Why are the men and elves armed as if for war?
The elves went a long way over dangerous terrain; and it was to be expected that they would have guessed that "the goblins were at council in their caves".
As for Bard - let's be cahritable, and suppose that he brought many Men to rebuild Dale; he would need them well-armed.
Why did they come as a great host, instead of sending scouts well ahead?
It's a great hoard. Gathering and sorting it would take time.
And neither men not elves want to be with inferior numbers in case of a future dissention - treasure does such things, you know - and not only to dwarves.
Why not send birds as scouts, since apparently birds can talk?
Who said they didn't? Maybe they knew already that Thorin was alive, just not that he was ready and had fortified the place?
Why not a swift boat?
With a single person to get into the Mountain, grab the Arkenstone and necklace of Girion and hide them for his own future benefit?
Why did not the men and elves answer Thorin?
Why should they? And what answer can they give?
Why didn't they come back that day?
They saw the fortifications, and there was need for a council.
Why move the camp between the arms of the Mountain?
They knew the dwarves were too few to climb the Mountain and attack them from above, so they wanted to be near the river - good for water, supplies, hygiene, and blocking the most logical way for a single dwarf escaping with some treasure or going as an emissary to Dain or any other allies (they reckoned without Roac). Plus making their camp just under the dwarves' ears and noses was an excellent case of psychological warfare.
The flip side of this strategy was made clear once Bolg and his fellows attacked; but they did not really expect this so soon - except for Gandalf. Why didn't he give them a tip? What was his little game?
What do the younger dwarves mean when they wish "things had fallen out otherwise"?
They hoped the neighbours would come as friends, and to as an attacking army. Thorin is wise enough to know otherwise.
Under what conditions would the dwarves have welcomed such folk as friends?
Had they come with courteous greetings, and not build an armed camp in the place the only logic of which would be because they intend to assault the Mountain.
Why do the younger dwarves in particular have this reaction?
They are young and inexperienced, and hope for the best.
What is missing from this song? What or who does it fail to mention?
Anyone else - Bilbo, Bard, Gandalf. SirDennis mentioned that there is no mention of Elves and Men in general - but it is not as if the song in Bag End was particularly complimentary to the other races. "...where no man delves / There lay they long, and many a song / Was sung unheard by men or elves" is not notable for dwelling on the men's or elves' deeds.
But is it a failure? Need they mention how Smaug died at each point? Do you think the song for Theoden dwelt in great length on Aragorn's exploits?
Who composed this song and why?
Fili, Kili, Balin.
Just teasing - of course we have no way of knowing which dwarf had this skill.
Is this how they felt, or were they trying to make Thorin happy?
If they were not the types who felt that way, they would never have embarked on such a harebrained expedition to begin with. These fellows are warlike, confident and self-reliant.
Is there anything Bard could have done to handle this more diplomatically?
Respond immediately to Thorin's question, rather than building an armed camp before Thorin's door? - after all, if foinding out that Thorin is alive brings the need for a parley and a council, isn't it only too clear that the Elvenking and Bard had one during the day before Bard returned!
Not begin with insulting him? - note that he was the first to call Thorin a robber, even if only as a simile!
Not admit at the outset that he was coming to plunder the hoard, with no consideration of whether Thorin lived or was dead?
It sure looks as if Bard was deliberately provoking him. But I believe the last item was a pure mistake of Bard - it rendered the question of idemnities problematic, as he had to as good as admit that he never intended to give any dwarf in the world anything. Therefore, he could not very well pursue the line of recompensing the Lake-men, which might have led to resentment inside his own camp.
Thorin did exploit this skillfully - but of course, we have no way of knowing whether Bard's follows started grumbling among themselves that he gave up theur claims so easily, while using them to pursue his own.
Could he have sent the elves away?
Not very well.
As we will see later, the one heirloom we know of to which Bard has a clear claim (and indeed, was given him beyong the one-fourteenth part of the hoard he bargained for), he actually gave to the Elvenking. Maybe the ynnamed-yet Thranduil drove a hard bargain.
Heck, could he have sent all but a token force away while they parleyed? Why did he not do so?
Would his followers trust him?
Why did not Gandalf get involved?
Either because he was playing some deep game we don't know of, or because he was still thinking of the recent encounter with the Necromancer.
Did Bard or the Elvenkind know that there were more dwarves a few days away? Did they have any idea that goblins might show up? Did they know what they were getting into? How could they be so ignorant?
I expect they didn't. But Gandalf knew at least of the goblins, and his omission is curious indeed.
Bard was the spokesman, but could the Master of Lake-town have done a better job?
He sure wouldn't have made the mistake of announcing that he came expecting to find nobody.
Is not he less blunt, and more political?
Bard is pretty sleek when he wants to be - as when he talked to the Master after Smaug died.
But yeah, he is no match for the Master.
How might he have dealt with the dwarves in a more effective way?
Effective for what? If Bard's purpose was to goad Thorin into a war and then take the whole hoard for himself and his allies, wasn't he effective?
Didn't Thorin see through him on the last time?
Some promise of trade or transport or food?
Once they get negotiating, of course this would be a part of it.
But did Bard wish to negotiate?
Do we know of any man or elf who wished to come as friends, like some of the younger dwarves did?
Perhaps asking for a private word, and then confessing that he doesn't trust the Elvenking either?
If he really wanted to negotiate with Thorin - this might have been a good idea.
How did they come up with one twelfth?
If they wanted to provoke, it might have been just to ensure that Bard would get more than any individual dwarf.
If it was an attempt at an estimate - perhaps the ratio of people on Dale to dwarves in the Mountain?
Bard seems very firmly in charge, and is getting handsomely rewarded. Is that fair?
Is this about fairness?
After all, he was in the Laketown army.
Yep. What he deserves is promotion to brigadeer-colonel, an Outstanding Service decoration and three extra days of leave.
But Esgaroth does not really have a regular army.
Other people shot at Smaug; he happened to hit.
Happened? Was skilled enough.
Also, he did a lot of good in the defense of the Town before shooting that arrow.
Why should he get all the credit and all the reward?
Normally, people do not get credit for missed shots.
But it is true; in a modern army, the part of the booty would go to Laketown as a political collective, and it surely should reward all of its soldiers who stood their ground to the last.
A reward, sure, but all of the reward and then personally donate, if he so chooses, to Laketown?
This is no more a detachment of the Lake-town army; by now it is a band of adventurers following a hero, hoping to carve for him a kingdom and for them fortunes. Like the Companions of William the Conqueror.
How does anyone know he is the heir of Girion?
According to the previous chapter, it is common knowledge.
Unless it was a few rumor-mongers... but let's leave conspiracy theories aside.
What does that even mean, so many generations later?
For one thing, he is entitled to the necklace.
And all those folk who resent the plutocracy can rally about him, claiming him a scion of an old nobility (but not royalty). The people which a well-fed society would consider unsavoury riff-raff - but are the material of conquests, both historical and legendary.
What is the Elvenking getting out of this?
He well get well-paid, don't worry.
Why don't any of the elves have anything to say to the dwarves?
Might a well-worded apology be in order?
An elf apologising to a dwarf? Completely unheard-of (perhaps Haldir to Gimli).
What does dragon stink smell like?
Do dragons poop, and if so, where?
Probably in the Running river, no?
Why are Bombur and Fili and Kili less happy with Thorin than the other dwarves?
The question is how to read the "perhaps". But Bombur has become lethargic ever since he fell in the forest river (not the demeaning "old fat Bombur"), and Fili and Kili were probably born after Thrain settled in the Blue Mountains; they never truly lived as fugitive exiles.
On the other hand, note that Balin definitely did not disagree with Thorin.
Why does not Bilbo say something?
He can't be too careful: he is both known to have elvish affinities (making him suspectible to desert, as he longs to do), and knows to have the Arkenstone in his pocket.
Was not he almost leading this party for a while? Couldn't he at least try?
Now that you ask it, I wonder whether giving Thorin the Arkenstone would have helped. Don't you think its missing contributes to his ill-humour? And it would also remind him what is at stake for him.
Any other comments on any part of the chapter?
Is this magic? Of what kind? And what purpose does it serve?
There was the sound, too, of elven-harps and of sweet music; and as it echoed up towards them it seemed that the chill of the air was warmed, and they caught faintly the fragrance of woodland flowers blossoming in spring.
This is the last post for this chapter.
Thnk you! It was excellent.
"Like The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit is a tale that grew in the telling, beginning as a children's fairy tale and evolving into the epic of fairy tales... The Gathering of the Clouds completes this transition. Unlike a typical children's story, the sides of good and evil are no longer clear-cut: the good peoples that we have been introduced to earlier are preparing to fight a war, and if that war happens, good people will die no matter who wins. Moreover, everyone, the good guys included, have character flaws that bring this situation about... and it is hinted that although the Dragon's body may be dead, his evil will remains to corrupt those who defeated him."
- Beren IV
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