A Tolkien Virgin: The Hobbit - Chapters 6 and 7 - The Journey Continues
Bilbo on the wings of the Lord of the Eagles.
Bilbo's adventure gets more fantastic. He meets up "coincidentally" with the rest of his party and off they go (just so you know, I definitely appreciate all of your comments on providence and fate, but you'll forgive me if I call it luck and coincidence, for now). They run into the nasty Wargs, Gandalf's attempt to help backfires (no pun intended), and soon the forest is ablaze and the Goblins catch our protagonists up a tree in a very hot place. Then, to my pleasant surprise, Thorondor and a handful of other eagles, facilitate the party's escape. Well, the narrator calls him the Lord of the Eagles, which I'm assuming is Thorondor, the Lord of the Eagles mentioned in the Silmarillion in a few places. It was cool that Thorondor spoke and showed signs of personality, qualities missing in the Silmarillion--despite the integral part he plays in some stories. Here in the Hobbit, though, I find it hard to believe that the Lord of the Eagles would fear being shot by men--except that he actually was shot at one point, which is equally hard to believe.
But I must say, Thorondor's presence here in Middle Earth is a bit comforting, because it means that Manwe is still keeping watch on things...hasn't given up on the children of Illuvatar. That is, of course, provided that Manwe and Thorondor still have the same relationship as in the Silmarillion, which doesn't seem too far fetched.
I love all the little pieces of stories that Tolkien drops here and there that peak my curiosity. For example, Gandalf healed the Lord of the Eagles from an arrow wound at one point. You know, a story about Gandalf's many adventures would be very interesting indeed.
Beorn meets Gandalf and Bilbo.
Patently Tolkien. There's one paragraph toward the begining of this chapter which sounds an awful lot like the Silmarillion. Read the first few pages and see if you can spot it. Okay, I'll spoil it for you: it's the paragraph about the Eagles--The Lord of the Eagles specifically, that begins, "And so they parted." Here, Tolkien drops references to the future, to the end of the story (or just much later), to the battle of the Five Armies, etc, which is a story-telling device he uses throughout the Silmarillion. It's not so much foreshadowing; because it's not veiled, it isn't really a shadow. Au contraire, Tolkien mentions plainly some future occurence, hooking the readers and causing us to wonder, "what happens between now and then?" It'll be interesting to see how the story moves from a simple little there and back adventure to "the battle of the Five Armies."
Moving on, let me ask, is it out of place for me to stare blankly at the explanation of Beorn's origins? I mean, shape-shifting Men aren't found anywhere in The Silmarillion (sorry to spoil it for those of you who call yourselves Tolkien fans, but are too lazy to read the Silmarillion--or just haven't gotten around to it)...well, neither are Hobbits or Giants or magic/wizardry (in the way it's described here, at least) for that matter. So, I guess part of the fun involves not asking why and wherefore too much, and letting the Hobbit be its own book, with its own version of Middle-earth. The strange thing about Beorn is that Gandalf suspects that he is descended from the original race of Men, which is cool and seems quite possible (his name is one letter shy of Beor, one of the founders of the 3 households of Men from the Silmarillion), but doesn't explain how he came to be able to shape-shift. Whatever.
Tolkien could have called this chapter "A Much Needed Friend," since without Beorn, Bilbo and the rest of his party would have been in a lot of trouble. Even though Gandalf leaves the party to fend for themselves as they head into Mirkwood (mysterious, indeed), and Beorn's enchanted animals return to their home, at least they have provisions and water and a straight path to follow. Gandalf stresses that they mustn't stray from that path, which of course leads me to believe that Bilbo ends up off the path somehow. Let's see what happens next.
Till next time,