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Sep 10 2012, 11:17pm

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The party reaches the foretold magic river and find the ruins of a bridge. Bilbo spies a boat on the far side, and Fili throws a rope and hook to draw it across. As the last of the expedition is disembarking, a hart (male deer) runs into them, and though Thorin shoots it as it jumps across the water, Bombur is knocked in. The dwarves fish him out, but he has fallen under the sleep-spell.

How did Beorn know the stream was enchanted? How did he (or Gandalf) expect the party to get across it?
Beorn roams far and wide in his bear-form. I expect he and the other bears have been into the forest many times. (I assumed that many of his bear friends lived in the forest, as they got to his house so quickly.)

Gandalf and Beorn expected them to think for themselves and come up with something without being babysat.

Who built the bridge and why has it not been repaired? Perhaps the Elves. At this point Sauron's influence in Mirkwood was at its zenith, and it says that the Elves now dwelt mainly on the borders - implying that once they had been far more widespread through Mirkwood, when it was Greenwood the Great. I expect there are many artefacts of elven make that have fallen into disrepair as the Necromancer's evil spreads through the forest.

Shouldn't there be at least a small break in the trees over a 36-foot wide river, sufficient to let in enough light to see across it during the day? No. The trees are very tall, twisted and thick and could easily have a spread of over 18 foot on each side.

What color is the boat? I don't know.

Can someone clearly describe or find a picture of such iron hooks as the travelers have used to secure their packs to their shoulder straps? I'm having trouble understanding how that would work. Why aren't the straps simply sewn to the packs themselves? I'm not sure either, but it's not hard to imagine some of the buckles on a modern backpack being replaced with hooks.

If Dori is the strongest (and how do you supposed that was determined), why doesn't he help when the boat is stuck and four dwarves work to pull it free? Dwarves spend a lot of time arm-wrestling? Haha, I don't know.

When the rope holding the boat fast breaks, "suddenly they all fell over on their backs". Is the reader meant to compare this moment and Bombur's stumble on the far bank to the pile of dwarves on Bilbo's porch? It would be impossible to not fall over! Haven't you ever been having a tug of war and the other team suddenly lets go? Boom! You're all sitting down.

Do Gloin and Gimli have to cross this stream when they journey to Rivendell seeking Elrond's counsel in The Lord of the Rings? No - after the BO5A the Goblins in the northern mountains aren't such a problem, so they can go round the top of Mirkwood.

In what sense is Balin using the word "job" when he says it was "a good job that our rope was the stronger"? A 'good job' just a slightly antiquated English way of saying 'a good thing.'

There aren't any oars, so the dwarves rig two pull-lines. How do the boat's regular passengers cross? There probably are oars, on the opposite bank next to the boat.

Is the catastrophe of Bombur's dunking Thorin's fault, for prophesying that "something bad" would happen if Bombur continued to grumble? Bombur's, for grumbling? Would "something bad" have occured had Bombur not grumbled? This is too deep and meaningful for me.

Does Tolkien mean to suggest that the hart is not a deer when he first describes it as "the shape of a flying deer"? (Emphasis added.) I think it was a deer, but I think Tolkien is trying to give us the sense that in this strange, dreamlike place, the dwarves can't take anything for granted. It could have been a shapeshifter, an illusion or even an hallucination.

"Thorin was the only one who had kept his feet and his wits" -- and yet it does our heroes no good. Why? Sometimes things just don't work out. I think Tolkien is trying to emphasise how very out of their element the Dwarves are, here deep in the forest. Their normal approach just doesn't work.

Further thoughts on this section? Don't really have time, or the book on hand to re-read and reflect, so I'll just say I love it.

Subject User Time
** Flies and Spiders: 2. "a dreadful wail from Bilbo put all thoughts of venison out of their minds" ** N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Sep 1 2012, 9:56pm
    Answers sador Send a private message to sador Sep 2 2012, 6:45pm
    " 'And light are their feet,' muttered the dwarf under his breath. " dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Sep 7 2012, 1:40am
    Love Ruinwen Send a private message to Ruinwen Sep 10 2012, 11:17pm


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