Mark Reads ‘The Hobbit’: Chapter 6

In the sixth chapter of The Hobbit, SWEET SUMMER CHILD, WHAT IS GOING ON. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hobbit.


Good god. Okay, I’m adjusting to the way this is written. I don’t always like it, and that’s okay. It’s unlike anything I’ve read for Mark Reads, so it’s weird to analyze this, but I am finding it easier and easier to look past some of the bizarre phrases and diction choices when SHIT IS GETTING REAL RIGHT AND LEFT. I’m beginning to see how Tolkien continues to expand this world and introduces a new creatures/species with each chapter. (Well, two more were revealed in chapter six.) I’d be pretty stoked if we got a new creature with each new chapter because it’s so fascinating to me. Especially coming from the Song of Ice and Fire series, it’s interesting to see an author use things like Wargs in a totally different context. And, well, many years before George R.R. Martin.

I don’t that I like how this story is being told, but I feel pretty confident that I like the story itself. Tolkien continues to build on Bilbo’s fears of abandonment, his desire to be accepted, and a whole host of issues with the lack of experience he possesses. That is what’s keeping me going at this point. Well, aside from all of the action, I mean, because at the very least, this book is not slow at all anymore.

First, though, let’s talk about the fascinating way that Tolkien brings Bilbo back into the group of dwarves and Gandalf. Shocked by the realization that he’s made it to the other side of the Misty Mountains after cutting through the passage in the middle of the range, Bilbo starts to panic. He is alone at the end of a mountain range. His friends are gone. He is in a strange, foreign land, and his only protection is the ring he stole from Gollum. Tolkien is quick to make Bilbo find his group, but utilizes the fact that Bilbo is invisible in an interesting way, first and foremost by having the small hobbit listen in on the conversation that the dwarves are having with Gandalf. Unsurprisingly, the dwarves find Bilbo to be rather useless and a nuisance, but before this can hit Bilbo too hardly, Gandalf comes to his defense:

“I brought him, and I don’t bring things that are of no use. Either you help me to look for him, or I go and leave you here to get out of the mess as best you can yourself. If we can only find him again, you will thank me before this is over.”

And even though the dwarves make excuses about why they left Bilbo behind, it’s a huge boost of confidence for the hobbit; this wizard who he barely knows has put his confidence in Bilbo. One lowly hobbit! So I love that right at the perfect moment, Bilbo reveals himself to the group by taking off the ring:

It is a fact that Bilbo’s reputation went up a very great deal with the dwarves after this. If they had still doubted that he was really a first-class burglar, in spite of Gandalf’s words, they doubted no longer. Balin was the most puzzled of all; but everyone said it was a very clever bit of work.

And I’m probably reading pretty heavily into this, but I really like this message that Bilbo isn’t particularly tough or scary or frightening or full of wizardly wisdom, but he has something that he can contribute. He’s clever, and at the very least, it’s something he can give to the group, so he makes sure to tell all the dwarves how he used his cleverness to trick his way out of the goblin’s lair. I won’t lie: it’s really adorable! Bilbo discovers he does have value, so he just runs with it. I APPROVE WHOLEHEARTEDLY, SIR.

Then Gandalf has to go and show off all his wizard knowledge. Dude, hey. Let Bilbo have his moment instead of talking about how you totally knew this would all happen. SURE YOU DID, GANDALF. You TOTALLY knew this would happen, right? Oh my god, he’s like a hipster wizard. “I knew about the secret mountain pass like ten years before you did. Now everyone does.”

OKAY ANYWAY. This was fun to learn!

“You lose track of time inside goblin-tunnels. Today’s Thursday, and it was Monday night or Tuesday morning that we were captured. We have gone miles and miles, and come right down through the heart of the mountains, and are now on the other side–quite a short cut.”

ARE THE GOBLIN-TUNNELS PART OF THE TIME VORTEX. Holy shit, THEY LOST TWO DAYS IN THERE??? I thought it was maybe twelve hours maximum. WHAT THE CHRIST. Even more horrifying, Gandalf is all, “Yeah, we can’t stop to eat, even though you haven’t eaten for two days.” Yes, it makes a lot of sense, so I’m not criticizing the wizard. They really don’t have time to stop for a nice meal, especially since the goblins could still track their scent. BUT STILL. HOLY SHIT, THAT IS A LONG TIME WITHOUT FOOD.

Bilbo makes-do with what he can find along the road, and the group travels on. This is sort of like an old-timey, fantasy road trip, isn’t it? Oh god, hobbits were into road trips before they were cool. This is 100% canon, okay? And so on the great Hobbit Wizard Dwarf Roadtrip of Year I Don’t Know, Gandalf continues to lead the group to some unknown location. I did find that a bit weird. Why isn’t he telling anyone where they’re going? I mean…I may have missed that part, but they all simply follow Gandalf. Is he leading them towards another cave tunnel that he totally knows about but it’s just going to get them in trouble again?

Actually, while that is a joke, it almost seems to be an accurate depiction of what happens. After hours of walking, Bilbo asks Gandalf if they have much more to go, and Gandalf replies that it’s only a bit further. He leads the group into a bizarre clearing in the forest where no trees grow, and just seconds later, the wolves show up.

Well, I suppose that’s not the precise term to use; these are wargs, gigantic wolf-creatures that are evil by nature. I was familiar with these mythological beings because of the Song of Ice and Fire series, but they’re used differently here, describing these enormous wolves. Who, by the way, might be just as terrifying as the goblins. I get the sense that unlike American Gods or A Song of Ice and Fire, this is not going to be a cast of morally ambiguous and gray characters, at least not from the villains. This reads very much like a fairy tale, so I don’t find myself needing much of a motivation from the wargs. I get a whole lot of context on them, but I don’t really feel the desire to have anything more than a black and white conflict. And that’s okay! I love moral ambiguity almost as much as I love time travel, but I love a good fight between the forces of good and evil, too.

What’s done so well about this is not only the motivation given by Tolkien, but how overwhelming this feels. The best tension is built by impossible situations, where it increasingly feels like there’s no way out. So when the entire group scales the trees in the clearing and HUNDREDS OF WARGS SHOW UP, many of them keeping guard at the foot of the trees with dwarves, Gandalf, or Bilbo in them, I felt stumped. WELL, OKAY. How on earth could one get out of this? Even Gandalf seems confused for a moment, so he chooses to merely listen. (Smart wizard!)

We find out a lot from this, which is one of two moments where I was surprised by Tolkien switching the point of view for a bit. It’s the first confirmation that there are just regular “people” in this world that aren’t wizards. Everything we’ve seen so far is some sort of mythological creature, but it turns out that the goblins and the wargs are joining forces for a raid on a nearby village. There’s a reference to these people possibly being Gandalf’s friends, but there’s no outright confirmation of it. Either way, THIS HAPPENS:

Now you can understand why Gandalf, listening to their growling and yelping, began to be dreadfully afraid, wizard though he was, and to feel that they were in a very bad place, and had not yet escaped at all.


So I think this is the only book in the universe where a character sets pinecones on fire to use them as a weapon. And not just any fire: magical fire that sets wargs alight in an instant. As Gandalf sends down more colors of fiery pinecones, the wargs begin to leave the clearing and I think I have victory and that I can celebrate this creative turn of events–

–AND THEN TOLKIEN SWITCHES POINT OF VIEW TO THE LORD OF THE EAGLES. I will not apologize for loving this. It’s so sudden and bewildering and unexpected, and I think it’s the best part of chapter six. It not only gives us a new perspective on the chaos down in the clearing, but it’s fascinating to be able to see this all through the Lord of the Eagle’s eyes, especially since I initially did not realize he was literally an eagle.

A bunch of questions started running through my mind. Why the change in POV? Whose side would he align with? Why even care about the commotion down below? I got the sense that by chasing the goblins back in their caves on occasion, that meant that they probably weren’t big fans of the wargs, either. But I must admit to being nervous when the eagles all take off to join the fight because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.

And it certainly doesn’t help that the goblins decide to show up, too, and then they work with the wargs to SET GANDALF’S TREE ON FIRE. Even if this book isn’t written in a style that’s very conducive to a thriller (or at least what one would expect), I still found myself pretty excited about all of this. Look, the goblins MAKE UP A SONG ON THE SPOT ABOUT ROASTING OUR HEROES ALIVE WHILE THEY ARE STUCK IN A TREE. This is nightmare fuel!!! The very definition of it! Could you imagine facing death and your adversary creates a well-rhyming, improvised song on the spot? It would be so unsettling that you would BEG FOR A SWIFT DEATH.

I was hoping that the Lord of the Eagles was planning something positive; he swoops down and nabs Gandalf out of the pine tree just in the nick of time, and the rest of the eagles follow suit, picking out the dwarves from their trees. Bilbo (forgotten again HOW SAD) manages to latch onto Dori’s legs at the last moment, holding on the entire length of the flight to safety. Like many things that frighten Bilbo (I don’t even think I could list them), the fear of heights plays heavily into this chapter’s predicament. I’m noticing a pretty neat pattern here: each chapter, Bilbo faces a new creature and a new situation that makes him confront a fear of his. And he overcomes both, not always on his own, and not always without a little help, but the end result is the same: he lives through it. That, to me, is what’s so intriguing to me about this book.

This is my favorite sentence in the book, by the way:

“Also eagles aren’t forks!”

Wise thoughts from Dori.

And thus, the group manages to survive their journey through the Misty Mountains. WHAT SECRETS WILL THE FUTURE HOLD? Oh god, I have no idea because JESUS CHRIST SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED ALREADY.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
This entry was posted in The Hobbit and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

124 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Hobbit’: Chapter 6

  1. Ryan Lohner says:

    Love Bilbo deciding to troll the dwarves by completely leaving out the ring from his account, making himself out to be just that good at sneaking around. That's the Lyra Silvertoungue way.

  2. earis the istarwen says:

    And I’m probably reading pretty heavily into this, but I really like this message that Bilbo isn’t particularly tough or scary or frightening or full of wizardly wisdom, but he has something that he can contribute. He’s clever, and at the very least, it’s something he can give to the group, so he makes sure to tell all the dwarves how he used his cleverness to trick his way out of the goblin’s lair.

    YES. This exactly! Bilbo is always going to be the little dude that keeps getting left behind, so he pretty much just decides to use it to his advantage.

    Oh god, the Wargs. I kind of imprinted on Wargs as evil, malicious wolves, so whenever GRR Martin starts going on about Wargs, my mind just flashes to these wolves. DO NOT WANT. But I do love how Tolkien uses them to convey just how high the potential for danger is everywhere in this universe, not just to our heroes, and that just reinforces how awesome and special the Shire is, because they don't seem to be on the verge of getting eaten by wolves or goblins every other Tuesday.

  3. Darth_Ember says:

    Never prepared, Mark.
    You know, as per Ryan Lohner's suggestion, I actually put together an elven approximation for 'you are not prepared.' I don't think the words are a spoiler even slightly, fortunately.
    'Gerig ú-chûr,' Mark. Gerig ú-chûr.

    (For the linguists out there, and with credit to for their word lists, the informal 'you have readiness for action' is Gerig chûr. Geril would be formal but hey, we're all friends here. The ú- prefix is 'not'.
    Juvyr V'z pbasvqrag gur jbeqf nera'g n fcbvyre, gur yvathvfgvp tebhcf V'z n yvggyr zber hafher ba, fb V jvyy hfr guvf gb abgr sbe gubfr vagrerfgrq gung vg vf bs pbhefr Fvaqneva gung V'ir hfrq urer. Juvpu vf fbzrjung zber nccyvpnoyr, orvat nf Dhraln vf yrff jvqryl fcbxra naq nyy…)

    • Tauriel_ says:

      I gather that would be Sindarin (I'm afraid I can't check for correctness, because I've never studied Sindarin, not even briefly).

      As far as the Quenya version goes, my first composition that I posted in the comments thread to Chapter 2 was "Unalyë manwaina". I have now got a feedback from my friend who is much better versed in Quenya than I am. He suggests the words "Umilyë feryaina" – I used a negative preposition to the word "nalyë" ("you are"), but apparently there's a unique negative form of "umilyë" ("you are not") featured in the Ethymologies, which I sadly do not own. And as for the word for "prepared", my friend suggests using a different stem, "ferya" ("make ready, prepare"), since the stem "manwa" is rather uncertain (it suggests a relation to the stem "man" which means "blessing, goodness"). So in the end I agree with my friend that "Umilyë feryaina" would be a better way to express "you are not prepared".

      And if anyone wants to get into the languages of Middle-earth, I strongly recommend visiting Ardalambion by the linguist Helge Fauskanger – it's widely recognised as one of the best (if not THE best) site for a comprehensive summary of Tolkien's languages. It features wordlists and grammar rules for all the languages Tolkien created, and even a full course in Quenya (which was the most developed language).

      • Darth_Ember says:

        Yes, Sindarin. I find myself preferring it somewhat. Though they're both great, and you can tell that Tolkien put effort into making the sounds aesthetically pleasing.

  4. pennylane27 says:

    Oh my god Gandalf. I love him so much. He's so badass, talking down to the Wargs and Goblins from his tree. I think we even talked about this during The Hunger Games, when Katniss is up in the tree surrounded by the Careers. I just adore him.

    Also Gur Rntyrf ner pbzvat! Gur Rntyrf ner pbzvat! Bbcf, jebat puncgre/obbx.

    • earis the istarwen says:

      Yeah, Gandalf is such a BAMF. I kind of love how annoyed he gets with everyone when they are not as BAMF-y as him. Even the Eagles agree that Gandalf is a BAMF.

      Question that has always bugged me:
      Vf gur Ybeq bs gur Rntyrf Tjnuve?

      • pennylane27 says:

        V qba'g guvax fb. V qba'g unir gur obbx urer, ohg gurl arire pnyy uvz ol anzr urer, evtug? Naq va EbX Tnaqnys fnlf Tjnvuve unq pneevrq uvz gjvpr orsber pneelvat uvz gb trg Fnz naq Sebqb (sebz Begunap naq nsgre svtugvat gur Onyebt), fb V'z nffhzvat vs ur (vg?) jnf gur fnzr Rntyr gur pbhag bs syvtugf jbhyq or yvxr sbhe be fbzrguvat.

        • earis the istarwen says:

          Yeah, that's what I think, but since Tolkien is so specific that most eagles don't give a shit about the peoples, but this clan is special (Cebonoyl orpnhfr gurl'er qrfpraqrq sebz Gubebaqbe) and Gandalf is friends with them because of a specific relationship, sometimes I wonder if this is a kink that ha never worked out.

  5. Jenny_M says:

    I was just really happy that Bilbo got some food from the eagles. Hobbits aren't meant to go that long without eating.

  6. Shadowmarauder78 says:

    I'm enjoying the story but i'm also not too keen on how it is written. I think if i'd read it as a kid i would have loved it as Tolkien seems to have written it like he is telling a story to a group of children. But as an adult it is just a bit off for me, still like it though.

    • Genny_ says:

      I always feel like this book was designed to be read *to* a child. Like, if you're a kid and your parent is reading it to you, it's almost like they're talking to you.

      • cait0716 says:

        True. I get such a strong desire to read this book out loud that I had to stop reading it during my commute. Now it's been relegated to before-bed where the only funny looks I get are from my boyfriend.

      • Shadowmarauder78 says:

        Yeah that makes sense, without getting spoilery is The Lord of the Rings written in the same way?

      • clodia_risa says:

        The only way I’m ever able to get through the Silmarillion is to read it aloud. It flows so much better that attempting to read it silently. And it’s fun to pronounce the elvish. (Disclaimer: I’ve only made it through the first fifty pages or so because reading aloud is tiring.)

    • I'm reading the book to my 9-year-old and 6-year-old right now. As a read-aloud it's just about perfect… if only the chapters weren't so long.

      • kristinc says:

        My 7- yo is getting half a chapter per night. It's awesome to see a kid react to this book. Her eyes look like dinner plates half the time.

    • MadarFoxfire says:

      I read it when I was a kid and loved it to bits.

  7. cait0716 says:

    I just love the title of this chapter. I remember the first time I read it feeling so much relief that Bilbo had escaped from Gollum and the goblins, then turning the page and seeing this and just being filled with dread. Things are about to get so much worse.

    I also kind of love that Gandalf's use of fire backfires when the goblins use it to burn down the trees. Whoops.

    Rirel gvzr Ovyob chgf gur evat ba, V'z nyy AB, OVYOB, LBH'ER ORVAT PBEEHCGRQ! QBA'G HFR VG!

  8. knut_knut says:

    This chapter is the perfect balance between SHIT GETTING REAL and lulzy. I mean, we have a pinecone fire battle!!! that quickly turns into the possible death of our heros D: TOO MANY EMOTIONS! I really hope they don’t cut the pinecone fire battle from the movie- I feel like they might amp it up so that it’s not as ridiculous, but it’s a PINECONE FIRE BATTLE. Why wouldn’t you want to see that on screen?

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      In the LOTR commentaries, Peter Jackson talks about several things that he was worried would look ridiculous on film that ended up being pulled off great. So I'm not too worried.

  9. Lauren says:

    I think this was the point at which I couldn't put the book down and finished the rest in something like two days XD.
    And yes! Finally a hero that doesn't start off at all BAMF-y. He's small and weak and not brave at all. But he just manages to somehow live through all the freaky stuff Tolkein can throw at the poor guy! By being clever instead of being some typically awesome fighter! And watching him tell all the dwarves, "Yeah guys I'm awesome and smarter than y'all, I got out all by myself" is so sweet.

  10. monkeybutter says:

    Aww, I love that Dori made up for (inadvertently) leaving Bilbo behind by helping him up into the tree. Even if, you know, he had to be prodded.

    V ybir gur pynvz gung "rfpncvat tbyovaf gb or pnhtug ol jbyirf!" orpnzr gur cebireovny selvat cna naq sver. Ovyob'f gur bar ercbegvat nyy guvf, naq V yvxr gur vqrn bs uvz chssvat uvzfrys hc n ovg ol fnlvat ur'f gur betvangbe. Fher, ur pbhyq or, ohg V guvax na rknttrengvba vf zber nqbenoyr. <3

  11. Zoli says:

    It's probably worth noting that GRRM is the exception in defining his wargs as a class of shapeshifter– most other fantasy stories I've seen take wargs directly from Tolkien as huge, monstrous wolves.

  12. tethysdust says:

    "The Hobbit" really doesn't have much downtime. It seems a lot faster paced than I remember! I like that Gandalf is once again shown to be fallible. The pine cone fire was not one of his best ideas, seeing as it inspired the goblins to almost roast them all to death.

    Also, concerning their destination, they're going to the Lonely Mountain. I'm assuming the dwarves know where it is. I figured Gandalf was choosing their path, though, since he's so wise and knowledgeable about Middle Earth. He can't help it that the world is dangerous and unpredictable!

  13. Genny_ says:

    "And he overcomes both, not always on his own, and not always without a little help, but the end result is the same: he lives through it. That, to me, is what’s so intriguing to me about this book."

    Yes! This is why Bilbo makes such a great protagonist IMO: he's the 'everyman' who starts to move beyond all the limitations that the term implies. The whole book is one long exercise in writing that out. It would have been really easy to get lazy and just have him magically be able to do stuff immediately.

    Having been without a proper meal for two days *without* doing anything strenuous? It is a really, really long time to not eat. Let them eat, Gandalf! Please! I'm surprised he didn't end up lugging thirteen dwarves and a hobbit around unconscious.

    Also, hearing you on the song thing. Being sung to my death would just be REALLY NOT NICE. Seriously, I almost want them to keep that in the film version, just for lols.

    Ahhh, I love this book.

  14. quenstalof says:

    Could you imagine facing death and your adversary creates a well-rhyming, improvised song on the spot? It would be so unsettling that you would BEG FOR A SWIFT DEATH.

    I don't know, I'd prefer a death musical number to Ibtba cbrgel. That would have me begging for a swift death. (Rot13'ed because Hitchhiker's is on the confirmed list.)

  15. I <3 vicariously living through The Hobbit via Mark's unprepared viewpoint – the whole things seems a million times more exciting than I remember it!

  16. bookworm67 says:

    OH HEY THERE EAGLES. Wow, I forgot how action-packed this book gets so soon. And yeah, Gandalf, you're…you're a badass and all, but flaming pinecones may not have been the best idea while sitting in a highly flammable tree.

    Also NANOWRIMO STARTS TOMORROW OMGGGG SO EXCITED AND SO NOT PREPARED. Well, I'm sort of prepared. I have some characters, a genre, and a vague plot. But other than that I'm making it up as I go. Oh, and in case anyone's interested:

    So, fellow WriMos, are you all ready?! What are you guys writing about? ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Lugija says:

      I won't write one this year, but my last NaNo was about a policeman trying to find out whether the Father Christmas was real or not. Being from Finland, he tried to go to Korvatunturi (where FC lives according to local legends), but his helicopter crashed on the way. He walked two days in mid-summer Lapland with a sarcastic teenager, until got back to civilization. Story ended at Rovaniemi where Father Christmas' Land for tourists is. They found out that the tourist trap was actually only a way for FC to get money to keep his operations working. I had fun writing it, trying to make up ways how FC's organisation could work in real life, with real life rules.

      Characters also turned out nice: there was a priest who has been an atheist for his whole life but likes to help people without hands getting dirty, conspiracy theorist who makes theories up to sell her magazine, a man who treats his car like a woman (I got the idea from a man who joked that he treated his wife like a car) and of course Father Christmas, whom I wrote very much like a more intimidating Dumbledore.

      Wow, written like this it sounds like stuff actually happened in it, but it was pretty much me having ideas about the world and writing them in whether they fitted or not.

    • ABBryant says:

      Zombie Apocalypse in the Everglades

    • CoffeeAndClovers says:

      Mindscrew black comedy. Runaways, murder, what may ort may not be a ghost taunting the sane character.
      Ill jynx myself with a title so its currently Codename Candy Carnage (<- Chyah! Aliterism? Hadnt noticed x_x)
      Buddy me fellow fan of Mark?

      • bookworm67 says:

        Added as buddy – MarkDoesStuff fans, represent! (I'm bookworm67 :P)

        Extremely vague plot summary from my NaNoWriMo profile thatt'll probably change in the first few chapters:

        "Sometime in the distant, unreachable future, humanity has defied all expectations of imminent demise and spread throughout the stars. The universe is up for exploration. Flight between planets, star systems, and galaxies is commonplace. Space travel has become normal.

        Too normal.

        What used to be the stuff of a million imaginations has become a nuisance. Swirling nebulas, black holes, crashing galaxies – everyday occurrences, replaced by the pure excitement of galactic politics, spacio-environmental activism, and, of course, flight delays. Lots and lots of flight delays.

        Is there anyone left out there to appreciate the wonders of the universe? Well, for one accidental time-traveler from 21st century Earth, there had better be."

        Inspired by, among other things, Doctor Who, American Gods, airport travel, and various sci-fi/fantasy thingies ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Shannon says:

      I am writing a seafaring adventure! It's about a girl adventurer who was rejected from the Imperial Navy for her gender and became a ship captain anyway, from the POV of her new cabin-boy, who is very underwhelmed to find that she is not quite the Dashing Male Hero that he had idolized. AND I AM NOT READY AT ALL, oh god I am so behind why do I procrastinate so much.

      • notemily says:

        omg, you're writing like MY FAVORITE STORY. Have you read the Bloody Jack books?

        • Shannon says:

          No, I have not! This story is purely self serving and without any kind of dignity, though. The title is going to be "The Great Molly Worthington And The Good Ship Adventure." Basically, poor Aaron has all his delusions crushed about seafaring life, Molly gets into fights her crew has to end, they drink a lot of rum, and pirates steal her map to find secret treasure that belongs to somebody else who didn't do anything to anybody. And there are krakens.

          • notemily says:

            that sounds PURELY AWESOME. (and when you're done, I bet you would LOVE the Bloody Jack books. They start out kind of serious but get progressively sillier.)

    • Alien scout whose lightspeed drive burns out while she's making a routine trip through our solar system. And since she's starting to run low on all the necessities, she comes down to Earth. Hilarity Ensues.

    • Alexander_G says:

      Late 18th century. Two English brothers, treasure hunters (think indiana Jones), take on a couple of jobs on the European mainland. They wind up dealing with various secret societies, collecting artifacts disproving the current Monarchs' claims to power. Eventually it all culminates in the French Revolution and similar Revolutions in England, Germany, Italy and Greece. As Europe rends itself apart the brothers find themselves on different sides of the conflict. A lot of cloak-and-dagger stuff, dark humor and ancient booby-traps.

      I've spend the last few days refreshing my history, I don't want to botch this up.

    • bookworm67 says:

      IT'S NOV 1 EVERYONE. All your stories sound awesome! Good luck! ๐Ÿ˜€

  17. VoldieBeth says:

    Oh Middle Earth, you are truly the coolest place EVER!! Best and most thought out fantasy ever! I can't wait for more!

  18. Smurphy says:

    I don't like Bilbo. I agree with the dwarves and think he's a whiny nuisance and the only reason they begun to think otherwise is because he's a sneak and a cheat and has gur terngrfg wizard helping him (which I guess technically is the reason they hired him) BUT STILL.

    I just don't like him.

    Also Happy Halloween y'all.

    To all my northeasters. No power at home. At work…. not working.

  19. clodia_risa says:

    I remember this scene as being one of the more frightening ones as a kid. Stuck in a tree, not able to go to sleep, enemies all around you and probably smelling you right now. I literally had no idea how they were going to escape this. They can run faster than you can change trees.

    Thank goodness for giant eagles!

  20. SporkyRat says:

    I was given a Nook Color for my birthday. Guess what the first book I bought was – yup. The Hobbit. I'm really enjoying going back and rereading the reviews after reading the chapter again.

    CAN'T WAIT MUCH LONGER. I have to resist the urge to read ahead!

  21. Appachu says:

    Rntyr rk znpuvan pbhag: 1.

    Also, Time Vortex in the Misty Mountains? New headcanon, right there.

  22. Elexus Calcearius says:

    You know….the dwarves are kind of dicks. I mean that in the best way possible, but its true. I understand the situation they're in, and how much getting that treasure means to them, but they're so mean and dismissive to Bilbo. Yeah, he's not the most powerful or strong creature in the world. But you've been traveling with him for months, and they don't even seem to care if he lives or dies! Even if you don't respect him for fighting, you'd think at least one or two of them would have become better friends by then…

    I'm several chapters ahead of this point, and I really am enjoying the story, and the narration style is warming up to me. It is nice how it feels like something of a fairy tale. Still, I do wish for more complicated villains. Everything seems into it For The Evulz. I'd understand it if they were just animals or creatures who had to eat, and didn't seem to see anything morally wrong in following their instincts….but its like they go out of the way to be as evil as possible, by taunting the creatures and causing pain for the pure pleasure of it. I just find myself hoping for a more nuanced villain. I know this is for kids, but kids are allowed shades of grey, too!

    That said, I'm really liking Bilbo. He's so sweet, and even if he's not the bravest, he tries his best, even when it seems like no one is supporting him. He's also so clever <3

    Also, Eagles are awesome.

  23. hpfish13 says:

    I wanted to post this piece of art, but because I'm not re-reading along, I'm not sure if it depicts the end of this chapter or the beginning of the next. Can someone help me out?

    Here's the art….

  24. arctic_hare says:

    FIFTEEN BIRDS IN FIVE FIR TREES. Yeah, that shit is super unsettling. Who the fuck wants to hear that on top of being up a tree that's ON FIRE? No thank you, DNW.

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

    The way Alan Lee drew the Wargs here will never not creep me out. It's all those glowing eyes in the dark where you can't even see the rest of their bodies. Brrrrr. This is a particularly awesome illustration in a book full of gorgeous art, IMO.

    I’m noticing a pretty neat pattern here: each chapter, Bilbo faces a new creature and a new situation that makes him confront a fear of his. And he overcomes both, not always on his own, and not always without a little help, but the end result is the same: he lives through it. That, to me, is what’s so intriguing to me about this book.

    THIS THIS THIS. I love Bilbo – I love his growth that we're seeing here, from someone scared of everything and barely able to handle the idea of going on an adventure, to someone starting to kick butt in spite of his fears. The way he just strolls into the midst of the dwarves is badass. My love for Bilbo as a protagonist is a good deal of why I love this book so damn much. <3 And, perhaps strangely, I don't have a problem with the lack of moral ambiguity here in the villains, or maybe that's because I still love fairy tales, so the fact that this reads like one appeals to me. Sometimes I just want a really well-told fairy tale.

  25. ChronicReader91 says:

    V pna’g ernq nalguvat nobhg gur rntyrf jvgubhg guvaxvat nobhg “Gur Rntyrf ner pbzvat! Gur Rntyrf ner pbzvat!” ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I was familiar with these mythological beings because of the Song of Ice and Fire series,

    Really? I thought Wargs were something that were unique to Tolkien’s books. Now I’m even more excited to start reading that series soon.


    Now you have learned a fundamental truth of these books: when Gandalf’s afraid, shit has gotten really bad.

    Look, the goblins MAKE UP A SONG ON THE SPOT ABOUT ROASTING OUR HEROES ALIVE WHILE THEY ARE STUCK IN A TREE. This is nightmare fuel!!! The very definition of it! Could you imagine facing death and your adversary creates a well-rhyming, improvised song on the spot? It would be so unsettling that you would BEG FOR A SWIFT DEATH.

    As if that wasn't bad enough, I bet the goblins sing off key too. Bastards. ๐Ÿ˜›

  26. ek_johnston says:

    Fifteen birds
    In five fir trees.
    Their feathers were fanned
    With the fiery breeze.
    What funny little birds
    They had no wings.
    Oh what shall we do
    With the funny little things?

    I had nightmares set to this poem for YEARS, but this is totally my favourite chapter anyway. I love the setting.

  27. stellaaaaakris says:

    Like I've said before, I'm not a huge fan of Tolkien's style in The Hobbit. Which is why I'm so excited for the movie! I love the story and I can't imagine there will be interruptions from a Tolkien-esque narrator throughout. It will be lovely and I have faith in Peter Jackson and co.

    I love how Dori (or was it Nori or Ori?) actually climbed out of the tree and let Bilbo use him as a ladder to get up even though the wolves were right there and must have just missed getting their teeth ahold of his beard. He's getting points in my book.

  28. readerofprey says:

    Yes! You have reached the deus ex hawkina chapter. Love it!

    PS. Can someone who knows how to embed a video put up the goblin-song from the Rankin-Bass cartoon? Because I remember that song being one of the things that scared me when I was a kid. I’d do it myself but I lost power in the weird October snow and now my computer’s low on battery.

  29. AmandaNekesa says:

    So the whole idea I had about following along with Mark didn't last long… after reading Riddles in the Dark, I had a hard time stopping myself from plowing through the rest of the book. I had forgotten how the pace picks up so early on in this book.

    I do love how, in every seemingly impossible situation, Bilbo finds a clever way out of trouble, and is sort of like: "hell yeah I just found my way out of being eaten by Gollum through my pro riddling skills and, oh yeah I just sort of jumped over Gollum and past a horde of goblins to escape. No big deal." If I was in Bilbo's shoes I would have been dead quite early on. Even if I somehow survived, the idea of holding on to a dwarf's legs while flying through the air would have been enough to give me a heart attack.

  30. Marie the Bookwyrm says:

    Well, if the alternative is staying in the tree until I burn up and the goblins/wargs feast on my crispy carcass, I think I'd grab a dwarf's legs pretty quickly. ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. Doodle says:



  32. Chris says:

    This was my favorite chapter title as a kid. I thought the imagery was so hilarious. Little did I know the phrase was a long and often used one.

  33. MidnightLurker says:

    So here's the thing about Wargs: This is a European fairy-tale type story. WOLVES ARE EVIL. PERIOD. There's no tradition of persecuted endangered noble wilderness creatures — wolves are HORRIBLE BLOODTHIRSTY MONSTERS THAT COME OUT OF THE WINTER NIGHT IN PACKS AND EAT WHOLE VILLAGES.

    You're just not going to find "nice" wolves in Tolkien. Dogs, now…

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Shh! Mark hasn't read Silmarillion yet. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      And yes, the Big Bad Wolf trope is a typical European fairy tale thing. Just look at the brothers Grimm stories.

    • notemily says:

      I saw this National Geographic special on Netflix about dogs (what I had a headache and wanted to watch something about puppies) and they talked about how even if you hand-raise a wolf from early puppyhood, it will not "turn into a dog" and be nice and sweet and try to please you. It will not care what you think because it's a wild creature. It takes generations of selective breeding for tameness and obedience to "make" a dog.

      They also did an experiment with foxes, where they bred some for tameness and some for aggression. The tame ones started to look and act more like dogs after a few generations, and the aggressive ones… were aggressive. They tried switching out a couple of baby foxes, putting the tame ones with the aggressive mothers and vice versa–and it made absolutely no difference. The genetically aggressive foxes grew up to be aggressive and the genetically tame foxes grew up to be tame, no matter what their upbringing.

      So that's what I think of when I read about evil wolves or whatever–that's just how they are. It does get a little weird when you talk about them being sentient and having a language, but the fact that they're just evil doesn't really bother me.

      • kristinc says:

        Domesticated dogs display behaviors their whole lives that wolves and other wild dogs only display in puppyhood. Essentially, in order to get them to give a damn what we think of them, we bred eternal babies.

  34. Becky_J_ says:

    So I think this is the only book in the universe where a character sets pinecones on fire to use them as a weapon.

    Nonsense, Mark…. don't you throw flaming pinecones at your enemies?? Trust me, it is SUPER SATISFYING

  35. littletonosense says:

    Flaming pinecones?

    I didn't know Gandalf was a whackbat fan

    <img src=""&gt;

  36. earis the istarwen says:

    You know, I like that theory. New head canon!

  37. fantasylover120 says:

    Hipster Gandalf….;snickers; Internet, there's a possible meme here. I know I can't be the only one that sees it.

  38. BetB says:

    My question is what will Mark make of the title to the next chapter? Have fun with it!

  39. F.A.R. says:

    Mark, this is why I have loved you since Harry Potter. Gerig ú-chûr, Mark. You're the best.

  40. Mitch_L_Grooms says:

    As far as I know, Tolkien in fact invented the Wargs, so it's not that he's using it differently, it's that GRRM completely changed the meaning of the term.

  41. Dreamflower says:

    Oh I'm so glad to see another chapter, this one is a particular favorite of mine for personal reasons that have nothing to do with the story, so no spoilers: The very first gift my husband of 35 years gave me back when we were dating was a hardback of The Hobbit, and when I opened it up, it randomly opened to this chapter. I took it (correctly) as an omen. (BTW, our first date was a bookstore. I know how to pick a keeper.)

    Anyway, this:
    I’m noticing a pretty neat pattern here: each chapter, Bilbo faces a new creature and a new situation that makes him confront a fear of his. And he overcomes both, not always on his own, and not always without a little help, but the end result is the same: he lives through it. That, to me, is what’s so intriguing to me about this book.

    *sigh* Really, really good insight into the story and the character!!!

Comments are closed.