Sam’s big mouth. #PtBiB

It’s gotten very quiet, all of a sudden, as we return to Sam and Frodo, who have slightly better than no chance of succeeding at this juncture. I like this part of the book, I think partially because of the scenery, partially because of the climbing around, and partially for it’s simplicity and aforementioned quiet. Up to this point, we’ve been dealing with large groups of people, lot’s of chatter, sword swinging, death, mayhem, chanting ,etc.

It’s so quiet you can hear the pitter-patter of little evil feet, as Gollum makes his first real appearance since “The Hobbit”. Just as Sam and Frodo do the near impossible with the help of magic Elvish rope, Gollum is spotted crawling after them like an insect. The three of them make for an interesting dynamic with Frodo as the focal point, while Sam and Gollum snipe at each other.

Frodo’s kindness seems bring out some deeply buried memories of before Gollum became so wretched, and there seems to be a tug of war between his original self, Smeagol and the current Gollum.

One way or the other, Frodo, who I’m becoming increasingly impressed with, realizes that they really have no chance of completing their quest without Gollum/Smeagols help, and expertly manages this Gollum situation pretty well. Seeing as he is carrying the only thing in the world that Gollum cares about, this is pretty amazing.

Gollum being who he is, is leading them into some sort of trap, which only the reader is privy to. This is one of the mysteries that ceases being a mystery after you’ve read the story(or seen the movie, nowadays). All we know at this point is that there is a ‘She’ with an unpleasant personality, no doubt.

This section is mainly about Sam, when it comes down to it, and his struggles with doing his master’s wishes whilst not offing Gollum in his sleep. Sam has some intense feelings for Frodo it turns out. This is another of the things I’d forgotten about.

To me the hobbits are the hobbits, as they are to the other peoples of middle-earth. In the Shire though, Frodo is an aristrocrat, and Sam is a laborer, and this master-servant dynamic is one of the many feudal throwbacks, that idea that the wealthy are somehow more noble and worthy(I suppose this still exists now, but for the most part only the wealthy feel that way about it.) In this context, I suppose Sam’s feelings don’t seem quite so over the top. Being the ringbearer as well makes Frodo The Most Important Hobbit of All Time. Even with all that being said, Frodo is quite impressive, when it comes down to it, and is pressing on through obvious exhaustion(much of it Ring caused) and lack of hope.

The hobbits, taking Gollum’s Dangerous Shortcut, happen to run into some folks from Gondor, thanks to Sam’s wise decision to make some rabbit stew(rabbits courtesy of Gollum), and then forget to smother the fire properly. They are being lead by Boromir’s brother, Faramir. Awkward. The increasingly wiser Frodo does quite the masterful job of leaving out important bits of information during questioning, and we(I) realize that he obviously doesn’t know anything that happened after he left the Fellowship, Boromir’s death included. The whole situation is too much for  Sam, and it causes him to lose all control of his mouth, and soon the Ring’s out of the bag. Fortunately, Faramir doesn’t seem to have Boromir’s gimme gimme gimme disposition or we have a very different story from here on out.

You get to know this little group from Gondor better than the Rohirrim, there is a bit of history, the necessary strategic alliance with Rohan, etc(that may actually be chapter 6). One gets a sense of Gondor without even being there.

Despite nothing much happening besides travel and description, I didn’t find this part at all boring, and tore through it pretty quick. 🙂

Others Puttin’ the Blog in Balrog:

Snobbery

Kate of Mind

David J Fuller

Alotofstuffatonce. And Eowyn’s heaving bosoms. #PtBiB

I was noting last time that things have been speeding up quite a bit in this segment of the book, not realizing how fast things were going to get. I don’t think it works particularly well in these chapters. Where there are many places one would want things to speed up, here I would like them to slow down a bit. A huge battle is fought, almost out of nowhere, with very little build up. Gandalf ‘cures’ Theoden of Wormtongue’s spell(how could anyone trust someone called ‘Wormtongue’ by most everyone that’s encountered him?) And in no time, he’s saddled up and in a dizzying, seemingly unwinnable battle with hordes of orcs. In parallel, the Ents are attacking Isengard, while an army of ent-like, extremely pissed off trees travels to help with the orcs. Saruman is defeated and humiliated, Pippin and Merry are reunited with the 3 amigos and Gandalf and we have most of the Fellowship intact, except for Sam and Frodo, of course.

No other section that I’ve read so far could be so completely summarized in so few words, drawing from my previous experience of incompletely summarizing other sections in many more words. There are some important details, but they are drowned out amidst all the commotion. And I don’t remember properly how those come into play in the future.

It’s curious to me that he abandons the parallel storytelling he was using, to just have Pippin explain what happened at Isengard during the battle at Helm’s Deep(awesome fantasy book place name alert). If anything, I think he focused on the wrong battle here. We basically just met these people of Rohan, and I personally didn’t feel the obvious peril they were in, and the weight of this battle. It just all happened too fast.  It could just be me, but Tolkien has done a good job previously in establishing the importance of what is going on. It kind of seems like he wanted to get this Saruman business out of the way so he could go on with the story. Or perhaps more likely, it was just edited that way. Orrrr, maybe I wanted to get the Saruman business out of the way. Hmmm.

One thing I am definitely suffering from at this point, is that I have seen the movies more recently than I’ve read these books, and it has been quite awhile since I’ve seen the movies, thus even longer since I read the books, and there’s a bit of a memory jumble. For instance, I remember the visuals of the Ents at Isengard quite well, and thought it was pretty great. Also, I had forgotten about Eowyn. Now that I remember her, I remember she had a fairly large part in the movies, with a lot of her and Aragorn making eyes at each other. This seems like a movie sort of thing, and I imagine she is not as prominent in the books… but I don’t remember now. I r confused.

Anyhows, I bring this up because the one thing in these chapters that jumped out at me was Eowyn and her ‘encounter’ with Aragorn. Now this is a sexless book, and the only females to appear so far in these books are magical and ephemeral, even Aragon’s girlfriend, Arwen(who seems less so since the movies, as I picture Liv Tyler now). But here we have this description of Eowyn that is a bit more visceral, I would say, than his previous descriptions. And even though its all very chaste-seeming, Aragorn and Eowyn encountering each other raises an eyebrow. How he chooses to write about this just cracks me up. Imagining this little part being written in a more ‘adult’ manner also cracks me up. Perhaps it is just unleashing my inner 13 year old. Erotic Aragorn and Eowyn fan fiction most certainly exists, right?

The Balroggers:

Kate of Mind

Snobbery

DavidJFuller

A hi-res story. #PtBiB – Lord of the Rings: Book III: Ch. 1-5

There are spoilers ahead, maties.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had to wait some time to get to this part of the story. As a result, the remaining books and chapters reside in a different place in my mind, are less solidified, and I will be able to read these with a different perspective. It’s more as if I know what happens, and am reading the details for the first time. A bit less like a re-read is what I’m saying.

The story splits into multiple stories here, as the Fellowship has broken, Boromir dies defending the hobbits, Merry and Pippin(and fails miserably at it), resulting in their capture. Sam and Frodo have already snuck off of course, Frodo having been scared off by Boromir, so our original party is in 3 different places, an interesting development for the reader, if not for the hobbits.

I don’t have any nice things to say about Boromir, really. He’s clearly not “evil” in the same diabolical way as the bad guys, but… Dying at the end was the least he could do. Would he have admitted what he had done if he wasn’t about to die? Thing is, we don’t really get to know Boromir outside of this context, and he doesn’t come off too well in this story. I don’t think the corrupting influence of the ring is enough of an excuse, defending him becomes more and more difficult the more I think about it. He doesn’t just want it as a weapon to help win the war, he wants the power. Anyway, his encounter with Frodo was incredibly creepy, Aragorn didn’t see that. To me, this is a gray area.

Now Aragorn, on the other hand, being a decent fellow, decided that since Boromir had lost his life in a brave fashion, there was no sense besmirching his reputation as a hero. I feel he would have been less forgiving had Boromir lived. Since he’s Mr. Good Guy, he probably would have just sent him off as opposed to killing him, but I don’t think they’d be buddies or anything.

Basically, once he made a play for the ring, Boromir had to die, one way or another. He probably shook his fist at Tolkien as his last act.

This story is like a high resolution photograph, you can zoom in on it real close and you have something as interesting to look at as the entire thing. I didn’t plan on writing much at all about Boromir, but after it got mentioned on Twitter I ended up thinking about the situation extensively. This really is an artistic masterpiece, there are legitimate complaints to make about its execution in parts, but as whole,it’s whole.

That being said, the execution in these chapters is excellent. Merry and Pippin are captured, their fate unknown. Sam and Frodo are gone, their fate unknown, and we are following Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas as they pursue the orcs they believe have the hobbits. This is nice bit of suspense after a very long, slow beginning to this story. Suddenly we have page turner. Their pursuit take them into Rohan, as a clue that the hobbits are still alive keeps them running. They eventually encounter the Riders of Rohan in a tense bit of business with not a little speechifying. Not a big fan of all the fancy dialogue. Neither is Gimli. 🙂

Then, we’re with the hobbits and the orcs, in a story running parallel(nice storytelling device), and we get to know the orcs a bit for the first time in these books. There seems to be two factions, one from Mordor and one from Isengard, an interesting plot development. Saruman has apparently bred orcs and humans to create super-orcs.They are hard pressed and trying to avoid a rapidly approaching phalanx of the Riders of Rohan. Pippin is the star here, as his resourcefulness eventually allows them to escape during the chaos of the ensuing battle. These hobbits, clever folks they are.

Hobbits also have more than their share of good luck, we’ve learned, and they are discovered by Treebeard, an Ent, some sort of sentient, mobile Tree being, and things slow down a bit, because Ent’s are not hasty.

I like the Ents, and as I was writing before, this story is hi-res, and the Ents are a long story on their own. We learn a bit more about Saruman here, and his deforestation efforts, as well as the origins of trolls and orcs as flawed copies of Ents and Elves. The Ents decide they need to be proactive about this Saruman problem and things are about to go horribly wrong for him. It was a good run of despicable evilness, Saruman.

Last, but certainly not least, we go back to the 3 amigos continuing to search for the now extremely safe hobbits. They bump into a wizardy-seeming old man, surely it’s Saruman, but no, it’s… it’s… Gandalf! Not only is he not(or perhaps, no longer) dead, he is a glowing, super badass! While there was bit of hint that just maybe he wasn’t gone for good, I had just assumed the worst in the 2-3 year wait to continue this story. Things seem to be looking up!

Balroggers:

Kate of Mind

Snobbery

David J Fuller

 

The Sudden Ending. Lord of the Rings Book II #PtBiB

I first read ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ after finding it in a drawer of a living room end-table. My mom had acquired it, and I don’t know if she ever actually read it or not. I don’t really remember how old I was, but I’d say around 9 or 10, some time before I was able to check out books from the ‘adult’ part of the local library. So this was all I had for a while( I still don’t understand why I didn’t read ‘The Hobbit’ for years, seems odd). As a result, this part of the tale is the only one that resides in that magical ‘kid’ memory, when everything was possible, as far as I knew.

For this section, I seem to lack any ‘me as a reader now’* insights, it is extremely low-key, but unlike Rivendell, the time in Lothlorien kept my attention. Here is where I find the elves interesting,and the “quiet” scenes with Frodo and Galadriel are very effective.  The idea that the elves are higher beings can’t be missed. I think the difference between the Rivendell and Lothlorien elves would make for a good post topic by itself.

Gandalf’s absence is noted but not dwelled upon, they still have their dire quest to complete, after all.

Gollum sneaks his way back into the story, preparing for his star turn in ‘The Two Towers’, while Tolkien describes the scenery in quite a lot of detail, and nothing much happens for a while. But, of course, Orcs show up to ruin the party and things start to get hairy, the increasingly disturbing Boromir goes full on ring crazy and Frodo tries to leave by himself, but Sam is even harder to shake than Gollum, and the two hobbits head towards Mordor unassisted.

Imagine being stuck on that cliffhanger for years. I did not read ‘The Two Towers’ until I had an ‘adult’ library card (which you probably only needed to be 11 or 12 to get, actually). My next door neighbor had seen ‘The Return of the King’ cartoon and helpfully told me what happens at the end(I didn’t mind spoilers back then).

It is a curious choice to end things right there, I know that this story wasn’t designed as a trilogy, but the natural last chapter would seem to be the first chapter of the next book. I was surprised by it again last night. That is a subject worth discussing, I’d think.

*Oh, but wait, I lied, I had forgotten that Galadriel was a tad scarier than I remembered her. The wispy, magical women that had appeared earlier in the story made me forget about Galadriel’s quiet badassery.

More Puttin’ the Blog in Balrogers:

Kate of Mind

Snobbery

DavidJFuller

 

Lord of the Rings Book 2 Chapters 1-5 Puttin’ the Balrog in blog. #PtBiB

So here we are in Rivendell, the dwelling of Elrond and other hoity-toity elves in the respite part of the danger/respite pattern, and boy is it boring. I think it was Bilbo who mentioned it was hard to stay awake there at first, and it was hard to stay awake while reading about it.

The elves? Well, never been a huge elf guy, really. Except for magic elf princesses. How does one woo a magic elf princess? I gave this a staggering amount of thought whilst performing my job, which doesn’t occupy any part of my brain that is needed to think about wooing imaginary elf princesses. How does a mere dude compete with the immortal perfection of an elf. Do elf princesses find facial hair exotic? Is being dumber, clumsier and mortal endearing in some way? Perhaps kind of cute? These are questions that need to be answered. And on a related note, do the other races have the ability to breed with each other?

The elves. Theoretically they are quite interesting. They are unimaginably knowledgeable and are able to spontaneously create the most amazing music a mortal has ever heard, in fact, that’s what they seem to do mostly.  Also, they are insufferably uppity. Not a humble bunch. Using my imagination, I’d say that experiencing the elves would be something on par with an amazing psychedelic experience, but Rivendell kind of seems like church to me, reading about it, and I never found church to be very interesting, although I liked the architecture, and the musical part of it, especially the massive pipe organ, at times.

What I think Tolkien might have done, in retrospect, would have made this story even more epic: Tell the individual stories recapped at Elrond’s table, from the points of view of the storytellers. Boromir in Gondor, Gandalf vs Saruman, Gollum’s escape, etc. But instead we have a long winded meeting, which Bilbo, obviously with the meta-job here, keeps complaining about (in an earlier bit of meta-ness, Bilbo also mentions that Frodo has had several chapters worth of adventures already).

Annnnyways, it is eventually decided that Frodo will carry the ring to Mt. Doom with a company of 8 more, to match the total of the nine riders. Since it’s a mostly hopeless task regardless of who helps, the band of hobbit buddies stay together, helping form the now famous Fellowship of the Ring, a perfect for the quest(and the movies) combo of the different races of Middle-earth, with Gandalf and Aragorn leading the way, of course.

Seeing Bilbo again is nice(outside of an ominous moment when he asks about the ring), and he is changed quite a bit.  He gives Frodo the famous Sting, and the Mithril armor which we soon find out is nearly priceless(this sheds a bit of new light on this gift from Thorin, and makes Bilbo’s pilfering of the Arkenstone seem more shameful, even if it all worked out in the end).

After a long while, the group sets out and starts having a bad time of it, fending off a huge pack of wolves, getting hit with an impassable snowstorm in the mountains, then having to dash into the Mines of Moria with a nasty tentacled water monster literally at their heels.

The events in the Mines of Moria are for me, and I think most(except Kate Sherrod, who is more afraid of water tentacles),  who have read these books, the most intense thing that happens in this whole story. In fact, I can’t think of any other story I’ve ever read that contains a “HOLY SHIT, WHAT IS THAT THING!!!!!!” moment of the Balrog’s appearance. It’s description, combined with Legolas soiling his elf undies and Gandalf’s resignation, tell you everything you need to know about this thing. It is powerful and nasty, and things are looking mighty grim. And they are, as we learn what Gandalf is capable of, and lose him all at once. What a punch to the gut. It’s scenes like this that make one forget about some of Tolkien’s narrative weaknesses after the story is over. And maybe they are not weaknesses after all. Would this have hit so hard if you didn’t have to slog through the interminable Rivendell meeting?

Even more Balblogging:

Kate of Mind

Snobbery

A little bit on that enigmatic Tom Bombadil and ch. 7-12 #PtBiB

Lord of the Rings Book One: Chapters 7-12

Once upon a time, I took a class on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, taught by a man who was a dedicated Tolkien scholar, had studied original manuscripts and such. I didn’t complete the course, and I don’t remember the circumstances around that very well, except that my general circumstances made going to school challenging. If I had completed it, maybe I’d have some rare, interesting tidbits to reveal in these posts. Or perhaps not, as it is now the Age of Internet (the 4th age? 5th?) and every shred of information on this topic is out there, maybe even all in one place. Anyway, I was in the course long enough for a discussion Tom Bombadil.

I didn’t realize that he was such a polarizing character, another offshoot of the Age of Internet, which turned the various pockets of nerds scattered about into a massive, world dominating group. The prof offered the theory that ol’ Tom was actually Radagast the Brown, a mentioned, but never seen, member of the council of wizards.  What I ultimately learned is that Tolkien never really explained exactly who or what Tom was, and just left it at that.

He’s a source of fascination because he’s unexplained, doesn’t seem to fit, and is seemingly unaffected by, and not particulary concerned with, the Ring.

The importance, power, and peril of the Ring has been quite expertly communicated to the reader at this point, and to be confronted by this incongruous character who merely shrugs off an object that every single other being on Middle-Earth aware of it is obsessed with either possessing or destroying, is obviously a creature of some power and interest. And then, that’s it. He gets mentioned and talked about a little bit more and that’s all you hear of him. I think it is kind of genius really.

I find the ‘evil Tom Bombadil theory‘ an awesome, interesting read, but I disagree. The fact that all 4 of the Hobbits nearly died, twice, all by themselves, in the Old Forest, and no one  was even aware that they were there, and he saved them, and the fact that Tom could have done whatever he felt like doing to them, at any moment, and had the Ring handed right to him with no protest… I just don’t see how, from a tactical standpoint, there was any advantage to saving their lives twice and escorting them out of the woods with the Ring still in Frodo’s possession. Outside of that, just in reading the passages again, Tolkien made it as clear that Bombadil was somehow above/outside all this conflict as he’d previously made the danger of the Ring.

His behavior is quite enigmatic though, and it’s hard to read the meaning of it all.

The remaining chapters introduce us to the town of Bree, to Strider, an extremely important good guy, gets more up close and personal with the Riders, who gravely wound Frodo with a disintegrating knife, and then wipe all 9 of the creepies out with the angry flood of a river. Whew.

These are some great chapters, with the suspense and danger really getting ratcheted up as the first part of this story comes together. In a rare light moment, the stone trolls from the Hobbit are encountered, accompanied by an amusing song from Sam.

Having read the Fellowship of the Ring a few more times, and also seeing it in not one, but two different movie adaptions have permanently burned these events into my brain. Frodo putting on the Ring and seeing the Riders for what they are is a great passage.

Kate of Mind

Snobbery

David Fuller

Next: Rivendell

Lord of the Rings ch. 1-6: Err, sooooo, about that ring you have. #PtBiB

Fellowship of the Ring:Book One:Chapters 1-6

I have this feeling of being superimposed on a previous self while I read these books. I’m still feeling out how I want to write about it, but I have kind of a meta take, I think. I’m not thinking about the details of the story so much as it’s structure, what it’s about, and why it works so well.

Synopsis: We’re in a different sort of story now, not one of those “There and back again” kind of deals, as Frodo mentions early on. Turns out that Bilbo’s magic ring, is like, the worst magic ring ever and has to be destroyed.

The One Ring is one of the most important mythological objects ever conceived, and only has The Necronomicon as its rival in the 20th century. [attempted intellectual wankery redacted]. Despite the vagueness of what the One Ring is actually capable of doing, Tolkien manages to make this object, and its danger, seem very real with a couple of scenes, one with Gandalf and Bilbo, where Bilbo has to be strong-armed by Gandalf to abandon the ring, and one with Gandalf and Frodo, when it’s true nature is revealed, and Gandalf’s palpable fear of it. Despite the sprawling, slow moving nature of this tale, it’s scenes like these that make it a natural for movie storytelling. It’s been a very long time since my first read of this, but I remember the how vivid this was, that first time.

So the Ring is out of the bag, the wildly dangerous quest to destroy it begins, but the bad guys have had a head start, and are already closing in. Frodo and friends must leave the Shire in secrecy, but it’s nearly too late, as the ringwraiths are already in the neighborhood, giving everyone the howling fantods. Gandalf is MIA, so they are on their own.

These hair-raising fellas underscore the danger of this quest immediately, and boy do they give you the creeps, what with their crawling, and sniffing, and howling, and seeming to be everywhere on the way out of the Shire. There is real horror here, and Tolkien’s ability to make this world, and the things in it seem real, creates a palpable tension. They are, thankfully for our protagonists, somewhat handicapped, it seems, and not capable of rapid movement when not on horseback. But they keep coming. We’re not in “The Hobbit” anymore.

The movie takes a lot of shortcuts in these opening chapters, as Frodo’s exit from the Shire, and how Pippin and Meriadoc ended up joining Frodo and Sam on the quest is dealt with rather quickly, when in the book, this is well detailed. A friend of mine took serious issue with the portrayal of Pippin and Merry as thieves and general ne’er-do-wells, as opposed to the concerned friends conspiring to help in the original story.

The most egregious omission in the movie, of course, is the absence of Tom Bombadil, much to the dismay of Bombadil fans such as myself. He appears here in chapter 6, our heroes have evaded the ringwraiths for now, but are forced to travel into the Old Forest, and have been overcome by the malevolent magic of the trees. Nothing can save them now…

I’ll save him for the next post.

Other people writing much more comprehensively on these topics:

Kate of Mind

Snobbery

David Fuller

P.S. I left out the elves, unintentionally. I blame it on watching part of the movie yesterday. And also they are over-shadowed(wink wink nudge nudge) by other elements of the story, methinks.

 

 

 

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” #PtBiB

This post deals with the chapters 6-12 of The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien.

When we last left our fearless dwarf geniuses, they had managed to escape certain death for the second time, with some timely help from Gandalf, while Bilbo managed his own exit with a mix of moxy and luck, and a magic ring, of course.

I’d have to say that the first 5 chapters are my favorite part of the book, but here in the middle the story spreads its wings, with a little help from an unexpected eagle rescue.

It wasn’t long at all before the entire group, Gandalf included, found themselves literally up a tree(s) with no hope of escape. This is a genuinely tense moment, as Gandalf doesn’t seem to have a plan besides going out in a blaze of glory. Also, his previous plan had helped put them in the predicament in the first place. I suppose the ability to create fires and explosions can bite you in the ass in some situations. It is curious though, as clearly Gandalf instigated this entire foolish mission to begin with, and seems to be operating with some hidden knowledge that makes him think it will succeed, that they find themselves with no exit(Can Gandalf see glimpses of the future? Is he acting on some sort of intuition? Something to come back to).  Some fortuitous help from the aforementioned eagles saves the mission yet again.

After being in nearly constant danger, there is a bit of humor and relaxation at the abode of Beorn so the party, and the reader can exhale a bit. I find this memorable mostly for Gandalf’s drawn out introduction of the party. Soon they are fortified and off to have more problems.

The journey through Mirkwood is vivid, Tolkien really puts you there,  and as i mentioned in my first post, and this is why I remember these events as if they happened to me. Somehow the giant spiders didn’t seem that menacing,  I imagine I  would be incredibly menaced by a spider the size of a cat, let alone my own(or hobbit) size. Bilbo is becoming increasingly bold as time goes on (I wonder, is it merely psychological, or is the ring itself affecting him? Something else to come back to) rescues the dwarves, again, whose collective talent at being captured is seemingly unparalleled.

Thorin has actually been captured by the wood elves, who were far more fascinating as magical feasters in the woods than they were in actuality. Bilbo continues with his streak of luck and brilliance and manages to free the lot of them by stuffing them in barrels and sending them on an uncomfortable river voyage as he rode on top. Boy were they grumpy when they finally got out.

Even though is story is primarily about Bilbo, the hobbit, I had forgotten how impressive his exploits were. If he never made it another step, there is already an interesting, at least semi-heroic tale.

So finally they reach their destination,a mountain with a dragon inside, and an invisible secret entrance they have no idea how to get into. Their complete lack of a plan, which was already glaringly apparent, becomes even more glaringly apparent. The only part of their plan that has worked so far is bringing Bilbo, and that was Gandalf’s idea. Anyway, guess who figures out how to open the door(with a hint from a mysterious thrush)?

 

This wasn’t nearly enough of course, as he had to pilfer an item from the dragon Smaug’s hoard. Which he immediately missed: “His rage passes description – 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.”

That wasn’t nearly enough of course: “They debated long on what was to be done, but they could think of no way of getting rid of Smaug – which had always been a weak point in their plans.” O RLY? Bilbo  does some more dragon reconnaissance, and after a long, amusing  conversation between the two of them, Bilbo discovers the dragons weak spot, and the dragon deduces the party’s origins. Two crafty fellows. This exchange will end up working out pretty well for the group, but in the short term they are forced to cower in the mountain tunnel with no way out but through the dragon’s lair.

I really enjoyed Tolkien’s  dragon-related commentary in this chapter:

“The general opinion was that catching a dragon napping was not as easy as it sounded, and the attempt to stick one or prod one asleep was more likely to end in disaster than bold frontal attack.”

Excellent takes on these chapters can be found at:

Snobbery

Kate of Mind