Once again, lots to discuss in this section! I’m admitting ahead of time that there was much bloo-blooing in this house during these last chapters. Why was there weeping? Let’s talk about it.
When we left our intrepid group, Smaug had just demolished the side of the Lonely Mountain and taken off for Lake-Town. They don’t know that, though, all they know is that they’re stuck. In the dark. Not having any idea WTS ol’ Smaug is up to, or when he’ll be back. Thorin says he doesn’t care if he’s going to die, he wants to feel the wind one last time.
Um, no. Trapped, remember? So, just as everyone is falling into a pit of despair, Bilbo tells everyone to buck the eff up, cos he’s going down into the dragon’s lair one more time. GO BILBO! Seriously, I heart Bilbo. So, he tells all the dwarves to be sooperquiet, but still thinks they’re loud.
I think it’s worthy of noting, here, that Bilbo is starting to get rather annoyed with our friends, the dwarves. I know I’ve talked about it before, how I felt much more sympathy for the true first children of Middle-Earth this time around than on previous reads, but this time I agree with Mr Baggins. So far, he’s really the only one who’s actually done a damn thing on this trip, and yet he keeps being told he needs to earn his keep. What, because he’s a hobbit and not a dwarf? No.
I imagine Bilbo feeling somewhat like I do, when the kids refuse to cooperate and everything is JUST. ABOUT. TO BLOW.
Mr Baggins calls for light, but they all pretend like they’ve got wax in their ears to get out of having to actually do anything. Finally (after much running around and being loud and all “IT’S SAFE LOOK WHAT I’M DOING BRING ME A LIGHT YOU MOFOS!”) he’s brought a light, but then the dwarves go scampering back to safety.
What’s Bilbo gonna do now? Well, he’s going to take a look at the treasure and see what he wants for himself. He’s the one doing all the work after all, right?
Well, well, well. What do we have here? Oh, it’s the Arkenstone. The thing all the dwarves want most. It’s supposed to be the most beautiful gem they ever dug and polished (as a race). Now, Bilbo KNOWS they’re all extremely desirous of the Arkenstone (how could he not, after they started CHANTING about it in the last section?) but he still decides to keep it a secret that he’s found it. He thinks “hey, maybe I’ll just take THIS as my 14th share,” even though he knows better. Tricksy, Bilbo. Tricksy.
Eventually, he convinces the rest of Thorin and Co to come down into the lair, and they start sorting through the treasure (Bilbo gets an awesome Mithril suit of armour) then decide to find their way out. Bilbo makes a disparaging comment about the place before he’s reminded that this is Thorin’s ancestral home. Oops.
They find their way out, but they still don’t have any idea what happened to the dragon.
LUCKILY FOR US! We have our reliable narrator to fill us in on what happened down in Lake-Town! Those stupid people I talked about last time that thought Thorin’s arrival meant IMMEDIATE RIVERS OF GOLD? Well, they see a light heading across the lake and think it’s the prophecy coming true. Of course it isn’t. It’s the dragon.
They then proceed to do something that doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever. They cut the ties to the bridges.
Um….? Why? Your enemy approacheth ON WINGS. What the hell good is cutting the bridges going to do? NOW YOU’RE TRAPPED YOU DUMMIES! Seriously, don’t get it.
Things are looking pretty bad for the folks of Lake-Town, until Bard the top archer guy, I dunno – his family WAS from Dale, before Smaug burnt everything near the mountain to the ground – gets a message from that bird Bilbo tried to chase off up near the soopersekrit mountain entrance.
Yeah, don’t worry if that didn’t make any sense to you. It doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense to anyone. [sigh] It’s one of the low-points with this story, really.
Anyway, the thrush tells Bard exactly where Smaug’s weak point is, Bard shoots his last arrow there, Smaug dies and falls into the lake.
Everyone starts shouting for Bard to be their king, but he declines AFTER he jumps into the lake to retrieve his lucky arrow from its watery dragony possible loss. Then they start shouting about how the dwarves MUST BE dead, so LET’S ALL GO GET THE TREASURE, YEAH!
So, the birds show up to warn Thorin and Co. that not only are the people of Lake-Town on their way, but Thranduil’s coming too, and everyone wants a piece of the treasure. OH NOES.
Now, I know a lot of people start skimming around this point, because they feel like Bilbo did.
In any case he felt that the adventure was, properly speaking, over with the death of the dragon.
Of course you think that, Bilbo. Unfortunately, there’s still much to see, and battles to fight and whatnot.
The Dwarves work on making their home totally defensible again, and all kinds of impressive changes are made in a short period of time. I’m not going to go into all of them because you read it, but it was impressive, right? Right. The Men and the Elves show up, and Thorin refuses to give them any treasure. The Men want it cos Bard slayed the dragon. The elves…well, Thranduil just likes treasure AND he’s still pissed cos they all escaped from his kingdom.
Bilbo sneaks out in the middle of the night and does either the stupidest or bravest thing imaginable. He puts on the Ring, and gives the Arkenstone to Bard. Now, he knows this is going to make Thorin mad, BUT he doesn’t want there to be any more fighting, he just wants to GO HOME. Of course Thorin is pissed, and war were declared BUT before that, his Dwarf Cousins show up to fortify their ranks. Um…too bad they’re about to be beset upon by the Goblin Horde. Riding Wargs.
And the Goblins riding Wargs that shoot bees from their mouths.
This was probably a pretty impressive battle, especially once the Eagles showed up. The sad thing is we don’t really get to hear too much about it because Bilbo spends it invisible and unconscious.
We eventually find out that Beorn showed up in the nick of time and went into rampaging bear mode. He did a lot of the killing himself, and I’m sure there were OTHER casualties, but the ones we care most about are Fili and Kili (Thorin’s nephews) and…well, Thorin is on his deathbead. [insert tears here] I totally cried. This is what did it:
“Farewell, good thief,” he said. “I go now to the halls of waiting to sit beside my fathers, until the world is renewed. Since I leave now all gold and silver, and go where it is of little worth, I wish to part in friendship from you, and I would take back my words and deeds at the Gate.”
Bilbo knelt on one knee filled with sorrow. “Farewell, King under the Mountain!” he said. “This is a bitter adventure, if it must end so; and not a mountain of gold can amend it. Yet I am glad that I have shared in your perils—that has been more than any Baggins deserves.”
“No!” said Thorin. “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!”
So, Thorin is laid to rest with his sword and the Arkenstone. Go Bard, that was way cool of you to give it up like that (heh, I don’t mean give it up like that, jerks – although, who knows?).
Bilbo dithers over the amount of treasure he’s entitled to, finally settles on as much gold and silver as his pony can carry (two small chests).
There are few adventures on their way back to the shire. They spend most of the winter with Beorn, then stop in at Elrond and the other elves’ Happy Home again, they dig up the treasure they’d hidden after defeating the trolls, and make their way back to the Shire.
Oh, but wait. Before we get into the Shire proper, let’s take a second to talk about Gandalf’s revelations when he was recounting the tale for the elves. Did you catch it? Most people don’t, because they’re already skimming at this point.
It was in this way that he learned where Gandalf had been to; for he overheard the words of the wizard to Elrond. It appeared that Gandalf had been to a great council of the white wizards, masters of lore and good magic; and that they had at last driven the Necromancer from his dark hold in the south of Mirkwood.
Wanna guess who the Necromancer is/was? No? It’s Sauron. He wasn’t able to establish a proper hold after his defeat by Isildur so many years before and was regaining strength in Mirkwood. Hmmm, I wonder where he’s gone now? Guess we’ll have to keep reading to find out.
Heh, luckily (?) they arrive on the very day that all of Bilbo’s things are being auctioned off, because he’s been “presumed dead.” Bilbo eventually has to buy all of his things back, and he’s seen as a bit odd forevermore, but that’s rather a small price to pay for a Ring of Power and being named elf-friend, amirite?
“If ever you are passing my way,” said Bilbo, “don’t wait to knock! Tea is at four, but any of you are welcome at any time!”
- First time readers/non-fanatics: Did you catch the bit about the Necromancer at the end, and did you figure out who he was?
- My fellow read and re-readers: Was the Arkenstone one of the lost Silmarils? What leads you to that belief?
- Now that we’ve finished this book, if you haven’t read Tolkien before – how are you feeling having accomplished this much? Are you planning on continuing through the rest of the books with us? For those of you who’ve read it countless times – how is reading this time different than the first (or even the last) time you read it?
Make sure you come back tomorrow! I have another amazing guest post from another fantastic guest poster lined up!
[edited to add] If you hover over the Puttin’ the Blog in Balrog tab up at the top of the page, you’ll see that I’ve added a sub-page with links to all of the Silmarillion posts, as well as another sub-page which is attempting to collect the various links from other blogs, which pertain to our discussion of Middle-Earth. If you haven’t already checked these posts out, please do.