Mark Reads ‘The Hobbit’: Chapter 4

In the fourth chapter of The Hobbit, GODDAMN A WHOLE LOT OF THINGS DIE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hobbit.


Wow, I really liked this chapter. I’m doing my best to keep an open mind about this book and the way it’s written. That was very easy during chapter four, where Tolkien rapidly increases the action. It’s interesting the way the death of a whole lot of goblins is narrated in an almist sing-song, whimsical way, and it’s the first time I’ve felt this narration style totally sets The Hobbit apart from other things I’ve read.

We open with the painful, tiring journey beyond the Last Homely House. Tolkien does a fine job not only communicating the dangers of their trek, but showing us just how arresting this experience is for Bilbo:

Now they could look back over the lands they had left, laid out behind them far below. Far, far away in the West, where things were blue and faint, Bilbo knew there lay his own country of safe and comfortable things, and his little hobbit-hole. He shivered.

This is a dynamic I’m fascinated by. It’s a combination of fear, lack of self-esteem, and a lack of experience. Again, Tolkien is not exaggerating when he says that Bilbo has never had an adventure before. It’s a literal statement, and Bilbo dwells constantly on comforting thoughts of what his fellow hobbits are getting up to without him there. Hell, do they even know he has gone anywhere? Bilbo was so suddenly thrust into this situation that he’s only now starting to cope with it. Even worse, it’s not like he has any sort of guarantee that this is a harmless little trip:

Even the good plans of wise wizards like Gandalf and of good friends like Elrond go astray sometimes when you are off on dangerous adventures over the Edge of the Wild; and Gandalf was a wise enough wizard to know of it.

From here until the end of the chapter, Tolkien beautifully builds up the dread and tension, and then SWEET SUMMER CHILD, he delivers it. We start off with a thunder-battle. I misread it the first time; it’s not a thunderstorm, as we are familiar with, but a thunder-battle:

There they were sheltering under a hanging rock for the night, and he lay beneath a blanket and shook from head to toe. When he peeped out in the lightning-flashes, he saw that across the valley the stone-giants were out, and were hurling rocks at one another for a game, and catching them, and tossing them down into the darkness where they smashed among the trees far below, or splintered into little bits with a bang.

WHY IS THIS THE COOLEST IDEA EVER. Not only do I love the mental image of it as well as the explanation for thunder, but Tolkien NEVER BRINGS UP THESE GIANTS AGAIN. They are just an established part of this mountain range and it’s NO BIG DEAL that GIANTS ARE TOSSING AROUND ROCKS. See, this is what I am beginning to like about fantasy novels. I love imaginative inventions such as these! (Or, to be sure I’m getting this right, these could be borrowed from mythology, and even then, I enjoy seeing those myths in action.)

Even with stone-giants about, the weather is what truly gets Bilbo down. I can infer from this that the weather where Bilbo lives is not at all like this. It seems warm, cozy, and sunny, fully of hobbit-holes and giant trees providing necessary shade. And now the dude is on a narrow mountain pass, just a foot or two from instant death from a fall, rain and lightning plummeting from the sky. It’s so bad that even Thorin, the greatest dwarf alive, basically says this is bullshit and they need to find somewhere to get out of the rain. A GOOD IDEA, I’d say. So Fili and Kili are sent off scouting and return with news of a possible cave they can hideout in.

“Have you thoroughly explored it?” said the wizard, who knew that caves up in the mountains were seldom unoccupied.

“Yes, yes!” they said, though everybody knew they could not have been long about it; they had come back too quick.

I like that Tolkien doesn’t make what happens a huge surprise; he instead feeds us doubt, and as I said before, it helps to build dread. So I knew at this point that there was no way that cave would be empty, so it became a matter of trying to figure out what new creature we’d be introduced to. Or perhaps it would be more trolls! TROLLS LIVE IN CAVES RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT.

The entire group settles into the cave (rather quickly, I might add), getting comfortable and taking advantage of the dryness and the warmth, and it’s not long before they all drift off to sleep. Bilbo himself falls asleep last, somewhat tortured by a dream in which a crack in the cave wall grows and grows. And I don’t have any idea of why it happens this way, but I can’t imagine something creepier than dreaming this and then waking up suddenly TO SEE THAT IT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING.

And so, for the first time in The Hobbit, SHIT GETS REAL. Because Bilbo wakes just in time to see the last pony disappear into the crack. Bilbo yells to wake the others and then GOBLINS POUR INTO THE CAVE. There are “six to each dwarf,” which is 78 goddamn goblins at once, and that is a terrifying thought, only made more so when the goblins grab all the dwarves and Bilbo, carrying them through the crack and sealing it behind them. OH OKAY, COOL, DIDN’T KNOW YOU HAD THAT POWER, THAT’S COOL.

I found it a bit weird that Tolkien, who over-explains nearly everything, doesn’t really apply much of a description to the goblins at all. We’re told they’re big and ugly, but that’s it. Is he relying on our familiarity with how they’re normally depicted here? My only fictional experience with goblins is in the Harry Potter series, so is that what they look like? Why are they so….evil? I know that I hate using that word, but seriously, they are mean as hell. They’re violent and cruel. In that sense, I know more about their behavior than their physical appearance; perhaps that is intentional. I find out that they hate. Yes, just that emotion in and of itself:

They did not hate dwarves especially, no more than they hated everybody and everything, and particularly the orderly and the prosperous; in some parts wicked dwarves had even made alliances with them.

So they’re just a hateful, violent species? That’s….okay. Kind of a one-dimensional villain, but it’s very early in this book. I’ll give this a chance.

The dwarves and Bilbo, chained together in a line, are taken before the Great Goblin, charged with spying on the goblins. Thorin does his very best to try to assure them that this was just an accident, but dude. Seriously. Y’all hate each other and fought a war against one another. This cannot end well.

And here is where I started thinking about how death works in fictional worlds. Back when they were all first taken, Gandalf managed to pop off a single spell and a few goblins dropped dead, and I was a bit taken aback by how nonchalant this was. But when the goblins discover that those ones hit by Gandalf’s spell are dead, the scene in the goblin cave erupts into total chaos, as Gandalf arrives and quickly becomes GANDALF THE GOBLIN SLAYER. Because JESUS GODDAMN CHRIST, so many goblins die. Hell, Gandalf kills the Great Goblin himself with a sword. Where did he get a sword? Dude can do magic. Just like…I don’t know, turn their blood into pixie dust or something.

But with so many goblins dead in a short time, I was a bit disappointed that not one dwarf was even minimally hurt by this, that all of them managed to escape perfectly with the help of Gandalf. The rescue itself makes total sense, as does Gandalf possessing Goblin-cleaver. (Man, are the goblins really that bad that you have to make cleavers specifically for them? What if they hate so much because no one stopped to give them a hug? WHAT ABOUT THAT, J.R.R. TOLKIEN.)

Still, to be fair, the very end of the chapter impressed me. It’s my very first Hobbit cliffhanger! Because even the great Gandalf is shown to underestimate the goblins when they’re able to sneak up behind them and grab Dori and Bilbo.

Shit’s getting real, y’all. This is fun!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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266 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Hobbit’: Chapter 4

  1. Ryan Lohner says:

    Prisoner Zero has escaped!

    Tolkien deeply regretted creating these kinds of completely evil and irredeemable species later in his life, and spent the rest of it trying to reconcile it with his Catholic beliefs that there is the potential for good in everyone.

    • cait0716 says:

      Is Prisoner Zero a reference to The Passage? Because I'm about halfway through that book right now and holy tragedy, Batman! This book is making me cry more than its scaring me.

      In high school I had a physics teacher who spent an entire (physics) lecture walking us through The Hobbit/LotR as a metaphor for Catholicism. If I'm remembering correctly, he said that the orcs were more along the lines of demons, who really didn't have any redeeming qualities, than any sort of metaphor for humanity. Then again that was years ago and it's all a bit fuzzy so I may be getting that wrong.

      • Ryan Lohner says:

        Doctor Who, actually. Given the whole thing with the crack in the wall.

      • Zoli says:

        Think it's a reference to Doctor Who.

      • monkeybutter says:

        Ah, I liked The Passage, especially nsgre gur gvzr fxvc, but I didn't know that it was part of a planned trilogy when I started. So frustrating that I have to wait until 2014 to finish it!

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        Ah, good, I wasn't the only one who thought of that!

        For all I know, the Hobbit and LoTR could be metaphors for Catholicism (and I do believe J. R. R. Tolkien was Christian), but sometimes I think people look too deeply into these things. Stories like this are general 'good vs evil' stories, things common throughout every single religion and culture. They're very applicable, which makes it so easy to fit into your personal interpretation.

        • cait0716 says:

          Oh man, he was using specific bible stories to make his point. Granted, a lot of them turn up in other mythologies, as well. Naq ur unq guvf jubyr gurbel nobhg gur jvmneqf orvat natryf. Ur'q znccrq bhg gur jubyr uvrenepul naq V guvax ur rira xarj juvpu fcrpvsvp natryf Tnaqnys naq Fnehzna jrer fhccbfrq gb ercerfrag. I can't verify any of it, but he certainly put a lot of time and energy into his analysis

          • anghraine says:

            I don't think it's spoilery, but just to be careful: aside of the WORLD BUILDING UR DOING IT RONG, Tolkien hated Narnia because ur ungrq nyyrtbel, crevbq, naq purevfurq n cnegvphyne ungerq sbe Nfyna = Wrfhf rknpg pbeerfcbaqraprf. V guvax vg'f cerggl hayvxryl gung Tnaqnys vf zrnag gb or nalbar rkprcg Tnaqnys.

          • kartikeya200 says:

            As I recall from one of the specials on the LotR movies about Tolkien, Tolkien actually hated allegory, or at least the idea that people were considering that his stories might be one. He's got this pretty long rant about the difference between allegory and applicability (I want to say it's at the beginning of one of the LotR volumes), in that just because something's applicable, that is, because you can draw comparisons between two things (say, Catholicism and events in the Hobbit), that doesn't mean it's allegorical, aka, a deliberate attempt by the author to make it so, with no other interpretation. Tolkien wanted people to find their own meanings in his work, rather than him (or some random scholar) dictating to them the 'correct' meaning.

            So while he drew from all sorts of inspirations for his stories, including life experiences (which I find fascinating), he apparently was pretty big on the reader figuring out what it means to them.

        • notemily says:

          Tolkien's mother converted to Catholicism when he was still young, earning lots of scorn from their friends and neighbors. (Yep, still reading The Annotated Hobbit!)

    • sporkaganza93 says:

      Are you sure that's not a spoiler?

    • tehrevel says:

      This is interesting, Terry Pratchett once said that if he could ask any other author a question it would be Tolkien and the question would be "did you ever consider the idea of a good Orc/goblin" just because he thought it was a bit weird.

      • Danielle says:

        I don't want to go into to much detail, because I know Mark Reads Discworld is a tentative possibility for some time in the future, but this does come up in a couple of Discworld books.

      • ladysugarquill says:

        Didn't Tolkien end up saying "yes there are good ones, just don't appear in the story"?

  2. cait0716 says:

    I love the description of the thunder battle in this chapter.

    And then when they get saved from the orcs by the ~mysterious~ voice and a page later Tolkien says "It was Gandalf." and I was like "Of course it was Gandalf!" and then Tolkien continues "Of course it was Gandalf!" I laughed. It was an absolutely perfect moment of narration.

    Gandalf stole that sword from the trolls. I think Elrond told him it's name. On that note, I like that not only do these swords have Elvish names, but that they also have Goblinish names and the Goblins recognize them immediately as Biter and Beater. I mean, what? That was a slightly strange detail.

    V xabj gur bepf nera'g dhvgr Hehx-Unv, ohg V'z fgvyy univat gebhoyr cvpghevat gurz fvatvat. Vg qbrfa'g frrz yvxr fbzrguvat gurl jbhyq qb ng nyy. Znlor gurl qb va yngre obbxf, gubhtu, naq V'z whfg pbashfvat gur obbxf jvgu gur zbivrf

    • notemily says:

      Yeah, like, are there so few swords in this world that they're all immediately recognizable? Or do goblins just have really, REALLY accurate memories?

      • Karyn says:

        I have not rot13'd above comments, but I think that there are lots of plain swords in Middle-Earth, of varying sizes and quality. However, there *are* a few shiny swords, which may have some degree of magic, or just have a history of being wielded by BAMFs.

      • pennylane27 says:

        Those were famous swords. "It had killed hundreds of goblins in its time, when the fair elves of Gondolin hunted them in the hills or did battle before their walls." More elaboration would mean Silmarillion spoilers, so I'm not sure. Basically, famous swords that goblins hate and fear. They have a very good memory apparently.

        • notemily says:

          Yeah, I get that. I just think it's funny that the random swords they happen to come upon in a troll's lair turn out to be these super-famous goblin-killing swords. Unless the goblins remember EVERY sword that killed a lot of goblins, it seems like a huge coincidence.

          • feanna says:

            V'ir gnyxrq nobhg vg va bgure pbzzragf va qvssrerag guernqf, ohg fvapr gurer frrzf gb or ab jnl gb yvax gb gubfr, V'yy fnl ntnva urer, gung V guvax va Gbyxvra'f jbeyq/Zvqqyr Rnegu, guvatf graq gb pneel zrnavat. Fb va EY V'q pnyy vg n evqvphybhf pbvapvqrapr, ohg va Zvqqyr Rnegu vg frrzf gb or abezny gung gurl svaq Tboyva Xvyyvat fjbeqf jura gurl'yy or onggyvat tboyvaf (naq Tnaqnys trggvat n cbjreshy fjbeq va trareny sbe gur riragf bs GYbgE) naq Ovyob trggvat Fgvat sbe xvyyvat fcvqref naq vg nyjnlf orvat rknpgyl gur evtug zbzrag rgp.. Guvatf unir n graqrapl gb yvar hc yvxr gung va gur Uboovg, ohg nyfb n ovg va GYbgE. Lbh PBHYQ pnyy vg ynml fgbelgryyvat, naq znlor fbzrguvat zber pbzzba va puvyqera'f yvgrengher, ohg V nyfb guvax vg'f snfpvangvat gb pbafvqre vg n shapgvba bs yvivat va n jbeyq perngrq naq pbagebyyrq ol n Tbq juvgu n cyna (jurgure jr'er gnyxvat Gbyxvra'f Pngubybpvfz be Vyyhingne) naq va gur pnfr bs Zvqqyr Rnegu cbchyngrq ol cbjreshy orvatf yvxr Tnaqnys naq Ryebaq orpnhfr (rfc. guebhtu Ovyob'f CBI) jr ernyyl qba'g xabj rknpgyl UBJ ZHPU Tnaqnys pna frr naq gryy naq sberfrr naq fb ba.

    • earis the istarwen says:

      Gandalf's such a BAMF. He's killing it this chapter!

  3. BumblebeeTuna says:

    “It burned with a rage that made it gleam if goblins were about; now it was bright as blue flame for delight in the killing of the great lord of the cave.”
    I love how the swords are almost sentient beings in their own right here. They have names, and the goblins are more afraid of them than the people wielding them (which is ridiculous really, how is a sword dangerous if there’s no one trying to stick you with the pointy end!) But the goblins are afraid of Biter and Beater, not Thorin and the strange man who kills them with lightning. I suppose that’s down to the way the swords live longer than the people who use them, and while people can do plenty of other good things with their lives, a sword is only used for killing.

    Poor Bilbo! He’s still a hanger-on to the dwarves and Gandalf here. Despite the months they've been travelling together and how far he's already come, he’s still not quite part of the gang. Always at the back, described as a “thing” by the goblins, last to be counted. I have so much love for Dori for seeing that Bilbo was struggling and helping him out. He really is a decent fellow.

    It makes me laugh how long you’re kept in suspense about who their strange rescuer is. If anyone didn’t guess it was Gandalf immediately, well, shame on you!

    I've always loved the idea of a thunder-battle, though I always imagined it as the actual thunder-storms battling, and nothing to do with the stone giants themselves. The way I saw it, they were taking advantage of the lovely (ahem) weather to have a nice game of rock-football. I much prefer the image of big dark clouds throwing lightening at each other and pelting each other with hailstones, whilst poor Bilbo and co. are getting all the bits that miss.

    Also, question, rot13'd for possible spoilers: Nera'g gur tboyvaf fb natel naq ungrshy orpnhfr gurl jrer pbeehcgrq irefvbaf bs ryirf? Artn-ryirf vs lbh jvyy. Fb rirelguvat tbbq naq ybivat naq crnprshy nobhg ryirf orpbzrf rivy naq ungrshy naq ivbyrag va gur tboyvaf. Nyfb, gurl yvir va qnax fzryyl pnirf jvgu tvnagf guebjvat ebpxf ng gurz, rabhtu gb chg nalbar va n onq zbbq!

    • saphling says:

      Sometimes the stone giants have to contend with the Cullens for use of a thunderstorm for their sports. >_>

  4. Jenny_M says:

    The goblins (naq yngre bepf) always took on a sort of strawman villainy for me, especially when I was little. They are just Bad Guys and you kill Bad Guys because they are Bad. Tolkien is not great at fleshing out the needs and motivations of the horde.

    However, V guvax ur qbrf n cerggl tbbq wbo jvgu uvf znva punenpgre ivyynvaf – Fnehzna, Fnheba, Jbezgbathr, rgp. Ur tvirf erny ahnapr naq zbgvingvba gb gurve pbeehcgvba naq gurve rivy-arff. Rira gur Anmthy unir n zbgvingvba sbe orvat gbgny rivy onfgneqf.

    • cait0716 says:

      I've never had a problem with the one-dimensional goblins. It was always, like, okay, they're evil, moving on. I liked not having to think about it too hard. And stories with clearly defined good and bad can be comforting in their own way.

      • Jenny_M says:

        I think it's only in recent years that the idea of a villain with a fully fleshed out backstory and motivation has been so prevalent in kid's lit. I seem to recall a lot of older books basically have People Who Are Bad Because They Are Bad and Why Are You Arguing?

        (Which is not to say those types of villains didn't exist before, I just think in older children's lit it was a lot easier to have a Captain Hook as opposed to a Severus Snape.)

        • Tauriel_ says:

          It's also hard to have a good-versus-evil story when you have all sorts of explanations and excuses for the villains' evilness – "he might be evil, but he was bullied as a kid and they killed his puppy, so he can't be all bad, right? RIGHT?" 😀 This is not a morally ambiguous world like ASOIAF, where there are no ultimate good guys an no ultimate villains. In some stories you need villains that are bad because, well, they're bad, end of story. 🙂

        • Lily says:

          Not to be nit-picky, but I think Captain Hook is a lovely complex villain in the book. He's so concerned with "good form", which apparently doesn't include not-being-a-pirate, and I totally felt for the guy having to put up with Peter's stupid antics (and… trying to kill him. But hey, immature kids can be annoying!)

          Plus, Tolkein does have some complex bad guys (and some bad-ish good guys). Just think about.. well, I don't want to give anything away, (I don't know how to type in code o_o) but there are certain characters who have nasty pasts and presents in LOTR but who I really feel sorry for in this series and kind of like despite there bad qualities.

          • Neet says:

            Go to for the code.

          • Jenny_M says:

            Yup, I talk about some of those other villains in another comment threat. 🙂 Not sure which one, but if you poke around, it's somewhere around today's threads. Basically, he does individual villains well, while groups are sometimes reduced to They Are Bad and Do Bad Things for the sake of good storytelling. I don't think it's a bad thing, it's just a thing.

  5. knut_knut says:

    The thunder-battle!!! It’s such a beautiful little detail I always forget about, since the ones that stick in my mind from this chapter are the crack opening up, goblins pour out, and goblins dying.

    V pna’g gryy vs Znex rawblf ernqvat Gur Uboovg orpnhfr ur xrrcf fnlvat ur’f gelvat gb xrrc na bcra zvaq nobhg vg B_B (NUNUNU V ernyyl rawbl guvf ebg13’q snpr) Jung vs jr ulcrq vg hc gbb zhpu? JUNG VS UR UNGRF VG?! Bu jryy, n ybg bs crbcyr pna’g fgnaq gur obbxf.

    • pennylane27 says:

      ABBBBB UR UNF GB YBIR GURZ JUL JBHYQ LBH FNL GUNG. Bs pbhefr jr ulcrq gurz hc. V guvax gung jura fuvg fgnegf trggvat erny ur'yy ybir gurz. Ohg vg'f gur fnzr nccerurafvba jr nyy sryg jura ur jnf ernqvat Uneel Cbggre!

    • calimie says:

      I know, I know, I know! B_B V'z fhssrevat gbb.

    • AmandaNekesa says:

      Lrnu V'ir orra jbaqrevat gung gbb. V guvax ur'f fgnegvat gb trg zber vagb vg, rfcrpvnyyl jvgu n ovg zber npgvba va guvf puncgre, ohg ur qbrf xrrc fnlvat gurer ner guvatf ur unf gb trg hfrq gb. V thrff lbh pbhyq pbzcner vg gb uvf pbzcynvagf ba ZEUC, jvgu Ebjyvat'f vasb qhzcf naq zbagntr-yvxr cnffntr bs gvzr. Ubcrshyyl jvgu gvzr vg'yy tebj ba uvz be ur'yy trg hfrq gb vg naq jba'g sbphf ba gubfr guvatf nf zhpu…

  6. stellaaaaakris says:

    I can't be the only one who thought of this when they read about the crack in the cave:
    <img src=""&gt;

    I kept worrying that Fili or Kili would get left behind when Gandalf (was it Gandalf? I'm listening along so I tend to lose track of who's speaking) was doing the headcount.

    And Gandalf uses a sword because he's so badass he wants to make sure he keeps people on their toes. He can slay you with magic AND a sword, who knows what else. Don't mess with him!

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Personally, I think it would be even more impressive if he could slay with magic, a sword, and something inconspicious, like a feather, but your point stands!

      And I thought of that very scene.

    • kartikeya200 says:

      That is STRAIGHT where my brain went this time on reading this chapter. ZO NOES THE CRACK, RUN BILBO!

      We are all such dorks.

    • ldwy says:

      You are sooo not the only one.

  7. pennylane27 says:

    Mark, you are so unprepared. There were several points in the review where I literally cackled and told my sister you were unprepared. I'm having so much fun.

    I feel for Bilbo. Can you imagine being rushed out of your comfortable, safe life and thrust into a cave swarming with goblins? NO THANK YOU.

    As far as how goblins look, I don't think they're like the Harry Potter ones. Here, lovely and creepy illustration by John Howe:

    <img src=""&gt;

    Again, NO THANKS.

    Oh, and Gandalf's sword was one of the swords they took from the trolls' cave, and Thorin has the other one. Glamdring and Orcrist. All the great swords have names you know.

    • ferriswheeljunky says:

      Aw, poor Bilbo looks so adorable there! I think Bilbo is probably my favourite hero in any fantasy novel. He's not trying to win fame and fortune or defeat the powers of evil or anything – literally all he wants in life is a comfy armchair and a very large meal. That's the kind of motivation I can understand…

    • arctic_hare says:

      NO THANKS INDEED. That is fantastic art, though! John Howe is awesome. <3

      • Tauriel_ says:

        He is, indeed. I think Peter Jackson's best decision in making the LOTR films (and there have been several) was taking John Howe and Alan Lee (two best known and loved Tolkien illustrators) on board as concept artists and designers. For thousands of people it was Howe's and Lee's illustrations that defined their view of Middle-earth. <3

        • AmandaNekesa says:

          I've got a copy of The Hobbit that was illustrated by Alan Lee, and his artwork is so beautiful. He really captures the atmosphere of a given scene, whether the warmth of Bag End, or the eerie solitude of their journey. I loved watching all of the extra features on the Extended Editions and seeing some of the work they both did behind-the-scenes, and how their concept drawings were made into a reality in the movies.

          • @SableFlag says:

            Much much prefer Lee to Howe. Howe's style is too cartoonish for my liking.

            • AmandaNekesa says:

              Yeah, I do tend to gravitate towards Lee's artwork a bit more. They are both very talented Tolkien artists, but there's just something about Lee's style, and his ability to portray the epicness of the story that I just love.

  8. tethysdust says:

    I think Gandalf's actions could definitely be considered self-defense. I mean, the goblins are already planning on eating the ponies, and would presumably have eaten the dwarves, too. But anyway, yeah, the goblins are not very complex here, they're just Bad Guys. I do like that Gandalf is shown to be fallible, though.

    I was thinking that pretty much all the races seem to be jerks when we first meet them, here. First the dwarves barge into Bilbo's home, order meals from him, and bully him into an adventure. Then the elves make fun of the dwarves and Bilbo. Then the goblins kidnap them, beat them, and probably intend to eat them. The goblins are certainly the most seriously mean, but none of the races (except perhaps hobbits!) have made an extremely positive first impression.

  9. Tinzilla says:

    Oh man, I can't believe you're reading the Hobbit. This is amazing.

  10. Dent D says:

    I wish more wizards were BAMFs like Gandalf. How can I not love a person who wields a goblin slaying sword AND fires off magic spells?

    I will try to refrain from further fangirling over the spellcaster in future comments, but dear god I hope there is more of Gandalf's badassery further in this book.

    • I for one will never complain or apologize for Gandalf fangirling. Please do more of it; it's not every day we have a skilled magic user who has skill with a sword that sends goblins into a frothing rage at the sight of it.

      • earis the istarwen says:

        Plus, he's so darn clever! I mean, he bamboozles Bilbo into going on the adventure, he tricks the trolls so they forget that dawn is coming, he chills with elves, and then he uses magic fire and magic swords to kill the Great Goblin and a couple dozen of his minions.

  11. Geolojazz says:

    I adore Tolkien, but I can't help but feel sad that it's taken fantasy lit about 40-50 years to discard the tropes he invented and/or brought to popularity.

    Pre-Tolkien fantasy literature almost feels like a completely different genre. Any George MacDonald fans here, by chance?

    • Penn says:

      Indeed, a fantastic (in several senses) writer.

    • Genny_ says:

      It really doesn't help either that basing so many tropes and conventions on copying the work of someone who only managed what he did because he planned every part of his world in minute detail means that… well, a lot of the copies just end up inferior. I've always felt that Fantasy trying to make a sub-genre out of what he did was a terrible idea, because it just takes all the surface dressings and hopes they'll be enough. It really is a shame.

      • notemily says:

        Yeah, Tolkien really raised the bar on fantasy. I love fantasy but to an extent it's always like "Did you invent your own LANGUAGE for this book? No? Amateur."

    • Hazelwillow says:

      Yess! George Macdonald! Loved The Princess and the Goblin.

    • Adored the CURDIE books, THE LOST PRINCESS, and THE GOLDEN KEY AND OTHER STORIES. Mixed feelings on BACK OF THE NORTH WIND, which seemed to me a bit too saccharine in places even when I was a kid (or maybe that was just Diamond). Never really connected to LILITH or PHANTASTES. But that second CURDIE book in particular is a wow.

      • Geolojazz says:

        Yeah, I loved the second Curdie book. I adored Phantastes (it's way too weird, I can't even say why. Bloody book doesn't have a plot…). Lilith didn't resonate (although critics like it a lot).

        One of his stories I adore is a vampire short story he wrote…The Cruel Painter:

        Starts off really really creepy and then…well, you'll just have to find out. 😀

  12. clodia_risa says:

    Lrnu…V guvax Znex’f tbvat gb or qvfnccbvagrq jvgu gur punenpgrevmngvba naq zbgvingvbaf bs gur ivyynvaf guebhtubhg guvf frevrf. Orpnhfr yrg’f snpr vg, vg pbzrf qbja gb “gurl’er rivy” naq…gung’f nobhg vg.

    I know I’ve read this book multiple times, but I seriously have no recollection of this chapter at all. I think I’m going to have to dig it out of my boxes and read along.

  13. So yeah. I love this chapter. A lot. This is where stuff really got real in The Hobbit and it got real in the scariest way ever. I don't know about anyone else, but I hate the dark, and caves where you can't see the back and I also hate the idea of anything coming up behind me and grabbing me. So basically Tolkien rolled up all my childish fears and tossed them at me in this chapter. Ugh. Luckily he tempered it with Gandalf being a badass, but still… And the ponies! Those poor ponies! That aside of "I am afraid that is the last they ever saw of those excellent little ponies" did absolutely nothing to reassure me. Thanks for sharing that tidbit of my favorite animals ever being devoured by goblins, Tolkien.

    And I have to say that I love Thorin's speech to the Great Goblin: "We were on a journey to visit our relatives, our nephews and nieces, and first, second, and third cousins, who live on the East side of these truly hospitable mountains." Oh, Thorin, really? And as a sidenote, it's rather sad to think that most of these family members he mentions are either dead or with him in this expedition… not a pleasant situation to be in really.

    I have to shut up now because, well:

    <img src="; border="0" alt="river song spoilers Pictures, Images and Photos"/>

    Rest assured, you are not prepared.

  14. A.D.B. says:

    I know Tolkien is dense, but the swords are spoken about at length in chapters 2 and 3.


    Tbyyhz'f arkg! TBYYHZ'F ARKG!! Bu, V pna'g JNVG sbe gbzbeebj! Zl snibevgr puncgre fgneevat zl snibevgr punenpgre! V pna qb n cerggl tbbq vzvgnvgba bs Frexvf' Tbyyhz ibvpr…

  15. notemily says:

    OH MY GOD, SERIOUSLY, YOU GUISE, if you're going to discuss LotR AT ALL, put it in rot-13! This includes talking about the pace of LotR, how certain people/races/things are portrayed in LotR, why Mark will like LotR, AND ANYTHING ELSE HAVING TO DO WITH BOOKS MARK HAS NOT READ YET. I know we have a lot of new people here for The Hobbit, and to those people I say read the spoiler policy BEFORE you post.

    Anyway. *takes calming breaths*

    Well, shit has finally gotten real. KIDNAPPED BY GOBLINS WHAT. Also Gandalf gets to break out the magic. BOOM! Dead goblins!

    Where did he get a sword?

    Mark, did you miss the part where they all took swords from the trolls' stash and then Elrond told them their names and history? I think we need to work on your reading comprehension skills. 😛

    What if they hate so much because no one stopped to give them a hug? WHAT ABOUT THAT, J.R.R. TOLKIEN.

    Ahahahahaa. I would love to see someone ACTUALLY ask Tolkien this.

    I'm perusing The Annotated Hobbit which I just got from the library, and right now I'm just on the part about his family. I keep wondering where the "Reuel" comes from. Tolkien's father and brother had it, and he gave it to all of his sons as well, so it must have been important to him. Being a philologist he must have known that it meant "Friend of God."

    (Yeah, I haven't gotten to any of the actual Hobbit part yet because I'm hung up on one of Tolkien's middle names. I CARE ABOUT THE IMPORTANT THINGS CLEARLY.)

  16. Elexus Calcearius says:

    Okay, when the crack appeared out of nowhere, part of me was expecting it to be the crack and all the dwarves would disappear but that would be okay, because they're come back as Romans.

    ….okay, seriously, I did enjoy the chapter. A good use of tension, the sense of a legitimate threat, a cliffhanger….all good stuff. I like what Mark says about fantasy, and I agree. The special thing about fantasy is that it takes us to other worlds, and it enthralling to see the fantastic next to the mundane. In speculative fiction, I love when characters treat as something so amazing as 'stone giants' as just part of their world, something they don't even bother thinking about. Its such a different world view.

    I agree, though; the goblins are a bit one-dimensional. Personally, I'm not a big fan of stories where they use "this race is always evil", unless a purpose is given for it- they were specifically designed to be evil, there was some sort of spell, etc. In other cases, it just feels a bit like lazy writing, as if the writer is coming up with a villain but trying to wriggle out of giving them more complex motivations. Also, the scientist in me says that evolution would not favour any species whose entire world view consisted of trying to attack and hate everything, especially those which are prosperous. So, what can I say? Just a personal pet peeve trope.

    Of course, this is a children's book, and I know singularly evil races are something of a fantasy staple, so I'll pass it by. Still, I do wish for a little more moral complexity.

    • notemily says:

      On TVTropes it's Always Chaotic Evil. Warning: link goes to TVTropes and also there is discussion of this very point about Tolkien, so, spoilers.

      All of the racial members behave evilly, because – let's face it – Star Trek would've been really boring if Kirk had to interview every Klingon he met before punching them out.

    • anghraine says:

      "I know singularly evil races are something of a fantasy staple"

      Well, pretty much everything Tolkien ever did is a fantasy staple.

      • notemily says:

        New from the Tolkien gift shop and office supply store, Fantasy Staples ™: They can staple through any stack of papers no matter how high! They never accidentally staple anything to the table! Two staples never come out at once and get stuck in the stapler! For all your stapling needs.

    • tethysdust says:

      ru, jryy, gurer ner ernfbaf gur bepf pnzr gb or fb rivy, whfg abg va gur Uboovg. V'z abg fnlvat gurl'er cnegvphyneyl terng ernfbaf, ohg gurl qb rkvfg.

  17. hpfish13 says:

    So…growing up I only had recurring nightmares about two things; the first being a version of the Nutcracker I saw when I was about 5, that was told with marionettes and clay-mation. Before the Nutcracker part of the movie began the narrator told a story about this guy that flies around to children's houses to make sure they are asleep at bedtime (if they weren't he'd turn them into rats to be a part of the Rat Kings army).

    The other thing was this chapter of The Hobbit. I frequently had dreams where the wall of my bedroom would open up and the goblins would come pouring through and take me back inside the wall, where it was dark and chaotic. Yikes!

    • notemily says:

      if they weren't he'd turn them into rats to be a part of the Rat Kings army

      And… this was supposed to HELP children sleep? O__O

      Personally I was terrified by the "Castle in the Attic" books which involved giant rat armies… well, the rats were rat-sized, but the people were tiny.

      • hpfish13 says:

        Yep…and he could tell if you were just pretending to be asleep and he could make windows appear on whichever wall he wanted to, so facing away from the window didn't help.

        And…I just found a video (my heart is racing and I could only watch about 5 seconds of it).

        • chikzdigmohawkz says:

          Okay – number one, that video is terrifying, and number two…the kid was reading a book! He was not a bad kid, he was reading a book! Rat Man, you are discouraging children from reading. Nice going.

  18. arctic_hare says:


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

    Goblins! That is the only illustration for this chapter, but it's a doozy. Fuck, I love this chapter. Tolkien really does do a fantastic job of building up the tension and doubt, and Bilbo's dream coming true is creepy as fuck. ALSO GANDALF IS FOREVER BADASS. He got his sword from the trolls' stash, remember? Thorin and Bilbo each got one too. You must start reading more carefully, Mark. :p

    I love Thorin's attempt to bullshit the goblins. Notice that he never offered his services to Bilbo, but he's offering them to these dudes. NOT THAT I BLAME HIM. It's a pretty good story, and seems like it might have worked if they hadn't noticed that sword. Whoopsie! Thankfully, Gandalf the Goblin Slayer (I like that moniker) is there to save the day. BUT THEN, CLIFFHANGER! Looking forward to tomorrow (and every other chapter, really).

    • monkeybutter says:

      omg the random baby goblin with the fork is killing me. He was looking forward to hobbit fondue! Way to go, Gandalf!

    • sporkaganza93 says:

      Gandalf! I love him. He's awesome and I feel it isn't a spoiler to say he only ever gets more awesome as the series goes on. Gandalf is the best!

      If that is a spoiler, tell me and I'll rot13 it though.

  19. ravenclaw42 says:

    Yeah, the goblins are pretty one-note, but I never really minded it in storytelling terms. I don't find them any more one-note than the dozens of faceless, hive-minded, for-the-evulz hordes of villains in Doctor Who, especially from old!Who and RTD. *coughCybermen&Dalekscough* ahem. Even Weeping Angels don't really have any motivation beyond survival and being creepy as shit. V haqrefgnaq jul Gbyxvra jnf obgurerq ol gur bepf orvat veerqrrznoyr, ohg vzntvar ubj znal ibyhzrf ybatre gur frevrf jbhyq unir orra vs ur unqa'g nyybjrq ng yrnfg n pbhcyr bs ivyynvaf gb or syng.

    I do have to side-eye Michael Hague today, though, because his goblins are not such much monstrous as just… stereotypical dark-skinned savages. I love the stone giants, though.

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    And does anyone else nyjnlf urne gur Enaxva/Onff irefvbaf bs gur fbatf nf gurl'er ernqvat? V'ir unq gur "qbja, qbja gb tboyva gbja" fbat va zl urnq nyy zbeavat.

    • sporkaganza93 says:

      See, Cybermen and Daleks don't bother me because they're not doing evil just for fun, and in fact they don't consider themselves evil. They basically represent the evils of an ideology taken to the extreme – Daleks are Nazi analogies and Cybermen are analogies for Stalinist Communism. Plus, it's well-established that the reason these villains are evil is because they weren't born, they were made, and they were made to be evil.

  20. elyce says:

    I knew you were going to like this chapter! Goblins! Giants! Cliffhanger! And poor little Bilbo always thinking of his hobbit hole back in the Shire. I always wanted to live in a hobbit house. it sounds so lovely and cozy and warm.

  21. Johnnemann says:

    "I found it a bit weird that Tolkien, who over-explains nearly everything, doesn’t really apply much of a description to the goblins at all. We’re told they’re big and ugly, but that’s it. Is he relying on our familiarity with how they’re normally depicted here?"

    Other people have said things along this line, but remember that prior to Tolkien, _people weren't familiar with goblins_. They show up in fairy tales and legend and things, but Tolkien basically founded the entire Fantasy genre, and the reason Harry Potter has goblins in it that look the way they do is that it's how people interpreted Tolkien's goblins over the years.

    So a reader picking up The Hobbit back in 1937 would have _no idea_ what a goblin looked like. Or a dwarf, or a giant, or any of the tropes that have been established now. Of course Tolkien didn't invent them, he pulled them from myth and legend (mostly from Norse myth, so far – in fact, he translated Beowulf also, and if you ever read that, it gives a lot of insight into The Hobbit's story.)

    I read an excellent book years ago that talked about Tolkien's life and work and how it influenced The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings – I wish I could find it now, because the breakdown of how his love for the English language influenced The Hobbit is really fascinating. One thing I can remember from it is pointing out that the name "Bag End" is a bit of a joke – Tolkien hated the importing of French words to make things sound more sophisticated, and so he literally translated "cul-du-sac" into the ridiculous-sounding "Bag End" for Bilbo's residence.

    • notemily says:

      Ahahaha, I had no idea "bag end" was a translation of "cul-de-sac." That's hilarious.

      • nanceoir says:

        It's totally hilarious! Though, maybe it's because "Bag End" is all hobbitish to me, but I like the sound of it. It doesn't sound fancy or anything, but it sounds nice. Like, I'd rather live on a bag end rather than a cul-de-sac.

        • notemily says:

          Yeah, plus it ties in with "Baggins."

          • Tauriel_ says:

            Hehehe. My own surname translates into English as "bag". Clearly, I'm a distant relative of Bilbo! B)

            • chikzdigmohawkz says:

              Oh my gosh, I just got your screen name reference! ::facepalm::

              • Tauriel_ says:

                If you mean “Tauriel”, then I’ve been using it as my tolkienite nickname for over 7 years, so it’s NOT a reference to that character! 😉

                • notemily says:

                  Wait, so you put that name together yourself from the language elements? I'm impressed.

                  • Tauriel_ says:

                    Oh yeah, I came up with "Tauriel" when I lived in Prague and got into Czech Tolkien fan community. It's of Quenya origin and is comprised of the word "taurë", which means "forest" and the ending "-iel" which is a common ending for Elvish female names and means something like "daughter, maiden". So "Tauriel" means something like "daughter of the forest" or "forest maiden". 🙂

                    But my real life Slovak surname translates into English as "bag", that's why I joked that I might be a distant relative of Bilbo's. 😀

  22. Nekesa says:

    Hi everyone! When I saw the other day that Mark has started on The Hobbit, I went out and got a copy and created an account on here. I first joined in on MRHP but not till Deathly Hallows. Since the new site started I’ve just lurked here and there, mostly due to my own busyness.

    Anywho, I’m excited to finally join in again with The Hobbit! I haven’t read it for about 8 years or so, when I first became a fan of LOTR, not long before the ROTK movie came out. I definitely don’t remember many details about this book so it should be fun to follow along with you, Mark! Wish I could comment more but I have to get back to work. 🙂

  23. Smurphy says:

    Crap. I didn't review before I read the next chapter. Watching my words carefully. Actually I have nothing to say because…

    nf fbba nf V fgnegrq ernqvat guvf V whfg tbg fb sernxvat rkpvgrq sbe gur arkg puncgre. Juvpu V'ir nyernql ernq abj. Juvpu yrnqf zr gb gjb dhrfgvbaf.

    V'z ernqvat n qvssrerag irefvba abj gura jura V svefg ernq vg. Vg'f n Xvaqyr irefvba naq V guvax vg jnf chg bhg sbe fbzr naavirefnel naq V qba'g erzrzore gurer rire orvat Tboyvaf? Ner gurfr Bepf? be unf vg whfg orra gbb ybat fvapr V'ir bevtvanyyl ernq gur obbxf. V'z pbashfrq.

    Dhrfgvba gjb. Vf ersrerapvat "bar evat gb ehyr gurz nyy…" n fcbvyre? V zrna vgf va gur sebag pbire bs gur obbx?

    V hfrq gb unir gur ragver guvat zrzbevmrq. Zhfg qb gung ntnva.

  24. AnHibou says:

    Shit has barely even BEGUN to get real as far as The Hobbit is concerned.

  25. Genny_ says:

    I'm actually watching the extras on FotR right now and this got brought up. He said it was the difference between the reader controlling what they took in from a story and the author being tyrannical about it, and I've seen places say that when people wrote to him to say 'did I get this right?' he'd usually reply along the lines of 'well it's not what I was thinking, but if you saw it, that's right'. So he had pretty strong views on the matter.

  26. @unefeeverte says:

    Oh, you can totally watch the Hobbit production videos Peter Jackson keeps uploading to facebook when you're done with this book! Lots of dwarfen shenanigans. Also, Ian McKellen, and Martin Freeman!

    We'll have to comb them for LotR spoilers, of course, but starved fan that I am, I'm loving even those 15-minute diary-type tidbits.

  27. Tauriel_ says:

    Regarding Peter Jackson's Hobbit production videoblogs:

    I've recently re-watched all three videoblogs that PJ released up until now, and I think it will be best if Mark watches the first LOTR film before watching them. There are a few bits and pieces (characters, sets, bits of music) that might be slightly spoilery. 🙂

    • echinodermata says:

      I was thinking similarly; at the very least there's some music I would say is best introduced via the first movie, and I say it's better to see the finished version of this world before seeing similar sets still in production mode.

      • arctic_hare says:

        Agreed so hard. It'll just have so much more impact that way. I remember getting pretty emotional over seeing and hearing it all again in those videos, and that's because I had seen the movies already (over and over, and I had years of being a fan of them).

        • stefb says:

          I think it's good that the LotR movies came first, because I think watching The Hobbit will be that much more fulfilling because of it. Cnegvphyneyl snzvyvne punenpgref ner onpx. Rira Yrtbynf! (lnl!)

          • Tauriel_ says:

            Yeah, but hopefully ur'yy bayl unir n zvabe pnzrb va Guenaqhvy'f pbheg naq/be gur Onggyr bs gur Svir Nezvrf naq jba'g or znqr vagb na npgvba ureb jub fuvryqobneqf bire gur Ybat Ynxr naq xvyyf Fznht uvzfrys! 😀

      • sporkaganza93 says:

        The music in the LOTR movies is just incredible. I'd never heard of Howard Shore before seeing the Lord of the Rings movies, and I've hardly even heard anything else he's ever done since, but The Lord of the Rings alone has earned that man infinite respect from me. Along with the first two Harry Potter films, I'd say those movies are proof that even after all the iconic movie music already in existence, there's always room for more. I really can't gush about the LOTR music enough. It's just perfect.

  28. ldwy says:

    I have paused my reading right in the middle, because I just had to:

    somewhat tortured by a dream in which a crack in the cave wall grows and grows.

    I'M SORRY ALL I CAN THINK ABOUT IS DOCTOR WHO what has become of me???

  29. ldwy says:

    Because we're fast approaching halloween, I'm stuck on one of the strongest images of a goblin from my childhood, an illustration by Marilyn Hafner in It's Halloween by Jack Prelutsky, from the poem "The Goblin." Not very scary. I like his glasses 🙂
    <img src=""&gt;
    Mark, I feel confident saying that you and I both would stop to give that mopey looking goblin a hug.

  30. Feanna says:

    Tolkien wanted people to find their own meanings in his work, rather than him (or some random scholar) dictating to them the 'correct' meaning.

    And that makes me admire him very much as a person! That he created this mythology and actually meant for it to be treated as such. For people to find their own meaning and for other people to create stauff to add to it. I can esp. appreciate this as part of the fannish (fiction) community and even more in contrast to some other authors who feel rather differently. Of course Tokien would be pretty hoffified at some of the stuff that gets witten for his world, but that's a different story. (Nobody's perfect.)

  31. SporkyRat says:

    I belive the Goblins being evil is that will be answered if ever you read the Simarillion, Mark. But no spoilers from me.

    Biter and Beater! Oh, Biter, Beater, you adorable big scary swords.

  32. AmandaNekesa says:

    I think part of what I enjoy about these books so much is that Tolkien makes it quite clear he didn't write them as some massive allegory of particular events or beliefs. We're left to decide what it means to us individually, and it allows the story to take on much larger scope of meaning than an allegory might otherwise allow. When I read Narnia it seemed to me like the Christian allegory was almost dripping off some of the pages. While I still enjoyed Narnia, I didn't feel like it left me with as much room for wider meaning and application in my life.

    • Lily says:

      It's not an allegory, but there are definitely some very Catholic (he was Catholc Christian) things in the series (especially the Simmarrillion. My stars and guarders, half the stuff in there could be used in a theology class! ).

      I think the orcs are a bit 1-dimensional, but they have their place with the idea that evil cannot make, only mock and corrupt. (No spoilers, I hope, but the orc race had a very creepy beginning >:3)

      • AmandaNekesa says:

        Oh yeah, there are definitely some aspects of the story that can be compared to his Catholic perspective and live experiences, for sure. The main thing I enjoy is how Tolkien allows us to interpret the story as our experiences perceive it, which will be different for every person. There are certain parts of the story where I can see how his experiences shaped some of the themes and issues brought up. In particular, there was a passage in this chapter that spoke about the evil inventions of the orcs:

        "It is not unlikely that they invented some of the machines that have since troubled the world, especially the ingenious devices for killing large numbers of people at once, for wheels and engines and explosions always delighted them, and also not working with their own hands more than they could help…"

        Given Tolkien's background with WWI and all of the death he encountered from new methods and inventions of war, I can definitely see the influence within this passage.

        This is making me wish I'd read the Simmarrillion, because it sounds like there is so much back story I've missed out on by not reading it. Now, just to find the time….

        Qvqa'g gur bepf fgneg bhg nf ryirf gung jrer gbegherq naq jnecrq hagvy gurl rffragvnyyl orpnzr gur pbzcyrgr bccbfvgr bs gurve cerivbhf angher, be fbzrguvat? Znlor V'z trggvat guvatf zvkrq hc…

        • Lily says:

          Yes Amanda, bepf jrer bapr ryirf, gebyyf jrer bapr ragf, naq guvatf yvxr Onyjebtf (V unir ab pyhr ubj gung'f fcryyrq 0_B) jrer gur fnzr glcr bs perngher Tnaqnys vf (juvpu, V'z cerggl fher, ner rffragvnyyl natryf, Pngubyvpyl fcrnxvat :3)

          • Lily says:

            What the…! What is that weird emoticon doing there? It's supposed to be this face: 0_o

            • AmandaNekesa says:

              Hehe…maybe it's because of the parenthesis after the smiley…? does O + ) = O) ? Let me see if this works.

              Jbj gung'f snfpvangvat! V unq ab vqrn nobhg gur gebyyf, ragf, onyebtf, naq jvmneqf ovg. Tvira gung, guvf fgbel unf rira zber rzcunfvf ba gur pbeehcgvba bs tbbq guvatf, guna V unq gubhtug, abg gung vg'f n fznyy gurzr ol nal zrnaf! Vs nyy bs gur "rivy" perngherf naq orvatf rffragvnyyl fgnegrq whfg nf gur "tbbq" orvatf gura vg nyy fbeg bs srrqf vagb gur gurzr nobhg gur pbeehcgvir angher bs cbjre naq gur qrfver gb tnva vg. Irel vagrerfgvat…

            • notemily says:

              you typed the letter O, which got turned into a B in rot-13, and a B with a parenthesis after it is the sunglasses emoticon 🙂

      • threerings says:

        I think the Christian overtones are actually what's kept me from really enjoying the Simarillion. Because that just doesn't work for me in the same way that LOTR does.

  33. ChronicReader91 says:

    Here, for me, is where the story really begins to take off. The section with the trolls was too whimsical and almost comical for me to consider true peril. But being kidnapped by goblins through a crack in a cave wall that appears and taken to an underground layer? That will do it. I actually thought Tolkien did a pretty good job describing the goblins- there was just enough description, that, combined with the ominous atmosphere he creates, your imagination can fill in the rest.

    Isn’t the “Thunder Battle” great? I never thought of it as an actual BATTLE, but a metaphor for a really intense storm. I like the literal interpretation too, though.

    Poor ponies. 🙁

    Lastly, this never fails to make me chuckle:
    "Why, O why did I ever leave my hobbit-hole!" said poor Mr. Baggins
    bumping up and down on Bombur's back.

    "Why, O why did I ever bring a wretched little hobbit on a treasure
    hunt!" said poor Bombur.

  34. feanna says:

    I tryed to keep this general enough for it not to count as a spoiler (it certainly gives away no plot points), but it it counts as a theme spoiler or something delete it.

    I think that in the world Tokien created it wouldn't be wrong to ascribe things an underlying meaningfulness. Nothing so obvious as "this is the prophecy and that's what's going to happen" but the underlying assumption that two of the great named swords being found in a pretty random place by our heroes is not just a complete coincidence but something that might occur. Whether it's because the meaning creates itself, or whether Gandalf is just that good is another question. (And maybe this is just a general reflection of believing very strongly in God and a world he created and infused with meaning.)
    I think that in such a world, where there are great swords from great wars that are distinct and great enough for the goblins to recognize, and things carry meaning, then (maybe only subconciously) the goblins would know to be afraid.

    V zrna, gur jubyr gurzr orpbzrf cerggl boivbhf jvgu gYbgE jura Tnaqnys vf gnyxvat nobhg Ovyob svaqvat gur Evat naq nyy gung, ohg V guvax gung gur svaqvat bs gurfr fjbeqf pbhagf gbb. Gura vg QBRF orpbzr n dhrfgvba bs jurgure gurfr guvatf xvaq bs snyy vagb cynpr be jurgure jr pna fhff bhg gur sbeprf ng jbex. Jvgu gur Evat vg jnf gur Evat vgfrys, gur cneg bs Fnheba jvguva vg. Jvgu gur fjbeqf vg pbhyq or gur zntvp gurl pneel, gur snpg gung Tnaqnys (be znlor rira gur Qjneirf) vf frafvgvir gb guvf zntvp, fbzr bgure snpgbef. Gura gurer'f gur gvzvat vffhrf: WHFG gur evtug qnl sbe gur eharf, WHFG gur evtug qnl ba gur zbhagnva, naq fbzr bs gur bgure fghss tbvat ba.

    Jbhyq fbzrobql gel gb fryy zr ba gurfr guvatf unccravat va bhe jbeyq, V'q obttyr ng gur pbvapvqraprf, ohg va Zvqqyr Rnegu guvatf qb graq gb unccra guvf jnl, ng yrnfg sbe gur vzcbegnag guvatf. V'q thrff gung gur crbcyr vaunovgvat guvf jbeyq jbhyq graq gb cvpx hc ba vg gbb, bs bayl ba n cerggl trareny, ohg gura cerggl qrrcyl ebbgrq va fbpvrgl, yriry vs gurl'er abg crefbanyyl pbaarpgrq. Juvpu VF xvaq bs jung oryvrivat irel fgebatyl va n Tbq jvgu n cyna zvtug ybbx yvxr?

  35. stefb says:

    There are soooo many rot13 comments I think I spent like an hour decoding everything. So many *weeps*

    • Lily says:

      How do you write in rot13 ? There are so many comments of mine that I'm afraid are spoilery ><

    • jaccairn says:

      Is it worth thinking about a spoilers page for such discussions asused previously, just to avoid long sections in Rot13 and keep the coding for short bits in these discussions? Many of us are obviously very familiar with Tolkien and it must be frustrating for those who aren't to scroll through so much that they can't risk decoding, not to mentions the time it takes for the rest of us to decode things.

    • ladysugarquill says:

      I found an extension for chrome called d3code where you can translate it with a right click 😉

  36. Chris says:

    FINALLY! I've been waiting for you to get to The Hobbit for a lifetime! Now I need to find my copy and catch up.

  37. stefb says:

    Also, HOW DID I COMPLETELY MISS THE DETAIL ABOUT THE THUNDERBATTLE DURING EVERY READ?! I didn't even realize this happened until I read the review.

    • AmandaNekesa says:

      I know I completely forgot about it too! Though the more I read the more I realize I had forgotten about this story.

      Zbfg bs jung V erzrzore vf va gur arkg puncgre. 😀

  38. Becky_J_ says:

    I hate that your reviews post at 7am here in Colorado, and I have class until six. It means that I miss all the fun and exciting commenting and stuff.


    • stefb says:

      They post at 8am in Chicago, and I read them during my 9am class (not missing much anyway) but it's hard to rot13 comments on my phone…so most of the comments I read are the ones that don't have to be decoded which is like….1% of the comments

      • Becky_J_ says:

        I knowwwwww, I've considered taking my laptop around with me everywhere (no smartphone for meeeee) just so I can read this. Butttt it's so heavy to lug around, and I know I would not pay attention at all. Which, let's be honest, is a small price to pay. Hmmm….

        Also, the rot13 comments this time are ridiculous . Even the ones that start out normal END rot13ed!

      • AmandaNekesa says:

        Yeah I was trying to read comments during my lunch at work, but if I tried to decode all the rot13 comments on my phone, I'm pretty sure I'd still be sitting and decoding them.. And since I started reading the comments at about noon in Wisconsin, that means there were a lot of comments already, and I especially saw a lot of rot13 comments that I had to skip over. Though as long as the use of rot13 keeps Mark unspoiled, I'm ok with it.

  39. stefb says:

    Oh and poor ponies 🙁

  40. t09yavosaur says:

    Praise, God of spoilers. Were it not for you many Tolkienites would be bursting with the the discussions they could not type.

  41. fantasylover120 says:

    See, I had totally forgotten about this part. This is why rereads are important. But yeah, this is definitely where you start to see some of the benifits of Tolkien's way of writing because when he gets to parts like this he's pretty damn good.

  42. Becky_J_ says:


    I was going through all the rot13 comments, and I got to the point where I right-clicked the highlighted text to copy it, and I found myself thinking "Why doesn't the menu here go, 'copy, paste, ROT13."

    that would make life so much easier someone smart here please make that possible

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Someone should make that sort of add-on.

      • drippingmercury says:

        Echinodermata linked to a script that allows one to highlight and decode text over on the spoiler blog sometime recently. There are also add-ons that will automatically decode everything, but apparently this has led to false spoiler reports since people forget that what they're reading could actually be in rot13 (I know I would).
        Sadly, I can't find the link to the decoding script or the relevant comment thread. I'll post it if I find it, though.
        ETA: never located the thread I was looking for, but johnsmallberries recommends LeetKey for firefox on markwatches here.

  43. Dreamflower says:

    JRRT was very "species-ist" (and why not? as he created those species), and Bad Guys were basically Bad Guys through and through. He deliberately did not go into their motivations or anything, because he actually thought he'd endanger his own soul to do so. (He had a beef with his good friend C.S. Lewis over Lewis' book The Screwtape Letters, as he thought that by presenting a demon's POV, Lewis was playing with fire.)

  44. Anna says:

    I'm confused!

    Also reading the book right nog (british version) and there's no goblins in it, the word that is used is orcs. Has my book missed something?

  45. flootzavut says:

    I think also it's the difference between writing a book for a specific purpose ("I will explain my faith in a fictionalised manner") and just writing a book which happens to draw on one's deeply felt convictions and faith. I would put the Hobbit and LOTR firmly into the second category. Tolkien borrowed from so many different sources, and there are a lot of parallels to be found, but I've always felt that is just because that was Tolkien's worldview and that flows into the stories he wrote.

    Much as it pains me to compare him with SMeyer, it's a little like the Mormonism that is an undercurrent in the Twilight books in so many ways; I don't for a second think that she did that deliberately, if she had tried it would probably have failed 😉 but her deeply held convictions about, for example, the role of women, seep into the book so that basically all her female characters are weak and whiny, even though she set out to write strong female characters.

    Not sure if I am making sense… 😮 🙂

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