Our Sponsor Sideshow Collectibles Send us News
Lord of the Rings Tolkien
Search Tolkien
Lord of The RingsTheOneRing.net - Forged By And For Fans Of JRR Tolkien
Lord of The Rings Serving Middle-Earth Since The First Age

Lord of the Rings Movie News - J.R.R. Tolkien
Do you enjoy the 100% volunteer, not for profit services of TheOneRing.net?
Consider a donation!

  Main Index   Search Posts   Who's Online   Log in
The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
**The Gathering of the Clouds** III

Curious
Half-elven


Oct 20 2012, 5:03am

Post #1 of 15 (471 views)
Shortcut
**The Gathering of the Clouds** III Can't Post


Quote

There came a night when suddenly there were many lights as of fires and torches away south in Dale before them.

"They have come!" called Balin. "And their camp is very great. They must have come into the valley under the cover of dusk along both banks of the river."

That night the dwarves slept little. The morning was still pale when they saw a company approaching. From behind their wall they watched them come up to the valley's head and climb slowly up. Before long they could see that both men of the lake armed as if for war and elvish bowmen were among them. At length the foremost of these climbed the tumbled rocks and appeared at the top of the falls; and very great was their surprise to see the pool before them and the Gate blocked with a wall of new-hewn stone.


Questions:

Why are the men and elves armed as if for war? Why did they come as a great host, instead of sending scouts well ahead? Why not send birds as scouts, since apparently birds can talk? Why not a swift boat?


Quote

As they stood pointing and speaking to one another Thorin hailed them: "Who are you," he called in a very loud voice, "that come as if in war to the gates of Thorin son of Thrain, King under the Mountain, and what do you desire?"

But they answered nothing. Some turned swiftly back, and the others after gazing for a while at the Gate and its defences soon followed them. That day the camp was moved and was brought right between the arms of the Mountain. The rocks echoed then with voices and with song, as they had not done for many a day. 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.


Questions:

Why did not the men and elves answer Thorin? Why didn't they come back that day? Why move the camp between the arms of the Mountain?


Quote

Then Bilbo longed to escape from the dark fortress and to go down and join in the mirth and feasting by the fires. Some of the younger dwarves were moved in their hearts, too, and they muttered that they wished things had fallen out otherwise and that they might welcome such folk as friends; but Thorin scowled.


Questions:

What do the younger dwarves mean when they wish "things had fallen out otherwise"? Under what conditions would the dwarves have welcomed such folk as friends? Why do the younger dwarves in particular have this reaction?


Quote

Then the dwarves themselves brought forth harps and instruments regained from the hoard, and made music to soften his mood; but their song was not as elvish song, and was much like the song they had sung long before in Bilbo's little hobbit-hole.

Under the Mountain dark and tall

The King has come unto his hall!

His foe is dead, the Worm of Dread,

And ever so his foes shall fall.

The sword is sharp, the spear is long,

The arrow swift, the Gate is strong;

The heart is bold that looks on gold;

The dwarves no more shall suffer wrong.

The dwarves of yore made mighty spells,

While hammers fell like ringing bells

In places deep, where dark things sleep,

In hollow halls beneath the fells.

On silver necklaces they strung

The light of stars, on crowns they hung

The dragon-fire, from twisted wire

The melody of harps they wrung.

The mountain throne once more is freed!

O! wandering folk, the summons heed!

Come haste! Come haste! across the waste!

The king of friend and kin has need.

Now call we over mountains cold,

'Come back unto the caverns old'!

Here at the Gates the king awaits,

His hands are rich with gems and gold.

The king is come unto his hall

Under the Mountain dark and tall.

The Worm of Dread is slain and dead,

And ever so our foes shall fall!


Questions:

What is missing from this song? What or who does it fail to mention? Who composed this song and why? Is this how they felt, or were they trying to make Thorin happy?

Compare and contrast it to the dwarves's song at Bag End:


Quote

Far over the misty mountains cold

To dungeons deep and caverns old

We must away ere break of day

To seek the pale enchanted gold.

The dwarves of yore made mighty spells,

While hammers fell like ringing bells

In places deep, where dark things sleep,

In hollow halls beneath the fells.

For ancient king and elvish lord

There many a gloaming golden hoard

They shaped and wrought, and light they caught

To hide in gems on hilt of sword.

On silver necklaces they strung

The flowering stars, on crowns they hung

The dragon-fire, in twisted wire

They meshed the light of moon and sun.

Far over the misty mountains cold

To dungeons deep and caverns old

We must away, ere break of day,

To claim our long-forgotten gold.

Goblets they carved there for themselves

And harps of gold; where no man delves

There lay they long, and many a song

Was sung unheard by men or elves.

The pines were roaring on the height,

The winds were moaning in the night.

The fire was red, it flaming spread;

The trees like torches biased with light,

The bells were ringing in the dale

And men looked up with faces pale;

The dragon's ire more fierce than fire

Laid low their towers and houses frail.

The mountain smoked beneath the moon;

The dwarves, they heard the tramp of doom.

They fled their hall to dying -fall

Beneath his feet, beneath the moon.

Far over the misty mountains grim

To dungeons deep and caverns dim

We must away, ere break of day,

To win our harps and gold from him!

Far over the misty mountains cold

To dungeons deep and caverns old

We must away, ere break of day,

To find our long-forgotten gold.




Quote

This song appeared to please Thorin, and he smiled again and grew merry; and he began reckoning the distance to the Iron Hills and how long it would be before Dain could reach the Lonely Mountain, if he had set out as soon as the message reached him. But Bilbo's heart fell, both at the song and the talk: they sounded much too warlike. The next morning early a company of spearmen was seen crossing the river, and marching up the valley. They bore with them the green banner of the Elvenking and the blue banner of the Lake, and they advanced until they stood right before the wall at the Gate.

Again Thorin hailed them in a loud voice: "Who are you that come armed for war to the gates of Thorin son of Thrain, King under the Mountain?" This time he was answered.

A tall man stood forward, dark of hair and grim of face, and he cried: "Hail Thorin! Why do you fence yourself like a robber in his hold? We are not yet foes, and we rejoice that you are alive beyond our hope. We came expecting to find none living here; yet now that we are met there is matter for a parley and a council."

"Who are you, and of what would you parley?"

"I am Bard, and by my hand was the dragon slain and your treasure delivered. Is that not a matter that concerns you? Moreover I am by right descent the heir of Girion of Dale, and in your hoard is mingled much of the wealth of his halls and town, which of old Smaug stole. Is not that a matter of which we may speak? Further in his last battle Smaug destroyed the dwellings of the men of Esgaroth, and I am yet the servant of their Master. I would speak for him and ask whether you have no thought for the sorrow and misery of his people. They aided you in your distress, and in recompense you have thus far brought ruin only, though doubtless undesigned."

Now these were fair words and true, if proudly and grimly spoken; and Bilbo thought that Thorin would at once admit what justice was in them. He did not, of course, expect that any one would remember that it was he who discovered all by himself the dragon's weak spot; and that was just as well, for no one ever did. But also he did not reckon with the power that gold has upon which a dragon has long brooded, nor with dwarvish hearts. Long hours in the past days Thorin had spent in the treasury, and the lust of it was heavy on him. Though he had hunted chiefly for the Arkenstone, yet he had an eye for many another wonderful thing that was lying there, about which were wound old memories of the labours and the sorrows of his race.

"You put your worst cause last and in the chief place," Thorin answered. "To the treasure of my people no man has a claim, because Smaug who stole it from us also robbed him of life or home. The treasure was not his that his evil deeds should be amended with a share of it. The price of the goods and the assistance that we received of the Lake-men we will fairly pay -- in due time. But nothing will we give, not even a loaf's worth, under threat of force. While an armed host lies before our doors, we look on you as foes and thieves.

"It is in my mind to ask what share of their inheritance you would have paid to our kindred, had you found the hoard unguarded and us slain."

"A just question," replied Bard. "But you are not dead, and we are not robbers. Moreover the wealthy may have pity beyond right on the needy that befriended them when they were in want. And still my other claims remain unanswered."

"I will not parley, as I have said, with armed men at my gate. Nor at all with the people of the Elvenking, whom I remember with small kindness. In this debate they have no place. Begone now ere our arrows fly! And if you would speak with me again, first dismiss the elvish host to the woods where it belongs, and then return, laying down your arms before you approach the threshold."

"The Elvenking is my friend, and he has succoured the people of the Lake in their need, though they had no claim but friendship on him," answered Bard. "We will give you time to repent your words. Gather your wisdom ere we return!" Then he departed and went back to the camp.


Questions:

Is there anything Bard could have done to handle this more diplomatically? Could he have sent the elves away? Heck, could he have sent all but a token force away while they parleyed? Why did he not do so? Why did not Gandalf get involved? 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?

Bard was the spokesman, but could the Master of Lake-town have done a better job? Is not he less blunt, and more political? How might he have dealt with the dwarves in a more effective way? Flattery, perhaps? Some promise of trade or transport or food? Perhaps asking for a private word, and then confessing that he doesn't trust the Elvenking either?


Quote

Ere many hours were past, the banner-bearers returned, and trumpeters stood forth and blew a blast:

"In the name of Esgaroth and the Forest," one cried, "we speak unto Thorin Thrain's son Oakenshield, calling himself the King under the Mountain, and we bid him consider well the claims that have been urged, or be declared our foe. At the least he shall deliver one twelfth portion of the treasure unto Bard, as the dragon-slayer, and as the heir of Girion. From that portion Bard will himself contribute to the aid of Esgaroth; but if Thorin would have the friendship and honour of the lands about, as his sires had of old, then he will give also somewhat of his own for the comfort of the men of the Lake." Then Thorin seized a bow of horn and shot an arrow at the speaker. It smote into his shield and stuck there quivering.

'"Since such is your answer," he called in return, "I declare the Mountain besieged. You shall not depart from it, until you call on your side for a truce and a parley. We will bear no weapons against you, but we leave you to your gold. You may eat that, if you will!"


Questions:

How did they come up with one twelfth? Bard seems very firmly in charge, and is getting handsomely rewarded. Is that fair? After all, he was in the Laketown army. Other people shot at Smaug; he happened to hit. Why should he get all the credit and all the reward? A reward, sure, but all of the reward and then personally donate, if he so chooses, to Laketown? How does anyone know he is the heir of Girion? What does that even mean, so many generations later?

What is the Elvenking getting out of this? Why donft any of the elves have anything to say to the dwarves? Might a well-worded apology be in order?


Quote

With that the messengers departed swiftly, and the dwarves were left to consider their case. So grim had Thorin become, that even if they had wished, the others would not have dared to find fault with him; but indeed most of them seemed to share his mind -- except perhaps old fat Bombur and Fili and Kili. Bilbo, of course, disapproved of the whole turn of affairs. He had by now had more than enough of the Mountain, and being besieged inside it was not at all to his taste.

"The whole place still stinks of dragon," he grumbled to himself, "and it makes me sick. And cram is beginning simply to stick in my throat."


Questions:

What does dragon stink smell like? Do dragons poop, and if so, where?

Why are Bombur and Fili and Kili less happy with Thorin than the other dwarves? Why does not Bilbo say something? Was not he almost leading this party for a while? Couldn't he at least try?

Any other comments on any part of the chapter?

This is the last post for this chapter.




Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Oct 21 2012, 1:44pm

Post #2 of 15 (230 views)
Shortcut
Responses [In reply to] Can't Post

Why are the men and elves armed as if for war? Why did they come as a great host, instead of sending scouts well ahead? Why not send birds as scouts, since apparently birds can talk? Why not a swift boat?

News of Smaug's death had spread far and wide. They were probably armed against other potential rivals such as goblins and bands of human bandits. Why a host? Safety in numbers. Perhaps most birds are unreliable scouts, easily distracted by food, shiny objects, etc.; few Men outside of the descendants of Dale seem to have picked up the knack for understanding bird-speech. Close to the mountain, the river might not be suitable for boats.

Why did not the men and elves answer Thorin? Why didn't they come back that day? Why move the camp between the arms of the Mountain?

The scouts were doubtless surprised to discover Thorin and his companions alive. They returned to the camp to report, resulting in the moving and consolodation of the camp.

What do the younger dwarves mean when they wish "things had fallen out otherwise"? Under what conditions would the dwarves have welcomed such folk as friends? Why do the younger dwarves in particular have this reaction?

The younger Dwarves are probably less set in their ways and perhaps more appreciative of the help that they obtained from the humans of Lake-town. They may also be less accustomed to hardships then the more senior Dwarves and may miss the comforts and welcome provided by the people of Esgaroth.

What is missing from this song? What or who does it fail to mention? Who composed this song and why? Is this how they felt, or were they trying to make Thorin happy?

Compare and contrast it to the dwarves's song at Bag End



Missing? Specific mention of the Arkenstone? I'm not sure what you are getting at. No mention of Bilbo or burglars, but the song may have been composed before, and in anticipation of, the Mountain-king's return. It might be a bit much to assume that it was composed on the fly by Thorin's companions. I'm sure, though, that they did mean to cheer Thorin up, as well as invigorate their own spirits. The new song does seem to be a companion piece to the one sung at Bag End; maybe they were composed by the same Dwarven skald.

Is there anything Bard could have done to handle this more diplomatically? Could he have sent the elves away? Heck, could he have sent all but a token force away while they parleyed? Why did he not do so? Why did not Gandalf get involved? 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?

Dwarves seem very serious-minded. Bard's approach was probably as good as any. Bard had no authority over the Elves; he could only have sent them away with the Elvenking's co-operation. Gandalf is probably taking a wait-and-see attitude at this time to assess Thorin's behavior. We know that he does involve himself later. The Men and Elves are not yet aware of the approach of Dain's folk, although as locals they should be well-aware of the existance of the colony. They came as a host (or hosts) because they were aware of the possibility of goblins; I doubt, though, that they were expecting an entire army of them. They simply did not have any intel yet on the movement of Dain's forces, not knowing that the colony of ravens that could converse in the common-tongue still existed at Erebor.

Bard was the spokesman, but could the Master of Lake-town have done a better job? Is not he less blunt, and more political? How might he have dealt with the dwarves in a more effective way? Flattery, perhaps? Some promise of trade or transport or food? Perhaps asking for a private word, and then confessing that he doesn't trust the Elvenking either?



The Master remained behind, so there is no way to know how Thorin would have reacted to him. But since the dragon-sickness had come upon Thorin, who had also sent for Dain, I don't think that the Master would have had much better success. Still, trying to convince Thorin that the Men could become allies against the Wood-elves might have been an interesting approach.

How did they come up with one twelfth? Bard seems very firmly in charge, and is getting handsomely rewarded. Is that fair? After all, he was in the Laketown army. Other people shot at Smaug; he happened to hit. Why should he get all the credit and all the reward? A reward, sure, but all of the reward and then personally donate, if he so chooses, to Laketown? How does anyone know he is the heir of Girion? What does that even mean, so many generations later?

What is the Elvenking getting out of this? Why donft any of the elves have anything to say to the dwarves? Might a well-worded apology be in order?



A share of one-twelth may have just seemed like a good place to begin negotiations. Bard has his own ideas, now, of restoring Dale. That is going to be expensive and he knows it. Other Lake-town residents are also descended from Dale; they would have kept at least some of the old stories and history alive. Indeed, Bard is probably counting on many of them for help. The demand specifically calls for Bard donating a portion of his share for the relief of Lake-town.

Thranduil proabaly realizes that adding his own demands is not a wise idea at this time. An apology for the Dwarves' treatment might be a good idea, but I suspect that the Elvenking has his own pride and balks at apologizing for what he saw as a necessary precaution. At this point, it seems as if Thranduil regrets the idea of marching on Lonely Mountain and has given up on the idea of receiving a share of the wealth from the Dwarves.

What does dragon stink smell like? Do dragons poop, and if so, where?

Why are Bombur and Fili and Kili less happy with Thorin than the other dwarves? Why does not Bilbo say something? Was not he almost leading this party for a while? Couldn't he at least try?

Any other comments on any part of the chapter?

I really don't want to speculate on the odor of dragon crap, but I imagine that Smaug had a special area for doing his business (unless he only shat outdoors while airborne).

Bombur may remember all of the great food that he enjoyed while staying in Lake-town (as opposed to the dwindling supply of cram that they were eating now). Fili and Kili are the youngest Dwarves in the company and are possibly the most open-minded. Bilbo seems to have gained enough wisdom to know not to antagonize Thorin at this time. His time is coming in the next chapter, but he has to formulate a plan first.



'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


sador
Half-elven


Oct 21 2012, 1:48pm

Post #3 of 15 (271 views)
Shortcut
Answers [In reply to] Can't Post

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?

Flattery, perhaps?

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?

Anyone's guess.

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?

What?

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?

Sulfur.

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?


Quote

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.


Is this magic? Of what kind? And what purpose does it serve?

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



The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for The Gathering of the Clouds!


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Oct 21 2012, 7:26pm

Post #4 of 15 (234 views)
Shortcut
What's missing? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for the reference to my previous post Sador.

The elements of the Bag-end version of the song whose absence in the post-Smaug version is telling are this one:

For ancient king and elvish lord
There many a gloaming golden hoard
They shaped and wrought, and light they caught
To hide in gems on hilt of sword.
On silver necklaces they strung
The flowering stars, on crowns they hung
The dragon-fire, in twisted wire
They meshed the light of moon and sun.


and this one:

The bells were ringing in the dale
And men looked up with faces pale;
The dragon's ire more fierce than fire
Laid low their towers and houses frail.



The first says that the treasures (hoards, necklaces, gilded swords and so on) were made for "many a king and elvish lord" I'm assuming that "king" applies to any king in Middle-earth, though it may only imply "dwarf king." "For... elvish lord" is a clearer statement of whom some of the treasures were intended for. Perhaps Voronwe could tell us if this constitutes a binding statement of ownership or claim to the treasure?

The second passage gives an account of what happened at Dale, to the dwarves' neighbours, men. This acknowledges that it was not merely the dwarves who suffered when Smaug took up residence at the Lonely Mountain. Actually it seems the attack on men were at one time understood to be intrinsic to the attack on Erebor, their suffering and losses mutual.

So again, given Bard's role, and how the dwarves felt at one time about their shared fortunes, it is surprising that Thorin's first order of business was to determine not to share any of the wealth. In fact any claim to any part of the hoard was immediately perceived by him as a threat.

Consider too that rather than sending bird messengers or envoys of peace to the elves and men straight away, instead he sent messengers out for reinforcements. When he said he would not negotiate under siege, not only was he buying time, but, well, it was a lie -- he was not interested in negotiating under any circumstance.


(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Oct 21 2012, 7:29pm)


sador
Half-elven


Oct 22 2012, 9:53am

Post #5 of 15 (213 views)
Shortcut
But of course! [In reply to] Can't Post

However, I must disagree with you on several accounts:

The first says that the treasures (hoards, necklaces, gilded swords and so on) were made for "many a king and elvish lord"
"For ancient king". That's not so many.

"For... elvish lord" is a clearer statement of whom some of the treasures were intended for.
What makes you think these are still in the hoard?

Perhaps Voronwe could tell us if this constitutes a binding statement of ownership or claim to the treasure?
If the treasure was already paid for and not delivered, it is. But in the only case I know of in which such a transaction was carried out, the Elven-king was supposed to pay after delivery, and then cheated on the dwarves.
If it was merely ordered, then why would that be a claim?
If the said elven-lord would have brought the raw materials, then we have a nice legal question. But as far as I understand, the Mountain itself was the source of the dwarves' wealth; do you think Girion lord of Dale brought tons of gold up the river and gave it to Thror for fashioning?

There are three items which we know of and might belong to someone else:
1. Bilbo's mithril-coat - which was originally made for an elf-prince; but we do not know how it got the the hoard. For example, was it given as payment for some services? But at any rate, the source of mithril was Moria, so unless some unknown elf bought the mithril from Thorin's ancestors, and then brought it to the Mountain for repairs, or fitting a helmet - Thorin seems well within his rights in giving it freely to Bilbo. Or do you think Frodo was saved by a stolen item?
2. The spears of King Bladorthin - of which we know nothing.
3. The necklace of Girion, which might have been brought to the Mountain by Smaug - but if so, how would Thorin and Balin assume it would be there? At any rate, Dain gave it to Bard above and beyond the fourteenth part which was agreed upon; and there is no real reason to assume that Thorin would have done otherwise.

The second passage gives an account of what happened at Dale, to the dwarves' neighbours, men. This acknowledges that it was not merely the dwarves who suffered when Smaug took up residence at the Lonely Mountain. Actually it seems the attack on men were at one time understood to be intrinsic to the attack on Erebor, their suffering and losses mutual.
Or it was a way of claiming Smaug's might. But that was a lay about the past, not a song about the present; and it ended with hope for the future of dwarves, and them alone. I do not see any significance to this difference.


So again, given Bard's role, and how the dwarves felt at one time about their shared fortunes, it is surprising that Thorin's first order of business was to determine not to share any of the wealth.
This is plain ridiculous. His first order of business was not to surrender any part of the treasure under force of arms. According to what Roac told him, two armies are marching to his home to sieze the treasure. Roac did suggest bribing them to go away - but he must have known the effect that would have.
Anyway, buying off people who come to take all that you have, is hardly sharing.

In fact any claim to any part of the hoard was immediately perceived by him as a threat.
No.
In fact, the first thing he did once inside the Mountain, was to give Bilbo a princely gift, once again, above and beyond their agreement - which he didn't retract even after Bilbo betrayed him. (It is a nice touch of irony how at the very moment, Bilbo was witholding the only item in the hoard which Thorin really wanted)

Consider too that rather than sending bird messengers or envoys of peace to the elves and men straight away
To the elves? What for? The last time he sent anyone to the elves to beg for food they evaded him, and finally took him prisoner.
And he knows from Roac that the men are marching to take the treasure, and are blaming the dwarves for their misfortunes (I wonder what Roac's agenda was, but that's another subject).

instead he sent messengers out for reinforcements.
For his family and subjects to join him. But yes, they would strengthen his position and defend him.

When he said he would not negotiate under siege, not only was he buying time, but, well, it was a lie -- he was not interested in negotiating under any circumstance.
This is your own indictment, and it is completely unwarranted.


"Heart of the mountain...heart of Thorin...and now, Gandalf says "keep your heart up" . Anyone care to comment on the repeated use of that image?"
- weaver



The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for A Thief in the Night!


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Oct 22 2012, 8:27pm

Post #6 of 15 (214 views)
Shortcut
Yes opening with a misquote is a weak gambit. [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry about that, I noticed my typo long after the edit window. Regardless as neither "ancient king" nor "elvish lord" is very specific, my point remains. I wonder too if both king and lord can be taken as plural the way "Man" is sometimes understood? I agree with you however that the treasure the first song speaks of may be quite different than the treasure the dwarves claimed at Smaug's demise.

As for the rest, it occurs to me that as with Denethor, and the Master of Laketown, my appreciation of Thorin is less nuanced than some here are able to claim. I see him as corrupt (though not beyond redemption) or too given to Dragon Sickness than my ideal King would be.

I think Curious, in answer to one of his own questions in one of the other threads captures my own thoughts nicely: "All the defenses of Thorin's actions sound to me like attacks on the Elvenking, and on Bard for allying himself with the Elvenking. Two wrongs do not make a right. Maybe it's also a reaction to the narrator's clear bias, which does not seem entirely justified. But there are so many ways Thorin could have handled it better." (reference) I would add that not taking the time to discern or learn the intentions of the men and elves before sending for reinforcements was very telling for me. For all he knew they were armed for Orc? It was assumed the dwarves, including Thorin, were wiped out when Smaug was teased from his lair.

It really is a tough question... lest we get into an ethical debate, or even a discussion of morality, I will say your perspective is sensible and persuasive. I suppose if I could muster more sympathy for Thorin -- to me the one most in a position to act graciously in all of this -- I might agree with you completely. Then again as Curious suggests, it may be Tolkien's fault for the way he painted Thorin.


(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Oct 22 2012, 8:28pm)


sador
Half-elven


Oct 23 2012, 3:29pm

Post #7 of 15 (217 views)
Shortcut
No sympathy? [In reply to] Can't Post

Doesn't even the sending back of the ponies help, rather than making jerky out of them?
It did convince Dreamdeer.


In Reply To

I see him as corrupt (though not beyond redemption) or too given to Dragon Sickness than my ideal King would be.

Corrupt?
Well, dragon sickness is obvious - at least, that is what Tolkien himself mentions as the cause (or by another name, bewilderment of the treasure). And I am well aware that there is no "defense" of Thorin's actions without detaching yourself from the author's judgment.
But I have read quite a few history novels and studies, where this detachment is necessary; also I used to read a lot of Dickens when I was young, and Dickens is completely unfair to his own characters - so I claim the right to read Tolkien's books as if they are history, and draw my own conclusions. After all, didn't he write that he prefered history, whether true or feigned, to allegory?



In Reply To
I think Curious... captures my own thoughts nicely: "All the defenses of Thorin's actions sound to me like attacks on the Elvenking, and on Bard for allying himself with the Elvenking..."

I think that is highly unfair, and misrepresents my arguments.
As a matter of fact, last time I answered Curious himself on the previous chapter:

Quote
Is there any touch of moral ambiguity when Bard's thoughts turn to Smaug's treasure?
Well, when Thorin asked him would he have given a part of the treasure to Thorin's relatives, had the dwarves been dead - Bard deftly avoids answering the question.
I think he is as bad as any of the other characters - as any of us, to say the truth.
The only character who does not ruthlessly pursue his chance for treasure is the Elvenking.


And this claim is also unfair to the points made by Dreamdeer, GaladrielTX and squire in that discussion. I can't vouch for the 2004 discussion.



In Reply To

Thorin -- to me the one most in a position to act graciously in all of this...

Once we've confirmed that he is in no immediate mortal danger. Have we?



In Reply To

Then again as Curious suggests, it may be Tolkien's fault for the way he painted Thorin.

I wonder. Sometimes it looks as if Tolkien tried to hard.
Consider the episode with the herald, which for some reason Curious did not discuss.

It is clear that with "Thorin, who calls himself King under the Mountain", Tolkien wanted to drive home the point that neither wealth nor sitting upon an actual throne consists of true kingship; it is rather Bard who desrves that apellate, by virtue of his heroic achievement, popular acclaim, and supernatural (divine?) grace, as embodied by the thrush.
Also, that when Thorin shot at the herald - it is supposed to show him as crazed by the demands upon him, and the herald by not moving when the arrow hits the center of his shield shows a stoical fortitude.

However, in this very chapter, Bard named himself a servant of the Master, and then blithely waived all claims of the Lake-town; the herald comes armed, against all etiquette (otherwise he won't have a shield); later, when Bard and the Elvenking do have something to say, they disarm indeed; consequently, the herald's words sound like insolence second only to the Mouth of Sauron's; also, later it will appear that when Thorin calls for aid, all Bard's men desert there leader at rally to him - so much for kingship!; and Thorin is known to be an excellent archer (from the enchanted river episode), so it is unlikely he would hit the middle of the herald's shield in full light and close quarters out of ineptitude - which makes it look like a protest against this breach of the rules; and the herald remaining unpertrubed also becomes a show that he knows he isn't in any real danger.
I call that overreaching.

When we last discussed this, all of the said objections were pointed out, most of them not by me! However, it seems clear that most readers do feel about this episode the way Tolkien intended it to be, not as he ended up writing it.
I think this is a mark of his artistry, and really don't resent being manipulated. But I do try to shake it off.





"Heart of the mountain...heart of Thorin...and now, Gandalf says "keep your heart up" . Anyone care to comment on the repeated use of that image?"
- weaver



The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for A Thief in the Night!


Escapist
Gondor


Oct 23 2012, 3:45pm

Post #8 of 15 (190 views)
Shortcut
small quibble this morning [In reply to] Can't Post

It's probably the late coffee talking and the impatience with technology ...

But I wouldn't go so far as to say that Bard had the only kingly destiny or compare it too closely with the dwarven throne. That gets taken up by Dain, a very worthy ascension given his aid offered in a time of need at great risk to himself. Also, we have the classic Thranduil who I think maintains his stature as a voice of peace but also one who is willing to make moves to get what he wants (just maybe not at any cost like Thorin - a very rare intensity of passion that is almost required for the success of the quest for the Lonely Mountain - I guess leaders like Thorin with their uncompromising passion are good for the startup but not so much the end-game positioning).


Escapist
Gondor


Oct 23 2012, 3:46pm

Post #9 of 15 (195 views)
Shortcut
But without people of Thorin's passion [In reply to] Can't Post

there aren't any start-ups and dragon treasures to quibble over after all.


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Oct 23 2012, 4:16pm

Post #10 of 15 (236 views)
Shortcut
But surely Bard wasn't motivated by greed alone [In reply to] Can't Post

It seems to me that Bard's prime objective was to secure a portion of the treasure to help repair his people. The entire region suffered under Smaug and Lake-town especially during his final Middle-earthly rampage.

There is a principle that Thorin appears to overlook, namely not to profit from the misery of others. Giving a portion of the treasure to men need not be seen merely as a reward for killing Smaug, rather call it aide between neighbours. It just seems the right thing to do all things considered.

I'll warrant, arriving armed and making demands was bad form on Bard's part, but he was driven by their great need and despairing of the fact that Thorin did not believe restitution should come from the dragon's avails of marauding.

Is it true that when Thorin was driven from Erebor in his youth that the dragon's hoard Smaug used for a bed was already there? Or had he added to it over the years? If the latter, if Thorin had a claim to Smaug's treasure, then everyone who had suffered under Smaug did as well.

Admittedly Thorin is selectively generous, as we all are: I am more likely to be generous to my son than I am to a stranger. However, there are special circumstances at play and mitigating factors (such as the aforementioned destruction of Lake-town) that should have figured into Thorin's stance.

If nothing else you have convinced me that Thorin is more complex than I thought.

One final point to consider is this: given the numbers and the hasty defences erected by the dwarves, it is significant that Bard's forces laid siege rather than diving directly into an assault on the mountain.


Escapist
Gondor


Oct 23 2012, 7:20pm

Post #11 of 15 (204 views)
Shortcut
I wonder how much of a difference it would have made [In reply to] Can't Post

if Bard's men had asked or offered services or some other goods in trade for a part of the treasure ...
or if the men of Laketown and maybe even the elves had been willing to approach the mountain alongside the dwarves in the same spirit of good faith that you allude to.

At any rate, there is still something good that comes out of it all in that they are all standing ready for battle when the goblins attack by surprise. Perhaps it served all of them well: men, elves, and dwarves alike, to sharpen their spears and swords a bit before the real ambush coming from much less reasonable folks. It's an unlooked for gift of readiness and preparation for a more deadly battle for survival that was preparing without them knowing about it.


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Oct 23 2012, 9:19pm

Post #12 of 15 (183 views)
Shortcut
Yes, true [In reply to] Can't Post

something is definitely working behind it all, turning bad to good and all that.

I wonder if this is what Sador was getting at when he said this about the Raven:

"And he knows from Roac that the men are marching to take the treasure, and are blaming the dwarves for their misfortunes (I wonder what Roac's agenda was, but that's another subject). "

For that matter, did Tolkien imagine that Gandalf might have been massaging events all along as well?

Speaking of Sador, I wanted to add that it may all come down to me having difficulty seeing things through Thorin's eyes. It may be the way he was written, or perhaps I simply have no affinity with dwarves? You do make many great points.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Oct 24 2012, 9:48am

Post #13 of 15 (198 views)
Shortcut
I've been wondering about Gandalf too [In reply to] Can't Post



Quote
For that matter, did Tolkien imagine that Gandalf might have been massaging events all along as well?


I noticed this brief comment at the end of "Fire and Water":
That will be the last we shall hear of Thorin Oakenshield, I fear, said the [Elven]king. He would have done better to have remained my guest. It is an ill wind, all the same, he added, that blows no one any good. For he too had not forgotten the legend of the wealth of Thror. So it was that Bards messengers found him now marching with many spearmen and bowmen; and crows were gathered thick above him, for they thought that war was awakening again, such as had not been in those parts for a long age.
I'm not sure who "they" are in the phrase I've bolded - just the crows, or the Elves too? Are they armed because they are already expecting war? And if so, why? Is it just because of the power vacuum caused by the death of Smaug? Or is Gandalf himself behind it? As far as I recall, we are never told just when Gandalf gets back and starts practising his backroom politics among the Elves and Men. Did he stir up this desire to go armed to the Mountain on purpose because he knew the orcs were coming? And did he even encourage the quarrel with the Dwarves for the same reason? He at least seems to have expected the Dwarves (and Bilbo) to still be alive and kicking.

The confounding factor is the birds, who are made to seem as if they could be the ones massaging events. And maybe they are - but they may also be a convenient way for Gandalf's own manipulations to stay hidden! Like sador, I don't think we have to read the story as presented - Tolkien encourages us to take into account the natural biases of the characters from whose perspective we are seeing the story. In the Quest of Erebor, Gandalf laughs about how different The Hobbit would have seemed if it had been told by him instead of Bilbo. But he too emphasises the fatal pride of Thorin. Pride seems to be the worst sin in Gandalf's book - but perhaps that's because it's what prevents others from doing what he wants them to do! But Gandalf always finds a way, harnessing the pride itself if it suits his purpose. The only loser in this tends to be the prideful person himself - Saruman, Denethor, Boromir, Thorin - who always comes to a sticky end!

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



(This post was edited by FarFromHome on Oct 24 2012, 9:51am)


sador
Half-elven


Oct 24 2012, 10:21am

Post #14 of 15 (225 views)
Shortcut
I expect so. [In reply to] Can't Post

When the Master first suggested the idea that he would go to Dale - he did not react to the people clamouring for him to be king, but began musing about rebuilding his ancestor's home. But does this mean he dropped the ambition? Or, on the other hand, that he forgot the distress of his present fellow-citizens? Of course, one cannot say, but I expect he was aware of all three; and I expect either spin could be used to explain his actions. And did he care for his followers more than for those left behind? Who can tell?
And after all - Thorin was also motivated by his personbal desire for glory and wealth, by his inherited destiny to try and re-establish his grandfather's realm, and the need of the scattered, wandering dwarves. What was the balance?*

I am also quite sure that Thorin did envision a rebuilt Dale as a good neighbour, and would have been more than willing to contribute towards that end - but this is different than finding up a descendant of Girion at his doors, with two armies at his back. (By the way - is he the only one? Can we be sure that Bard is the heir of Dale?)


In Reply To

One final point to consider is this: given the numbers and the hasty defences erected by the dwarves, it is significant that Bard's forces laid siege rather than diving directly into an assault on the mountain.

I have considered it, and again - several spins could be put on this decision. I just want to point out that in The Clouds Burst, Bard is all for attacking Dain's dwarves to prevent them from relieving the siege, and is restrained by the Elvenking; also that Gandalf is present and might have his own agenda. I suspect he had no compunction in doing all that was needed to brings three armies to the vicinity in the nick of time to stop the goblins.
But alas! I cannot attribute this motivation to Roac (as you seem to have guessed in your answer to escapist); not unless Gandalf was wrong when he said at the end of At Thief at Night that even the ravens do not know all of the news.



Based on our previous discussion, you might be interested in my suggestion as to why Tolkien seems to be so "biased" in favour of Bard.
(With apologies for the presumption in linking to it again)







* By the way, I am sure all leaders labour under this mix of peronal, factional, popular (meaning what the people concretely need) and national (in terms) motivations, and nobody under G-d can truly say what really drives them; which is why I try not to be too judgmental - not even against politicians whose actions I disapprove of.

"Heart of the mountain...heart of Thorin...and now, Gandalf says "keep your heart up" . Anyone care to comment on the repeated use of that image?"
- weaver



The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for A Thief in the Night!


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Oct 24 2012, 1:38pm

Post #15 of 15 (336 views)
Shortcut
What is the balance? [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
By the way, I am sure all leaders labour under this mix of personal, factional, popular (meaning what the people concretely need) and national (in terms) motivations, and nobody under G-d can truly say what really drives them; which is why I try not to be too judgmental - not even against politicians whose actions I disapprove of.


Further aside: Wise words. By now you have probably noticed that I struggle with this issue: to attain an attitude similar to yours regarding people in positions of power and authority (apart from those who inspire me). When it comes to being judgemental, I'm at my worst when talking about leaders I disagree with. I would that I could shake off that tendency because it really is a failing of a sort. Thank you for baring with me.


(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Oct 24 2012, 1:41pm)

 
 

Search for (options) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.3

home | advertising | contact us | back to top | search news | join list | Content Rating

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. Design and original photography however are copyright © 1999-2012 TheOneRing.net. Binary hosting provided by Nexcess.net

Do not follow this link, or your host will be blocked from this site. This is a spider trap.