Chapter 14: Fire and Water
Jumping back to see what Smaug has been up to, it turns out he has been busy terrorizing the inhabitants of Lake Town! And Bard, a descendent of the Lord of Dale, is told by a little bird (literally, it was that thrush from earlier) about Bilbo’s discovery of the dragon’s unshielded heart. And so BARD slays SMAUG and becomes a DRAGONSLAYER. The laketownspeople want to make Bard their king, but he’s diplomatic and appeases Lake Town’s mysterious Master. At the same time, he has sent a message to the king of the Forest Elves, informing him that Erebor is now unguarded (as he assumes the dwarves have died) and that it’s time to redistribute the wealth.
Chapter 15: The Gathering of the Clouds
The dwarves and Bilbo find out that Smaug is slain and receive some good advice from a raven. Thorin ignores this advice and sends for his cousin Dain to bring an army to defend Erebor. The dwarves prepare the mountain fortress for siege. Bard makes a reasonable case for a treaty to be struck, but Thorin is too greedy to consider any terms. Bilbo starts to get fed up with the dwarves.
Chapter 16: A Thief in the Night
Bilbo sneaks away from the dwarven fortress to talk to the amassed forces of elves and men. Done with the greed and stubbornness of the dwarves, he ends up with Bard, the Elvenking. He warns them of them approaching dwarf army, then offers them the one thing Thorin’s greedy heart desires: the Arkenstone. Bard and the Elvenking are surprised by this offering; Bilbo is surprised to run into Gandalf as he is leaving camp to sneak back into the mountain!
Chapter 17: The Clouds Burst
Bard offers the Arkenstone to Thorin in exchange for a share of the treasure and peace. Of course, Thorin says no and rattles his swords a bit. His cousin Dain and his army intimidate the Men and Elves a bit, but suddenly and unexpectedly, a Goblin Horde descend from the hills! A battle ensues, the Battle of the Five Armies. The warriors are valiant. The eagles turn out to be the “surprise” deus ex machina needed to defeat the goblins. Bilbo stays invisible and is unintentionally knocked unconscious.
Chapter 18: The Return Journey
Bilbo wakes up, there are some shenanigans with him being invisible, then Gandalf comes to him. They rush to Thorin’s side, where he forgives Bilbo and then dies. Everybody makes their peace (except Fili and Kili, who have also died in battle). The wealth is distributed to the living (with Bilbo relinquishing most of his share, because who wants to cart a dwarf’s horde of gold through the Misty Mountains?) and to Bard, Lake Town, and the Elvenking. Bilbo sheepishly thanks the Elvenking for his “hospitality,” Dain becomes ruler under the mountain, and Gandalf and the little hobbit begin their journey home. They stay for the winter with Beorn and his animals.
Chapter 19: The Last Stage
Bilbo and Gandalf make their way to Rivendell and stay with Elrond and the elves for a bit to rest and recover from their journey. Everything is looking up in the world as they finish their journey, though they arrive to some commotion at Bag End. Bilbo puts a stop to the auction of all of his belongings and eventually recovers most of them. His reputation is much tarnished now that he is a distinguished adventurer, but he doesn’t mind too much. Balin drops by years later and gives the news that Lake Town has a new Master (the old one took some gold and died in the wilderness with it), Bard has refounded Dale, and the dwarves, men and elves live in peace and prosperity. A Happy Ending!
I have seen Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of the first part of the Hobbit twice now. I saw it once in 48 frames per second 3D at midnight, and once later, at a more reasonable hour, in regular 24 frames per second 2D.
The film is much more the first of a set of prequels to Lord of the Rings than it is a faithful adaptation of The Hobbit. There are elements of the LOTR Appendices and bits of the Silmarillion as well. Frodo makes a little cameo, and some of the interactions depend on the watcher having seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy already. There are even some clever callbacks to the original films. The movie is a fair bit more lighthearted and fantastical than the LOTR films, and the sense of peril is lessened with a heavier comedic element to battle scenes.
The movie is “only” two and a half hours, but feels long considering how much text it adapts. It feels very much like the extended edition of the movie, with plenty of asides and segues. It’s structured almost more like a cinematic television series than it is like a feature film: far more episodic with less of the sweeping plot arc.
Jackson’s decision to use 48 frames per second (“high frame rate”) was a somewhat controversial one, mostly because HFR looks weird. It looks somewhat like a cross between a video game cutscene and one of those Smooth Motion high definition televisions. Your brain, like mine, is used to seeing higher framerate video on “cheap” media, making The Hobbit in HFR seem more like a Syfy Original Movie rather than a cinematic event. The HFR makes the 3D of the film much better, in my opinion: it has less of the strobe effect that tends to give me a headache in 3D films. And you barely notice the HFR by the end of the movie.
Overall it’s a good film, though certainly not my favorite in Jackson’s Middle Earth series.
The book finally gets out of the horrors of Mirkwood forest and Things finally start happening that are directly involved with moving the plot forward. We get to meet The Dragon and see Bilbo become more and more of a hero.
Chapter 9: Barrels Out of Bond
Our heroes are captured by the wood-elves and treated relatively decently as prisoners, though they refuse to talk to the elves of their quest. Bilbo sneaks around and eventually breaks them all free by stuffing them in barrels and sending them downriver (which I’m sure will be very exciting in 3D HFR).
Chapter 10: A Warm Welcome
The dwarves mostly survive their trip and are granted something of a hero’s welcome at Lake Town, though The Master of Lake Town is somewhat skeptical and everyone is only interested in the amount of gold they’ll be paid back by the dwarves.
Chapter 11: On the Doorstep
The dwarves make their way up from the river, through the ruins of Dale and to the side of the mountain where the secret door should be. After a lot of whining and despairing, they find said door and open it.
Chapter 12: Inside Information
Bilbo is sent down the tunnel into the mountain fortress. He decides that he is not afraid any longer and riddles with the dragon (while hidden using his ring). Bilbo discovers the dragon’s weak point and angers Smaug to the point that he decides to go pay Lake Town a nasty visit. A bird is listening to the goings-on with the dwarves. Bilbo and the dwarves are also sealed inside the mountain thanks to Smaug’s rage.
Chapter 13: Not at Home
Bilbo’s inventory grows: he gains the ARKENSTONE and MITHRIL ARMOR. The dwarves get super stoked at seeing all of their wealth, then they all venture forth to find their ponies and get some food. Smaug is nowhere to be found.
Most of the people I know are either still catching up or have finished long ago, but feel free to comment below or on Facebook.
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I did it
drawing 13 dwarves from memory is not easy
At this point, it seems that Tolkien’s chapters are surprisingly self-contained. I’m more used to modern literature where each chapter ends in the middle of the action with what is essentially a cliffhanger for the next chapter. While I am certainly anxious to get to the next chapters, these last few chapters have each been pretty distinct:
Chapter 5: Riddles in the Dark
The Gollum chapter! This chapter was changed drastically after Lord of the Rings was written, to bring the two stories into continuity with one another. Bilbo and Gollum’s riddles are fun, but the storytelling is tense. If you can read Gollum’s voice without imagining Andy Serkis’ voice, you are a better person than I, precious.
Chapter 6: Out of the Frying-Pan Into the Fire
Goblins! Wargs! Eagles! The eagles are Tolkien’s favorite deus ex machina, huh? They always turn up when all hope is lost and there’s no possible way of escape. Also, I couldn’t stop thinking of Whack-Bat from Fantastic Mr. Fox when Gandalf was producing the flaming pinecones.
Chapter 7: Queer Lodgings
Beorn! He is, I think, my favorite Tolkien character. Giant bear-man who does what he wants and everyone leaves him alone? Along with Tom Bombadil, he’s one of the things that doesn’t quite fit but is delightfully not ever fully explained. I’m not going to lie, it is an almost physical relief when I am reading knowing that our heroes are getting a nice rest and a meal in a safe place.
Chapter 8: Flies and Spiders
In this chapter there are GIANT TALKING SPIDERS. Bilbo fights them. I would have just crawled into a ball and exploded in rage or something. Good thing I’m not in Mirkwood forest. Did you notice that the dwarves (and hobbit) have been in that forest for the better part of A MONTH? That’s a long time to be in a crazy scary forest.
I’m looking forward to fewer spiders in the rest of this book! Also, wood-elves! (Legolas is a wood-elf! He becomes good friends with Gimli, the son of GLOIN! Continuity!)
The hobbit : original cover art
by J.R.R. Tolkien