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.