Thorin is taken prisoner…
Chapters 9 and 10:

Barrels Out of Bond & A Warm Welcome

Well, I don’t really want to stop to do these reviews! It’s a little unnatural to have to stop all the time right when you’re getting caught up in a good book. While I was reading The Silmarillion, stopping to digest the previous chapter or to just take a break from all the devastation, was always welcome.

The title of Barrels Out of Bond kind of gave away the end of the chapter, but it was a good one nonetheless. I liked that Tolkien didn’t just have Bilbo rescue everyone right away… it took him two weeks of sneaking around with his ring on to come up with a plan and execute it. Two weeks of invisibility, though would be hard, I’d think. It would drive me crazy not being able to see myself. As for the elves, even though they were only Green-Elves (I think), drunken merry-making and carelessness also seem a little out of sync with Silmarillion Elves–even Green Elves. But that didn’t come to mind while I was reading the chapter, really. Even though, I’m interested to discover what’s happened between the fall of Numenor and the present of the Hobbit and LOTR, (maybe that will explain some of the differences), and even though I always have the Silmarillion in the back of my mind while reading, I mostly take the Hobbit at its own level and enjoy it for what it is. It’s a fun story.

I could only smile when Tolkien relays that “Bilbo had come by the only road that was any good.” The best way out of Mirkwood was through the Wood-elf King’s tunnels to the river down to Lake-town that they wouldn’t have found if the Dwarves hadn’t been caught (and wouldn’t have succeeded without Bilbo’s cleverness, ring, and luck). Tolkien calls it luck in the Hobbit, but it’s a lot more like fate (as you all have pointed out on the Messageboard)…it’s like they’re in a train on the railroad of fate and Bilbo is the conductor. They can’t make a wrong turn, it seems. Sure, there were frightful and what felt like uncertain moments, but in the end they’ve all arrived by the best road–by straying from the path. That kind of changes up my ideas on the possible philosophical implications: maybe the right path is off the perceived path, eh? But, thinking like that breaks the rule of just letting the story be. Well, I don’t know, do you think there is any kind of deeper meaning to the Hobbit? Or is it just a kids story? (You can hop over to the Messageboard and let me know what you think.)

One last thing. I was about as surprised by Thorin’s entrance as the people of Lake-town. I recall from the beginning of the story that he was the descendent of an important Dwarf, but I didn’t think he was going to claim to fulfill some prophecy–the return of the King under the Mountain. Then, Tolkien drops the suggestion that maybe instead of just burglarizing Smaug, they might just kill him. So, you’ll excuse me as I get back to reading.

till next time,

keep thinking,