Mark Reads ‘The Hobbit’: Chapter 12

In the twelfth chapter of The Hobbit, Bilbo descends into the lair of Smaug. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hobbit.

CHAPTER TWELVE: INSIDE INFORMATION

John started across the bed at Christopher’s face. He’d gotten used to that eager look, so when he raised up his leather-bound journal, prepared to read, he wasn’t surprised that Christopher started first.

“Papa,” he asked, “where are we again?”

John smiled. “Well, my son, we got as far as Bilbo and the dwarves find the secret entrance.”

“It’s not a secret anymore, is it?”

“Well….not to them, I suppose, but that doesn’t make it not a secret.”

“But now we know about it, so it’s not a secret.”

John sighed. “Are we starting off like this again?”

Christopher smiled and settled into bed, pulling the cover up to his chin. “Sorry, Papa. I’ll be quiet this time. I promise!”

He smiled back at his son. He did enjoy this time, even if Christopher could be a bit inquisitive. He looked down at his notes and began to continue the story of Bilbo Baggins.

“So, they’re at the opening of the cave, and Thorin turns to Bilbo and the others, and begins to tell them all that it’s time for Bilbo to fulfill his end of the bargain by using his burglar skills to descend into the mountain.”

“What does Thorin say?” Christopher interrupted.

John paused. “Well, a lot. You know Thorin. He’s terribly concerned with honor and the spectacle of it all.”

“But what does he say?

“Can’t you just imagine it?”

“I suppose,” he replied.

John scribbled a note in his margin, MAKE SURE TO DEVELOP THORIN’S STYLE, before continuing. “So, after a lengthy little speech, Biblo speaks up and points out that he’s already helped the dwarves get out of danger twice, and those certainly weren’t part of the agreement.”

“Shouldn’t he ask for more treasure?”

“I–I suppose, but remember, he sort of grew up with money. It’s not like he needs more.”

“But then he could buy more….hobbit stuff.” Christopher paused and brushed his hair off his forehead. “Papa, what do hobbits buy with their money? More food? More hobbit-holes?”

“Son, we can talk about this later. Can I continue with the story?”

“Oh, right, sorry,” he replied. He mimed zipping his lips shut.

John grinned in response, then pressed on. “Anyway, Bilbo Baggins, now more confident than ever before that luck was on his side, agreed that it was time for him to slip down into Smaug’s lair. When he asked if any of the dwarves would volunteer to come with him, he wasn’t surprised to be met with silence. Well, except for old Balin, who had come to like the hobbit after all this time.”

“He’s going to get eaten, isn’t it?”

“No, he’s not.”

“Why not? Dragons get hungry. Do dragons eat dwarves?”

“Well….they eat everything, I guess.”

“Even poop?”

“Christopher, I swear–”

“Well, you said everything, Papa, I’m just asking.”

“Who eats poop, son? Why would the dragon eat poop???”

“I don’t know,” he replied, shuffling in his bed. “Maybe it’s full of nutrients.” His father groaned. “Look, maybe roasted poop is a delicacy to Smaug, Papa! How would you know?”

“Because I just know, Christopher. Smaug doesn’t poop or pee or anything, the end. Can we? Please?”

“Sure, sure, sorry.”

John wrote another note in the margin (DEFINE SMAUG’S EATING HABITS), then turned the page to continue the story. “So, slipping the ring he stole from Gollum onto his finger, bidding goodbye to the dwarves, Bilbo began to walk down into Smaug’s cave. Now, it became increasingly warm as he got closer and closer to where Smaug was sleeping–”

“Why is Smaug sleeping?”

“Because he’s tired?”

“Why would he be tired? What kind of dragon needs to sleep?”

“Nearly every living creature has to sleep, Christopher.”

“I don’t.”

“Yes, you do.”

“No, I don’t,” he insisted, crossing his arms defiantly. “I only do it to make you happy.”

John had to laugh at that one. “Well, we’ll see about that. Anyway, Bilbo knew that there was no turning back at this point. In a way, it was like the entire battle was fought right there, at the end of the long tunnel to Smaug’s cave. Knowing that this could end in disaster, he decided to press forward, and the hardest part was suddenly over.”

“I really like that part.”

John was taken aback. “Oh, so you finally have a comment that isn’t smart?”

“Aw, come on, Papa. I’m just having fun. I really do like that! You should keep it in there. When you make it into a book, that is.”

“I’m not writing any of this down like that, son. I’ve got too many scholarly things to attend to.”

“Well,” said Christopher smugly, “we’ll see about that.”

“Do you want to hear about the dragon or not?”

“Oh! Are we actually there? Already???” The child couldn’t hide his excitement.

“Yes. Smaug was curled up asleep in the giant cave that used to be the dungeon-hall for the ancient dwarves who used to live there. Bilbo was shocked to see that beneath his red-gold scaly body, he lay upon the entire treasure that Thorin had told him about. It was unlike anything he could even conceive of, son. There was so much gold that it would have taken the rest of Bilbo’s life just to count it all. And all of that go–”

“Why would Smaug sleep on treasure, Papa? Wouldn’t that be uncomfortable?”

“That’s not the point, son. The point is that the dragon is so greed–”

“Does he have a pillow made of gold or something?”

He balked at his son’s suggestion. “No. No. No, how would that be comfortable? A pillow of solid gold?”

“Sure. He’s rich.”

“But you just said that sleeping on gold was uncomfortable.”

“I’m not the one who wrote about a dragon sleeping on a pile of treasure.”

John sighed. “I am not having this argument. Smaug is still asleep when Bilbo sneaks into his cave, made invisible by his ring. Bilbo can see part of the dragon’s pale underbelly, which is crusted with gems and gold from the many days spent resting on top of the dwarves’ treasure. And what a treasure it was, son! There was so much of it that Bilbo couldn’t even look at it all if he spent a year in that cave!”

“I bet he could.”

“It’s an exaggeration, son. A hyperbole, if you must. It’s meant to demonstrate the ridiculous amount of treasure.”

“There you go again, using all your big genius words, Papa.”

“Who’s telling this story, me or you?”

“Well, maybe I should tell it!”

“And then all the characters would have gold pillows or eat flame-broiled poop or travel by hover raft.”

“Papa, hover rafts don’t exist yet. Gosh, I told you that is what I would do if this story was set in the future.”

“Then maybe you should write this then,” said John, exasperated.

“I should! First thing I would do is…I would give Bilbo a car.”

“No.”

“Aw, why not? Wouldn’t they get around Middle Earth much faster?”

“I hate cars!”

“Ok then,” Christopher conceded. “Imagine this.” He held out his hands as if whatever object he was about to describe was right in front of him. “What if it was a bicycle…but in a car? Would that be fine?”

“Is that your idea? A bicycle in a car?”

Christopher stroked his chin, much like his father would when he had a particularly difficult thought churning in his head. “I think I’ll have to work on that for a while. Continue, please!” He pulled the covers back up and gave his father a look of quiet resignation, satisfied that he had an idea to work on.

John took the opportunity to continue. “Bilbo realized that this might be his only chance to prove to the dwarves that he was capable of completing this mission. Being ever so careful to not wake up the mighty dragon, the hobbit crept closer and closer until he was able to snatch up a two-handed cup. He did not hesitate to scamper away from the lair as quickly as possible, and return to the dwarves.”

“Wait.”

John didn’t even hide his frustration at this point. “What? What is it this time? Should Bilbo have carried the entirety of the treasure in one of his hobbit pockets? Should he have killed the dragon and then the story would just be over? Should he just sacrifice the dwarves and make off with the treasure himself?”

“No, Papa. I was just going to ask if Bilbo ever gets haircuts.”

“What??? WHY IS THAT THOUGHT IN YOUR HEAD?”

“I don’t know, wouldn’t he get all hot and sweaty all the time? Especially when he’s running out of that cave?”

“Look, I–oh. Well…that’s actually a good point. I hadn’t thought about it.”

“See, Papa,” Christopher said, a smug smile spreading on his face. “I can totally help you with this book.”

“I’m not turning this into a book. It’s just for you and your siblings.”

“Well, you’re certainly not going to if you don’t finish telling me the story.”

“You’re mighty presumptuous tonight,” John retorted. He picked up where he’d left off. “The dwarves were more than ecstatic to see Bilbo with a single piece of their fortune, passing it amongst one another, touching it, reveling in its very existence. But they had forgotten about Smaug while celebrating their premature victory. Smaug knew of the tiny hole in his cave and knew that he should have sealed it up, and he knew within an instant of waking up that a single piece of treasure. It’s sort of like…it’s sort of like when someone who is rich loses something they never knew they had, and they become furious at the notion that it’s gone.”

“That’s good. You should keep that in.”

“Thank you, esteemed editor.” John wrote KEEP THIS in the margin, then continued. “The dwarves and Bilbo panicked when they heard Smaug’s screams and ducked into the cave, but not before hoisting Bofur and Bombur up with them by using their system of ropes.”

“I thought you said earlier that Bombur was too heavy to be pulled up the mountainside.”

“Not with twelve other dwarves pulling on the ropes.”

“That’s not realistic.”

“Neither is a fire-breathing dragon, Christopher. So Smaug flew around the mountain, scorching everything in sight, hoping to burn the thieves alive. The dwarves’ ponies began to panic and ran off in a desperate attempt to escape the mighty dragon, leaving our heroes alone in the cave.”

“The ponies are going to die, aren’t they, Papa?”

“Unfortunately, yes.”

“That’s mean.”

“Life isn’t always nice.”

“But what about the ponies’ feelings?”

“I–I don’t know, son. They’re ponies. I am not really concerned about the moral implications of killing off some ponies.”

“You’re a butcher.”

“I’d appreciate it if you could drop the faux moral crusade.”

“What if I wrote a story about a hobbit who rides six of you to the Lonely Mountain and then six of you get chased and eaten by a dragon?”

“That’s virtually impossible, Christopher.”

“I thought you didn’t care for realism, Papa.”

“I find your silence to be fantastical, since it never seems to stick around for very long.”

Christopher nodded his head in approval, giving his father a shifty look. “Well-played. Continue.”

John side-eyed his son, but chose to keep telling the story. “The dwarves and Bilbo decided to wait things out, sealed within the mountain, and it wasn’t long until they started to blame Bilbo for the whole mess, since he was the one who decided to steal a mere cup from Smaug’s pile of treasure.”

“As they should!”

John ignored that. “Bilbo was quick to point out that he was actually doing as he was supposed to, and that it was wildly unrealistic of the dwarves to think that a lone hobbit could transport a treasure of that size out of a cave even if there wasn’t a dragon.”

“So how does Bilbo do it?”

“I’ll get there, son.”

“But how?”

“Can I build a moment? Please?”

Christopher relented. “Bilbo decided to make an offer to the dwarves,” John said, “and said he would go spy on Smaug while the dragon was sleeping to see if there might be a weakness he could discern from him.”

“I bet the dragon is invincible.”

“Nothing’s invincible, son.”

“I bet I could think of something.”

“I don’t care.”

An idea.” Christopher looked beside himself with satisfaction.

“That–that doesn’t even make sense.”

“You just think about it awhile. Go on. Keep going. What did Bilbo see?”

Sighing, he obeyed. “Bilbo thought he could sneak into Smaug’s lair undetected, but the dragon could sense that something was in his cave. Smaug possessed a strong sense of smell, and so he spoke up to tell Bilbo that he knew he was there.”

“The dragon can talk?”

“Yes, Christopher. The dragon can talk.”

“Why can’t the ponies talk?”

John threw his hands into the air. “Who cares about the ponies? Why does it matter to you?”

“Because I am deeply interested in the logic that goes into world-building, and how the creation of beings that are anthropomorphized relates to our understanding of both the natural world and the social make-up of post-World War I Britain.”

John stared at his son, shocked into silence.

“I’m just kidding. I just think talking ponies would be neat, don’t you?”

John scowled. “I’m serious, no more interruptions. This is an important part! You can’t pay attention if you’re always asking questions. Okay?”

“Deal.”

“Bilbo decided that he could not avoid talking to the dragon, so he tried bluffing, assuring Smaug that he was not there to take anything from him. But both parties were much smarter than the other anticipated, and Smaug was impressed with the many riddles that Bilbo related to him.”

“Didn’t Bilbo use riddles once already?”

“Well, yes, but in this case, he is telling Smaug who he is in ambiguous terms. See, dragons are drawn to such things?”

“Why?”

“It’s just how they are.”

“Why?”

“Nope, not falling for that again. Smaug calls Bilbo’s bluff, stating that he knows he is traveling with dwarves because he could smell them on the ponies he ate.”

“That’s gross, Papa.”

“Your interruptions are gross, Christopher.”

“Is that the best you’ve got?”

“This isn’t a contest. Can’t I just finish one goddamn story without an interruption?”

“Can you? You don’t have to stop and answer me when I ask a question.”

John turned his head to the side, much like a confused dog. “Fine. Then I won’t. Smaug began to tease Bilbo about the dwarves, asking him why he’s doing all the hard work but taking an equal share of the payout?”

“Is it because he’s a pushover, Papa?”

“Bilbo fell right into this trap, only momentarily, as he began to realize that Smaug had a point. He was doing all of the hard work, yet everyone would be paid the same.”

“Are the dwarves Communists, Papa?”

“Smaug continued to harass Bilbo. He asked the hobbit how he would even cart his part of the treasure back to his home, and Bilbo knew, yet again, that the dragon was right.”

“I told you that they should have brought a car.”

“But Bilbo did not allow himself to be fooled for quite so long. He insisted that the gold was not the real reason they came; it was for revenge!”

“Bilbo has nothing to avenge, Papa.”

“But Smaug laughed at this very notion. No one would be able to get revenge against a creature so heavily protected by a golden and gem-filled skin of scales. He even rolled on to his back to show off his under-covering.”

“So Smaug’s just like a giant puppy, then. Bilbo should distract him with a game of fetch!”

“However, Bilbo was able to spy a patch of unprotected scales on the dragon’s left breast and knew that this dragon did indeed have a weak spot.”

“That’s cheating.”

“And so the hobbit, renewed by this revelation, made one last barb at the dragon and then began to run back to the dwarves, only narrowly escaping being burnt alive.”

“Mmm, roast hobbit!”

“Despite feeling brave at the moment, Bilbo was rather rattled and shaken by the time he returned to the dwarves, so much so that he was unable to speak when he first saw them. But his friends were able to calm him down after a while.”

“They had a slumber party!”

“Bilbo did the best he could to relate the tale as detailed as possible, leaving out any details that might make him look bad.”

“Like the fact that he and Smaug had a hot session of mouth hugging.”

“CHRISTOPHER. WHAT.”

“I told you that you don’t have to answer me.”

Mouth hugging? Where did you even learn that phrase?”

“Just keep going! I really want to know what happens next!”

“I swear…anyway, there’s not much left. I’m sort of at the end of the notes I jotted down. The dwarves and Bilbo try to think of a plan to attack the dragon, but none of them seem safe. At the last minute, Bilbo realizes that Smaug is about to send fire down upon him, and Thorin helps the dwarves shut the door. And just in time as well, as Smaug blasts fire on the outside of the door. They all fled down further into the tunnel as Smaug threatened to go after the men of the Long Lake in retaliation.”

John closed his notebook and looked at his son. “Papa, is that all you’ve got?”

“Yes,” he said, barely hiding his frustration. “I haven’t planned much past that.”

“So does Bilbo kill Smaug?”

“You’ll have to wait to find out.”

“Aw, come on. I need to know!”

“Honestly, you must wait. It’s time for you to go to bed anyway. These reading sessions always take longer than I think they will. I wonder why.”

Christopher laughed heartily. “Oh, come on. You love it. Just a little bit. Admit it!”

John had to concede that. “I must admit…it does help me think of ways to improve the story.”

“For when you publish it, right?”

“No, that’s not happening.”

“As you say, Papa!” He rolled over on his side to face his father. “Thanks for reading to me. I really like this story.”

“Thanks, son,” John replied, running a hand through Christopher’s hair. “It’ll be a few days before I’m ready to tell the next part, though.”

“Just promise me one thing.”

“I’m not going to like this.”

“You have to put talking ponies in the next chapter.”

“No. Ponies don’t talk.”

“Goblins aren’t even real and they get to speak! How is that fair?”

“I don’t understand your obsession with ponies. There’s a blasted dragon in this book. Don’t you find that exciting?”

“Maybe as exciting as lice, Papa. I’d much rather have a talking pony than a dragon.”

“You are an odd child.”

“Love you too, dad.”

The lights went out and as Christopher drifted to sleep, John couldn’t help but wonder if his story would be better with talking ponies. He eventually decided against it, but he had to admit that a talking pony was a lot better than a smarmy, greedy dragon.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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154 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Hobbit’: Chapter 12

  1. Ryan Lohner says:

    Are you sure you haven't read The Princess Bride? Because this is pretty darn close.

    • SporkyRat says:

      I'm sure I'm not the only one who'll agree with you on this.

    • chikzdigmohawkz says:

      From Mark's Confirmed Reading List:

      'The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I don’t care that I’ve seen the movie, I’ve not read the book and this idea is too good to pass up.'

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      Haha, this is awesome. I haven't read the book, but I've seen the movie a quarter of a million times. I was sort of going for that effect, but far more extreme.

  2. nanceoir says:

    Oh, Mark, that's just about the most precious review you've ever written. Delightful!

  3. nanceoir says:

    Also, in case anyone missed it…

    cait0716 in yesterday's comments:

    Smaug is clearly the 1% of Middle Earth.

    From this chapter:

    …the sort of rage that is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy suddenly lose something that they have long had but have never before used or wanted.

    So… that's canon, right?

    • cait0716 says:

      I sort of made that comment off-handedly yesterday in response to Mark's paragraph:
      some goddamn dragon is hoarding your wealth in a cave just because it can. It’s not like Smaug is going to go out for a nice stroll on the Long Lake and do some shopping with the gold! God, WHAT A BIGOT

      But then I was re-reading this chapter this morning and it totally fits and is canon! I'm always amazed that books written so long ago can stay so relevant over the years in unexpected ways.

    • flootzavut says:

      Very much so!!

      Love this review btw Mark, made me chuckle, though I confess (to my shame) it took a while for the penny to drop so I knew which John and Christopher you were talking about. There was something very charming about a slightly americanised pair of Tolkiens who apparently can also see the future and it tickled my funnybone which is no mean feat this last couple of days!

  4. ElisabethMK says:

    Oh Mark. This made my morning:) and now i'm going to be late to class again and it's ALL YOUR FAULT but i suppose it's ok all right i'm leaving now bye thanks for the nice review it made me giggle all the giggles ok i am leaving for real now bye.

  5. knut_knut says:

    D’awww! This review is so cute! And very Princess Bride-y! Imagine this guy reading you a bedtime story:

    <img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v603/sqwonk/tolkien1.gif"/&gt;

    I know I keep going on and on about the movie, but I CANNOT WAIT to see Smaug on screen! ASDJF;ALKJDF;LAKJS

    "I am he that buries his friends alive and drowns them and draws them alive again from the water. I came from the end of a bag, but no bag went over me."
    "These don't sound so creditable," scoffed Smaug.

    lol does Smaug want to check Bilbo’s resume? I would never survive a job interview with Smaug.

    • "Can you tell of a time when you got entangled something far more difficult than you could handle? Are- were- you able to escape? Be careful how you answer- I'm going to need some interestingly vague metaphors and riddle-like explanations to keep me interested… and this interview depends on my interest. I have met several puzzling candidates in my time, but their like is no longer in the world today. Take your time."

    • Geolojazz says:

      Um, for serious, is that a real Tolkien gif???

    • pandalilies says:

      He is like the MOST PRECIOUS GRANDPA EVER.

  6. bearshorty says:

    Hee. This was really, really funny. I will have to read it again once I get back from work to make sure I didn't miss anything.

    Poor ponies, they keep being eaten.

    Illustrations for Chapter 12:

    <img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-yJrF2076fa8/TrCWHivwEKI/AAAAAAAAAYI/E7EhORdXYNQ/s512/DSCN1081.JPG&quot; alt="sleeping dragon" border="1" height="300"/>

    <img src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-RpsQ8HD6leY/TrCV5eykHlI/AAAAAAAAAYA/zNh8VJb6F8E/s640/DSCN1080.JPG&quot; alt="sneaking" border="1" height="300"/>

  7. leighzzz31 says:

    This is too damn adorable, Mark. Though it did take me about ten seconds to realise who the hell John and Christopher were.

    "Christopher, I swear – "

    “Well, you said everything, Papa, I’m just asking.”

    “Who eats poop, son? Why would the dragon eat poop???”

    This made me laugh way too much. Papa Tolkien needs to appear in more of your reviews. Christopher sounds like me when I was a kid, obnoxious and too curious for my own good.

  8. tethysdust says:

    That was adorable :). I can't help but wonder if it was accurate to how Tolkien's bedtime stories usually went.

    And here's a link just to point out what an awesome voice Tolkien had: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VOdv2RE4jg (It's him reading Riddles in the Dark).

    • I just want to curl up by a fireside and have Tolkien reading all his books to me, while I'm having a really good cup of tea. Really, is that too much to ask? WHERE IS MY TARDIS TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN?

      (Sidenote: his Gollum voice is incredible.)

    • solitarysparrow says:

      OH THAT IS ENTIRELY TOO MARVELOUS FOR WORDS. Thank you so much for posting that link! I only wish he had read the entire book aloud.

  9. That is seriously one of the funniest things I've ever read. Oh my gosh. But I have to disagree with the line at the end. Yes, talking ponies are amazing. But I will never ever, as long as I live forget the shivers I got when my dad was reading this bit aloud to us:

    "Revenge!" he snorted, and the light of his eyes lit the hall from floor to ceiling like scarlet lightning. "Revenge! The King under the Mountain is dead, and where are his kin that dare seek revenge? Girion Lord of Dale is dead, and I have eaten his people like a wolf among sheep, and where are his sons' sons that dare approach me? I kill where I wish, and none dare resist. I have laid low the warriors of old, and their like is not in the world today."

    The fact that I'm hopefully going to be hearing this in Benedict Cumberbatch's voice (AH!!) is all the more amazing. If they don't keep this speech in, I swear I'm going after the screenwriters. This chapter has always defined how dragons should be for me- immensely powerful, defined by their greed and cunning, overwhelming, frighteningly intelligent. I'm open to other interpretations, of course, but Smaug's smart and powerful enough to make a real obstacle, and I love that Tolkien goes to the trouble of showing that.

    There are so many things about this chapter that I adore that I hardly know where to begin. I love that 'Christopher' picked out the bit about Smaug's anger being like that of rich folk who have more than they need, though as a kid, that bit totally went over my head. I love that Thorin refuses to leave Bofur and Bombur in the valley and tells Fili and Kili and Bilbo to get in the tunnel, saying "The dragon shan't have all of us." I love the entire conversation that Bilbo has with Smaug. I love the inclusion of the thrush; I guess there must have been some kind of agreement made between the birds and Thorin's people about the keyhole after all. This is honestly one of my favorite chapters of the entire book. Every bit with Smaug is riveting. He's honestly one of the best dragon villains- hell, one of the few dragon villains- I've read. And for that I love every bit of screen time he gets.

    And just to leave all of you with apprehensive feelings, and to let loose more of my Smaug!villain fangirling:

    "Barrel-rider! Your feet came from the waterside, and up the water you came without a doubt. I don't know your smell, but if you are not one of those men of the Lake, you had their help. They shall see me and remember who is the real King under the Mountain!"

    • chikzdigmohawkz says:

      I'm pretty sure the writers will keep that revenge speech in. They did a pretty awesome job of condensing Tolkien into three movies while still keeping pretty awesome speeches and songs in there. V zrna, gurl unq Ovyyl Oblq naq Ivttb Zbegrafra fvatvat Gbyxvra'f fbatf, NAQ VG JBEXRQ. Naq Cuvyyvcn Oblraf gnyxrq va bar bs gur nccraqvprf nobhg ubj gurl tnir Rbjla bar bs Snenzve'f fcrrpurf (gur bar nobhg gur qernz) fcrpvsvpnyyl orpnhfr vg vf onfrq ba n qernz Gbyxvra unq, nf jryy nf orvat vaperqvoyl ornhgvshy, naq gurersber gur jevgref ernyyl jnagrq gb trg vg vagb gur zbivr. (Abg gung V guvax gurl'yy or tvivat guvf cnegvphyne fcrrpu gb nalbar ryfr, ohg vg'f gur svefg rknzcyr V pna guvax bs evtug abj.) Fb gurl'ir tbg n cerggl tbbq genpx erpbeq.

      • notemily says:

        V erzrzore ba bar bs gur fcrpvny srngherf, Cuvyvccn jnf gnyxvat nobhg ubj gurl'q tb onpx naq qb erjevgrf naq rirel gvzr gurl tbg pybfre gb Gbyxvra'f bevtvany fgbel, gur fpevcg tbg orggre. Naq V'z fvggvat gurer tbvat LRF GUVF VF JUL LBH ARIRE FUBHYQ UNIR UNQ SEBQB GRYY FNZ GB TB UBZR NAQ NYFB FBZR BGURE GUVATF V NZ NATEL NOBHG!

    • Aslee says:

      Yeah, I re-read the Hobbit when I heard the casting… And I read this chapter with Sherlock playing in the background, so I could hear their voices…

      I think I'm going to die, because you KNOW that they'll keep Smaug until the second part, and we'll be rolling around CRYING OUR EYES OUT.

      Because I want Smaug lazing on a pile of gold, looking at Bilbo with lazy, I-would-eat-you-but-let-me-fuck-with-your-mind-first eyes and Benedict Cumberbatch's sex-and-chocolate voice rolling out of his mouth. PERFECTION.

  10. cait0716 says:

    A++ review. This was a lot of fun to read. Christopher certainly is quite the precocious child. Though to answer his question "Are the dwarves Communists?" – No. They're supposed to be Jews, which is uncomfortable. This passage in particular struck me from this chapter:

    There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don't expect too much.

    They are representative of some other Jewish traits as well, like retaining a culture despite being forced out of their homeland and having a calendar that begins in late August. I think this portrayal can be considered progressive for the time. The dwarves are mostly good guys who are just trying to get back what's rightfully theirs. But the stereotypes get a side eye.

    • monkeybutter says:

      I had no idea they were supposed to represent Jews. I liked that passage when I was applying it to all people, but now I feel pretty awful about it.

      • cait0716 says:

        Yeah, the stereotypes get a bit worse when you start seeing them. And then you can't unsee and it's all a bit icky. The Wikipedia article on Middle Earth dwarves has more of a breakdown on the influences. It also has spoilers for Tolkien's entire body of work regarding dwarves. I don't think he had bad intentions, and I do think he was trying to portray them in a positive light. But he certainly had some biases that come through from time to time. I don't think this passage would have been as problematic without the line "if you don't expect too much" tagged on at the end.

        • @unefeeverte says:

          What kinda stands out to me in that wikipedia article is how he based the dwarves on, specifically, "medieval views" of Jewish people. I think it is entirely possible to draw inspiration from something without subscribing to everything that concept includes. It is very interesting, and I suppose we'll never know – I have literally not thought about all that even once. πŸ˜‰

    • BornIn1142 says:

      Well, it is known that Tolkien regarded Jews fairly positively. He got a bit cross with a Nazi inquiring about his origins, and mentioned regret at having "no ancestors of that gifted people."

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      If it makes it any better, the German publisher handling The Lord of the Rings wrote Tolkien to ask in so many words if he was Jewish, implying he wouldn't be published if that was the case. Tolkien wrote back (paraphrasing): "I regret to say that I appear to have no ancestry of that ancient and noble people."

      • cait0716 says:

        I don't think it's meant to be a negative interpretation of Jewish culture. They're definitely on the side of good here. It's more that one line that rubbed me the wrong way. But as others have pointed out, it might have been intended to be about Dwarves only and not Jews. Still, the implications are there.

    • Since this takes place in his world, it could be possible that the line about "if you don't expect too much" has nothing to do with Jews and rather with the dwarves themselves as Tolkien saw them in Middle Earth. At least I really hope so, because the alternative is kind of depressing.

      • cait0716 says:

        I certainly hope so. I wish we could ask Tolkien about his intentions. I do want to give him the benefit of the doubt, since, as others have pointed out, he had no particular prejudice against Jews. Any commentary on the real world may have been subconscious or entirely unintentional. It's still worth being aware of, I think.

        • Definitely it's worth being aware of. And it kind of leads to an interesting point- how much can you mine other cultures and peoples when you're writing a work of fiction? And if you do that, how do you show flaws without coming across as a comment on the culture? Because I know there are writers who form cultures influenced by those on our world, but without intending any sort of commentary or point other than a culture that has its roots in our world. It's just something that I find interesting. Where does a basing of something on something turn into a stereotype?

          • cait0716 says:

            And if you do that, how do you show flaws without coming across as a comment on the culture?

            I think part of this is having several individuals instead of just one representative of a culture. Tolkien definitely did something right by giving us 13 dwarves and making them distinct enough to have separate personalities and quirks (as much as you can in a short children's book). So we know that a penchant for long speeches is a trait of Thorin, not necessarily all dwarves. But the love of gold does extend to all of them, and I think that enters stereotype territory. Meanwhile, a love of song and the ability to make up lyrics on the spot is something we've seen in Dwarves, Elves, Orcs, Men, and even Bilbo, so that seems like a Middle Earth thing and not a comment on any single culture.

            Definitely interesting things to think about.

    • Lily says:

      Are they canonically Jews, or is that just an interpretation. If it is canon, gura vs lbh ernq Sryybjfuvc bs gur Evat, obbx 2, puncgref fvk guebhtu rvtug, vg’f cerggl qnatrq cebterffvir. Tnynqevry onfvpnyyl gryyf nyy gur ryirf gb fuhg gurve snprf naq fgbc whqtvat gur Qjneirf naq gung vs gurl rire ybfg Ybevra (juvpu fur xabjf vf tbvat gb unccra) gurl jvyy or va gur rknpg fnzr cbfvgvba nf gur Qjneirf.

      Also, although the “greedy Jew” is a bad sterotype, I think Tolkein, in all his writing, shows that merely valueing money/gold is not bad. The dwarves don’t horde gold, they mine it and turn it into beautiful things to adorn their totally epic halls. Bayl jura rivy vf njnxrarq (gur Onyebt) be vainqrf (gur bepf, Fznht) qbrf Qjneivfu jrnygu/tybel orpbzr fbzrguvat htyl. Nygubhtu abg va gur fnzr jnl n Ybevra, gur rivy va Zbevn, gbb, jnf abg sbz gur Qjneivfu phygher, ohg pnzr sebz “bhgfvqr”.

      • cait0716 says:

        Good points about it being a mostly positive and progressive portrayal. I know Dwarvish culture was heavily influenced by Jewish culture, but I don't know how far that influence goes and whether or not this is really a case of Dwarves = Jews. Even though it's positive, I think it's worth examining some of the stereotypes and at least being aware of them.

      • monkeybutter says:

        V ebg13'q n yvggyr ovg zber whfg gb or fnsr, orpnhfr V guvax tvivat gur puncgref jurer jr pna rkcrpg zber nobhg qjneirf vf na rkcrpgngvba fcbvyre.

      • settlingforhistory says:

        I agree, especially as we don't see them trying to steal gold that is not rightfully theirs.They take treasures from the trolls, but even that they share equally. For me the overall motive of the dwarves was simply to get their home land back and which is not a negative stereotype.
        Even the way they describe the treasure in the cave is not really greedy, the talk more about what this and that piece was made for, the battles fought with that sword and the king it belonged to.
        This is simply pride in your creations, your work, which I think is a positive trait , too.

        • Mauve_Avenger says:

          Npghnyyl, bar bs gur cbvagf Oneq gur Objzna znxrf va nethzrag bs uvf crbcyr trggvat n funer bs gur tbyq vf gung fbzr bs gur gernfher va gur zbhagnva jnf npghnyyl fgbyra ol Fznht sebz gur gbja bs Qnyr, naq gurersber qbrfa'g evtugshyyl orybat gb gur qjneirf ng nyy. Gur aneengbe fnlf gung "gurfr jbeqf jrer snve naq gehr" (vg frrzf gb or ersreevat gb gur ragver obql bs gur nethzrag; gb zr gur cneg V dhbgrq vf gur yrnfg nethnoyr cneg bs vg) ohg gung Gubeva qvqa'g urrq gurz (va snpg ur qbrfa'g rira nqqerff gung cnegvphyne vffhr), ng yrnfg va cneg orpnhfr "gur yhfg bs [gur gernfher] jnf urnil hcba uvz."

          Gubhtu Gubeva vf gur cevapvcny npgbe va nyy guvf, vg'f fnvq gung cerggl zhpu nyy gur qjneirf nterr jvgu uvz "rkprcg creuncf" Svyv, Xvyv, naq Obzohe, naq bs pbhefr gur aba-qjnes vf gur bayl bar jub rire npghnyyl frrzf gb npg ba uvf qvfnterrzrag (naq V guvax nyzbfg trgf zheqrerq ol Gubeva nf n erfhyg?).

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Huh. You know, its not really the writing style that gets me or anything, by showing me when it was written, but little things like that. That, and the lack of female characters. (I mean, if this was written in the modern world, at least two of the main bunch would have been girls, and you probably would have had The Queen of the Eagles or something else. I don't think we've encountered a single female.)

      • cait0716 says:

        The lack of female characters is another problem. It's something I've come to accept about this book, since I can't change it and I still enjoy the story <movie spoilers> V'z ernyyl tynq Crgre Wnpxfba perngrq n srznyr punenpgre sbe gur zbivr naq V'z rkpvgrq gb frr ubj gung cynlf bhg

      • I made up for this as a child by imagining that I was on the journey with them. No, don't ask what I could possibly have done other than have hysterics in the goblin tunnels. But I remember thinking as an eight year old kid that The Hobbit needed some women. And I was a girl- I could fit! Ironically the lack of female characters bothers me less now than it did then. I think I just read the story on its own merits and flaws now.

        • Ms Avery says:

          Hah, I did that with like EVERY book I read as a kid — I loved imagining what I would have done differently or what awesome and sassy things I would have said to the characters.

          The lack of women never really bothered me, though. I read a lot of books about girls, so when I encountered a book like this, it was just… a book about boys. *shrug*

      • notemily says:

        Yeah, Tolkien is not so good at the Bechdel Test. (Although Word of God says the Dwarf females have beards too, so maybe some of the Dwarves were female and we didn't know it…)

      • I thought until I was about sixteen that Fili and Kili were girls. And then I read it for myself and I had a sad. D=

    • Genny_ says:

      I think the thing that makes me most uncomfortable about this is how he's all 'oh, well, they're all right and all sometimes'. Sure, he's saying that you shouldn't demonize an entire group because plenty will be decent, but there's that whole 'if you don't expect too much' thing; he's basically saying that they can never be *as good* and, making it that kind of direct comparison (whatever it may be to) makes me really just uncomfortable.

      Is Tolkien the source of the 'dwarves-are-jews' stereotype in high fantasy? Or does it pre-date him? Because it's distressingly common.

      • cait0716 says:

        That's a good question and I have no idea. I have very little exposure to pre-Tolkien fantasy.

        I definitely agree that "if you don't expect too much" is what pushes this sentence into uncomfortable territory.

    • anghraine says:

      Eh. Personally, I find it extremely doubtful that anything in Middle-earth is supposed to stand in for anything in RL — that goes straight back to allegory, which we all know he loathed. I think he talked about a few similarities with his idea of Jewish culture, but that's pretty far from dwarves = Jews. And I don't think it's a spoiler that he had ~feelings~ about how dwarfs had come to be comic and largely weaksauce rather than ye olde hardcore dwarfs, and was primarily trying to bring back the Norse mythology version of them, which I think is a much stronger influence. And if I remember correctly, that's where he borrowed most of the stereotypes from.

      • AmandaNekesa says:

        Yeah that\’s what I was thinking too. Tolkien clearly hated allegory so I doubt there was any intentional set-up of the dwarves in direct comparison to Jews in real life. Do we know where this whole Jews=dwarves interpretation came from? There\’s always been interpretations of characters and events comparing to real life but Tolkien made it clear the story isn\’t allegorical, especially in such a direct way.

        • cait0716 says:

          Well he did base their calendar on the Jewish calender naq gurve ynathntr ba Frzvgvp ynathntrf. He's quoted as saying "The dwarves of course are quite obviously, wouldn't you say that in many ways they remind you of the Jews? Gurve jbeqf ner Frzvgvp, boivbhfyl, pbafgehpgrq gb or Frzvgvp." (last bits rot13ed for referring to things in LotR), so I don't think this is a huge leap. And given that he was conscious of the similarities and influences, I don't think I'm going too far reading a bit into some of the other implications of how he presents dwarves. I could be wrong, but there's enough of a link to make me pause

    • pandalilies says:

      Thank you for this tidbit of info~!

    • @_Weaver says:

      I'm not sure how much I would trust that he truly meant them to be analogues for Jews – from what I've read of Tolkien he hated it when people tried to make the Hobbit or LOTR into metaphors of any kind (and they did all the time – Fnheba nf Uvgyre, gur bepf nf Anmvf being a popular one). I think he very well may have been influenced by certain elements of Jewish culture, but I wouldn't make any assumption about how close the mirror is. Of course, I adore Tolkien, so I'm not without biases of my own, and it is very unlikely that HE was without any of the biases of his era.

      • cait0716 says:

        Tolkien has talked about the influence of Jewish culture on Dwarvish culture and is pretty aware of the similarities between the two. They probably aren't supposed to be perfect analogues, but there are enough intentional similarities that I wanted to point out this line, which could be problematic depending on Tolkien's awareness and intentions.

  11. enigmaticagentscully says:

    That was so freaking cute. I love it when you do reviews like this! Also, totally reminded me of my Dad reading The Hobbit to me as a little girl!

    Though I would use the word 'sleepover' instead of 'slumber party'. That threw me off a little. πŸ˜› I assume it's the same thing?

    • chikzdigmohawkz says:

      Yes: slumber = sleep, and party = well, party. (Look, sometimes I run out of sentence about halfway through.)

    • freeasfishes says:

      I always used to call my sleepovers slumber parties…it made them sound more fun. XD

    • readerofprey says:

      In my school, a "slumber party" was an event with 3 or more girls, whereas a "sleepover" was an event with only 2 girls. Any number of boys was called a "sleepover" because the phrase "slumber party" had girly connotations. Since there's no girls in the party, using "slumber party" might be an additional layer of silliness.

  12. Dent_D says:

    Mark, what a brilliant piece of meta fanfiction. Love.

    I adored the conversation between Bilbo and Smaug. That small piece of lore Tolkien feeds us regarding talking with riddles to dragons immediately piqued my interest. I enjoy seeing different authors' takes on dragon lore in fiction. From what I gather, Tokien's dragons are reasonably long lived, possess intelligence to match man, and have an utterly neutral and possibly self serving moral outlook. Bilbo's hints of identity were wonderfully clever, but Smaug's wit to guess more than expected was awesome. I have a weakness for villains who are smart and not necesarrily outright evil okay don't judge.

    • readerofprey says:

      I think Smaug is pretty thoroughly evil. He's selfish-evil instead of evil-for-the-sake-of-evil, but he murdered a bunch of dwarves and men for a) shits, b) giggles, c) to steal some gold he wanted, but didn't really need. Smaug may be too lazy to be causing as much trouble as the warring goblins as long as you leave him alone with his horde, but he's at least as evil as the trolls in the beginning.

    • notemily says:

      I really like different takes on dragons in fiction too, especially comparing Western vs Eastern dragons. His Majesty's Dragon, Eon: Dragoneye Reborn, Pern, Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher, that one guy in Spirited Away

  13. stellaaaaakris says:

    This was beyond adorable.

    “Who eats poop, son?”
    My dog. He got a firm talking to on Sunday when he found and ate poop. His reaction:
    <img src="http://cdn.wg.uproxx.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/puppyheadtilt.gif"&gt;

    “Because I am deeply interested in the logic that goes into world-building, and how the creation of beings that are anthropomorphized relates to our understanding of both the natural world and the social make-up of post-World War I Britain.”
    Loved this bit, but wouldn't it technically be "The Great War" and not WWI? The Hobbit was written in 1937, so nobody knew there'd be a WWII yet. /pedantic comment

    I also found it really rich (in Tolkien's text, not your lovely rendition) that the dwarves told Bilbo to hurry up with his stor while they're constantly singing ridiculously long songs (I really hate reading songs in books) and giving long-winded speeches. Silly dwarves, give Bilbo a moment. He was just talking to a dragon, he's going to need a second to recompose himself and get his thoughts in order.

  14. Mirima says:

    That was so sweet!

    I have just one nitpick: I'm pretty sure that Tolkien went by Ronald and not John in his personal life.

  15. Ryan Lohner says:

    Funny you should bring up talking ponies, because this is absolutely how Bilbo should have dealt with Smaug:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHlSzvOtZp0

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Well, that would be an interesting crossover.

      "Well, Gandalf, turned out your theif was pretty useless. Great ponies, though."
      "Do you insult my theif?….wait, what about the ponies?"
      "Well, turns out they talk. And fly. And control the whether and animals and stuff. Pretty handy."

  16. Great review or GREATEST REVIEW??

    I award you a year's supply of roasted poop, sir.

  17. Mauve_Avenger says:

    “Cncn, jung qb uboovgf ohl jvgu gurve zbarl? Zber sbbq? Zber uboovg-ubyrf?”
    “Fba, jr pna gnyx nobhg guvf yngre."

    Nccebcevngr, tvira gur qvfphffvba bs uboovg-zngubzf va gur svefg puncgre bs gur arkg obbx. Vg gnxrf n juvyr, gubhtu, qbrfa'g vg, sbe vg gb or erirnyrq gung Ovyob qvqa'g npghnyyl xrrc nal aba-zvguevy-pbng inyhnoyrf sebz guvf wbhearl? V frrz gb erzrzore Sebqb gnyxvat nobhg vg, ohg V pna'g erzrzore jura ur oebhtug vg hc, naq jul.

    "The Front Gate." I think this one was more relevant a few chapters ago, but I forgot to post it then.
    <img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Ew7xaTW8Pi8/TBJatupMI7I/AAAAAAAAAOw/j2nY1MMCJEU/s400/The Front Gate.jpg">
    Click for larger version.

    "Conversation with Smaug." It took me quite a long time to notice the JRRT symbol/logo thingy beside the text. It's a little different from the official one, and the one on the Wilderland map at the front of the book is more different still.

    <img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Ew7xaTW8Pi8/TBJX5CVSmiI/AAAAAAAAAOQ/XGeHiE8SCCQ/s400/Conversation with Smaug.jpg">
    Click for larger version.

    • notemily says:

      Ooh, I don't think I've ever seen the version on the Wilderland map.

      Nyfb vf gung Ryivfu jevgvat V fcl ba gung uhtr oneery b' tbyq? (ebg13'q guvf orpnhfr fbzrbar hcguernq ebg13'q zragvbaf bs qjnes ynathntr, fb… whfg va pnfr?)

  18. ravenclaw42 says:

    LOOOOL, I'm pretty sure that I was like Christopher here when my parents were reading Little House on the Prairie to me. Such a precocious brat, and those stories didn't draw me in enough to shut me up. Not so sure about Hobbit – I think it had me transfixed. But I went through a MAJOR dragons & dinosaurs phase as a kid, so all I could think during this chapter was "TALKING DRAAAAAAAGOOOOOOOONNNNNN~" ILU, Smaug, with your riddling and your snark. Tolkien's sparkly dragon can rip sparkly vampires to BURNING SHREDS, then disenfranchise the vampires' relatives and steal their sparkle!

    <img src="http://pics.livejournal.com/ravenclaw42/pic/0014bdak"&gt;

    <img src="http://pics.livejournal.com/ravenclaw42/pic/0014d8a0"&gt;

    <img src="http://pics.livejournal.com/ravenclaw42/pic/0014hcwz"&gt;

    Re: the poo conversation, with Discworld spoilers for the latest book:
    CBB-BOFRFFRQ LBHAT FNZ VYH SBERIRE. Ur'f tbvat gb tebj hc gb or Qvfpjbeyq'f Qnejva. Be Qvfpjbeyq'f ubg Fgrcura Zngheva cynlrq ol Cnhy Orggnal. BU TBQ. V PNA FRR VG.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Ha, several years ago my parents decided that we were going to sit down and watch all of the 'Little House on the Prarie" series. We hadn't had trouble with Family Ties, or Anne of Green Gables, or Heroes or any number of other series….

      Oh, my sister and I mocked the shit out of that thing. "Mama, we've got a harvest of frieeeennnddss!"

  19. Jenny_M says:

    “Are the dwarves Communists, Papa?”

    That made me laugh out loud.

    Also, JRR: STOP KILLING PONIES. I LIKE THEM.

  20. Tauriel_ says:

    Just two words regarding this chapter:

    BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH!!! <3 <3 <3

    Seriously, just read the dialogue between Smaug and Bilbo and imagine Benedict and Martin's voices… it's just pure awesome. <3

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Unfortunately, I'll probably keep inserting wry comments about the dragon wanting to go solve mysteries and putting on nicotine patches.

    • earis the istarwen says:

      I KNO RITE!?!

    • Albion19 says:

      I'm gonna be so conflicted listening to the Dragon. Like someone said Ben's voice sounds like a jaguar hiding in a cello.

      UNF basically.

      • chikzdigmohawkz says:

        'a jaguar hiding in a cello'…well, you're not wrong. (Also, that is an amazing description.)

  21. Genny_ says:

    Oh my god I laughed so hard I actually had to stop reading and just giggle for a bit. THIS IS PERFECT. You are outdoing yourself with this book, Mark.

  22. msw188 says:

    “Can you? You don’t have to stop and answer me when I ask a question.”

    John turned his head to the side, much like a confused dog. “Fine. Then I won’t. Smaug began to tease Bilbo about the dwarves, asking him why he’s doing all the hard work but taking an equal share of the payout?”

    Haha, how clever. I can't quite tell if you're actually still annoyed by the interruptions or just poking fun. Also, Christopher, John specifically told you that it was BOMBUR who thought the ropes wouldn't hold his weight, and that he was wrong, in the previous chapter.

    But yeah, the passage where Bilbo must overcome his own fear in the cave is probably my favorite part of the book, and in the narrator makes it explicit that, in terms of bravery, that is sort of the climax of the novel right there. Maybe not in terms of cleverness though. "Oops, maybe I shouldn't have said Barrel-rider."

  23. Saphling says:

    *sings* Secret tunnel! Secret tunnel! Through the mountain! Secret secret secret secr- DRAGON.

    (…and diiiiiie!)

  24. Lady X says:

    Best un-review review ever y/y? But SERIOUSLY. Talking dragons. I remember being 11 and we were doing this hobbit unit where since J.R.R Tolkien wrote ~long~ and~difficult~ books we would have to follow along while the teacher would read to us and then we would do packets and papers on the chapters since we weren’t technically reading it ourselves. Oh yeah and talk about Christian paralells with what we were reading, so the there’s that πŸ™ . But anyway I was just sitting there bored not really paying much attention thinking they were just having some long trip and bilbo was complaining again, and- BAM! Talking dragons, and tons of treasure and EVEN MORE CHARCTER GROWTH. So this chapter is my favorite and itdefinitely cemented my love for TH at that age because while I loved thegoblin tunnels and was creeped out by Gollum more than I can say it wasn’t untill years later going back that I realized that it just wasn’t some book with awesomesauce every couple chapters and long and tedious journeys but actually a really well written story. So thank you Smaug for making me care enough to re-read! πŸ™‚

  25. Elexus Calcearius says:

    I first I thought I'd somehow stumbled onto the wrong page, but nope. You totally just went through this chapter like that. While discussing whether the dragon eats poop.

    Sometimes, I am astounded.

  26. Elexus Calcearius says:

    I'd like to see Sokka ride that ferocious beast to find his way.

  27. You Are Not Alone says:

    “No, I don’t,” he insisted, crossing his arms defiantly. “I only do it to make you happy.”

    “What if it was a bicycle…but in a car? Would that be fine?”

    LOL. Your depiction of Christopher is precious at the start. He got weirder and weirder as the review went on. This was brilliant, though.

  28. Stephen_M says:

    Can't help it., this chapter always makes me think: "Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup".

  29. Smurphy says:

    First I was thinking Princess Bride but THEN I realized what you were really doing… which makes you…. amazing. Although you could have made it a little less Princess Bride-y.

    “Who eats poop, son? Why would the dragon eat poop???” – I'm still laughing.

    "anthropomorphized" – 23 with a college degree and I have no idea.

    AND BEST LINE IN THE WHOLE CHAPTER: "Never laugh at live dragons" – I used to use that saying as a kid.

    V zvtug or trggvat zl fpv-sv pbashfrq ohg vfa'g gurer n gnyxvat ubefr va bar bs gurfr obbxf?

    • Mauve_Avenger says:

      V guvax gur ubefrf pna gnyx gb rnpu bgure (V'z cerggl fher Gbz Obzonqvy'f Snggl Yhzcxva gnyxf gb gur uboovgf' cbavrf, naq V guvax Funqbjsnk zvtug fubj fvtaf bs gnyxvat gb gur bgure ubefrf bs Ebuna), ohg V pna'g guvax bs nal gung pbhyq gnyx gb uhznaf. Funqbjsnk pna frrzvatyl haqrefgnaq gur guvatf Tnaqnys fnlf, ohg V guvax gung'f nf pybfr nf jr trg.

      • ravenclawgirl says:

        Lrnu, naq Fnz fjrnef gung Ovyy pna haqrefgnaq uvz, ohg gung'f Fnz orvat evqvphybhfyl nggnpurq naq yblny (naq V ybir uvz sbe vg πŸ™‚ ) Ohg lbh'er cebonoyl guvaxvat bs N Ubefr naq Uvf Obl sebz gur Puebavpyrf bs Aneavn.

    • notemily says:

      I wonder if JKR was inspired by "Never laugh at live dragons" when she made Hogwarts's motto "Never tickle a sleeping dragon."

  30. acityofdoors says:

    Oh man, I think that's the first time I've willingly read Tolkien fan fiction before or any kind of fan fiction actually about Tolkien what so ever! It's so cute that you are doing this and haven't even finished the book yet!

  31. VoldieBeth says:

    Loved this review!!! It was so sweet and cute and perfect! At least Bilbo didn't tickle a sleeping dragon, because we all know the never tickle a sleeping dragon! πŸ˜€ I can't wait for more!

  32. ABBryant says:

    OOT post:

    Just finished watching episode three of Game of thrones and can I say how awesome the flashback at the end was? It wasn't even a flashback, just audio but it carried the whole emotional shebang…

    back to your regularly scheduled pogrom…

  33. elyce says:

    Christopher is just about the most annoying character I've ever seen. I hate when people constantly interrupt stories… hence why I can never have children.

  34. arctic_hare says:

    <img src="http://img713.imageshack.us/img713/6546/019gro.th.jpg&quot; border="0"/>
    <img src="http://img404.imageshack.us/img404/2434/020za.th.jpg&quot; border="0"/>

    Fuck yes Smaug! πŸ˜€ Smaug is kind of terrifyingly awesome, with emphasis on the "terrifying". I love his dialogue and his intelligence. So much more threatening a villain than a stupid one. How scary is that description of how he snuck out in order to catch them unawares where he knew they surely must be, and what a close call it was? They would've gotten killed rather nastily if they hadn't listened at the last minute to Bilbo telling them to PLEASE SHUT THE FUCKING DOOR ALREADY. Well, not in those words, but you know. General sentiment.

    Although, Bilbo, I gotta say: I know Smaug has all his evil dragon powers and whatnot, but after all you've been through, I'd think it'd be a wee bit easier to believe that the dwarves haven't thought too much about that shit. So much of what's gone wrong and their dithering over what to do next has been precisely because they didn't think their cunning plan all the way through. xD So I don't doubt that they haven't adequately planned this out either.

  35. Suzannezibar says:

    How Suzanne Nearly Got Kicked Out of the Library: making too many inadvertently loud delighted noises while reading this review.

    SO DELIGHTFUL. I CANNOT EVEN.

  36. @lula34 says:

    My comment flew out the window when I read that you've never seen The Princess Bride. As my brain does not compute that bit of Mark Does Stuff knowledge. Because Princess Bride is the greatest of the STUFFS. Bless.

    p.s. Mark, you are truly genius. And I bestow the genius title on very few folk, just so you know. JK Rowling, Neil Gaiman, William Shakespeare…all I'm saying.

  37. @jessadg says:

    Is Christopher perhaps related to my daughter?

    Also, MOUTH HUGGING.

  38. Nathalie says:

    I am a longtime lurker since MRHP, and I just HAD to comment for the first time because this review WINS ALL THE THINGS. Mark, this was so well done – smart, funny, sweet.

    “What if it was a bicycle…but in a car?" –> GOLD.

    Also, I am super duper excited for Mark Reads The Princess Bride!!! These reviews always make my day =)

  39. Dreamflower says:

    This was totally adorable! I love it coming from someone who doesn't really know very much about JRRT, because I do think that of all his sons, Christopher would be the one with all the questions! I think that's probably why he still feels so proprietary of his father's work.

    “Yes,” he said, barely hiding his frustration. “I haven’t planned much past that.”

    Npghnyyl, nppbeqvat gb Gur Uvfgbel bs gur Uboovg, WEEG unq pbzr hc jvgu n cresrpgyl qernqshy cyna: Ovyob jnf tbvat gb farnx hc ba Fznht juvyr ur jnf nfyrrc naq hfr uvf yvggyr ryira-znqr fjbeq gb fgno Fznht naq gura ur jnf tbvat gb raq hc va n tbyqra objy sybngvat njnl ba n evire bs qentba-oybbq, naq Fznht'f qrngu guebrf qrfgeblrq zbfg bs gur gernfher, naq jura Ovyob sybngrq ba gur sybbq bhg bs gur zbhagnva, ur zrg hc jvgu Tnaqnys (jub ng gur gvzr unq gur njshy anzr bs Oynqbeguva) naq gurl jrag ubzr naq gur qjneirf jrer yrsg gb svther gurve bja.

    Ohg nsgre ur qensgrq vg nyy bhg, ur unq frpbaq gubhtugf (creuncf Puevfgbcure nfxrq uvz ubj n objy znqr bs tbyq jbhyq sybng naq ubj n qentba pbhyq unir gung zhpu oybbq) fb ur fynfurq vg nyy bhg naq qrpvqrq gung Fznht qvrq va gur onggyr ng gur Ynxrgbja.

    Of course, I probably didn't need to rot-13 that first part since it didn't happen after all, but who knows, someday Mark might read The History of The Hobbit

  40. pennylane27 says:

    Oh my god Mark that review was a thing of beauty, and when I think that Christopher actually edited The Silmarillion and the Unfinished Tales with such dedication and love… ugh, just great review Mark.

    Bilbo I love you forever and ever.

    And here is the most amazing illustration by John Howe yet, which was also the cover of the first Hobbit edition I read

    <img src="http://www.john-howe.com/portfolio/gallery/data/media/1/Smaug.jpg"&gt;

  41. MKD says:

    Hello! this is my first time posting on any of your reviews, but I read all of the Harry Potter ones and His Dark Materials trilogy (MY FAVOURITE). First, I adore the fact you are doing the Hobbit because it is a fantastic book that is under appreciated. Second, I am sick at home and this review just made my day a thousand times better. Thanks Mark!

  42. Erica says:

    “Because I am deeply interested in the logic that goes into world-building, and how the creation of beings that are anthropomorphized relates to our understanding of both the natural world and the social make-up of post-World War I Britain.”

    John stared at his son, shocked into silence.

    “I’m just kidding. I just think talking ponies would be neat, don’t you?”

    I laughed. SO. MUCH. Also at "Dwarves are communists?" This review is the best ever.

  43. Doodle says:

    So…I'm definitely sitting in class reading this and I had to keep stifling my laughter. Best review ever y/y?

  44. Chris says:

    Instant classic review! One of your best yet! I absolutely loved it! It was so endearing and sweet and funny and beautiful and… TALKING PONIES!!!

    I appreciate all the work you put into this part of the story. Really, great job.

  45. ChronicReader91 says:

    Love this so much. Christopher is an awesome kid, I don’t care how many times he interrupts. Sounds like he gave John some good advice too, especially about the whole publishing thing. πŸ˜‰ I can’t pick my favorite part of the review: dragons eating poop. A bicycle… in a car! Christopher asking whether Bilbo gets haircuts. Then being concerned about the welfare of the ponies. Then saying the only thing that’s invincible is an idea(omg he’s a little philosopher). Talking ponies. “Are the dwarves Communists, Papa?” MOUTH HUGGING. Just MOUTH HUGGING. And his whole spiel about world building.

    Suffice it to say, most perfect review ever.

  46. Becky_J_ says:

    hahahaha MOUTH HUGGING.

    "Where did you even learn that phrase??"

    I'm sorry, but where did YOU learn that phrase, Mark???

    Also, the image of Bilbo distracting Smaug by playing fetch with him is at the same time freaking adorable and also oh my god that would never work that is terrifying.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      I'm pretty sure my friend Kasper told it to me? I think????

      • chikzdigmohawkz says:

        Your friend Kasper really has a way with words – potato babies, haters please familiarize yourselves with the left-hand evacuation procedures, and now mouth hugging. I am in awe at his ability to coin interesting terms.

  47. Aslee says:

    My brain's logic:

    Smaug and Bilbo 'mouth hugging' -> Sherlock and John 'mouth hugging' -> Who let this kid on Tumblr?

    Never mind that Tumblr was years from being invented. I can't help it.

  48. VicarPants says:

    So how did Helga Hufflepuff's cup make it to Middle Earth, again?

  49. vermillioncity says:

    “And then all the characters would have gold pillows or eat flame-broiled poop or travel by hover raft.”
    – The Hobbit, as written by Mark Oshiro.

  50. Depths_of_Sea says:

    You wrote this review Princess Bride style as though Tolkien was sitting and telling the story to his son.

    <img src="http://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h90/TariElensar/GIFs/taylorswift12.gif&quot; />

    MY HEART MAY NEVER RECOVER.

    AWWW.

  51. notemily says:

    OMG. I love the names Bilbo gives himself. Barrel-rider, the Lucky Number, the Stinging Fly, etc. He's a superhero! He even has the alliterative name for it!

    As for the whole "Dwarves = Jews" debate, I think it's more a case of unintended Unfortunate Implications than Tolkien deliberately making a parallel. Remember that Tolkien also had another influence when creating his Dwarves: traditional mythology, in which dwarves were associated with mining, smithing, and craftsmanship. He could have easily extrapolated their love for gold and wealth from this traditional portrayal. I know intent isn't magic, though, and it sucks that he combined specific elements of Jewish culture with a race that has greed as a general characteristic, whether he intended the association or not.

    There is a whole section on Tolkien's Unfortunate Implications here (spoilers obviously) and YMMV as to whether his works have racist elements. I'm not too bothered by most of the stuff discussed at the link, but I'm not going to tell anyone else that they shouldn't be or that the arrow isn't there or whatever.

    One interesting thing is that in Tolkien's early (pre-Hobbit) writings, Dwarves were mostly portrayed as evil–because he was writing from the point of view of the Elves, who hate Dwarves. It's often hard to separate an author's views from those of his characters, so I find his changing portrayal of his Dwarves fascinating.

    — Annotated Hobbit time! —

    Someone mentioned in a review the other day that "Smaug" is similar to "smog." In one of the annotations for this chapter, Tolkien says that "Smaug" is "the past tense of the primitive Germanic verb Smugan, to squeeze through a hole: a low philological jest." So he's saying it's like calling a huge guy Tiny?

    There's also a really interesting (to me) annotation about language in general, about metaphors versus literal language and the influence of a dude named Owen Barfield on Tolkien's ideas. But it's really long and probably not interesting to very many people, so I'm not going to put it here. If you're interested in language geekery you should totally get the book from your local library or elsewhere.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Someone mentioned in a review the other day that “Smaug” is similar to “smog.”

      Except that “Smaug” is pronounced “smah-oog” (the “au” sound being the same as in gur anzr bs gur znva YBGE ivyynva), not “smog”. πŸ™‚

  52. readerofprey says:

    I can't remember which it was, but I read a fantasy novel that posited that the reason dragons traditionally sleep on gold is for comfortable bedding. Anything really soft would burn up or melt from the heat of their bodies or be crushed by their weight, and they're so tough and strong that the gold doesn't hurt them. All they need is malleable metal. Lead would do just as well, of course, but their practical need has evolved into an unnatural lust for treasure.

    I wish I could remember who thought of that.

    • That is an awesome thought! It makes complete sense in my head. Thank you for sharing!
      It would be nice and warm from Mr. Dragon's body heat, and I can imagine that it would form gently around the shape of his joints – Oh My Gosh! Just like Dragon Memory Foam!

  53. Rain says:

    Dropping from Full Lurk into DeLurking Mode just long enough to say: Oh my. This review is beyond the pale. I laughed to the point of tears. Thank you, sir. Well played.

  54. Hailey says:

    Was that…. was that a V for Vendetta reference? ILU

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