Mark Reads ‘The Hobbit’: Chapter 10

In the tenth chapter of The Hobbit, Bilbo and the dwarves actually have something genuinely good happen to them. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hobbit.


Well, this is kind of pleasant when you look at the entire thing! And it’s rather nice that there’s a momentary break right in the midst of this, if only because jesus shit this is getting so intense. Even while simply dealing with the dwarves being in a bunch of barrels and getting them fed and re-supplied, Tolkien still advances the entire group of characters so that we can see how they’ve grown.


This is the first chance for Tolkien to give a character a glimpse of the Lonely Mountain; Bilbo manages to see it when the river gives way to a great valley of marshes, streams, and pools. At the same time, the sight of this mountain sends both dread and satisfaction through Bilbo. Obviously, he’s nearing the place where Smaug is supposed to be hoarding the dwarves’ gold, but he admits to himself that he’s done a pretty good job of keeping himself and his new friends alive. And it’s moments like this, where Bilbo concedes these things to himself, that we can see him continue to accept who he is and what he’s capable of.

This is also when the Long Lake is introduced; my only experience with a lake that could possibly compare to this is Lake Michigan. Well….I have lived in California most of my life, so I do have the Pacific Ocean close by all the time. Here, the Long Lake is yet another impossibly gigantic and overwhelming feature of the geography that Bilbo travels over. My first thought, though? OH SHIT WHAT LAKE MONSTERS ARE LURKING BENEATH THE SURFACE.

That’s part of the surprise (and appeal) of chapter ten. I kept expecting things to go wrong yet again. That’s what Tolkien has built into my head from the last five or six chapters. So when I learn that the town on this side of the lake is inhabited by men and Wood-elves, I anticipated the worst. How on earth would Bilbo free the dwarves without raising suspicion? Let’s say he did; if there’s only one town, how could they hide? Tolkien doesn’t take much time to answer this question when the Wood-elves leave the barrels and the raft behind to feast in town, and Bilbo is left behind to do his work.

I don’t know if it was Tolkien’s intention to write this so humorously, but I can’t help but smile and laugh at how this all unfolds. And not in a malicious way! I was worried about the state of the dwarves, after spending (what I think was) days inside those barrels, but then Bilbo’s first words to Thorin were so sassy that I couldn’t help but laugh:

“Well, are you alive or are you dead?” asked Bilbo quite crossly. Perhaps he had forgotten that he had had at least one good meal more than the dwarves, and also the use of his arms and legs, not to speak of a greater allowance of air. “Are you still in prison, or are you free? If you want food, and if you want to go on with this silly adventure–it’s yours after all and not mine–you had better slap your arms and rub your legs and try and help me get the others out while there is a chance!”

WELL, DAMN. Mr. Sassy Gay Hobbit, I see! I mean….Bilbo. Bilbo. These dwarves have BEEN IN BARRELS. For a very long time! And even after the two of them discover that only half of the remaining dwarves even respond to knocking, Bilbo doesn’t even relent in his irritation. I get that this isn’t his adventure, but you’re far enough away from home that this sort of doesn’t matter anymore. Still, I like this dynamic that the dwarves have with Bilbo, and vice versa. As they grow to respect one another, there’s still room for them to be curt with each other.

And so Thorin, Bilbo, and then Fili and Kili set about to free all of the dwarves. I liked that they weren’t all just sore or that they didn’t pop out of their barrels being perfectly fine; it’s a lot more realistic that way. Plus, as I said, I couldn’t help but smile at how ridiculous this must have looked: a bunch of soggy, nearly-unconscious dwarves laying about on the shore of a giant lake.

It’s obvious that there was really nothing left for them to do but to head into town, and it’s there that Thorin surprises me (and the guards as well): he tells the guards that he has come back and must see the Master of the town. I know that the dwarves are from this side of the world, but I was wondering what sort of plan Thorin had to get inside. It turns out to be incredibly simple: Thorin’s reputation (or at least his family name/grandfather) holds a whole lot of weight in this town, so much so that when the very Wood-elves who unknowingly brought the dwarves with them object to their presence, they’re overshadowed by the sheer excitement from the citizens of the place. WHICH IS PRETTY AWESOME, I MIGHT ADD. So Thror was called the King beneath the mountains? OMG WHAT DID HE DO. Was it something related to that goblin/dwarf war that’s been referenced?

Well, whatever it is, even though the Master of the town isn’t even entirely sure if this is actually Thorin, the citizens essentially pamper the entire group for a week. A whole week! There is a lot of food. There is new clothing. The dwarves basically get makeovers. EXTREME DWARF MAKEOVER. Oh, and this:

Then, as he had said, the dwarves’ good feeling towards the little hobbit grew stronger every day. There were no more groans or grumbles. They drank his health, and they patted him on the back, and they made a great fuss of him; which was just as well, for he was not feeling particularly cheerful.

THIS IS SO ADORABLE. He’s becoming their friend. Also, a hobbit with a cold. WHY DOES THAT SEEM LIKE IT WOULD BE CUTE AS WELL?

While everything is quite pleasant for the group, Tolkien allows us to see how things are back at the palace where the dwarves escaped. Understandably so, the Elvinking is a tad upset at the escape of his prisoners, and he resolves to block their passage if they try to return through the forest. If is the operative word; the Master holds the same sentiment, believing that Thorin and his band will never make to Smaug or they’ll be killed by the dragon if they do. It seems that not many people have faith in the group at all. And I get that; what these creatures are doing is ridiculous and absurd, but no one realizes what they’ve already been through, nor how much they’ve grown in the process. That’s for us to appreciate. Because make no mistake: this group of thirteen dwarves and one little hobbit are in a much better state than they were when they set out months ago.

oh god why do i think this is only going to get worse now oh god

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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76 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Hobbit’: Chapter 10

  1. Jenny_M says:

    Bilbo with a cold is the greatest image ever. For some reason it always tickles me pink when authors write in "Cold speak" and ebery-buddy speaks dike dis. *ACHOO*

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      I tend to really like when writers spell dialogue differently based on accents, even if it means I have trouble deciphering what they say. Like in Discworld V nofbyhgryl nqber gur Vtbef!

      Unfortunately, its one of those things that as a writer, I can't seem to pull off. I can speak in different accents, can't write them, either.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        VTBEF! <3 <3 <3

      • flootzavut says:

        V nyfb nofbyhgryl ybir ubj cGreel hfrf sbagf, sbe rknzcyr jvgu gur Xyngpuvna, naq Qrngu FCRNXVAT YVXR GUVF. Ur vf (VZB) ernyyl tbbq ng qbvat vg whfg rabhtu gb tvir n qvfgvapg synibhe bs na npprag, jvgubhg znxvat vg urnqnpur vaqhpvat. Bu naq bar V unir whfg erzrzorerq gung nyjnlf znxrf zr ynhtu, va Clenzvqf, jurer Cgenpv fnlf vg'f tbbq gb fcrnx jvgu n cgenpr bs na npprag orpnhfr vg znxrf ure zber rkbgvp 🙂

  2. bookworm67 says:

    Yay! Good things! This will absolutely not get 100X worse in the next few pages!

  3. cait0716 says:

    Happy chapter!!! 😀

    Also, they totally spent two weeks partying in Laketown, not just one.

    • drippingmercury says:

      Didn't they also spend 2 weeks in Rivendell? A fortnight appears to be the average length for a proper road trip party break.

      • cait0716 says:

        It's a good amount of time. You need that whole first week to relax after all the dangers of the road (and to recover from colds) then you can enjoy the pampering of the second week!

        • drippingmercury says:

          I'm trying to compare the traveling to partying ratio of my lengthiest camping-based road trips to Bilbo's journey. Even if I equate a Middle Earth week to a real life day AND factor in the luxury of modern travel, I still have spent far more relative time recovering in major cities and partying with distant friends. Granted, I was traveling for very different reasons, but Bilbo & co. should still take longer r&r breaks! That stuff wears you down. Especially if you're always getting left behind, saving everyone, and catching cold.

  4. chrisjpardo says:

    Is it just me, or are the Dwarves rubbish? They seem to have done nothing but get captured and require rescuing by Gandalf and/or Bilbo since we left The Shire. Oh, and complain. They also like to complain.

    They got lucky that they got teamed with the most badass of hobbits.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      I agree, it does seem like that. I mean- one of them shot that deer…and then immediately fell asleep. And they all got captured by the trolls. And…


    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      I may not disagree with this.


    • knut_knut says:

      they really are. I feel really, really bad for saying this, but Bombur has been especially useless. Rfcrpvnyyl arkg puncgre jura rirelbar vf bcravat gur frperg qbbe gb gur zbhagnva naq Obzohe vf anccvat -_- They need to lay off on the insults about his weight, though.

    • Stephen_M says:

      To be fair though they DID all manage to escape alive from the Goblins in the Misty Mountains. Considering they didn't loose a single dwarf and didn't have the benefit of magic rings it's a fair assumption some arse had to be at least seriously prodded while we were with Bilbo at the underground lake. Dwarves, after all, tend to be fighters and miners in Middle Earth, all the time (with the exception of the Misty Mountains) we've seen them so far they've been out of their element to some degree.

      • BetB says:

        They only escaped the goblins because of Gandalf.

        • Stephen_M says:

          Not entirely accurate. Yes, Gandalf freed them in the first place (and was clearly a major force in the overall escape to the other side of the Misty Mountains) but re-read chapters 4 and 6 again. As they run from the Goblins only Gandalf and Thorin are armed. They turn a corner, about-face, kill some of the Goblins chasing them and put enough fear into the rest to buy them time to escape. Then the Goblins send their fastest runners to catch them, at which point Bilbo is seperated from the action.

          We don't get a full retelling of what happened then but Dori says "Goblins fighting and biting in the dark, everybody falling over bodies and hitting one another! You [Gandalf] nearly chopped off my head with Glamdring, and Thorin was stabbing here there and everwhere with Orcrist." Considering that was armed Goblins against unarmed Dwarves and they held their own well enough for none of the dwarves to be seriously injured I'd say they gave a good account of themselves before Gandalf flashed everyone (heh… sorry). Oh, and they also managed to "dash past the gate-guards" without too much harm.

          So yes, Gandalf was very important to the escape but to say the Dwarves did nothing isn't entirely fair or accurate.

  5. Cassie5squared says:

    One of the most striking images from this chapter for me is the description of Thorin when they first enter Lake-town. Tolkien makes sure we know just how bedraggled Thorin is, down to the fact the silver tassel on his hood is tarnished, and then reminds us all that this dwarf has the sheer presence to get an audience with the leader of the town. Thorin is the son of dwarven KINGS, he can go where he damn well likes and knows it. :p

  6. Kelsey says:

    When I read this chapter, I definitely imagined the dwarves and Bilbo at some sort of sleepover, all in fuzzy pajamas and giving each other medi-pedis. Except for Thorin, who would be grumbling about dwarven masculinity in the corner.

  7. pennylane27 says:

    Ah, I love happy chapters, until I realise they can only mean shit's gonna get so real the author needs to give you a break.

    Bilbo continues to be adorable and badass in equal parts. I approve.

  8. Darth_Ember says:

    Spoilers: The warm welcome will stop rather abruptly when Bombur turns back into Smaug and tries to eat everybody. He's been tagging along spying on the others all along, you see, even if he's not used to turning into a dwarf and is a bit awkward about it. Still, that'll change when he starts breathing fire.
    /blatant lies

    (Also, yes, I find it oddly cute that poor Bilbo's come down with a cold.)

    • drippingmercury says:

      As it turns out, Bombur is only the fattest because he's ACTUALLY a gigantic dragon using a compression field to masquerade as a dwarf, just like the Slitheen in Doctor Who. I figured out that episode's plotline so fast because of the Hobbit. At least Tolkien was too classy to make fun of Bombur/Smaug's terrible compression field related gas.

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        Yeah, the fart jokes made the Slitheen get tired rather quickly for anyone above ten. XD

        Still, that would be an AMAZING twist.

        • drippingmercury says:

          I think with this book Tolkien proved that you can entertain and amuse children without resorting to fart jokes. It's beautiful.

  9. Mauve_Avenger says:

    Let's see if this works better today. And it doesn't.

    Lake-town, complete with guard-hut before the bridge and a raft-elf (I guess it could actually be one of the townsmen?) who looks like he's wearing jeans and a red t-shirt. Also, there are people in swan-boats jub nera'g anzrq Pryrobea be Tnynqevry. Vf gung rira nyybjrq?
    <img src=" Town.jpg">
    Click for larger version.

    Sourcery (warning: spoilers!), since it's implied that Gandalf might be coming back into the story sometime soon.

    • bookworm67 says:

      Off topic, but when I saw the 'Sourcery' link I immediately thought of Discworld because I'm reading the book that's called "Sourcery" now. Then I saw the 'Gandalf might be coming back into the story sometime', and since the book involves wizards, well… 😀

  10. Amanda says:

    I don't know why, but I have this irrational fear of this lake, but at the same time, this irrational desire to just look at it, or swim in it.

  11. tethysdust says:

    I was pretty worried about the future, like Bilbo, while reading this chapter, though it was nice that they all got such a warm reception. But… do the dwarves even have a plan? I don't think they've really mentioned anything up until now, and they don't seem to be so great at improvisation (always being rescued by Gandalf/Bilbo…).

    • chikzdigmohawkz says:

      When you asked whether the dwarves have a plan, I immediately thought, 'The dwarves are Cylons!' This is where my brain is at right now…

  12. VoldieBeth says:

    Lovely chapter! Character growth, celebration and Bilbo with a cold! So cute!! I can't wait for more!

  13. msw188 says:

    Thag you very buch.

  14. @unefeeverte says:

    Also, a hobbit with a cold. WHY DOES THAT SEEM LIKE IT WOULD BE CUTE AS WELL?

    That just made me think of sneezing puppies, which, yeah, TOTALLY CUTE, so you might have a point.

  15. Lyra Laurelluin says:

    While I agree that Bilbo is totally BAMF, I think his BAMFery is slightly exceeded by the Bullroarer inventing golf by knocking a goblin's head into a hole. But only in raw strength and fighting skills; I don't think the Bullroarer could have out-riddled Gollum, or gnyxrq uvf jnl bhg bs Fznht'f ynve.

  16. arctic_hare says:

    Yeah, you know what I got for you here. 😀

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

    ISN'T LAKETOWN PURTY? 😀 I love that picture, it's so beautiful! For some reason, art of towns at sundown, as the sky is getting dark and the lights in the houses are starting to go on, strikes a huge chord with me. Much more evocative and lovely, I think, than a picture of a town in broad daylight during the middle of the day would be. But maybe that's just me. Anyway, this is another great picture from Alan Lee. <3

    Also, all I gotta say, Mark, is this (say it with me, everyone): YOU ARE NOT PREPARED. 😀

    • Stephen_M says:

      Very, yes. Although the engineer in me is looking at those moveable bridges and wondering how they get water into the counterweights to raise them. Or do several laketown lads just jump up and grab hold?

      Oh yes, I never understand why artists draw scenes like this in the middle of the day, photographers certainly wouldn't go around taking pictures then. Half an hour(ish) either side of sunrise / sunset is far more normal if you want good results.

      • t09yavosaur says:

        This engineer sees no physical way to move them in the picture (and judging by the people in it it would be a pretty long jump :P) but if I were to build it I would put in some ropes that could pull the weights down, and if it is balanced right then you would just need to push the bridge part to put it back down.

  17. settlingforhistory says:

    I really enjoyed this chapter, even though it is simply the calm before the storm.
    The legend of Thorin's family and Dale is so interesting, because we are already reading the Hobbit as a kind of legend about people who lived hundreds of years ago and these characters know legends of people who had adventures and battles in a time even farther back. I love this, it's like a long and funny and slightly confusing history lesson.

  18. ravenclaw42 says:

    It's a short chapter, but a desperately needed rest. I get absolutely exhausted by books & movies where the MC(s) go through days of action and trauma, aren't allowed to rest, and yet are still able to bring all their coherency and skill to a boss fight at the end (side-eying you, Harry Dresden). No matter how exciting the story is, I get sympathetically sleepy. The longest I've ever been awake is 33 hours; by hour 30 I was laughing hysterically, unable to stand upright, cripplingly nauseous and seeing bats out of the corners of my eyes. I just can't stretch my imagination around any character being action-ready if they've spent several sleepless and possibly seasick days in a barrel following several weeks of starving, being poisoned and living in sunless dungeons.

    So it's appropriate that this chapter has one of my top two favorite Hague illustrations, just because it's so calm and peaceful (the second one).

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;
    The streams shall run in gladness,
    The lakes shall shine and burn,
    All sorrow fail and sadness
    At the Mountain-king's return!

    ALSO, OMG OMG the new Hobbit video blog! So much Mirkwood! John Howe and Alan Lee being adorkable! 😀 So many THINGS, I can't even. o/

    • chikzdigmohawkz says:

      Did you see? He uploaded a 3D concept sketch. (And it's not at all spoilery, so go check it out, people.) Excuse me while I go search for 3D glasses in order to find out if it really works…

      • chikzdigmohawkz says:

        It does – it works. I am far too excited about this…

        • ravenclaw42 says:

          I don't have any 3D glasses, whyyy. 🙁 I've never been excited about seeing something in 3D before, but seeing the methods spelled out this way and knowing that all these creative minds are thinking through and playing with every second of the process makes it feel so much more fun and less gimmicky.

          • chikzdigmohawkz says:

            About a year ago, we got 'The Polar Express' in 3D. I have no idea why, because we still haven't watched it. But as soon as I saw the artwork, I was like, 'Where is that DVD, I must find it now!'

            Also, they named all of the cameras, and four of them are John, Paul, George, and Ringo. I don't know why that makes me laugh, but it does.

            I'm still planning to watch the movies in the regular format first, mainly because that's how I saw the trilogy, and I want the same feeling when I see The Hobbit. And the I'll probably watch it in 3D because it just seems downright cool. I think the fact that they're actually filming with specific 3D cameras, and not just converting the format after the fact is what's going to make it actually worth seeing, because converting to 3D makes everything darker, and…there are other things but I can't remember them right now. So that's why most movies shown in 3D tend to be less-than-stellar: it's because they weren't filmed for the format in the first place. I'm cautiously hopeful for this one.

            • Aliciaspinnet says:

              Wasn’t there a plan at one point in the 60s to make a Lord of the Rings movie with the Beatles as hobbits?

      • Danielle says:

        They HAND-DREW a 3D CONCEPT SKETCH. I can't even my brain what is going on

    • arctic_hare says:

      I know, right? I just watched it and was flailing all over the place! It's especially freaky to me that they showed shooting from the Mirkwood stuff that we just went over yesterday! AND CERTAIN STUFF LOOKED JUST LIKE THE PICTURES I POSTED. Fcrpvsvpnyyl, Ovyob crepurq va gur gbcf bs gur gerrf naq rfcrpvnyyl gur qjneirf genccrq va gur fcvqrejrof. Seriously, getting them to design stuff for the movies was one of the best decisions Peter Jackson made and I'm so ridiculously happy they're back. <3

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Indeed the newest videoblog is all kinds of AWESOMESAUCE. <3 <3 <3

      I did a bunch of snapshots of the more interesting stuff – you can download them here.

      V ernyyl yvxr gur ybbx bs Bepevfg – guvf vf gur svefg tyvzcfr jr trg bs vg va vgf ragvergl, rira sbe n oevrs zbzrag. Abg gur orfg dhnyvgl rire, ohg orggre guna abguvat.

  19. Kiryn says:

    I think things seem like they're going to get worse Mark because they're off to, you know, battle a dragon. Just maybe.

    But I think I'd still take battling the dragon over dealing with those Mirkwood spiders ever again. Dragons are scary, yeah, but they're also undeniably awesome and BAMFs. Spiders are just flat out creepy, no matter what. *shivers*

  20. ChronicReader91 says:

    Oh no, I fell behind on my re-reading! I’m all caught up now.

    It’s amazing that the dwarves were even alive, let alone able to move immediately ,after they come out of the barrels, so I kind of wanted to tell Bilbo to just settle the heck down and let them have a few minutes break first. 😛 I love how, in just a few chapters, he has gone from the burden to the one who saves everyone’s asses. And he’s doing it all with a cold.

    Laketown! Yay! I always have loved the idea of houses that stand on a body of water (as opposed to next to it). If I understand correctly, men and wood-elves both live there?

    oh god why do i think this is only going to get worse now oh god

    Now, Mark, why ever would you think that? 😉

  21. Meltha says:

    WELL, DAMN. Mr. Sassy Gay Hobbit, I see!

    I'm not sure how Bilbo actually identifies, but judging by the total lack of female characters of any substance to this point, I'd say that's possible just by default in this world. I love Tolkien dearly, but he's not much for females in The Hobbit.

    • Kudz says:

      Zna, Gbyxvra vfa'g zhpu sbe jbzra va YBGE rvgure. Tnynqevry vf njrfbzr, bs pbhefr, naq Rbjla xvpxf nff, ohg lbh'yy abgr gung nyzbfg nf fbba nf Snenzve znxrf uvf zbir, Rbjla vf nyy "Lrnu, svtugvat vf ynzr – V'z tbvat gb gnxr hc tneqravat abj!"

    • Nerdfoxy says:

      Is there a term like shipping for hoping characters are gay? Bilbo is definitely a "confirmed bachelor" in my interpretation of things.

  22. Tauriel_ says:

    I can't wait to see Fgrcura Sel as the Master of Laketown! 😀 <3 <3 <3

  23. notemily says:

    Also, a hobbit with a cold. WHY DOES THAT SEEM LIKE IT WOULD BE CUTE AS WELL?

    BECAUSE IT WOULD BE. I have three foster kittens with colds right now and their sneezing is ADORABLE.

  24. nanceoir says:

    Maybe it's because I'm reading ASoIaF concurrently with this, but when they talk about the King Under the Mountain, my mind tends to try and change it to King in the North, and then I have to do a doubletake and correct myself.

  25. Nick says:

    The phrase "Mr. Sassy Gay Hobbit, I see!" made me laugh so hard.

    And then I realised that Bilbo is fifty years old and never married… hmm…

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