These are the last two chapters of “The Hobbit”! Congratulations, you are now more than prepared for the movie this Friday (or Thursday for UK readers), and well-informed to adore or scrutinize Peter Jackson’s take. We’ll host a discussion on the movie on Friday, but please remember that books and movies are two different mediums. No adaptation will be perfect, nor should it be.
Bilbo comes to and realizes he is by himself on Ravenshill. He can see no goblins left alive and thinks there are elves on the rocks below. Dwarves are removing the wall at the front gate, but everything is quiet. No songs or laughter. Bilbo decides that victory is a gloomy business. He sense someone coming towards him, but when he calls the man is confused. He realizes that he is still wearing the ring, and kicks himself because he might have had a soft bed otherwise. The man tells him that Gandalf thought he was still alive, and had last heard Bilbo’s voice on the hill. Bilbo only has a sore head, but is a bit wobbly, so the man carries Bilbo down to Dale. At the tents he meets a delighted Gandalf whose arm is in a sling. Gandalf tells him that Thorin wishes to see him, and directs him into a tent. There lies Thorin, covered in many wounds and he knows that he will soon leave the world where the treasure of his fathers matter. Thorin wants to part in friendship with Bilbo, and tells the hobbit he is far better than he realizes. He also mentions that if only everyone cared for good food and a song above gold as Bilbo does, the world would be a better place. The two say farewell, and Bilbo goes away, crying until his eyes are red and his voice hoarse.
The narrator informs us here of the rest of the events of the battle. The eagles had been watching the goblins gather, and thus gathered themselves under the Lord of the Eagles. When they smelled war, they flew to help. The eagles were able to pull the goblins off of the mountainside, evening out the battle again. But the battle turned, and all looked lost until Beorn showed up in his bear form, more giant with anger. It was Beorn that pulled a wounded Thorin out of the fray, then rejoined the battle. He killed the goblin leader Bolg, and at his death the other goblins fled. The coalition of dwarves, elves, men, eagles, and Beorn feared the goblins’ escape, so they chased them down and slaughtered them, or drove them into Mirkwood to get lost under the trees. They estimate that three parts of the northern goblins were killed that day, leaving the lands in peace for many years. When Bilbo wakes, all but the most wounded were out on the hunt for the goblins.
Bilbo regrets missing the eagles, and he asks Gandalf when they can head home. Gandalf tells him soon. First, Thorin is buried at the bottom of the mountain, the Arkenstone laid on top. The elf-king returns Orcrist to also be buried with him, and it’s said that the sword would glow whenever enemies were near. Fili and Kili fell defending Thorin, and Dain becomes King Under the Mountain. Dain rewards the eagles with gold, and gives Bard the agreed one fourteenth share. Bard in turn shares it with the Master for the rebuild and rewards his followers and friends generously. Bard gives the elf king emeralds and tries to reward Bilbo with the largest portion. Bilbo, however, does not trust a journey with so much gold and agrees to only take one chest each of gold and silver to be carried by a pony.
Bilbo bids farewell to the dwarves, and the parties exchange invitations for future visits. Bilbo, Gandalf, and Beorn ride next to the elf-king until they reach the edge of Mirkwood. There Bilbo gifts the king with a necklace in payment for his thievery, and the amused king declares Bilbo an elf friend. Gandalf, Bilbo, and Beorn plan to take the long road around Mirkwood, none of them keen to head into the forest and the other lands much safer with the goblins dead or hiding. They have a few adventures on the way to Beorn’s, but Bilbo feels safe with his guides. Gandalf and Bilbo stay awhile at Beorn’s, and though the hobbit is sad to leave, he is ready to return home. The narrator informs us that Beorn and his line become great rulers in the area with the absence of the wargs and the ability of men to roam more freely. Once they reach the Misty Mountains, Bilbo feels his Baggins side is very tired and ready to be home.
They come to Rivendell on May the first and the elves are still singing. The elves greet Gandalf and Bilbo and guide them again to Elrond’s. Gandalf tells their tale to Elrond, Bilbo having related the majority of it to the wizard already. The hobbit perks up when he hears a portion of the story he didn’t know – where Gandalf went. Gandalf had met with the white counsel, a group of wizards and masters of lore and good magic, and they drove the Necromancer from Mirkwood. The forest will get better, but Gandalf wishes they had been able to kill the Necromancer. Elrond mentions that that day may not happen within that age, or within any age near. After their adventures are told, the elves tell old stories and made up ones until Bilbo falls asleep. He wakes in a comfortable bed to the elves singing outside his window. He tells them off for singing so early, and they in turn mock his loud snoring and tell him to get up already. He ignores them and enjoys a rest until mid-morning. He and Gandalf stay in Rivendell for a week, but again he is ready to be home. They take the same route home as they came, and Bilbo feels it has been ten years instead of one since they traveled through. The pair look for and recover the troll gold they had buried and Bilbo tries to give it all to Gandalf. The wizard tells Bilbo he will never know when it might come in handy, and in the end they both take some, weighing down their ponies. They walk most of the way after that, slowing their pace.
Bilbo finally spots his own hill and stops to compose a poem (see below). To this weird action, Gandalf notes that Bilbo is not the same hobbit that left Bag-end not long ago. When they arrive at his house, there is an auction going on. Bilbo had been presumed dead, and most of his things have already been sold. The Sackville-Baggins are even measuring for their own furniture. It takes years for Bilbo to be declared alive again, and he has to buy back many of his own furniture to speed up the recovery process. The Sackville-Baggins are never kind to him after, and he learns that he has lost his reputation. Bilbo is now queer at home, though highly respected amongst elves, dwarves, wizards, or other such folk that pass through. Only his nieces and nephews on the Took side will talk to them, and even their parents encourage them not to. Bilbo is glad to be left alone though. He hangs his sword over the mantel and his mail in the hall until he lends it to a museum. He buys extravagant gifts for his nieces and nephews, but keeps the ring a secret so he can hide from unpleasant callers. People might not believe his tales (he’s “poor old Baggins”), but Bilbo continues to write poetry and goes to visit the elves.
Years later, Gandalf and Balin visit. Bilbo notices that Balin dresses richly, and wonders if Balin notices that Bilbo’s own waistcoat buttons are pure gold. Balin tells him that the Mountain is prosperous again and Dale and Lake-town have been rebuilt. The old Master ran away with most of the gold, but was deserted by his friends in the Wild and died. The new Master is a better man and is doing a fine job. Trade is flourishing and there are new songs that say the rivers do run with gold. Bilbo states, sort of amazed, that prophecies come true. Gandalf laughs, asking Bilbo how he could doubt the prophecy that he helped make true, and tells him that he wasn’t as lucky as he thought and is a small person in the world. Bilbo laughs and brings out the tobacco.
- Technically speaking, Bilbo was unconscious for the conclusion of the battle and therefore unconscious during the climax of the book. That means we miss out on that as readers. Maybe this is where Stephanie Meyer got the idea from. But even still, Tolkien almost pulls it off.
- I feel sorry for Bilbo, who has been on all these great adventures but is now almost shunned at home.
- Our narrator tells us that Bilbo wants to write his adventures down – so are we supposed to assume that the narrator is a much more informed Bilbo, or a third party?
- Also, silly Bard for trusting the Master with that much gold.
Roads Go Ever Ever On – Full Poem
Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.
Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
and horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.