Tag Archives: The Hobbit

Book Review: Roverandom by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The Silmarillion….

These are the titles most of us think of when we hear the name J. R. R. Tolkien. And rightly so. Tolkien wrote these stories and more set within Middle-earth. He also wrote Mr. Bliss and Farmer Giles of Ham. And he wrote a great many essays, as well as at least two translations of the epic of Beowulf. (They were very good translations.)

But Mr. Tolkien also wrote another story which was not published until 1998. This is the story of Roverandom.

Roverandom started life as a tale for Michael Tolkien, the second son of the Tolkien family. Michael had a little lead toy dog he never went without. When the Tolkiens were on vacation near the beach, Michael brought the toy with him. But when he and his brother went out to play in the sand, he lost the little toy. J.R.R. Tolkien, John Tolkien, and Michael Tolkien went looking for it, of course, but they could not find it.

Anyone who has had a favorite toy and misplaced it permanently knows how damaging a loss this is. Michael was apparently inconsolable. To take his mind off of the loss, J. R. R. Tolkien told the story of how Michael’s toy was actually a real dog enchanted to be a toy. The little dog, he explained, had been enchanted by a wizard he had upset and was now off on an adventure to return to normal size.

Roverandom went through several revisions over the following years. After the success of The Hobbit, Tolkien gave his publishers the manuscript for Roverandom. But they did not want this story. Because The Hobbit had been such a big hit, they wanted a sequel. The rest, as they say, is history; The Lord of the Rings was the sequel that the publishers knew they wanted, and Roverandom was left in the family archives.

That is where it remained until 1998, when the Tolkien Trust published the manuscript for the first time. Michael Tolkien apparently lost interest in the story after the first few retellings. His older brother John, however, did not lose interest. He was the driving force behind the story being written down and revised at least three times.

The story of Roverandom begins when Rover, playing with his mistress’ yellow ball, sees an old man pick it up. Now the old man is Artaxerxes, and he is a wizard. Thinking he will make the ball a more interesting trinket for the dog, he picks it up without asking if he can have it.

Rover is not happy about this at all. He barks at the wizard, telling him (without the proper polite niceties), to put down the ball. The offended Artaxerxes replies that he will not, instead putting the ball in his pocket.

This is too much for Rover, who reacts very foolishly. He bites the wizard’s trousers and tears a piece off – possibly taking some of Artaxerxes with it!

Well, now the wizard is in high dudgeon. Whirling around, he tells Rover to “go and be a toy!” And, before you can say Jack Robinson, Rover is stuck in a begging position in a box of toys. He is also far smaller than he should be, unable to move much (especially while people are watching), and his barks are too quiet for anyone but the other toys to hear.

Then Rover is taken out of the box and bought by a lady for six pence. She takes him home and gives him to Little Boy Two (Michael Tolkien), and the boy loves him to pieces. Rover, however, is more interested in being returned to his proper size and going home. He ignores Little Boy Two until he falls out of the child’s pocket while the lad is running about on the beach with his older brother.

The rest of the story you will have to read for yourselves. I have spoiled too much as things stand now, and I have no desire to be turned into a toy for telling more! 😉 If you can buy Roverandom, readers, it will be a good investment. If your local library has it, well, then you really have no excuse to avoid borrowing it to experience the adventure yourselves!

Until next time –

The Mithril Guardian

(bowing)

At your service!

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The Songs from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Hey there, everyone! Here we are in Middle-earth yet again. I do not know just why, but I have to tell you that I cannot get enough of The Hobbit films at the moment. I just keep circling back to them.

I suppose part of it is that the films are over now. I got to see The Lord of the Rings about six or more years back, and I naturally enjoyed them a great deal. But it was a real treat to see The Hobbit brought to the silver screen. True, the movies do not align precisely with the book, but the overall film version has differences with which I can happily live. So, with the new trilogy at an end, there are no more journeys to Middle-earth to look forward to every year. All good things must come to an end, as they say. *Sigh.*

On a lighter note, I thought that I would highlight the magnificent songs we saw in the first Hobbit film, An Unexpected Journey. If you have been looking at my blog since I first set up shop, then you know I did a post about these songs waaay back in 2013, after An Unexpected Journey was old news (or nearly so). With the films over, I thought I would do another post on those songs which completely captured my imagination in theaters. First up is, naturally, “Blunt the Knives”:

 

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – “Blunt the Knives”

 

This song provides almost endless joy for me. First, I like it because the song really impressed me when I read The Hobbit some years ago. Reading about Bilbo’s hobbit hole being invaded by Dwarves who subsequently clean up his house, a la Disney style, was great fun. When I heard that The Hobbit was being filmed, I hoped this scene would make it into the movie. Oh, rapture, it did!

When the Dwarves start singing as Fili, Kili, and Bifur begin tidying up the dinnerware, I wanted to bounce in my seat like an excited child. But as the scene unfolded and the Dwarves’ acrobatics became more and more complicated and sophisticated, I became enthralled. I think my mouth literally hung open until the end of the song, when I started giggling and laughing (quietly, so that I would not annoy the other movie goers). To this day I watch the Dwarves “Carefully! Carefully!” put away the plates every chance I get.

The next song in the line-up is “Misty Mountains”:

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – “Misty Mountains”

 

“Misty Mountains” is perfect. In The Hobbit, Bilbo literally falls asleep while listening to the Dwarves sing about their stolen hoards of gold and their lost kingdom. Listening to the song in the theater, I thought: “Ooooh, if only I didn’t have to watch the movie, or worry about falling asleep in the theater! I’d go to sleep this instant listening to this, if I could!”

Needless to say, I did not fall asleep. My only complaint is that so little of the song made it to the screen! It is not nearly long enough to lull me to sleep, as it sent Bilbo off to dreamland in Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

By the way, “Blunt the Knives” and “Misty Mountains” were written by Tolkien and are part of The Hobbit. The lyrics have been re-arranged for the film, but otherwise the songs are as found in the book.

The next song in the film is also the last in the theatrical release. Sung by Neil Finn, it is called “Over the Lonely Mountain”:

 

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – “Over the Lonely Mountain” – by Neil Finn

 

This song was a great way to end An Unexpected Journey in this writer’s opinion.   Based on “Misty Mountains,” the song is slow but forceful. Some of the sounds (I am not sure they qualify as notes) in the song are reminiscent of hammers at work in a smith’s forge, recalling a scene early in An Unexpected Journey which showed Thorin Oakenshield at a forge sometime after he and his people had been chased out of the Lonely Mountain and forced to wander Middle-earth, taking whatever work they could find to survive.

The lyrics “some folk we never forget/some kind we never forgive/haven’t seen the back of us yet,” etcetera, drive this parallel home to me. The song seems to be mostly about Thorin, but has hints that other Dwarves of Durin’s line and folk feel the same way about Erebor’s fall. I really do not know what else I can say about this song at the moment. I feel my opinions about it too strongly for words, so I am afraid this paltry praise is all I can give you today, readers.

The last song in this post is also from An Unexpected Journey. If you have the extended edition of that film, then you already know about this song. As for me, I discovered it when I was looking up other videos from The Hobbit films. So, without further ado, here’s “The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late”!!!

 

The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late

 

James Nesbitt apparently wrote the music for this song himself. “The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late,” is actually a song from The Fellowship of the Ring. Trying to distract the crowd when Pippin begins retelling the story of Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday, Frodo jumps up on a table in the Prancing Pony and begins singing the song, which was written by Bilbo, as it turns out. But his impromptu performance ends in disaster when he tumbles off the table and the Ring “accidently” slips onto his finger and makes him vanish.

In this extended scene from An Unexpected Journey, however, the Dwarves are trying desperately not to lose their minds as they listen to the dulcet music the Elves play for their enjoyment. Nori says he “feels like [he’s] at a funeral!” So Bofur decides there is only one remedy for the situation: he jumps up on a platform between the Dwarves’ dinner tables and starts singing a shortened version of “The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late.”

Now why the Dwarves would all start pelting each other with food, I cannot say, other than to make the Elves and Gandalf – who was trying to make the Elves feel more at ease with their prejudiced guests – uncomfortable. If that was their aim, then they succeeded admirably, though they may have done it simply because they could not stand Elven food, which was not very meat-rich.

Regardless, I enjoy the video because of “The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late.” I enjoyed the song as written in The Fellowship of the Ring, and to hear it being sung is wonderful. Everyone did their best with bringing The Hobbit to life on the silver screen and, while the movies may not be everything we wish they were, they are great fun nonetheless. So, readers, until we meet again –

The Mithril Guardian

(bowing)

At your service!

The Hobbit Film Trilogy: Bard the Bowman

 

Greetings, readers! Today I once again find myself wandering through The Hobbit films. This time, though, the focus is on the most important Man in the films, Bard the Bowman.

Ever since I encountered him in the pages of The Hobbit, I have liked Bard. His sense of justice, his courage, and his compassion all combined to make him a very appealing character. When I heard they were making a film of The Hobbit, one of my first thoughts was: “Yes! That means we get to see Bard on the silver screen! Yahoo!”

Well, we did not get to see him in An Unexpected Journey, but by the middle of The Desolation of Smaug, there he was. He came up on the Dwarves nice and quiet after they had escaped the Wood Elves – and he managed to not only intimidate Dwalin with a well shot arrow but also to startle Kíli, the Company’s only archer!

It takes some work, but Balin eventually convinces him to smuggle the Company into Lake-town. The good old Dwarf’s only mistake is to mention Bard’s wife, who has been dead for some years. But, despite that mistake, Balin gets them passage to Lake-town on Bard’s barge. And Bard, just like in the book, stays true to his word. He gets them safely into Lake-town – though they probably smelled strongly of fish for a few hours after!

And once they are in town, Bard hides the Company in his house, introducing his son Bain and two daughters to them (interestingly, Bard had no daughters in the book, and we only learn about Bain in The Fellowship of the Ring). As the Company prepares to head for the Mountain, Bard hears Thorin’s name mentioned. Recognizing the name, but unable to recall why, he leaves Bain in charge of the household to search for answers…

… and finds he is sheltering the dispossessed King under the Mountain in his home. He also recalls the prophecy which states that, although the King under the Mountain “shall come into his own,” the lake “will shine and burn.” Which means his family and the people of Lake-town are in serious trouble. But, just as in the book, no one heeds Bard’s warnings. He is always predicting all manner of disasters, they say, which never come to pass. Why should this be any different?

Disappointed by his people’s blindness and the determination of Thorin to enter the Mountain no matter what, Bard leaves the Company to be celebrated by the townspeople. He and his children do not see the Company off but remain at home, where Bofur, Fíli, and Óin find them some time later.

At first, Bard will not let them in. “No!” he snaps before Bofur can speak. “I’ve had enough of Dwarves!”

But when he sees Kíli’s condition and learns that no one else will help the four Dwarves, Bard’s compassion overrules his frustration. He lets them into the house once again, and does his best to help them with Kíli’s injury. When the Mountain starts to rumble, however, Bard realizes that Smaug is awake. Though the dragon has not left the Mountain in years, with a Company of Dwarves disturbing his rest, it is all too probable that he will leave his hoard to attack Lake-town.

And with that in mind, Bard unveils the great Black Arrow that has been passed down through his family since the time of his great forefather, the last King of Dale, Girion.

My only issue with the Black Arrow as portrayed in the film was that it was too big. In the book, the black arrow was an ordinary arrow. It was, apparently, made of iron, but otherwise it was an ordinary arrow. Still, before Bard can prepare the Arrow for firing, he is captured by the Master of Lake-town and his servant Alfrid, who are hoping to ruin Bard’s reputation with the Lake Men. Unknown to the Master, however, Bain has hidden the Black Arrow and returned to the house – in time to run into a bunch of Orcs and two Elves.

It is going to be a long night.

Thinking they have removed the last obstacle to their power, the Master and Alfrid congratulate each other on locking Bard up. But in doing so they only succeed in leaving Lake-town largely defenseless when Smaug attacks. Bard, however, manages to escape his cell – proof that you cannot keep a concerned, loving father locked up when his family is in danger. Grabbing a bow and a quiver full of arrows, Bard is the only one to challenge Smaug as the dragon sprays the wooden houses with fire.

As Tauriel and the Dwarves work to get Bard’s children out of the flaming town, Bain spots his father firing on the dragon. He points him out to the others in the boat, and Kíli sees one of his arrows strike the dragon. But Tauriel tells them that though the shot was well aimed, it cannot pierce the dragon’s scales. From where she sits, it appears that Bard is a deader.

That is when Bain sees the boat where he hid the Black Arrow, still afloat and undamaged. Without a word, he jumps out of the boat carrying his sisters, the Dwarves, and their Elven guard. Going to the boat, he grabs the Arrow and climbs up the bell tower to his father.

Bard first chastises his son for coming back to him, then smiles when Bain holds up the Black Arrow. He then has to keep his son safe when Smaug whacks the bell’s tower, taking off the top of the tower and the bell. Bard picks up the Arrow, then finds his bow has snapped.

Smaug lands and begins taunting the “Bowman,” telling him he cannot save his son or anyone else. But Bard has other ideas. Using the remains of his bow, some rope, and his son’s shoulder, Bard nocks the Black Arrow and prepares to take aim. Bain, of course, is very scared about being the rest for the Arrow – especially since his back is to the dragon that wants to eat him! Bard tells his son to “look at me,” in order to keep him calm and still. (Very William Tell – nice job, Peter Jackson!) Bain calms down as Smaug takes another step forward…

And reveals the missing scale in the left side of his chest. Bard takes aim at the space and, as Smaug jumps into the air, fires. The shot is true and Smaug dies – conveniently landing on the Master as he tries to escape Lake-town with a boatload of gold, removing him from the film as well (fare thee well, Stephen Fry).

By dawn, the survivors of Lake-town have reached the lake shore. Bard’s daughters go into the crowd, searching for their father, as Alfrid tries to become the new Master of the Lake Men. Remembering his conduct of the night previous, when he tried to escape the town on the Master’s barge (since they needed to lighten the load to get through a particular channel, the Master tossed him overboard), the Lake Men are not going to just roll over and accept Alfrid as their new Master.

When one woman tells that to Alfrid’s face, he prepares to strike her – only for Bard to stop him. Reunited with his daughters, Bard is acclaimed the hero of Lake-town. The people begin to chant “King Bard! King Bard!” Alfrid, trying to keep himself in a good position, joins in the chanting.

The crowd goes absolutely silent, and Bard shoots him a disgusted look. That is when the people come up with the happy idea of hanging Alfrid from the nearest tree. They grab him, hoist him over their heads, and start off, Alfrid screaming for mercy as they do so.

I was looking forward to what Bard would do in this scene. I knew what he had done in the book, and I was really hoping he would behave in a similar manner in the film.

Peter Jackson did not disappoint me. Bard stops the Lake Men, reminding them that there has been enough death and counseling them to have at least a little mercy for Alfrid. However, a little mercy does not include liking him, as Bard proves when Alfrid tries to lean on him as a friend and Bard dumps him on the ground.

With that matter settled, Bard leads the people to the ruins of Dale, hoping to get them to something resembling shelter, since winter is setting in. But the ruins are little help against the cold, and the Lake Men have few supplies. Bard decides that he will go to Thorin and ask for the recompense he promised the Lake Men, so that they can get about surviving the winter and rebuilding Dale and the Lake-town. Then, just to make sure Alfrid will pull his weight, Bard puts him on guard duty.

In the morning, he discovers that this was a lousy idea. In the night, Alfrid slept, and an army of Wood Elves has taken up residence inside Dale. Not long after making this discovery, Bard meets Thranduil who, perhaps recalling Thorin’s stinging rebuke about how little he helped the Dwarves after Smaug took the Lonely Mountain, has brought supplies for the Lake Men. Bard, in gratitude for Thranduil’s aid to the Lake Men, agrees to help him get his own compensation from Thorin.

However, Bard wants to at least try to get what was promised to his people without a war. He rides up to the front entrance of the Lonely Mountain, which Thorin has had sealed off. There he begs him to remember that he gave his word, that the people of Lake-town have paid dearly for helping him and his Company, and now they need Thorin’s help.

But Thorin’s natural weakness for gold – in the film it is repeatedly called “dragon sickness” – prevents him from feeling any pity or compassion for the people of Lake-town. Nor, for that matter, does he feel any need to repay Bard for his help: first in bringing the Dwarves to Lake-town, then in sheltering Fíli, Kíli, Óin, and Bofur when no one else would.

Aggravated, Bard returns to Thranduil and reluctantly agrees to join the Elven King’s attack on the Lonely Mountain at dawn. Though Bard does not want to go to war with the Dwarves, Thranduil has helped him and his people. They owe the Elven King for that, and Thorin still owes Bard’s people the gold he promised them. He knows he has gotten mixed up in the grudge match between Thranduil and Thorin; he also knows there is no way he can get out of it without him and his people being left to die off slowly throughout the winter.

Gandalf’s arrival only makes matters worse for him. Bard learns from the wizard that an army of Orcs is headed for the Mountain; their leader wants to kill Thorin and he is willing to go through everyone in and around Erebor to do it. The situation is looking grimmer by the second when Bilbo suddenly arrives. He presents Bard, Thranduil, and Gandalf with the Arkenstone, the one treasure in the hoards of Erebor which Thorin desires above all else. Bilbo seems certain that Thorin will hand over the treasure he owes Bard and Thranduil in exchange for the Heart of the Mountain. With a bargaining chip such as this, Bard hopes they have a way of avoiding war with the Dwarves.

But Bilbo’s plan, while not worthless, has the undesired effect of making Thorin even more determined to go to war. This is made apparent when Thorin’s cousin, Dain Ironfoot, arrives with an army of five hundred Dwarves from the Iron Hills. War among the three races is about to commence when the Orcs arrive. Instead of turning against each other, however, the would-be enemies turn to face the Orcs whom they all recognize as a threat greater than their grudges and broken promises.

When Azog sends an Orc battalion into Dale to attack the Lake-town survivors, Bard’s first thoughts are for his people and, most especially, for his son and daughters. He leads his men into battle against the Orcs and still manages to come to the direct defense of his three children. Throughout the rest of the Battle of the Five Armies, Bard holds the Orcs who enter Dale within the ruined city, eventually destroying them all while preserving the lives of his children and most of his people.

Nothing more is mentioned about Bard in the film, unfortunately, but I do know a few details from the book(s) which may interest you, readers. After the Battle of the Five Armies, Bard and his people did receive the recompense from the Dwarves that they were promised.   Dain, who became the new King under the Mountain after Thorin’s death, honored his cousin’s promise to the fullest extent. Bard gave some of the jewels Dain returned to him – emeralds which were heirlooms of his family – to Thranduil in gratitude for his help during the Lake Men’s time of need.

With all this new wealth, Lake-town was rebuilt, and its new Master “was of wiser kind” than the former. Trade between the Woodland realm, Dale, Lake-town, Erebor, and the people to the South resumed – pretty soon, gold was running as thick as the river was deep! The people were all rich beyond imagining. Bard became king of the rebuilt Dale, and Bain succeeded him when his time came. Bain was then succeeded by his own son, Brand, who ruled Dale up to and during the War of the Ring.

A few months prior to the War of the Ring, messengers from Sauron came to Dain and Brand, asking them to find the One Ring, since they were acquainted with Bilbo at one time. Neither the King under the Mountain nor the King of Dale gave Sauron’s messengers a satisfactory answer to this “request.” When the messengers left, they promised retribution if the two kings did nothing to aid Sauron.

The reprisal came during the Fellowship of the Ring’s travails. Dale and the Lonely Mountain were both attacked several times. In one of the final engagements, Dain and Brand were killed where they fought side by side against the Orcs. Thorin III (Thorin Oakenshield was Thorin II) and Bard II, Dain’s and Brand’s sons respectively, then became the King under the Mountain and the King of Dale, after leading the final assault against the Orcs. At the same time Dale and Erebor were under attack, Thranduil’s realm was also assailed a number of times, but each attack was successfully repulsed. With the fall of Sauron, Mirkwood was renamed Eryn Lasgalen (which means ‘wood of green leaves’), and life in the North went back to normal.

But this normal would not have existed if thirteen Dwarves and one Hobbit had not driven the great dragon Smaug out of the Lonely Mountain; and if one Man had not taken aim at the dragon and found his one weak spot. Without Bard, even driving Smaug out of the Mountain would not have been enough. If Smaug had been allowed to remain in Erebor, all the North would have become his domain while he was under Sauron’s control. As Gandalf said at the beginning of The Desolation of Smaug, the dragon had to go, or Middle-earth would pay dearly for his staying under the Mountain.

Well, readers, as you can see I was very pleased with Bard’s portrayal in The Hobbit films. The only thing I would have done differently, had I been filming the movies, is that I would have shown him paying Thranduil for his help, with the mention that he would be the new ruler of Dale henceforward. But maybe the Extended Editions of The Hobbit films will have a scene or two showing us some of what happens to Bard after the Battle of the Five Armies. We shall have to wait and see.  😉

Until next time!

The Mithril Guardian

http://borg.com/2012/08/02/jackson-confirms-division-of-the-hobbit-into-three-films/

http://borg.com/2014/12/18/a-battle-of-two-reviews-examining-peter-jacksons-the-hobbit-the-battle-of-the-five-armies/

http://borg.com/2014/08/02/cloaks-daggers-new-book-offers-unprecedented-access-to-movie-costume-props-and-sets-of-the-hobbit-series

http://borg.com/2013/12/25/movie-review-an-amazing-adventure-awaits-in-the-hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug/

http://borg.com/2012/12/25/the-hobbit-argo-and-arrow-lead-off-our-list-of-the-best-of-2012/

http://borg.com/2012/12/15/opening-weekend-review-the-hobbit-a-masterpiece-of-fantasy-perfection/

The Hobbit Film Trilogy: Kíli and Tauriel

A Elbereth, Gilthoniel!

I am more remiss in my posts about The Hobbit films than I am in anything else – with the exception of Pacific Rim and Star Trek Into Darkness. I had meant to write some posts about The Desolation of Smaug, but with my excitement over the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron, I got distracted and did not write them. But better late than never, as they say!

Also, it might have been a good thing to have waited this long to post anything about The Hobbit film franchise. There were a lot of things hinted at in The Desolation of Smaug and, even though I have read Tolkien’s The Hobbit, I was not sure where Peter Jackson and his crew were going to go with The Battle of the Five Armies. Now I know, since I saw The Five Armies not too long ago, and I am ready to write about the films again.

Okay, if you saw my post “Twins Fíli and Kíli,” then I have an apology to make. Fíli and Kíli are not twins; Fíli is older than Kíli by five years, and I did not take the time to check out their respective ages when I wrote that post. I was under some weird impression that no one knew when they were born or something, and I made a guess that they were twins. I guessed poorly, and I made a note of my mistake on that post not too long ago. I also changed its title; it is now called “Fíli and Kíli.”

Now, to the subject of this post – Kíli and Tauriel.

Tauriel is not in any of Tolkien’s original works; she is a character made specifically for the film franchise. Like some Hobbit and Lord of the Rings fans, when I heard about her and some sort of a love story or love triangle being part of the movies, I got nervous. I will not say I am a “purist” – someone who believes the movies should align exactly to the books – but I did not want the spirit of Tolkien’s epics marred in any way. Under the wrong kind of direction, I was sure that Tauriel’s part in The Hobbit films would be an unmitigated disaster.

Thankfully, Tauriel worked out just fine for the films. At six hundred years old, Tauriel is a fairly young Elf. In fact the actress who portrays her, Evangeline Lilly, is reported to have once referred to Tauriel as a “baby.” Tauriel has great fighting skills but she has never really left the Woodland Realm of her king, Thranduil. Oh, yeah, and Legolas has a crush on her.

So he is not at all happy when Tauriel and Kíli start a Romance Reel. This begins when the Woodland Elves rescue Thorin and Company from the spiders in Mirkwood. They round up every Dwarf except one: Kíli. Poor Kíli still has a spider chewing on his boot as it tries to drag him off. Before any of the Dwarves or Legolas’ company can react, Tauriel enters the scene. She kills the spider which is so determined to have Kíli for breakfast, then finishes off several more that attack the lone Dwarf.

Kíli’s response to this is an awed look at the Elf woman. Hard to say whether he was more impressed by her fighting skills or her amazing looks, but I think it was probably a combination of the two. Tauriel does not respond to him, but the expression on her face suggests she is pleased that he is so impressed with her.

The flirting does not stop there. Once taken to the Elves’ dungeon, Tauriel is the one to lock Kíli in his cell. When Legolas asks her why “that Dwarf” is staring at her, Tauriel responds that she has no idea, then mentions that he seems taller than most Dwarves. Legolas replies that while Kíli may be taller than the average Dwarf, he is no less ugly.

Sorry, Legolas, but that is hardly cause for dissuasion! Tauriel proves the truth of this when she goes to visit Kíli in the dungeons after Thranduil tells her not to answer Legolas’ romantic advances – or else. For her part, Tauriel certainly seems to like Legolas; she just does not appear to be romantically inclined toward him, as he is to her. During her conversation with Kíli in the dungeons, her romantic feelings are definitely directed toward “that Dwarf.” And, listening from the shadows above Kíli’s cell, Legolas is not very pleased with that.

Once Bilbo frees the Dwarves and gets them into the river, Tauriel and Legolas, along with the Elven guard, pursue the Company. The Dwarves are stopped at a river gate guarded by Elves, where a party of Orcs, led by Azog’s son Bolg, attacks. The Orcs kill the Elves guarding the river gate and, trapped where they are, the Dwarves cannot defend themselves very well or escape either group of pursuers.

Kíli decides to fix this problem. He gets out of his barrel and climbs up to the lever that will open the gate which has the Company trapped, intending to open it and drop back into his barrel. Along the way Fíli protects his younger brother by killing an Orc with a knife. Earlier in the film, when the Wood Elves disarm the Dwarves, Fíli is revealed to have knives of various sizes stashed all over his person. And the Elf who pushed him into his cell had to stop to remove yet another knife from his coat. It was a very cute touch to the film!

Kíli reaches the lever at the same time Bolg shoots him in the leg with a poisoned arrow. Tauriel then keeps the Orcs away from Kíli long enough for the young Dwarf to open the grate and drop back into his barrel. Then she watches as he and his Company are carried downstream past the border of Thranduil’s realm, clearly wanting to follow them and just as clearly torn by the fact that she cannot do so.

But she does follow them once she learns that the arrow Kíli was hit with was poisoned (gleaned during an interesting interrogation scene with Thranduil, Legolas and a captured Orc).  Legolas in turn follows her, and together the two enter Lake-town. They find the Dwarves at Bard’s house, just in time to fight off Bolg and his Orcs. While Legolas pursues Bolg, Tauriel remains behind as Kíli’s condition worsens. Tauriel then uses the athelas found by Bofur to heal the young Dwarf’s injury and learns that Kíli has fallen in love with her.  It is a love she signifies is returned with a simple hand grip.

The whole moment is ruined by Smaug as he attacks Lake-town in retaliation for the Lake Men’s aid to Thorin and his Company, which allowed them to reach the Lonely Mountain. Tauriel helps Óin, Fíli, and Bofur get Kíli and Bard’s two daughters safely to the lake shore. Once there Kíli, much improved in health despite the night’s events, asks her to come with him to Erebor. When Tauriel tries to turn away he adds something in another language which brings her up short.

I am not sure whether he spoke Dwarvish or Elvish (it sounded Elvish to me). Whether or not he was using Sindarin or Khuzdul, Tauriel’s whole “I don’t understand you,” argument was more than somewhat useless because Kíli’s meaning was completely clear: one way or another he told her “I love you.” And she knew it.  Why else would she come to a halt like that?

But the moment is dimmed when Legolas joins the two and tells Tauriel it is time to leave. Before he lets her go, however, Kíli gives her the token stone his mother gave him, as a promise of his love for her. Later, when he and the others arrive at Erebor, Kíli seems much less enthralled by the treasure hoard than his uncle or even his older brother. All the gold under the mountain cannot replace his love for Tauriel with the gold-lust which is a natural weakness the Dwarves of Middle-earth have.

Now, as I said, I have read The Hobbit. Not in quite some time, but I have read it. I knew Fíli, Kíli, and Thorin were all going to die. I just did not know how. I also knew that, because the three had received so much time onscreen, getting their characters expanded – plus Kíli and Tauriel’s love story – meant that watching them die was going to hurt. Really, really hurt.

I was more right than I guessed. I had to make myself watch Fíli’s murder. He did not receive as much screen time in theaters as Kíli did, but I imagine the extended versions of the films will have more scenes for him. And he was a fun character, mostly because he was so playful. Once he separated from Kíli after Thorin sent the two of them to scout for Orcs, I knew he would be the first of the three to die.

I also knew that Kíli was going to be furious when he found out his older brother had been killed. I did not realize he would get to see Fíli’s body land at his feet, but I knew he would fly at the Orcs in a rage over the murder of his brother.

When Tauriel challenged Thranduil and told him he was not going anywhere while the Dwarves and Men still needed help against the Orcs, I figured she would be there when Kíli died. I was impressed when Legolas told his father he was going with Tauriel to help the Dwarves. He obviously still loved Tauriel, but he also knew she loved Kíli. In which case, if she wanted to be with the Dwarf, Legolas was not going to stop her. He would always love her, but he would not separate her from Kíli just to have her for himself.

Or, if not that, he intended to have it out with Kíli when the Orcs were all dead to see which one of them Tauriel really did love.

But if that was his intention, he did not have that chance. Having been saved by Tauriel so many times, Kíli ended up repaying the favor when Bolg attacked her and had her on the ropes. With Tauriel too injured to help him fight Bolg, the big Orc was able to catch and hold Kíli long enough to stab him through the heart with the spike on the end of his mace.

I actually thought Kíli had the best death of the three Dwarves in the film. Fíli was murdered, plain and simple; he never got a chance to fight back and Azog did not let him die with even the small honor of defending himself. Thorin had a good death – he got to avenge his grandfather and his nephew, then got to see his old home restored to his people. That scene actually made me think of how Moses got a look at the Promised Land before he died, which was a nice touch on the filmmakers’ part, even if they did not write the scene with that in mind.

But of the three, Kíli alone died for love. He died protecting Tauriel not only from death, but from whatever wicked machinations Bolg had going through his mind with regard to her. I do not know exactly what would have happened to Tauriel if Bolg had decided to have “fun” with her prior to killing her, but considering that the Orcs are descended from warped, corrupted Elves, the outline of that picture is not pretty. Kíli died making sure she had a chance to fight back, which ended up buying Legolas the time he needed to get into a fight with Bolg when Tauriel became incapacitated after trying to kill the big Orc herself.

I really think Kíli had a good death; something Hollywood has forgotten to show us these days. Most death scenes in the movies of today are violent and focus on the pain the characters feel when parting from this world and those in it they love. Few movies these days show the audience that there is no better reason to die than for the love of another, and Kíli died with his eyes on the Elf woman he loved. I do not know how reasonable it was for the filmmakers to have him tell her he loved her as the spike was going into his chest, but all the same, it was a nice touch to a very poignant scene.

It was also nice to have Thranduil swallow his pride long enough to tell Tauriel that she really was in love with Kíli, since his death grieved her as deeply as it did.

We are not told in the movie what happens to Tauriel after the Battle of the Five Armies; whether she went back to Mirkwood or instead to the Grey Havens, or whether she died sometime after the Battle. For myself, because I really enjoyed the romance between her and Kíli, I like to think she went to the Grey Havens and from there to the Undying Lands, to wait until the time when she and Kíli could be together again. This could also be achieved by her dying of grief (Elves actually can die of grief, which I found surprising). I do not think, however, that she would take that particular road. At least, not from what we last saw of her in the final installment of The Hobbit trilogy.

Well, readers, I have done my best to explain what I think of Kíli and Tauriel’s romance and I am glad to have written it. So, in the same spirit as the Dwarves who first knocked on Bilbo’s round, green door, I am …

The Mithril Guardian

(bowing)

At your service!

http://borg.com/2012/08/02/jackson-confirms-division-of-the-hobbit-into-three-films/

http://borg.com/2014/12/18/a-battle-of-two-reviews-examining-peter-jacksons-the-hobbit-the-battle-of-the-five-armies/

http://borg.com/2014/08/02/cloaks-daggers-new-book-offers-unprecedented-access-to-movie-costume-props-and-sets-of-the-hobbit-series

http://borg.com/2013/12/25/movie-review-an-amazing-adventure-awaits-in-the-hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug/

http://borg.com/2012/12/25/the-hobbit-argo-and-arrow-lead-off-our-list-of-the-best-of-2012/

http://borg.com/2012/12/15/opening-weekend-review-the-hobbit-a-masterpiece-of-fantasy-perfection/

Book Review: The Hobbit Party

If you have followed my blog for a while now, then you know I am a big fan of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I think I have read many parts of The Lord of the Rings at least twenty times – each! The Hobbit I have not read quite as much, though Peter Jackson’s film trilogy based on that book has got me cracking it open every now and then to double check certain details.

Although I enjoy Middle-earth no end, I know that I do not qualify for admittance to the Elves’ society (High or Silvan), I am not a dwarf and – sadly – I do not even qualify as a hobbit (especially in size). So I think I am therefore stuck with the Rohirrim or the other, lesser denizens of Gondor (those who do not have Númenórean heritage and who, therefore, live about as long as everybody else today does). Of the two, I probably fall in with the lesser men of Gondor, though I do not suppose I would mind being a part of the Horse Lords’ society. Ah, well, we cannot have everything we want.

All this needless blather about Tolkien’s masterpiece aside, why am I even bringing it up? I am bringing it up in relation to a book I read recently by two Tolkien scholars. The book is called The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom That Tolkien Got, and the West Forgot. Its authors are Jonathan Witt and Jay W. Richards.

And before you have the chance to suppose that I would burden you with a book only about numbers and charts and graphs, readers, perish the thought! Not only do I find such books dreary and headache-inducing, I would not drop any such volume on anyone else’s lap (although I might make an exception in Loki’s case). The Hobbit Party is not a volume that relies heavily on either numbers or graphs to make its points. Its two authors vivaciously explain what they – and others – have discovered in Tolkien’s massive, marvelous magnum opus.

“But why should anyone study The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings,” some people ask, “especially in order to make a statement about subjects that are anything but fictional (such as economics and war)? That is for economists and scholars to debate, not fiction analysts!”

Oh, but how widely these people miss their mark! They forget, quite easily, that Tolkien himself was a scholar. Specifically, he was a pioneer in the study of language (this branch of learning’s official title is philology), and he had a great store of knowledge about many things himself, including war. Tolkien was a British soldier who served in the dark, wet, horror-filled trenches at the Somme in World War I. He knew war better than many people – especially those who ran that particular debacle that was given the deceptive title “The War to End All Wars.”

Mr. Witt and Mr. Richards explore the landscape and history of Middle-earth throughout The Hobbit Party, covering everything from government to war, from death and immortality to economics, all in the light of what they know Tolkien knew. The Hobbit Party is an essential companion to Tolkien’s work. It is not the essential companion – there is never going to be a book big enough to do that job – but it is a book whose reading will greatly illuminate the points Tolkien was trying to make in the great epic so many have come to love.

On a final, minor note, you may ask why it is I picked up this book, readers. The reason I wanted this book was the same reason I have reread parts of The Lord of the Rings so often. Through his fantastic modern myth, Tolkien was trying to teach his readers something – or several somethings – that were very important to the readers’ well being and to the well being of the following generations of readers.

In my own readings of the trilogy, I found several of those things, some of which I have shared in posts and on a page on this blog. There are more; I just have not taken the time to type them up yet. But, despite all these little breadcrumbs I found scattered throughout the novels, I knew I had only scratched the surface of what Tolkien was trying to tell me. I knew there was more in his novels, more levels of truth I had to dig for.

But, in some places, I have been afraid to dig too deeply on my own. If I were to find more truth but misunderstand it when I found it, and pass this misunderstanding on to others, then no matter my good intentions I may cause pain and sorrow that could be avoided. And so I have looked for a companion digger – or diggers – to help me understand what I have found in my excavations.   Mr. Witt and Mr. Richards are two fellow Middle-earth spelunkers who have not only discovered the same jewels I have, but who have gone even deeper in and found larger gems! For that reason I recommend their work to you, readers, so that when you next journey into Middle-earth, you will know where to dig for the treasure Tolkien left behind for us to discover. Therefore, readers –

The Mithril Guardian

(bowing)

At your service!

Gandalf and Galadriel

Galadriel and Gandalf

Hi, DiNozzo!

Well, with Torture DiNozzo Week over, we can move on to different topics.  Don’t worry about Star Trek Into Darkness, Tony.  I have not forgotten it.  Today I just felt like going back to The Hobbit.

One of the scenes I enjoy most in The Hobbit is the meeting of the White Council in Rivendell.  In the movie, the Council consists of Elrond, Saruman (blech), Gandalf, and that dazzling Elf woman, Galadriel.  Saruman, of course, spends his time trying to dissuade his peers from prying Smaug out of the Lonely Mountain.  He dismisses the Necromancer as a foolish human sorcerer and tries to stamp out the fear his ‘friends’ express at the sight of the Witchking of Angmar’s blade.

The one problem I have with the meeting as it is presented is the divide in the Council.  Galadriel and Gandalf both advocate taking Smaug down.  Saruman pooh-poohs their worries and Elrond follows his lead, minus the pooh-poohing.

I do not believe Elrond would have counseled against getting rid of Smaug.  While Saruman’s true colors are not known at the time of The Hobbit, I do not see Elrond blindly assenting to Saruman’s attempts to lay the matter aside.

That said, I do enjoy the back and forth between Galadriel and Gandalf.  It is especially funny when she realizes Thorin’s company is leaving and tells Gandalf, “You knew!”  The look Gandalf gives her is the look a boy gives his mother when his hand has been found in the cookie jar.

Ooops.  🙂

Did you notice that when Gandalf and Elrond go to meet Galadriel, both men make bows of respect to her?  Why do you think they do this, Tony?

Because she is a very beautiful Elf woman?  Well, duh.  There is that.  After her granddaughter, Arwen Evenstar, Galadriel is the most beautiful Elf-woman in Middle-earth.

Of course you didn’t know Galadriel was Arwen’s grandmother!  You would have to read the book to find that out, and you don’t read!  But since I have started, I will be gracious and fill you in.  Years before the events of The Hobbit and the War of the Ring, Elrond married Galadriel’s daughter, Celebrian.  They had three children: twins Elladan and Elrohir and Arwen Evenstar, or Arwen Undomiel in the Elven tongue.  We never see Celebrian in the movies or the books because she has left Middle-earth by the time of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Why?  Well, you see, Celebrian used to make regular visits to her mother’s home in Lothlorien.  Returning to Rivendell from one such stay, she and her escort were attacked by orcs in the Redhorn Pass of the Misty Mountains (where the Fellowship later got stuck and had to detour into Moria).  Her escort was killed and she was captured and taken into the orc tunnels.  There she was tortured by the orcs.

Was she killed?  No.  All I know for sure is that she was wounded with a poison dart.   But knowing orcs as we do, that may not have been her only injury.

Anyway, Celebrian was rescued.  Her dart wound, however, made her forsake Middle-earth for the Grey Havens a year later.  Elrond’s sons had a special hatred for orcs after this incident, so they often rode with the Rangers to take out goblin packs that hunted in the north.  This must be why they joined their father in hunting down and killing the orc pack which was chasing Thorin’s company.

DiNozzo!  There were three Elves in the hunting party who were not wearing helmets!  One was Elrond.  Two guesses as to who the other two were.

Elladan and Elrohir, yes.  Gee whiz, one would think you had no more skill with a search engine than you do riding horses!

Hey, hey, no head slapping!  I’ve got Gibbs on speed dial, remember?

Good.  Where was I going with this?  Oh, yes.  So Elrond respects Galadriel not only because she is beautiful but because she is his mother-in-law.  There is, however, slightly more to this as well.

Galadriel is one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth.  She has been around since the First Age of the world.  And she was there when the Three Rings were forged and handed out to the wisest of the Elven-kind.  This is the other reason that Gandalf and Elrond show Galadriel such great respect.  She is the oldest and wisest Elf alive and has wielded one of the Three for most of her life.  Even for Elves, that is no small accomplishment.

Don’t you remember?  There were “Three rings for the Elven kings under the sky.”

Yes, Galadriel is a queen, but if Sauron is looking for men and not women he would not suspect where one of the Three has been all this time.  Nenya, the ring made of mithril, has been in Galadriel’s keeping since it was made.  The other two Elven rings, Vilya and Narya, have each changed hands since they were forged.

Vilya, the mightiest of the Elven Three, first belonged to the Elven king Gil-galad.  He died with Isuldur’s father Elendil when Sauron was first defeated.  Before he died, though, he gave Vilya to his standard bearer.  That ‘young’ Elf was Elrond.

Narya, the ring with a fiery red stone, was given to Círdan, the Elven shipwright of the Grey Havens.  He is the only Elf I know of to have a beard and appear old.  He is also one of the few Elves who does not make it into the films.  And if he does, then he is not named in The Return of the King.

Círdan did not keep Narya.  He met a better guardian for that ring: Gandalf.  He gave Narya to Gandalf because he felt that Gandalf would need it to “light a fire in the hearts” of the people who would battle Sauron.  Knowing Gandalf as we do, the third Elven ring was probably better fitted for his fiery temper than for the (apparently) milder mannered Círdan.  It helps that the word Narya means ‘fire.’

If you watch the end of The Return of the King carefully, you will see Gandalf wearing a ring with a red stone on one of his hands.  You have to look fast, Tony!  The film does not allow a long, hard study of Gandalf the White before he sails from Middle-earth forever.

Where was I?  Right, that’s it!  This is the difference between Gandalf and Galadriel’s power but also what makes them such a team.  Galadriel’s power, combined with Nenya (which means ‘water’), appears to be the means she uses to preserve Lothlorien.  What I mean by that is, in the books, Lothlorien seems to have an aura which makes it impervious to the tides of time.  Gandalf describes Galadriel’s forest kingdom as a “land of ageless time,” and Samwise mentions after leaving Lorien that while they were there time just seemed to stop.

This makes me think that Galadriel’s power lets her preserve what was, so much so that time hardly seems to pass under the mallorn trees in Lorien.  Her power is not necessarily proactive, though she can wield it as a weapon, but is useful as a way of seeing what is best for the future through knowledge of the past.

Gandalf’s power is different.  Every time we see our favorite wizard, he is out doing something or pushing for something to be done.  Gandalf is not the type to sit around twiddling his thumbs or crying over spilled milk.  He has to be active.  This is why he is always exhorting important people – whether it is Aragorn, Frodo, Bilbo, or anyone else you can think of – to stand up to evil, a.k.a. Sauron.  He has to be active against Sauron for all his time on Middle-earth.

This is why Galadriel wanted Gandalf to be the head of the White Council.  As we see in The Hobbit, when Gandalf thinks something has to be done to keep Middle-earth safe he will up and do it, to heck with what anyone else thinks.  If he had been worried about Saruman’s opinion of Thorin’s company, he would have asked the head of his order for permission to let the company form in the first place.  He did not do that because: a) the mission required some amount of secrecy; b) it would take too much time to go through ‘proper channels,’ and c) he might be told “No.”

These were things that could not be allowed to happen.  So, in typical Gandalf fashion, he went ahead and did what needed doing without asking if it was okay.  After all, sometimes it really IS better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

Yes, Tony, I did just say that.  And it has no relation whatsoever to Torture DiNozzo Week.

Back to The Hobbit.  Because they agree on so much, Galadriel and Gandalf are usually in accord over a course of action.  This is one of the reasons that Galadriel tells Gandalf to call on her if he needs her help in a later scene from The Hobbit.  She has been on Middle-earth much longer than any of the Istari (wizards).  So she has a whole lot of knowledge and power behind her, and she promises to use it to aid Gandalf if and when he needs it.

In this way, she is like a mother figure for Gandalf.  Remember I said he gave her a ‘little boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar’ look?  Who would not give their mom that look?  And Galadriel probably made one heck of a mom, not to mention a grandmother, during her time in Middle-earth.

Anyway, that is one of the scenes I really liked from An Unexpected Journey.  I hope there are more in the coming films.  The next two Christmases at the theater are going to be fun!!

Later,

  Mithril

The Hobbit Film Trilogy: Pride and ‘Hobbit Sense’

Thorin

Hey, DiNozzo!

My Klondike bar – thanks.  How’s business?

That bad, huh?  I heard it was going a bit harder than usual.  How are Ziva and McGee doing?

When are you going to quit calling him McGeek?  Yes, it’s cute, to me.  I’m not so sure he likes it. 

As for Ziva, I think you two are giving each other the look.

Don’t give me that flustered innocence, I’ve seen you two for the past couple of years!  The more I watch, the more I’m sure you guys are headed toward –

All right, all right!  Don’t get so ruffled, I was just giving you my opinion!

Okay, okay, fine.  I’ll cut to the meat of the matter.  Gee, they’re making these Klondike bars smaller all the time.  That one didn’t last a light-second.

Now, where did I want to start this?  Oh, yeah.  So the focus of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is, naturally, Bilbo Baggins.  Throughout the film we see his growing affection for the dwarves in the company, and their growing respect and friendship with him.

But there’s one dwarf who just doesn’t seem to soften toward Bilbo in the least, although Bilbo’s admiration for him continues to grow.  Thorin Oakenshield, the dispossessed dwarf king, is stiff with all the company (save perhaps with Balin), but he is especially gruff with Bilbo.  Proud and battle-tried, Thorin is determined to regain his near-crazed grandfather’s kingdom under the mountain, which is guarded by a firedrake (dragon).  But the entire might of Erebor in its greatness couldn’t stop Smaug the terrible.  He’s going to need help.

And for this mission, the only help Thorin’s got are twelve other dwarves.  Oh, sure, Gandalf travels with them fairly often.  But he’s a wizard; he has a lot of other matters on his plate.  He can’t travel with the dwarves all the time, and even if he could, an entire army couldn’t drag Smaug out from Under the Mountain.  What’s Gandalf the Grey (even with all his power) going to be able to do – other than give Smaug a stomach ache? 

These odds are beyond dismal to start with.  There’s worse in that, since Gandalf isn’t a reliable traveling companion, it leaves Thorin with a company of thirteen. 

You know the old saying about thirteen being an unlucky number.  Who wants that worry hanging over his head on an already badly outmatched mission like this?

So Thorin asked Gandalf to find them a fourteenth traveler for the company.  And what does he get?  A well-fed, well-housed hobbit who “looks more like a grocer than a burglar.”

 Bilbo has, of course, never used a sword, axe, or any other weapon.  It’s doubtful that he ever even used a sling shot as has Ori.  In fact, I think it was mentioned in the book that the only thing he knew how to do was throw rocks.  Not an especially helpful talent when you’re facing a huge dragon, huh?

As for burglary – only Gandalf’s quick interruption kept Bilbo from letting slip that he’d never stolen anything more than fruit or vegetables in his whole comfortable life.  How is he supposed to steal anything from a dragon?  It’s shown later that he has trouble stealing from mountain trolls.  Doesn’t inspire confidence about his ability to get past a dragon, does it?

And herein lies part of the rub.  Thorin has led an uncomfortable life for many, many years.  He’s fought orcs, wargs, and lost his home to a dragon.  He has had to work for the clothes on his back and the weapons he carries.  His father has gone mad and vanished; his battier grandfather was slain in a horrible manner right in front of him, and he has led and lost thousands of dwarves in war against the orcs of the Misty Mountains. All of this happened in one day.  He has had years to brood on it and get bitter over it.

And when he finally gets the chance to do something about it, he finds he doesn’t have enough dwarves.  Although as he himself points out, the dwarves he does have are willing to fight.  That can be the tipping point in any battle. 

But when he asks Gandalf to get him a burglar, Gandalf instead finds him an untried hobbit who has never seen battle.  Heck, he hasn’t even lifted a sword at any point in his life!!

For Bilbo’s part, as a young hobbit he probably would have jumped at the chance to go with the dwarves.  But at the hobbit’s middle age of fifty, he has had time to get comfortable with the quiet life of the Shire.  He is “respectable” and doesn’t do anything considered odd by the residents of Hobbiton. 

Suddenly, his quiet, comfortable life is turned upside down in one night.  A passel of dwarves invades his home, sets it into absolute disorder, the lead dwarf insults him, and he is “volunteered” to go on a quest.  The “respectable” part of Bilbo does what any “respectable” resident of Hobbiton would do; he turns it down.

The next morning he finds his house – the one thing he takes real pride in – restored to its former order and cleanliness.  And on the table in the parlor, he finds the contract to join the company. 

Wonder who left it there?  I doubt it was Thorin.  Balin?  Perhaps.

The more likely answer, I think, would be Gandalf.

Now, this is the second half of Thorin’s problem with Bilbo and, frankly, with a great many other people.  Thorin is the dwarf king and has earned glory in his battles.  He has helped his people survive since the fall of Erebor. 

And, in typical dwarf fashion, this has all gone straight to his head.

Dwarves in Middle-earth are known for their bull-headed pride.  Only Gimli ever seemed to have any sense in that regard, keeping his pride under better control than many other dwarves.  Thorin doesn’t seem to even want to keep his pride in check.

Thorin’s pride brings the company to many of the dangers they encounter.  He chooses to camp at the wrecked farm, near a troll den; he bickers with Gandalf regarding most of the wizard’s advice; and at first refuses any help Elrond can give him because Thranduil, king of the Mirkwood Elves, wouldn’t attack Smaug when the dragon was safely inside the Lonely Mountain. 

Yeah, Thranduil may have been a stuck-up snob, but what’s the sense in getting his army killed in a suicide attempt?  Somehow, Thorin never seems to figure out this part of the equation.  At least he doesn’t in this movie.  Only Gandalf’s frustrated tirade gets Thorin to finally – grudgingly – accept Elrond’s help in reading the map his father Thrain left him.

Bilbo’s pride is of another type.  Bilbo takes pride in being “respectable,” in how well his hole is taken care of and, essentially, in being a hobbit.  This pride is really nothing when compared to Thorin’s, and because he can take no pride in these ‘small’ accomplishments on the trail, Bilbo sets it aside (until later).

This is what gives him an edge that Thorin at first doesn’t see and later ignores: Bilbo learns as he goes along on the quest.  He learns to use his wits, his sharpest and best weapon; shown when he successfully distracts the trolls, and engages Gollum in a game of riddles.  He learns how to use a sword and how to fight.  And, most importantly, he learns when to use a sword and when not to use a sword when he spares Gollum (as Gandalf advised was the true sign of bravery).  He learns how to be a good friend to all the dwarves, even Thorin; although the dwarf king refuses to even consider him a friend for most of the film.

Why does Thorin do that?  Because, Tony, Bilbo may be high on the hobbit totem pole, but socially he’s inferior to half the other races in Middle-earth.  Bilbo’s no warrior; he’s not a smith, not an archer, he’s not even a scholar.  He has no credentials outside of the society of the Shire.  He shouldn’t even be loyal to the exiled dwarf king; he’s a hobbit and Thorin’s a dwarf.  Why should either of them care what happens to the other?  Why should Bilbo care about what Thorin and the other dwarves want?  It may be safe to say that Thorin doesn’t care terribly much about what Bilbo wants.

And yet, when Thorin nearly ends up joining his grandfather, it is Bilbo Baggins who rushes to his rescue.  A small hobbit with nearly no skill with a sword puts himself between an injured dwarf king and a huge, murderous orc on a large warg.  Why?  Through his journey with the company and his friendship with the other dwarves Bilbo has become loyal to Thorin.  Like Balin, he has come to see Thorin “as one I would be proud to call King.”

He has come to see that Thorin and the others lack what he has – a home, a home that they can be proud of, as he is proud of his hobbit hole.  In the Shire, everyone has a home that they can be proud of; I don’t believe there’s any such thing as a homeless hobbit in the entire Middle-earth world.  So it stands to reason that he would want to help the dwarves regain that pride.  And finally, Thorin wakes up to the fact that Bilbo really does want to help.

Oh, yes, Bilbo misses the Shire and wants to go back.  He doesn’t enjoy the rigors of the trail, no.  He doesn’t like fighting for his life against orcs and wargs.  But if that’s what it takes to help his friends, then he’ll do it.  He’ll put up with the discomfort and see the journey through to its end.

Come on, Tony, who wants the end of the journey to be the final end?  But the thing is that the future isn’t written in stone.  Bilbo is willing to risk his life, maybe more than he realizes, to help his friends get their home back. 

And that is why he gives Gandalf courage. 

Well, I have to split.  See you around, Tony!

Later,

Mithril

Bilbo