Mark Reads ‘The Hobbit’: Chapter 18

In the eighteenth chapter of The Hobbit, Bilbo wakes up to discover what became of the battle against the goblins and the Wargs. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hobbit.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: THE RETURN JOURNEY

WELL WAIT WHAT. DID THAT JUST HAPPEN. what the fuck!!!!

When Bilbo came to himself, he was literally by himself. He was lying on the flat stones of Ravenhill, and no one was near. A cloudless day, but cold, was broad above him. he was shaking, and as chilled as stone, but his head burned with fire.

OH HOLY SHIT. They left him behind!!! OH MY GOD. The ring he was wearing that kept him from being attacked was now suddenly PROVIDING A GREAT DISADVANTAGE TO HIM. Oh god, what a terrible twist of irony.

The moment doesn’t last very long, though I do adore that this is Bilbo’s reaction:

“Now I wonder what has happened?” he said to himself. “At any rate I am not yet one of the fallen heroes; but I suppose there is still time enough for that!”

I mean…his reaction is a curious wonderment of his environment. Let me give you a peak into what my reaction would be to discovering that I was knocked out during the climax of a bloody, violent battle, and then waking to discover that I was left alone in a strange land:

WHAT THE FUCK OH MY GOD I AM GOING TO DIE OUT HERE OH THIS IS THE WORST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ME I MUST BEG FOR A SWIFT END SWEET JESUS WHO WILL ERASE MY INTERNET HISTORY I SHOULD HAVE PUT THAT IN MY WILL.

But Bilbo is not nearly as ridiculous as I am. After taking a moment to familiarize himself with his surroundings (which means GOBLIN BODIES EVERYWHERE WHAT THE FUCK), he spots a man climbing up the mountain towards. It’s when he calls out to him that he realizes that he has the ring on that makes him invisible. I will never not think this is one of the funniest things ever, and I’m not even sure I can give a justification for it. The mental image of a bruised hobbit screaming into nothingness because he’s invisible and then realizing that’s what’s going on is just hilarious. I DON’T CARE.

On a completely unfunny note, it took me until this moment to realize that…jesus, there’s not a single woman in this entire book. I don’t even think there’s a feminine pronoun used once in the whole thing. YEAH WHAT THE FUCK TOLKIEN. I mean…what? How is that even possible? I AM SIDE-EYEING THIS MANFEST SO HARD.

Anyway, Bilbo isn’t left alone very long before this nameless man (no, seriously, this character has no name) carries him back to the surviving party, of which Gandalf is the first who greets him. At no point does Bilbo chide Gandalf for not notifying them all about the disaster of the goblin horde and I will never forgive Gandalf for this you can’t take it away from me.

I must admit that it took me reading the next section about five or six times to understand what has happened, and I’d like to think that I’m not alone in thinking that Tolkien words this poorly. SO: Gandalf brings Bilbo to Thorin, who is wounded pretty badly. Thorin tells Bilbo goodbye, hoping that they can part in friendship, and gives a pretty fantastic little speech about how much value Bilbo truly has, far more than anyone expected. And then Bilbo walks away and starts crying and then:

“A mercy it is,” he said at last to himself, “that I woke up when I did. I wish Thorin were living, but I am glad that we parted in kindness.”

But….but he is living, I thought. YOU JUST SPOKE TO HIM. I went back to read this over and over again and I started to wonder if some huge passage was cut out of my Kindle version of this book. Eventually, after much frustration, I realized which sentence was giving me so much trouble.

“I go now to the halls of waiting to sit beside my fathers, until the world is renewed.”

For some reason, my brain read this as, “Oh, so Thorin’s going to go sit inside the hall in the mountain and rule the dwarf kingdom from there.” You know, not as HOLY SHIT THORIN IS DYING. So this is partially my fault, but I was also confused because Thorin’s death technically happens off the page, but is only then acknowledged when Bilbo wishes he were alive. Because of this, I think his death was all the more shocking to me since it appeared to me to happen without me knowing. Plus, at this point in the novel, everyone seemed so safe. This didn’t seem like it would be a book predicated on that sort of loss, and I touched on that yesterday, so I never expected Tolkien to kill off any of the main characters.

It’s with this sadness hanging over Bilbo that he begins the return journey to his home in the west. What fascinates me about this is how different this world seems to me now that Bilbo has the company of Beorn, Gandalf, and the dwarves, who are all more knowledgeable about where they are going. I was also glad that I at least got to find out how the battle ended (BLESS THE EAGLES AND BEORN), though I’m still a bit weirded out by the treatment of the goblins. What I do like, though, and this probably outs me as a big softie, is the fact that this chapter basically turns everything into a giant Friendship Party. I think that I am so used to reading and watching things that are so full of disaster and tragedy that I rather enjoy the fact that everyone bestows honors and gifts and majestic bits of treasure upon one another. Well, there is another small bit of tragedy when Tolkien casually reveals that Fili and Kili both died trying to save Thorin’s life. WHAT THE FUCK THESE TWO ARE AMAZING THEY DESERVE MORE THAN A SENTENCE.

Before Bilbo takes off for his home, the Elvinking insists that Bilbo takes his share of wealth that he so rightly deserves. (Actually, he technically offers Bilbo more than anyone else, doesn’t he?) Bilbo, ever the pragmatist and the humble hobbit, actually refuses to take anything at all, stating that the Elvinking probably has better uses for it than he does. Which is rather nice of him, I think! He only accepts to small chests after all of this, bids goodbye to all the dwarves, and heads off west with the elves, Gandalf, and Beorn. At the Mirkwood Forest, they part with the elves, insisting that traveling through that forest is probably a bad idea. BECAUSE RIGHT. The spiders are still there, aren’t they? I mean…I wouldn’t want to face them ever again if I had the choice, so Bilbo and Gandalf decide to head north around it with Beorn.

God, I’m so glad Beorn is around. HE IS SO AWESOME and I honestly never expected to see him again in this book. And Bilbo gets to spend WEEKS with him, which initially took me by surprise because I forgot exactly how long it took them to travel out to the Lonely Mountain the first time around. THIS IS A JOURNEY THAT TAKES MONTHS. I mean, can you imagine being all, “Wow, I’d like to go home!” and then it takes you TWO MONTHS TO GET THERE. Oh, and you have to walk the entire way there. OH, AND YOU MIGHT GET KILLED. I think that if Gandalf showed up at my house and somehow tried to manipulate me into going on some sort of “quest” for him, I would probably turn it down. And it’s not that I don’t want to travel the world with a wizard. That is high on my list of things I would like to do. But seriously, the man might leave out some crucial information so he can sit back and gloat in the awesomeness that is his dearth of knowledge. “Oh, right, there’s a great wall of flaming pterodactyls over that ridge, Mark, but I probably should have told you before they singed off all your body hair and gave you second degree burns on your arms. But I hoped you’d decode my secret ambiguous foreshadowing hints!”

To be fair, Bilbo gets to celebrate Yule-tide at Beorn’s house and that is worth dealing with Gandalf’s mysterious methodology, isn’t it? I suppose I don’t know what Yule-tide is like in Middle Earth, but that’s also a plus because it’s like a giant surprise. Magic trees? Gifts? Delicious feasts? Story time by the fire with Beorn? Oh god the possibilities are endless.

It’s spring (!!!!!!) by the time that Gandalf and Bilbo arrive at the high pass where the goblins captured them, and it genuinely seems like that was a million years ago. Now there are few goblins left in the entirety of this part of Middle Earth, which….seems a bit fucked up to me? Either way, the entire adventure is nearly done, and I’m a big fan of how Tolkien chooses to end this chapter:

There far away was the Lonely Mountain on the edge of eyesight. On its highest peak snow yet unmelted was gleaming pale.

“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their ending!” said Bilbo, and he turned his back on his adventure. The tookish part was getting very tired, and the Baggins was daily getting stronger. “I wish now only to be in my own armchair!” he said.

I know there’s another chapter remaining, but I would honestly be pretty satisfied with this if this were the last chapter. OH GOD HOW WILL THIS END.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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222 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Hobbit’: Chapter 18

  1. Abigail says:

    Ok.  Thanks to Thorindeath I’m using it as an excuse to go in depth with what I said yesterday about death in Tolkien.  (Apologies in advance.)

    Back to Tolkien’s time in service.  I hope this doesn’t sound presumptuous, but maybe I can talk about it without coming off as one of those people who go around saying ‘well, since I did A then that clearly means I’m qualified to talk about Soandso’s experience with B unlike the rest of the world’.  Hopefully.  I’m currently an active member of the military and, while I’ve never been in an actual battlezone, for roughly a year and a half my job was to provide military honors at funerals.  Now, I am aware that playing a bugle or folding a flag in front of a coffin is nothing like being at the Somme, but you are still exposed to more death than most people.  Your first time being confronted with it is disturbing.  After that you just learn to economize the grief.  One dead soldier is very much like another whether colonel or cook, even when faced with the grieving family.  But as soon as something happens to someone that you actually know well… 

    Then everything hits you.  JRRT definitely understood this when he wrote this book.  As the reader you get some of that feeling of being

    surrounded by deaths that are largely meaningless and have no immediate emotional impact to you.  They are merely facts.  Figures on a casualty list.  A list of funerals for the day.  But then you get the news of the death of someone close to you and everything changes, the toll of the battle suddenly becomes real. 

    That is, I think, part of his genius.  My father is also a military member (who has been in warzones) and Tolkien is the only author he has voluntarily read and enjoyed.  This seems to be common with quite a lot of military men.  They seem to know that Tolkien isn’t doing it for shock value or to make a grand point.  Many modern authors  have a disconnect from death and violence, especially a soldier’s view of it.  Thus, the dead must make Statements about futility or sacrifice or make the survivors look badass or show just how nasty that particular fictional world is.  But for Tolkien’s audience of the 1930s, war and its consequences were not so comfortably distant from everyday life as they are now.  WWI had ended less that twenty years earlier, the sequel was ominously looming and every child reading The Hobbit would have been familiar with it in some way.  Perhaps the father reading the book aloud had trouble with a stammer due to

    shellshock.

    Perhaps they passed a monument to the dead every time they went to school or church.  Perhaps the local beggar man was missing limbs or had part of his face blown off.  Perhaps it was only a faded photograph on the mantle of Uncle Walter who never came back from France.  The point is, the original audience of the book did not need to be reminded of death with dramatics or gore.  The products of war were all around their daily lives, not just when an Inspiring Statement needed to be made about Brave Heroes. 

    I don’t know.  Just wanted to get my thoughts in order after thinking quite a lot about it yesterday.

    /end novel.

    Also the lack of female characters bothered me to my core when I was a kid. Somewhere in my parents’ house there is my first piece of fanfiction (written age 5) about a female eagle named Ariel who saves Thorin at the last moment.

  2. Jenny_M says:

    Yeah, deaths in high fantasy tend to be pretty…subtle, I guess? It's always "going to the halls of my fathers" and stuff. It's very noble and shit but sometimes I'm just like…okay am I bovvered? Are you dead?

    Which is not to say that I am not truly broken up about Thorin's death, because I am.

  3. Ryan Lohner says:

    This is one of the spots where you can telll that Tolkien had no creative writing training. As put on one of the Lord of the Rings movie special features:

    "Would a modern day publisher conceivably take on this enterprise? Of course they wouldn't. They would tell him it wasn't structured like a proper novel, that important characters weren't developed, and didn't have a thru-development in the story…If you take Creative Writing 101, they teach you not to do things like that, but Tolkien did it. And of course it worked. Professionals don't know everything. Sometimes inspired amateurs know something."

    I was really upset as a kid seeing that Fili and Kili were just off-handedly referenced as being dead. It didn't help that my brother read the book first, and lied to me that none of the dwaves died.

  4. cait0716 says:

    On a completely unfunny note, it took me until this moment to realize that…jesus, there’s not a single woman in this entire book. I don’t even think there’s a feminine pronoun used once in the whole thing. YEAH WHAT THE FUCK TOLKIEN. I mean…what? How is that even possible? I AM SIDE-EYEING THIS MANFEST SO HARD.

    Yeah….. Even at Rivendell and Laketown where you easily have mentioned a woman in passing they are strangely absent from the story. Clearly they just don't exist in Middle Earth

    I like the journey home and Bilbo's refusal to go back through Mirkwood. I mean, that has to add at least a month to the trip. But I guess it's worth it to avoid the spiders.

  5. Ryan Lohner says:

    Bu, Znex vf tbvat gb syvc uvf fuvg ng Rbjla. "V nz ab zna

  6. jaccairn says:

    It was Bard offering Bilbo the money not the Elvenking, though I assume Bard also gave him some in thanks for their assistance.

    I suspect in the movie that we're going to see a lot of this, which will make the deaths much more prominant.

  7. RIP Thorin Oakenshield. You were the first character whose death I genuinely cried over, and as a kid I had to run to the bathroom to cry after your death, since naturally I couldn't let my little brothers and sisters see me in tears.

    Oh Thorin. I've tried so hard to figure out why I like you as much as I do. You're pompous, stubborn, single-minded and have one of the worse tempers in the history of Middle-Earth. Maybe this is why I do like you. Yes, you're flawed. But as your entrance to the Battle of the Five Armies showed, you do have the potential to a leader and good king. I wish that your death had not ended like this. But you received the name Oakenshield for using an oak branch as a shield against the goblins in a battle. You kept the desire for revenge and homecoming alive in both yourself and your relatives for several decades. I think in the end what I liked most about you is that you were a fighter and warrior. Farewell.

    Okay, yeah. Anyway. Sorry about that, I couldn't contain myself.

    This is probably one of the weakest chapters in terms of writing, in my opinion, though I have to admit that I loved the dialogue on Thorin's deathbed, as far too many fantasy novels opt for some kind of long-winded speech and endless description of emotion, whereas the grief in this one is very restrained. I tend to value understatement in situations like this, as I think too many words take away the impact, so I love that Tolkien did the same.

    The lack of women in this book is definitely annoying. When it was read to me as a kid, I remember thinking that. But now I just don't mind so much. Is it irritating? Yes, of course. But there are more important things to worry about in female presentation in literature than the lack of them in The Hobbit, which isn't intended to be anything other than just a bedside tale. And so I just enjoy the book for what it is- a beautiful deconstruction of the traditional hero in which goodness is valued over brawn and where the hero himself is someone who genuinely wants nothing more than to just go home.

  8. knut_knut says:

    UGH, I KNOW, WHY ARE THERE NO WOMEN? V’z tynq CW ng yrnfg gevrq/vf gelvat gb nqq zber jbzra gb gur zbivrf. Tolkien is fantastic at creating and fleshing out Middle Earth, but not so much at basic story telling. I can’t blame people who hate the books but are still big lotr fans. V ybir ubj ba gur RR bs GGG, cenpgvpnyyl RIRELBAR onfurf gur Pbhapvy bs Ryebaq naq Gbyxvra’f ovmneer jevgvat fglyr gung fbzrubj jbexf?

    I am EXTREMEMLY jealous Bilbo got to spend all winter with Beorn! He got to snuggle up with ponies and sheep (?) by the fire!

  9. rubyjoo says:

    When I first read this years ago – after LotR – I wasn't too thrilled. Odd chapters like the one with Gollum seemed quite amazing, but overall I was irritated by the structure and the handling of the deaths of Thorin, Fili and Kili and quite a few other things. But, after reading it again 6 months ago and now, yet again with Mark, I have developed a new appreciation. Tolkien takes you by surprise. He doesn't finish the story after the major climax – the death of Smaug – nor yet even after the Battle of the Five Armies. The book is called The Hobbit and it's all about Bilbo's experience and so he winds down slowly in a very satisfying manner. I really like the way that, having got Bilbo there, he has to get him back again – and, unlike many authors who leave the story dangling after the exciting bit and abandon us to decide on on our what happens next – MUCH too boring, they seem to be saying – Tolkien takes us that extra mile, or even 100 miles, to let us know what happened to the hero, discussing the boring practicalities like going around Mirkwood rather than through it but also giving us the gentle pleasures of things like Yule spent in Beorn's company. Like Mark, I love it when Bilbo stands looking back at the Lonely Mountain but then turns his face towards home, becoming less Tookish with every step. Tolkien understands what children want from a story – they want to KNOW stuff and this gentle ending means that they won't be battering their parents with endless questions beginning: "Well, what about…..?"

  10. stellaaaaakris says:

    Let me paint a picture: I'm sitting at Starbucks, waiting for my train and drinking my hot chocolate. I'm sitting at a table full of strangers, listening to this chapter. In the background, I can still hear The Little Drummer Boy playing. I get to the part about Thorin's end and I let out a soft but audible, "Noooo." Then I hear about Fili and Kili and fling myself on to the table, like that Pinocchio gif that I've seen around. Okay, so I didn't actually throw myself on to the table, but I did in my head. What I actually did was tear up and start searching desperately for a tissue. I got a few looks, but I'm used to it. After all, I read The Book Thief on the train every morning on my way to work.

    Thorin dying was sad and all, but it's really Fili and Kili (especially Kili <3) that get me. They were so (relatively) young and full of whimsy and they had a conscience! I love me some fictional characters who know when they're in the wrong or, at the very least, feel uncomfortable. And we don't even get a real chance to say goodbye! I need to just stop having favorite characters when I read/watch along with you. They almost always die (Rudy :'().

    Hey Beorn, what's up? What have you been up to? So I was mistaken, Hagrid is clearly a descendent of Beorn and not actually the man himself. My bad. That's why Hagrid's more cheerful. Speaking of cheerful, I hope Bard is less grim now that he has treasure and success. Don't be grim, Bard.

    And yeah, the lack of women was something I noticed, even when I first read this. It's annoying that we couldn't even have some female hobbits or elves or lake women just doing their thing. Was Bilbo's mother mentioned or just his Tookish relative? I may be thinking of somebody else. And even if she was mentioned, she clearly wasn't described enough if I can't really remember the possible one female who made an appearance.

  11. pennylane27 says:

    Oh god why would you kill Fili and Kili like that? I wasn't baffled about Thorin's death like Mark, the phrase until the world is renewed. kind of gave it away instantly. But still, it was terrible. I wasn't expecting main-character-deaths in a children's book. I remember going to my aunt (who got me to read it) in a rage because she hadn't warned me.

    The lack of women never really bothered me. I was 12 when I first read it, and I just assumed women didn't play an important enough part in the story to appear. Cyhf, V ernq YBGE vzzrqvngryl nsgre, naq V thrff V jnf fngvfsvrq jvgu gur jbzra gung qb nccrne gurer. I don't know. I think if Tolkien was writing now it would be different. Maybe.

    ART! Very grim and dark art, if I may say so.

    <img src="http://www.john-howe.com/portfolio/gallery/data/media/1/062-Death-of-Thorin-port.jpg"&gt;

    Bilbo, you are finally home.

    Oh and Beorn <3

  12. @threeparts says:

    I just did a wordcount on an e-book version, and 'her' is used four times and 'she' once, and all but one are in three sentences right at the beginning, talking about Belladonna Took, Bilbo's mother. The fourth 'her' is used in a song as a feminine pronoun for the Night.

    Nice, eh?

  13. Elexus Calcearius says:

    I'm fairly sure that Bilbo wasn't worrying about his internet history, due to the little fact of computers not existing.

    Once again, I enjoyed this chapter. I liked how he pretty much kept Bilbo out of the main fray, which although slightly anti-climatic, is such a wonderful subversion of what usually happens in these things. I also thought Thorin's death was touching, and didn't find it ambiguous at all, but maybe that's because I'm simply use to flowery language and euphemisms when it comes to these things.

    That said, these chapters do demonstrate some of the problems I've been having with Tokein, which has so far stopped me from really loving this book. Filli and Killi are only given a moment to say they were gone- which is okay. Sometimes passing over a death quickly helps show the pure magnitude of something, like how in the Battle Of Hogwarts Harry simply had to note all the dead bodies. But this doesn't really happen here. We never really see Bilbo grieve. I partly feel that the deaths didn't have quite a big emotional effect on me. I love Filli and Killi, they were my favourite dwarves- usually when some of my favourite characters in a book die, I'm really quite sad. Here, nothing. There wasn't the same amount of character development and depth that I'm used to. All we knew was that they were younger and chirpier than they other dwarves. I didn't know about their parents, or their favourite pass-times; we never had them chatting idly about things with Bilbo. This goes for almost all of the characters. This book has a fairy-tale-esque quility, but this means it sacrafices some of the stuff I like about modern literature with some of the (few) things I don't like about mythology.

    And yeah….the women. I think I realised it when we switched over to Bard's perspective a few chapters back, the fact there were absolutely no women. At all. Not even a minor side-character, like the elf jailer. Its just so difficult for me to comprehend as a modern reader. Sexism still exists, and we've seen plenty of media that could be better in their portrayal…but even they at least have one or two female side-characters. Even Sherlock Holmes, written in the Victoria era, had more girls than this!

  14. threerings says:

    Yeah, killing off Fili and Kili as a side-note isn't Tolkien's finest hour. And the lack of women in his work is glaring. But it's one of those things that you just get used to, and forgive as a product of his time. YBGE vf orggre, ohg fgvyy, jung, sbhe jbzra va gur ragver obbx?

  15. Stephen_M says:

    "WHAT THE FUCK THESE TWO ARE AMAZING THEY DESERVE MORE THAN A SENTENCE."

    Welcome to the realities of war, it rarely plays nice with the narrative.

    Oh and to be honest i never found the last Thorin scene to be unclear at all, not entirely sure why that would cause confusion. Unless it's more to do with not being used to this style of writing, possible if you haven't visited that sort of style before.

  16. Noybusiness says:

    I didn't notice either. Now I want to write a book where all the mentioned characters are women, without any direct reference to this fact or to feminism in the text, and see if people notice.

  17. Dreamflower says:

    On a completely unfunny note, it took me until this moment to realize that…jesus, there’s not a single woman in this entire book. I don’t even think there’s a feminine pronoun used once in the whole thing.

    Well, technically not. We are informed about Bilbo's mother, the fabulous Belladonna Took in the first chapter so there's at least a mention of females and a few pronouns. But, no, there are no female characters who appear onstage.

    Even though I'm female, it didn't bother me. He had a story to tell, and it just so happened that there weren't any female roles, and he (being a man of his time and not ours) saw no need to invent one.

    Poor Bilbo! It was very good that he got a chance to make things right with Thorin before Thorin dies! And it's a touch of realism that Fili and Kili die off-stage so to speak– that's the way of battles; it's the way it happened to JRRT himself with his friends. All but one of his close friends were killed in WWI, and he didn't have a chance to say good-bye to any of them.

    Here's a couple of links to some gapfiller fanfics I wrote from this chapter. There are some very eensy-weensy spoilers– the names of some off-stage characters and so forth, and some Appendix material– but that's all.

    http://www.lotrgfic.com/viewstory.php?sid=548 The aftermath of Thorin's death http://www.lotrgfic.com/viewstory.php?sid=1400&am… On the way back
    http://www.lotrgfic.com/viewstory.php?sid=379&amp… Bilbo's homesick at Yule; Beorn helps him feel better

  18. notemily says:

    According to The Annotated Hobbit, Yule-tide in Middle-earth is celebrated for six days: the last three of the year and the first three of the new year. So it's like New Year's, only lasting longer and probably with a lot more food. I'm guessing it's also a Winter Solstice celebration (the Solstice marking the New Year), but I have no idea really.

    It is a bit silly that Thorin is like "Farewell!" and then Bilbo goes off and cries. I think if I were on my deathbed I wouldn't be saying anything with an exclamation point after it. He's just like "See ya! *dies*" Except he dies off-page, so it's even more ambiguous. "Did Thorin just… die?" "You know, it was really unclear!"

    I think that's just Tolkien's dialogue and writing style, though. V xabj va gur YBGE zbivrf gurl qrsvavgryl rqvgrq gur qvnybthr gb or zber "ernyvfgvp" naq yvxr jung crbcyr jbhyq npghnyyl fnl engure guna jung jnf ba gur cntr, naq hfhnyyl guvf jbexrq. (Fbzrgvzrf vg ernyyl ernyyl qvqa'g. "Yrg'f uhag fbzr bep"? Nentbea jbhyq arire fnl gung!)

    It is weird that there are like NO female characters in this book. I can understand for the fighting/armies, but you'd think they would mention some Laketown women or Elvish women when the narrative went to those places. And what of Eagle women? Are they just sitting on some nest somewhere instead of being badass? And how can Beorn have a lot of descendants if there were no she-Beorns around? Now I'm imagining Beorn putting out a personal ad. "Single, vegetarian Northman looking for lifetime companion. Do you enjoy long walks in the woods? Are you an animal lover? Do you go 'berserk' for big hairy guys? If so, you might be the 'honey' I'm looking for. Let's get together and snuggle by the fire. Note: Must be a fan of bears."

    My favorite annotation for this chapter comes right after Balin is like "if ever you visit us again, when our halls are made fair once more, then the feast shall indeed be splendid!" and Bilbo is like "Come for tea anytime!" The annotation reads:

    In The Road to Middle-earth, Tom Shippey singles out this exchange between Balin and Bilbo as a contrast of styles between Balin's elevated language and Bilbo's commonplace speech: "There is not much in common between the language of these two speakers; nevertheless it is perfectly clear that they are saying the same thing."

  19. Appachu says:

    Thorin's death never really upset me all that much, for some reason. Never been sure why. Maybe because the first time I read this, I was more upset about Fili and Kili, because I liked their names better (what? I was seven.), and every time since, I've known it was coming so it wasn't that much of a shock. Things like character deaths don't usually affect me as much on rereads/rewatches, unless they're done really well.

    Or maybe I'm just cruel and heartless. *shrug*

    (Also, I'm inordinately amused by the phrase "majestic bits of treasure". Must find a way to use this.)

  20. Starsea28 says:

    Honestly, as a young girl, it never bothered me there weren't women in 'The Hobbit', because I knew that if any had turned up, they would have been relegated to domestic roles (as they usually are in high fantasy) and I didn't want to read about that. I wanted to read about adventure and Bilbo nearly getting eaten by giant spiders and tricked by Smaug.

    I was pretty devastated by Thorin's death. Seriously?! HE DOESN'T EVEN GET TO RULE LIKE HIS FATHER AND HIS GRANDFATHER BEFORE HIM?! WHAT WAS THE FREAKING POINT? But then, I guess that is Tolkien's point. If more people were like hobbits, there wouldn't be so many wars. :'(

  21. ravenclaw42 says:

    I started writing something about the absence of women, then realized I can’t go there yet. I’ve been confronting a lot of my own self-loathing demons in the last year, all to do with how deeply I internalized the dismissal of women in mass media as a kid. One thing that is hard is trying not to overcompensate in the other direction – trying to learn how to be critical and aware without resenting everything that I now realize sent me mixed messages or contributed to my teenage attitude towards women (in short, that they ruined everything and I hated being one). I’m able to compartmentalize my enjoyment of The Hobbit away from the part of me that is critical of it, for which I’m grateful – I’ve had my compartments break down for a few pieces of media I used to love, and there are few things more painful than a story that used to be a comfort to you suddenly becoming a minefield of issues you can’t ignore.

    V ernffher zlfrys jvgu gur xabjyrqtr bs Rbjla, Tnynqevry, Nejra naq rira Rqvgu Gbyxvra, jub ol nyy nppbhagf frrzf gb unir orra n ONZS. Fur naq WEE frrzrq gb unir tbg nybat fb jryy naq orra fhpu cnegaref va rirelguvat gurl qvq gung vg znxrf zr srry yvxr ur jbhyq arire or znyvpvbhfyl qvfzvffvir bs jbzra. Vg’f abg na rkphfr, ohg V pna frg nfvqr gur ceboyrzngvp ovgf va snibe bs rawblzrag n yvggyr zber rnfvyl orpnhfr bs gung? Vs gung znxrf nal frafr.

    “There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. But sad or merry, I must leave it now. Farewell!”


    Beorn being badass! I love this picture. 😀

  22. James says:

    Znex, V guvax vs lbh xarj gur bevtvaf bs Tboyvaf, gura lbh zvtug or yrff pbashfrq ng gurve qrcvpgvba. Gurl ner na rivy enpr/fcrpvrf orpnhfr bs ubj gurl pnzr gb or. Vg’f abg tbar vagb va gur obbxf gurzfryirf ohg vg vf gbhpurq ba va inevbhf cynprf nebhaq gurz (Fvyznevyyvba, Hasvavfurq Gnyrf &p), fb V’z abg fher vs gryyvat lbh pbhagf nf n fcbvyre… Ebg-13 gb gur erfphr! Lbh pna ernq vg vs lbh jnag.

    Onfvpnyyl, gurl ortna nf bgure cer-rkvfgvat fcrpvrf gung jrer gbegherq, pbeehcgrq naq gjvfgrq orlbaq erpbtavgvba ol qnex sbeprf vagb gur znyribyrag orvatf jr frr. Gurl’er hanzovthbhfyl rivy, orpnhfr gurl jrer znqr gb or gung jnl.

  23. la.donna.pietra says:

    On a completely unfunny note, it took me until this moment to realize that…jesus, there’s not a single woman in this entire book. I don’t even think there’s a feminine pronoun used once in the whole thing. YEAH WHAT THE FUCK TOLKIEN. I mean…what? How is that even possible?

    And this is why little.donna.pietra thought this book wasn't very good and why she didn't get around to reading LOTR until she was in her mid-20s. On the plus side, I was clearly a very sophisticated and discerning reader at age five.

    (I may have also thought Gollum was creepy as hell, but that was of course not in any way a factor.)

  24. arctic_hare says:

    <img src="http://img710.imageshack.us/img710/8376/025wm.th.jpg&quot; border="0"/>

    Thorin. *sniffle* And Fili and Kili! WHY. I love this book, but I hate offscreen/offpage deaths and so I heavily side-eye that part. I don't think that's ever good writing. For shame, Tolkien. Also not fond of the lack of women, either. I mean, I get the reasons why, but still. LOTR/movies spoilers: Guvf vf jul V'z tynq Crgre Wnpxfba terngyl vapernfrq Nejra'f ebyr va gur svyzf, naq jul V qba'g zvaq gurz vairagvat n srznyr rys sbe Gur Uboovg.

    Still, I always end up feeling a bit sad and lonely when I hit this part of the novel. The adventure is almost over, and it's time to say goodbye to the friends you've made on the journey. Not every story gives you that feeling, but this one does for me. <3

  25. freetheradicals says:

    I think because I tended to read older books where there are few to no women when I was a young girl, I never really noticed the lack of women. It is problematic, but it is also very much a product of its time.

    My friend was reading things by Tamora Pierce and other authors who have awesome female characters when she was the same age. She started to read The Hobbit, and was like "What the heck, I am going to read a book where there actually are girls!" Whereas it was my favorite book for most of gradeschool. I identified with the idea of the small, seemingly useless character learning to be awesome, and it didn't occur to me until a few years later to be annoyed at the lack of women. I guess I don't want to defend this so much as acknowledge that this isn't unusual in this kind of book written in this time period.

  26. VoldieBeth says:

    Good bye, Thorin, Kili, and Fili! You were all pretty awesome. One more chapter then LotR!!!!! I can't wait!

  27. Tauriel_ says:

    Regarding the glaring lack of women:

    Yeah, you'll kind of have to get used to it, Mark. 🙂 But it gets slightly better in LOTR, and quite a bit better in the Silmarillion, if you ever decide to read and review that (please do! Pretty pretty please!).

  28. stefb4 says:

    The lack of women never actually bothered me. I like a strong female character as much as the next person, but honestly I don't…need them? I don't look for them in every work of fiction I read, and most books I read actually tend to have a female protagonist somehow. I am always, almost without fail, drawn to male characters anyway. They mostly wind up being my favorites, with much fewer female characters amongst that group (Hermione and Professor McGonagall come to mind). I can see why people don't like the fact that there aren't any women, but I'm not one of them. My reaction mostly was: "Oh wait, there's no females in this story…Eh, oh well."

    V jbaqre vs Gnhevry, gur arj punenpgre CW nqqrq, vf Guenaqhvy'f jvsr. Gurer'f arire n zragvba bs ure ng nyy, fb fur pbhyq rvgure or qrnq be nyvir naq ab bar jbhyq or jebat (V crefbanyyl guvax fur'f qrnq). Whfg n ~gurbel~ orpnhfr fur unf ab ebznagvp pbaarpgvba gb Yrtbynf.

    …be fur pbhyq or n enaqbz Rys ynql. N thneq znlor.

  29. stefb4 says:

    In one of the earlier chapters, when you kind of complained a little about the dwarves escaping the goblin caves unscathed, all I could do was shake my head and sigh, because I knew Thorin, Fili, and Kili were going to die. I WOULD RATHER THEY MIRACULOUSLY BE UNSCATHED THAN DEAD. *sobs*

  30. anghraine says:

    Hm, I personally sobbed over Thorin's death as a child, so I … don't find anything particularly ambiguous there? It seemed a very mythic death scene without being particularly self-indulgent, as high fantasy deaths often are (not excluding GRRM from that statement) — which I think is something he's trying to do: combine the experience of the great epics he loved with his own experience of war (if a very different kind of war). So there are battles, but he makes a point of not whitewashing them without indulging in gorn; if you fall unconscious during a battle, you're going to wake up to a field of corpses. You might just find that a bunch of your friends are dead and not really know how or when it happened. (I've just remembered that Fili and Kili were Thorin's nephews. ;_;)

    Er: gur ynqvrf, V ybir Gbyxvra'f srznyr punenpgref fb zhpu gung vg'f uneq gb or vzcnegvny. V guvax vg pbhyq unir orra orggre, lrf, jvgubhg vafregvat naablvat gbxra tveyf jub qba'g svg gur jbeyq be gur fgbel (lrf, Jvyyvr, V nz fgvyy ubyqvat gung tehqtr). V guvax vg'f gur nofrapr bs Enaqbz Trarevp Jbzra zber guna jbzra va gur znva pnfg gung obguref zr; gur ynggre znxrf frafr tvira gur (fho)perngrq frggvat naq gur barf ur jnf qenjvat sebz, ohg gur sbezre … ru. Vg'f pbeerpgrq n ovg va YBGE, gubhtu, naq ybgf va gur Fvyznevyyvba naq Hasvavfurq Gnyrf (gur Znevare'f Jvsr vf whfg …jubn).

  31. Becky_J_ says:

    This chapter made me feel bad for ever yelling at Thorin, because I grew quite mad at him in the last few. I never wanted him to die 🙁 I also love that they lay the Arkenstone on his chest…. Thorin would have been proud to die to protect the halls of his fathers and, in the end, he achieved what he had set out to achieve.

    What strikes me, particularly at the end of this chapter, is the weariness that is conveyed. I am going through a point in my life where the exhaustion of simply living life is getting to be too much to handle, and maybe I just projected it on this chapter, but when Bilbo thinks of his little hobbit hole, and how much he wants to be there, and how far away it is….. it would be so difficult to know that you have months before you are home. He has gone through so much, and at the end, the tiredness just seems overwhelming.

  32. Ellie says:

    its funny, when i was growing up the majority of women in media were really strong and intelligent (and beautiful), and i always felt like a loser for not being so perfect.
    i wish men and women could just be portrayed equally, varying in skills and flaws

  33. Ellie says:

    oops, that was supposed to be a reply…

  34. stefb4 says:

    GUISE YOU GUISE Go watch last night's Colbert Report, Ryvwnu Jbbq was on and he talks a little bit about The Hobbit. Stephen Colbert literally radiates excitement, and I knew exactly what he was going to bring up when he said "Okay, I've resisted for as long as I can…" It's so adorable.

    Always love when he shows his Tolkien Nerdism.

    SPOILERS for LotR, obviously.

  35. fantasylover120 says:

    Yeah the dismissing of two awesome characters getting killed in one sentance like that will forever bug me. Not cool Tolkien. Not cool.

  36. MKD says:

    This is possibly the only book I've read where we skip the main battle (due to Bilbo being unconscious!) and I don't feel like I got cheated out of a critical section due to lazy writing.

  37. Sakura says:

    I was kind of annoyed at the lack of women in The Hobbit when I was a young girl, but then there was a heroine in the LotR trilogy that I quite liked, and in the Silmarillion, female characters are mentioned a lot more (and some have their own adventures). I don't think Tolkien meant to be sexist – the female characters in his works are perhaps a bit idealized, if anything. I guess what I'm trying to say is that although I found the lack of female characters in The Hobbit a bit glaring, in the end I found heroines in Tolkien's other work that made up for it.

  38. readerofprey says:

    While Tolkien gives all his dwarves names, Thorin, Filli, Killi, Balin, and Bombur are the only ones who actually do anything. Thorin's in charge; Filli and Kill are the young scouts, guards, rescuers, first-people-Thorin-orders-to-do-anything-aside-from-Bilbo, etc; Balin is the lookout, the oldest, Bilbo's particular friend, the guy who can talk to Ravens, and someone who remembers the old life under the mountain; Bombur is fat and funny and falls into enchanted rivers and needs to get hauled up cliffs. He killed off 3/5ths of his significant dwarves, if you count "let's rescue the fat guy again." The other dwarves are more or less interchangeable, and all of them survived.

    I wish he had found more of a use for all 13 of them.

  39. ladysugarquill says:

    Wait what I've JUST read that chapter and that last line is NOT in my book D:

    I think the official version with the goblins is: there are good goblins. But they're just minding their own business somewhere else and thus don't appear in the stories.

    I think there are no women in this story because Tolkien was drawing up from his own life through WWI, and there weren't women in that front either.

    Also, weren't all of Tolkien's kids boys? Maybe that had something to do with it as well.

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