared.

  39. Smurphy says:

    Don't you get it yet? This world is so huge that if he were to start writing down every song he created in every scene and start going into these things in any greater detail… well you would STILL be reading the third chapter, if you got that far. He doesn't say "I wish I had time" out of laziness. He says it because he knows better. He has created SO much more than we see. Read the Simillarion one day and you will get it. This world is too big to fit into a thousand books…

    Can't believe you called Tolkien lazy. Just wait.

  40. earis the istarwen says:

    Wait, wait, wait.
    I've always associated Durin's Day with the Samhain/Harvest festival tradition, but now that I think about it, is it derived from the lunar calculations for Rosh Hashanah?

  41. ChronicReader91 says:

    I forgot how short this little section with the elves is, rfcrpvnyyl pbafvqrevat ubj zhpu qrgnvy ur chg vagb Ryebaq’f ubzr va Sryybjfuvc bs gur Evat.

    I imagine Tolkien couldn’t describe every detail of the trip (or at least, in as much detail as he would like), so some things had to be glossed over. Still the “two weeks, and nothing interesting happens” seems a little lazy to me now.

    On to things that I do find awesome: the Moon-letters! And Glamdring and Orcrist. I love that all the swords have names here. It makes them have almost personalities.

  42. Kate says:

    "Maybe I just don't understand how awesome elvish homes are…"

    Yeah, Mark, they're pretty awesome :). To help the imagination along:…

  43. Acantha says:

    Since I had this book read to me aloud as a child, I didn't find the narrator's interjections to seem odd at all, although if I were reading the book for the first time now I probably would find it a little strange. It makes the Hobbit seem more like a folktale, I suppose, in the style of oral storytelling.

    The LotR trilogy has a more removed and serious style, however.

  44. Danielle says:

    "Perhaps this is so amazing that the dwarves and Gandalf are just like, “FUCK IT. TWO WEEK PARTY. NOW.” "

    Spoiler: Rivendell really is that awesome.

  45. Kiryn says:

    ELROND!!!! *hearts him*

    I'm slightly disappointed that we skipped over the two weeks as well, but that's really only because I am selfish and I love Rivendell and I wanted to spend more time with Elrond. But ultimately that's okay—the awesomeness is only going to increase here on out in this book, and then up even higher in LOTR.

    …Also, as someone mentioned before, we did still get to hear about the most important thing that happened in those 2 weeks, and seeing as I know HOW MUCH MORE VERBOSE Tolkien can be…I'm semi-glad we skipped. I can only take so many songs before it becomes annoying.

    Anyway, I am so very excited for the reviews on Thurs and Friday. Especially Friday. I'm taking 2 midterms on that day, and I need to have something to look forward to. 😉

  46. stefb says:

    I’m baffled by your confusion over the narration. Lots of authors write that way, at least until recently. Even Jane Austen inserted herself into the narration frequently. I hope soon you can overlook it (to me it isn’t distracting at all, although I understand how it could be at first).

  47. Shannon says:

    Okay, THIS JUST CONFUSES ME. Dude, YOU ARE TELLING THE STORY. Surely you know the end of it??? But perhaps the narrator is meant to be in the moment, I thought, as if the narrator is experiencing things as they happen. However, that doesn’t make any sense either; there are constant references to the future in the narration, so….WHAT?

    He does know the end of it! He just means that YOU will find out, if you sit and listen to him long enough to hear the ending.

    Also, I love the Elves, lol. They are like the Luna Lovegoods of Middle Earth, so wrapped up in their own magical world and general awesomeness that the mundane realities of the mortal world around them kind of take them by surprise. Also, they don't really get out much. So when they laugh, I don't think they all mean it in a cruel way, except in that they really do probably think that they are better than you, and it has probably never occurred to them that they might not be. It's just that things like "fat" and "beards" happen so rarely in Elvish culture that they probably find it quaint and silly.

  48. redletter_ says:

    When I was 10 my year 5 teacher read The Hobbit to us. He was an awesome teacher.

    The clearest memory I have of the experience is picturing the elves like this in my head…

    <img src=""&gt;

    Yes, just like little christmas elves.

  49. Philippa says:

    Mark, Jane Austen does the same kind of thing by injecting the writer into the story, there's a part in Pride and Prejudice where she says something along the lines of "it is not this authors job to give you a full and accurate account of all of Derbyshire". She has done it in all of her books. Personally I like it, it gives you a sense of developing a relationship with the author rather than with the characters alone.

  50. buyn says:

    Looking back at this book, I amazed four year old me listened to my sister read this for bedtime every night. Mostly because I never got any nightmares from it, since I was kind of a quiet child, and I probably would have sat long enough to get a chapterish a night.

  51. Meltha says:

    Essentially, Tolkien is being not an author in this, but a storyteller, as in the guy sitting next to the fire who spins yarns for you, or maybe Grandpa telling you a bedtime story in nightly installments. He's not trying to be lazy. Believe me, get to LOTR, and you will find he is exhaustive in storytelling.

    Also, I find it deeply amusing, having just read your reviews of chapters 1 through 3, that you think you might not connect to this world. Everyone connects to Middle Earth eventually, and I'm guessing you will more than most.

  52. stefb says:

    These Hobbit posts are really making me behind on my schoolwork since I keep obsessively renewing the page to read new comments. I need to learn to resist!

    • notemily says:

      I told my roommate she should come join us for these discussions since she's a big Tolkien fan. She said "I'm not joining your cult!"

      What I'm trying to say is, welcome to the cult. 😉

      • stefb says:

        Haha I've been part of the "cult" since Mark was starting HBP, but I haven't been this obsessive since he was reading HP (and doing more than one review a day–when I would continuously hit F7 for a new review). Also, there hasn't been so many comments for a project lately (at least most don't seem to be over 200), except maybe a few on BSG and Avatar (I don't watch DW, but I probably will start sometime). I'm a lurker mostly that comments every now and then 🙂

        Your roommate is just afraid she won't be able to stop, I bet. There's a lot of discussion here, she would really enjoy it. It's a shame she won't try (yet). Embrace it. Embrace it!

        Anyway, MarkReads is incredibly distracting 😀 In a good way.

  53. threerings says:

    So I started the Hobbit today and am now caught up. It's been YEARS since I've read this, and after reading Mark's first review, I expected the writing to be really different to what it is. It doesn't feel verbose at ALL to me. Now granted, I ADORE LOTR, despite the density of the writing. And I studied literature in college, and read everything from medieval to modern novels of the most boring kind. This just reads like a kids book to me. But for whatever reason, I just don't find the writing style annoying.

    What I DO find annoying is all the inconsistencies with LOTR. There are so many things that are poorly thought out here, that will later be refined, but seeing them in their primitive form makes me cringe. Case in point: the Elves. They really are a little Keebler Elf here, aren't they?

    Am I the only one who loves the songs, though? I've always had melodies for all of them that popped into my head when I first read it. So I actually have the elves' song from this chapter stuck in my head now. In fact, I've discovered I have all the songs in this book MEMORIZED. I think I may have spent more time singing these to myself than I can remember…

  54. Asta says:

    I actually think "Yet there is little to tell about their stay." serves an important literary purpose. Bilbo loves comfort, eating, and staying in one place, but this also means that when he lives life as he wants to, it doesn't make for a very interesting story.

  55. VoldieBeth says:

    It always takes a few chapters to get used to an authors way of writing. By the middle of the book you won't even notice anymore.

    I love Rivendell! Fall always makes me thing of Rivendell when I see leaves floating down from trees! 🙂

    So, you didn't like the dwarves for trashing Bilbo's place and you don't like the elves for making fun of the dwarves now. So when someone comes along and bullies the elves are you going to be on Team Elves then? I see you are falling in love with characters and races the same time Bilbo does. Tricksy author! 🙂 I can't wait for more!

  56. Lily says:

    I’ve always felt that the narrator injecting himself into the story is supposed to feel as if Tolkein is sitting right across from us, perhaps in a homey pub, and he is actually telling the story. He tells us Elrond is told of in other tales, and we, the audience, figure this bard of sorts might regale us with another Elrond-ful story. He says they stayed in Rivandel for 14 days and that there isn’t much to tell because, well, there isn’t much to tell. This is a story of a quest, so we don’t need to hear about the breaks our adventurers take from questing (and I figured they stayed so long because stealing back the dwarf gold isn’t pressing. There’s no time limit, you know?)

    I think if you picture Tolkein hanging out and telling you the story while you all sit around and listen (no, really, Tolkein and his writer friends, The Inklings, really did just hang out in a pub and talk about their stories and philosophy and whatnot), his narrative interjections and general pattern of story telling will make more sense.

  57. hazelwillow says:

    Tolkein was a scholar of early english literature, I believe, and The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings are hugely influenced by old english poems like Beowulf and The Wanderer. They are sort of his attempt to create a mythology for Britain. So if you imagine that this is all being told to you and a hall full of people by some bard, whose job it is to tell and retell these tales, then maybe the interjections and the idea of other sagas, that are mentioned but not included in this evening's entertainment, will make more sense.

  58. Dreamflower says:

    I actually LIKE his narrative style– it plays up the fact that this was a kid's story, and basically he was writing it by telling it to his kids as a bedtime story.

    However, don't know if someone else has mentioned this: in later years JRRT said that he regretted the style and tone he used in TH as he thought that it made him seem as if he were talking down to his audience. Of course he was. But I love it anyhow. It's whimsical and dry and funny as heck.

    As to the Elves, this is not a spoiler but simply speculation on my part: I think the Elven grapevine was working overtime because Gandalf had been scouting ahead again, either that or the Elves had lookouts who'd been spying on the Dwarves before they arrived… (Hmm…is there a plotbunny in there somewhere?…No,no,no…)

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