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The Last Stage, part IV - Politics and Property

sador
Half-elven


Nov 18 2012, 4:44pm

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The Last Stage, part IV - Politics and Property Can't Post

The previous time we've discussed The Hobbit was soon after John Rateliff's The History of the Hobbit was published. One of Rateliff's discoveries was that The Hobbit was from the outset conceived to happen in the same world as the Silmarillion legends, and this was discussed extensively in the Reading Room.
We will not touch on this topic here; just mention that the from first drafts, the Necromancer was concieved of as Thú the magician, chief thane of Morgoth, from the very beginning.

My personal suspicion is that as Tolkien wished to pursue this line of Thú – the Necromancer – the Lord of the Rings, and was also working on the concept of Thú – Sauron, the corrupter of Númenor (which rose at about the same time), he combined them by placing the Fall of Númenor before the events of The Hobbit, removing the whole story thousands of years away from the fall of Gondolin and other events hinted at.

This shady, ominous figure is mentioned as the Necromancer in The Hobbit three times: in the first chapter, as an enemy too powerful for all the dwarves combined (Thorin and company shudder at the mere mention of him); at the end of Queer Lodgings, as one they don't want to even come near – saying that even Bilbo knows enough not to need being warned of him!
In this chapter, however, we learn that the Necromancer is not all-powerful; as Gandalf tells Elrond, "a great council of the white wizards, masters of lore and good magic", managed to drive him away from his dark tower in South Mirkwood.
What kind of lore is specific to these wizards?
How does one differentiate between "good" and "bad" magic?
How many white wizards are needed to make the council "great"?
On a side note: given that an attack was directed at the Necromancer just as Thorin and co. were cruising through Mirkwood, did Gandalf have his own reasons to warn them off a route more to the south?


As is well-known, the description here is not quite consistent with that of The Lord of the Rings and Unfinished Tales: there is no hint of Saruman, the "great council" doesn’t sound like only five wizards were ever sent to help the Free Peoples of Middle-earth, and two of whom were already long missing! There is no hint of any Elves, High or others, involved (no Glorfindel!), and Gandalf needs to tell Elrond about this on the way home (again, no Glorfindel!).
Was Elrond on the secret of Gandalf's real mission? Did Gandalf actually report back to him? Was Beorn?
I take it that the mysterious "good cousin Radagast" (per Queer Lodgings) must have been involved, living next to southern Mirkwood.

Did you notice the proximity when reading Queer Lodgings? How long did it take you to do so?

In appendix AIII to The Lord of the Rings, and more fully in The Quest of Erebor (published in Unfinished Tales), Tolkien's solution to the dilemma is revealed. The whole book is put in a wider context: Gandalf the trickster, the wizard who foists Bilbo upon Thorin for his own amusement, thinks nothing of leaving his companions in the lurch when it suits him, and is at least once in mortal fear for his own skin – becomes Mithrandir the Grand Strategist, directing the Defense of the West. Unbeknowest to him, Thorin's mission is actually a diversion, directed at keeping Smaug busy and preventing Sauron from using him to strike at the Northren lands.
Do you find this transition convincing? Does it change your perception of The Hobbit? How different is reading The Hobbit with this grandiose backstory in mind, from reading it as a simple adventure story? Which reading works better?
Did The Hobbit as a book benefit, or suffer from being post facto subordinated to its sequel? Would you read it as often as you do now?


As is well-known, Peter Jackson intends to incorporate the story of the attack on the Necromancer in his coming films.
Is this a good idea? Would the story be seriously lacking, if this element would be missing? And are you willing to accept an entirely original story-line for the attack upon Dol Guldur (which Tolkien never tackled), for the sake of completeness?
Any other comments about the Necromancer?
(I am leaving Gandalf and Elrond's exchange of views regarding his future for the next thread)

* * *



Another relic (if I may say so) of the First-age legends is Elrond. From the 1926 Sketch of the Mythology, Elrond's geneology and old history were fixed (with slight variations on whether he was raised by Maedhros or Maglor); however, his fate after the War of Wrath has gone through some changes, together with the developing legend of Númenor (as described in HoME vol. V):
In the first version, Elrond is a man – but he stays in Middle-earth to rule the lingering elves, as he grew to love them. In some unaccounted way, he is blessed with great longevity; so after Númenor is destroyed, he allies with the refugees to defeat Sauron.

Soon afterwards, Tolkien wrote a second version: according to it, being a Man after all, Elrond led the Men who colonized Númenor, and became their first king. After he dies, his descendants were enticed by Sauron to rebel against the Valar; Elendil, the leader of the refugees, who formed an alliance with Gil-galad the Elven-king (the first time either of these names appears) came also from his line.
According to Christopher Tolkien, the whole Númenor legend was not in existence before 1936; but in a late emendation to the 1930 Quenta, Elrond has a brother named Elros. The latter chapters of The Silmarillion were never re-written; but it seems pretty clear that the final concept, of the two brothers and the sundering of their fates – Elrond as the Lord of the Elves under, and then after, Gil-galad; Elros as the first king of Númenor, was achieved.


Unless Christopher is mistaken, The Hobbit was written and finished while the first concept was still in force, and the emendation to the Quenta was added after 1936.
If Rateliff (mentioned at the top) is right, and at the outset Tolkien did intend to incorporate The Hobbit into his private Middle-earth mythology, I might suggest that if only a couple of generations have passed since the overthrow of Morgoth, the original idea of Sauron going to Númenor to corrupt it might have been conceived as following his defeat as the Necromancer.
But on a second thought, Tolkien had decided that Elrond's words in our chapter "I fear that (the final defeat of the Necromancer) will not come about in this age of the world, or for many after" require the removal of Sauron's defeat further down in time – and making Elrond, who was a man after all, the first king of Númenor.
However, once a sequel to The Hobbit was demanded, Tolkien decided that the Ring, and the Necromancer, needed to be the connection between the prequel and The Lord of the Rings; that meant in turn that the whole Númenor episode needed to precede Bilbo's adventure, and the Three Ages concept. This transformation was completed by the introducing of the idea of the Peredhil and their freedon to chose, and having Elros as Elrond's brother.
Who has been following me so far? If you had, what do you think of my little idea?


To complete the picture, I would quote from A Short Rest a short paragraph which bears on the issue of Middle-earh politics:

Quote
He took it (Thror's Map) and gazed long at it, and he shook his head; for if he did not altogether approve of dwarves and their love of gold, he hated dragons and their cruel wickedness, and he grieved to remember the ruin of the town of Dale and its merry bells, and the burned banks of the bright River Running.


It is noteworthy that Elrond grieves especially for Dale. Is this because he was, at this stage, conceived of as a Man?
From the very beginning, Elrond was conceived as the descendant of Thingol. Is this a reason for his "not altogether approving" of dwarves? On the contrary, is this a mild sentiment?
Would Elrond have accepted the dwarves, if they were not accompanied by Gandalf?
Does the later reference to Thingol in Flies and Spiders confuse the issue?

* * *


Well, by the end of this book, the town of Dale is rebuilt, its merry bells are ringing, and trade is flourishing again on the banks of the bright River Running!

In the epilogue, Gandalf and Balin come to visit Bilbo. Bilbo has got gold buttons in his extended waistcoat (probably the precursor of Pippin's joke to Bergil "I am but four feet, and not likely to grow any more, save sideways"), while Balin has a magnificent jeweled belt, and his beard has grown a few inches! Both seem to have done pretty well for themselves since their common adventure.
Did Gandalf? If not, why not?
Was this the first visit of Gandalf after the Quest of Erebor? Why did it take him so long? Does this contradict the impression that he kept a close watch on Bilbo ever since his adventure?
The Tale of Years (appendix B to LotR) states that just over six years have passed: Bilbo returned from his adventure on June 2942, and Gandalf and Balin were visiting him on the autumn of 2948.
Isn't that too short? Or is this Tolkien's way to mitigate the issue raised in my previous question? Or to keep Balin away from Moria for twenty-seven years?


I know that posting links has become a big no-no in the Reading Room; but I have discussed Balin's visit in great length in the last part of this_post, and therefore will not repeat my arguments there. Just to sum up the main questions:
What was Balin, the oldest and most senior of Dáin's relatives, doing in the area? Was he just visiting Bilbo – or did he have another purpose?
I note (which I didn't on Febrauary) that this was late autumn – so Balin must have spent the winter west of the Misty Mountains. Where?
How does the knowledge that Balin would be the one to fall under the spell of the whispers of unrest and go to Moria, influence your perception of him? How did he get along with Dáin?


At the very least, Balin and Bilbo bring wonderful news:

Quote
Bard had rebuilt the town in Dale and men had gathered to him from the Lake and from South and West, and all the valley had become tilled again and rich, and the desolation was now filled with birds and blossoms in spring and fruit and feasting in autumn. And Lake-town was refounded and was more prosperous than ever, and much wealth went up and down the Running River; and there was friendship in those parts between elves and dwarves and men.


Beautiful! But I note two omissions:
There is no mention of Beorn and the folk he is gathering unto him. Perhaps Tolkien deemed this unnecessary, as it was nearly the last information we read in the previous chapter, and Bilbo has been a witness to what Tolkien called in the plot outlines Rateliff cites "the disenchantment of Beorn" – which I once suggested was a coda to the whole background history of the woodmen and their struggle with the goblins – another political event of importance!
However, how could you explain no mention being made of Dáin, and of Bilbo's other former companions?


Bard seems to have been quite successful as a king; however, it seems that the Lake-town keeps its independence, and prospers under a new Master, after the one we know came to a bad end (see below).
Is this a comment on a king being quite unnecessary to the state's success? When Modtheow led the discussion of Fire and Water, it appeared that the consensus was that Tolkien views warrior-kings as superior leaders to elected politicians – does the new Master suggest a more nuanced attitude?


It is noteworthy that Bard is the first king of Men in these parts: Girion was just Lord of Dale; Beorn will become a chieftain, and Grimbeorn his son is named a "lord of many sturdy men" in Many Meetings; also their relatives, the ancestors of the Rohirrim, were led by the "Lords of the Éothéod", until Cirion granted Eorl the provisional right to call himself king (see Cirion and Eorl in UT). According to appendix A to LotR, even Vidugavia styled himself "King of Rhovanion" – but was never recognized as such!
Is kingship an alien concept to the Norsemen? Was it to the old Germanic and Norse peoples Tolkien loosely based them upon?
Who has the right to bestow the title of "king"? How does Bard achieve it? By popular acclaim? – but Lake-town itself remains independent. Be his heroics? – but surely Beorn achieved no less. By wealth? By a powerful patron, such as Eorl had?
Did Thorin have a bargaining straw – could he offer the Bowman recognition, as well as help in rebuilding Dale to overshadow its rivals? How would Bard react to such an offer?


No discussion of kingship in The Hobbit may be complete without mentioning the throwaway line from Roast Mutton, when the dwarves see from afar the light of the trolls' fire, and debate whether to go in that direction:

Quote
Others said: "These parts are none too well known, and are too near the mountains. Travellers seldom come this way now. The old maps are no use: things have changed for the worse and the road is unguarded. They have seldom even heard of the king round here, and the less inquisitive you are as you go along, the less trouble you are likely to find."

This line of reasoning would have applied to Mirkwood, don't you think?
Although there they were really starving, so perhaps finding food and trouble is better than finding neither.
Anyway: the sad comment on the repair of the roads in Eriador is beyond our purview, as is the comparison of the statement regarding finding unexpected things with Thorin's directive to Fili and Kili in Over Hill and Under Hill; but the unheard-of king is intriguing.

Who is meant?
Originally, the Shire seems to have been pretty much modeled on rural England – the first edition had as a preceding argument "Policemen never come so far" instead of "the roads are unguarded"! So perhaps Anderson is right in asserting (ch. 2, note 14):

Quote

The mention here of the king is probably not meant to refer to an actual personage but instead to invoke the idea of the king as the theoretical source of justice, law and peace.

"The King's_peace" is a well-known concept in English law, and "not having heard of the king" might be just a synonym for unruly people.

Tolkien himself, however, seems to have been unsatisfied with this ambiguous phrase; so in the Prologue to The Lord of the Rings (section, 3, Of the Ordering of the Shire) he rationalized it by stating that even after the fall of Arvedui:

Quote
…the hobbits still said of wild folk and wicked things (such as trolls) that they had not heard of the king. For they attributed to the king of old all their essential rules… both ancient and just.


The glaring deficiency of this rationalizing is that this is not said by Bilbo, but by some of the dwarves! In the aborted rewrite of 1960 (in which, if I may say so, the author out-Jacksoned PJ), Tolkien did indeed move this phrase to Bilbo, with an explanatory interjection that such was a common phrase in the Shire (HoH p. 796); but unless we accept this rewrite as "canon", the only internal justification is that either Bilbo or the narrator re-phrased the dwarves' actual words, to a well-known hobbit idiom.

Before joining the Reading Room and learning of all these possibilities, I had always assumed that this was indeed a dwarvish saying. In the Blue Mountains, Thorin was somehow known, and had some status; in the Iron Hills, and even in Lake-town, he was honoured; Beorn and the Elvenking knew his name. However, earlier in Roast Mutton, when passing through decent hobbit-lands, they met "now and then a dwarf or farmer ambling by on business" – but nobody seems to recognize the exiled Durin's Heir, to do homage or even doff his hat to the rightful king of the senior house. Bilbo might be well-content, but the dwarves were probably not half-pleased with that. So in the Wild – what hope of succor do they have?

A last possibility which needs to be considered, is to take Anderson's suggestion a bit further, and suggest that "the king as the theoretical source of justice, law and peace" need not be a theoretical king, but a higher moral authority. Let's say the Elder King (which in The Lord of the Rings stands for Manwë, at least according to the index). Not having heard of him means no sense of goodness and righteousness. Compare Genesis 20:11.

Which possibility do you prefer? Or maybe a combination of several? Are they mutually exclusive?
What do you think of Tolkien's later rationalization? Does it work? What does it say of him, that he felt the need to provide a context for this short statement?
I note that the word "king" is not capitalized. Does this refute my last suggestion? Or Anderson's?
How does this bear on the larger theme of kingship in The Hobbit?
Any other comments on this theme?

* * *


It might ultimately seem that the Master of Lake-town was just a bad egg:

Quote
Bard had given him much gold for the help of the Lake-people, but being of the kind that easily catches such disease he fell under the dragon-sickness, and took most of the gold and fled with it, and died of starvation in the Waste, deserted by his companions.

Does this ring true? After all, immediately after the town was devastated, he already made plans for its rebuilding – wouldn't he have preferred to see the town he built in flower?
Where would he flee to? What use would the gold be for him in the Waste, or anywhere else?
Who were those companions? Why did they desert him? I mean, I would understand if they had knifed and robbed him, leaving him to die alone – but just desert him so that he dies of starvation?
And if the old Master embezzled all of the gold – who paid for the new town which was built?
In short, I feel that Tolkien is trying too hard. And it doesn't succeed. Do you agree?


A minor point – the Sackville-Bagginses seem to have caught the same disease, but not as bad; Tolkien comments on it with a wry understatement:

Quote
On their side they never admitted that the returned Baggins was genuine, and they were not on friendly terms with Bilbo ever after. They really had wanted to live in his nice hobbit-hole so very much.

I love this! Do you?
Is this the germ of the later activites of Lotho, as told in The Scouring of the Shire?


It is refreshing to see, how well Bilbo has escaped from the disease. Taking the Arkenstone and withholding it might have caused an acute case – but once he surrendered it to Bard, not even using it to cut himself a good deal (as evidenced by his returning to wake Bombur up), he apparently was free.
Is this what enabled him to leave Frodo the Ring so relatively easily?


There remains to be seen how Bilbo disposed of the other treasures he has gained on the way. We have already discussed the trolls' gold. But regarding his real treasures:

Quote
His sword he hung over the mantelpiece. His coat of mail was arranged on a stand in the hall (until he lent it to a Museum). His gold and silver was largely spent in presents, both useful and extravagant - which to a certain extent accounts for the affection of his nephews and his nieces. His magic ring he kept a great secret, for he chiefly used it when unpleasant callers came.


Why did he keep the sword, but not the mithril-coat?
Does it make any sense, to lend the mithril-coat to a museum?

As you might know, at first this was just an ordinary coat of mail, as evidenced by the way Tolkien refers to it here. This surely should have been changed had The Hobbit been rewritten – but as far as I remember (I don't have LotR here), in An Unexpected Party Tolkien did mention Bilbo retrieving it from the mathom-house in Michel Delving.
Was this a mistake, not to delete this reference?
And by the way, what happened to the accompanying helm?

What do you make of the reference to Bilbo's young relatives? Are they really that better than the S.-B.s?
And the reference to the ring – is this really a harmless way of avoiding unpleasant callers? Or does this need to be secretive and anti-social have an ominous substratum to it?


Two very last items which have to do with Bilbo's property:
In most editions of The Hobbit which I've seen, Tolkien's own drawing of the entrance hall of Bag-end is reproduced.
Any comments on this drawing?

And the anachronism at the very end of the book – the tobacco-jar!
Had Tolkien rewritten The Hobbit to the end, would he have changed this very last sentence? Wouldn't this have been criminal?


The last post will have to do with prophecies, and providence. It will be far shorter than this one and the previous one.


"As all things come to an end, even this story..."

Here we read of Bilbo, who is “quiet and drowsy”, that “every now and again he would open one eye” and listen to Gandalf’s tale. Is Tolkien deliberately echoing this passage in LOTR when he writes, “At that Bilbo opened an eye, almost as if he had heard … ‘You see, I am getting so sleepy’, he said.”?
- N.E. Brigand



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


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Nov 18 2012, 9:13pm

Post #2 of 12 (455 views)
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Thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

What kind of lore is specific to these wizards?

Alchemy for sure, given Gandalf's (and Saruman's) knowledge of black powder. Fire magic (Gandalf). Shape-changing (Radagast). It is not clear in The Hobbit that Gandalf knows the true identity of the Necromancer; but, he clearly knows much more about him than either Bilbo or the Dwarves.

How does one differentiate between "good" and "bad" magic?

Bad magic twists and corrupts both those using it and the victims of its power.

How many white wizards are needed to make the council "great"?

42. No, but at least 3 to 5, plus several members of the Eldar.

given that an attack was directed at the Necromancer just as Thorin and co. were cruising through Mirkwood, did Gandalf have his own reasons to warn them off a route more to the south?

Possibly. Although the path following the Great East Road was an obvious place for the goblins to attempt an ambush anyway.

Was Elrond on the secret of Gandalf's real mission? Did Gandalf actually report back to him? Was Beorn?

Given the hindsight of LotR, Elrond was likely already aware of the Council's attack on Dol Guldur (if not a participant). However, I doubt that that was Tolkien's original intent. There is no evidence that Beorn was directly connected to the Council (or council) in any way.

Did you notice the proximity when reading Queer Lodgings? How long did it take you to do so?

That was a simple connection to make. I automatically assumed that Radagast would have been part of Gandalf's council of white wizards.

Do you find this transition convincing? Does it change your perception of The Hobbit? How different is reading The Hobbit with this grandiose backstory in mind, from reading it as a simple adventure story? Which reading works better?

It certainly places Gandalf's leaving at Mirkwood into context. It also places a new light on the story that Gandalf tells when he and Bilbo return to Rivendell (see above). It suggests that Elrond already knew about the plan to drive the Necromancer from Mirkwood, but remained behind to guard Rivendell in case of failure. All of this remained unsaid because Gandalf didn't want to say too much in front of Bilbo.

Did The Hobbit as a book benefit, or suffer from being post facto subordinated to its sequel? Would you read it as often as you do now?

Over all, I think that the story benefits from the added depth, especially upon re-reading the book.

Is this a good idea? Would the story be seriously lacking, if this element would be missing? And are you willing to accept an entirely original story-line for the attack upon Dol Guldur (which Tolkien never tackled), for the sake of completeness?

If the adaptation had remained a single film, incorporating Gandalf's mission more wholly might have been too much. But, in extending the narrative into two (and then three) films, it becomes amost necessary to do so. Tolkien did reveal some hints about the Council's assault on the Necromancer; what is missing is the details (granted, he left out a lot of them).

Any other comments about the Necromancer?

I think that it is clear that Tolkien did already know that the Necromacer was the entity that would also be known as Sauron. What he had not decided yet, was the part that Sauron would play at the end of the Third Age of Middle-earth.

This thread is much longer than I realized. I'll skip down to Gandalf's later visit to Bilbo. I get the impression that Gandalf visits Bilbo several times in the years following the Quest for Erebor. The visit that was accompanied by Balin was probably not the first and certainly not the last prior to LotR.

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

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Nov 18 2012, 9:17pm)


FarFromHome
Valinor


Nov 18 2012, 9:40pm

Post #3 of 12 (809 views)
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What kind of lore is specific to these wizards?

Just lore in general, I'd say. They are "masters of lore", that is, of all kinds of knowledge. I'm inclined to think that in this early book Tolkien is using 'wizard' in its more general sense here, equivalent to what he later terms "the Wise".

How does one differentiate between "good" and "bad" magic?

As with "wizard", so with "magic", the terms here seem to be used in a less precise way than in later works. In LotR, there's some discussion about what "elf magic" is, and whether in fact it's magic at all. In On Fairy Stories, after using the word 'magic' rather indiscriminately at first, Tolkien ends by deciding that the proper term for the elvish art of "magic" is really "enchantment", whereas magic, properly so called,
"... is not an art but a technique; its desire is power in this world, domination of things and wills." Good magic, then, would be more or less what Sam calls "elf-magic". Saruman (in LotR), and of course the Necromancer/Sauron, indulge in "bad" magic.

How many white wizards are needed to make the council "great"?

I'm not sure numbers really come into this. I think it's more about the "greatness" of the members than the size of the council. (And I'm willing to believe that the terminology "white wizards" means something more general than the very specific hierarchy of LotR - "white" may just mean "good", and "wizards" may just mean "the wise".)

On a side note: given that an attack was directed at the Necromancer just as Thorin and co. were cruising through Mirkwood, did Gandalf have his own reasons to warn them off a route more to the south?

I've never given much thought to the details of how the two actions might integrate, but I bet Tolkien had!


Quote
There is no hint of any Elves, High or others, involved (no Glorfindel!), and Gandalf needs to tell Elrond about this on the way home (again, no Glorfindel!)

It depends how you define "wizards". It hasn't been defined at all clearly in The Hobbit, and so I think there is room for Glorfindel, and even for Elrond himself here. As I"ve argued before, we are not specifically told that "Gandalf needs to tell Elrond about this". We are only told that Bilbo learns about it, when overhearing Gandalf and Elrond discussing it. Tolkien has hidden the identity of the White Council members (assuming he had any idea himself who they were!), but he doesn't literally exclude the possibility that Elrond and/or Glorfindel were involved, as I read the account. Gandalf is telling the whole tale, to a large audience ("there were many eager ears that evening to hear the tale of their adventures")
, so he may well repeat things that are known to some of his audience, since others will want to hear it. I imagine Gandalf doesn't name the White Council members, but I can easily imagine a situation where one or more members of the Council are actually present at the telling of the tale.

Was Elrond on the secret of Gandalf's real mission? Did Gandalf actually report back to him? Was Beorn?

Again, all this remains a mystery - a deliberate one, it seems, perhaps because this is meant to be a glimpse of "unexplained vistas" in the background of the story. We know from LotR that Gandalf is economical with information, so I imagine anyone not actually on the White Council would only receive carefully edited hints and highlights - as we do here in fact!

Do you find this transition convincing? Does it change your perception of The Hobbit? How different is reading The Hobbit with this grandiose backstory in mind, from reading it as a simple adventure story?

I like it, in fact I always like the sense in Tolkien's writing that other versions of every story could be told, in another style, another context, by another witness. Bilbo's own story is a fairytale, but it can also be seen as part of a great myth - it's all in the telling of the tale.

Which reading works better?

Both at once is best of all, for me.

Did The Hobbit as a book benefit, or suffer from being post facto subordinated to its sequel? Would you read it as often as you do now?

I doubt I'd ever have read it if not for LotR. I never came across it as a child. But thinking back to my own kids' enjoyment of it, especially the dragon, I doubt its "subordinated" stature really makes a difference to its core readership.


In Reply To
As is well-known, Peter Jackson intends to incorporate the story of the attack on the Necromancer in his coming films.
Is this a good idea?

Not a good idea if you want a children's fairytale, that's for sure. But of course, The Hobbit really is "subordinated" in the film world. It is only being made because of its "prequel" status.

I had hoped in the early days that Jackson could actually make a light, child-oriented film first, and follow it with a more adult fantasy afterwards that incorporates the Necromancer and the Battle of Five Armies (with flashbacks to moments of Bilbo's adventures to put them into the new context).


In Reply To
Bard seems to have been quite successful as a king; however, it seems that the Lake-town keeps its independence, and prospers under a new Master, after the one we know came to a bad end (see below).

I read this as meaning that the new Master serves under the King, not that Lake-town is independent. It would be similar to the Steward of Gondor serving under the King, or of course client kings like Eomer being subject to the King of Gondor. That's how medieval feudalism would have worked, with towns like Lake-town (or indeed the Shire) having their own Mayor or Master, but still acknowledging the sovereignty of the King.


In Reply To
It might ultimately seem that the Master of Lake-town was just a bad egg:

Quote
Bard had given him much gold for the help of the Lake-people, but being of the kind that easily catches such disease he fell under the dragon-sickness, and took most of the gold and fled with it, and died of starvation in the Waste, deserted by his companions.
Does this ring true? After all, immediately after the town was devastated, he already made plans for its rebuilding – wouldn't he have preferred to see the town he built in flower?
Where would he flee to? What use would the gold be for him in the Waste, or anywhere else?
Who were those companions? Why did they desert him? I mean, I would understand if they had knifed and robbed him, leaving him to die alone – but just desert him so that he dies of starvation?
And if the old Master embezzled all of the gold – who paid for the new town which was built?
In short, I feel that Tolkien is trying too hard. And it doesn't succeed. Do you agree?


Perhaps it does feel like trying too hard. Tolkien obviously wanted the Master to get his comeuppance and be shown for the materialistic and greedy person he is. But he doesn't flesh this out enough to make it believable, perhaps. You could make up a story, I guess - that once the Master had his hands on so much wealth he though he could do better than rebuild the old town, and would go and found a new one for himself. Perhaps one outside the realm of Bard, so that he wouldn't have to answer for spending the wealth wisely. Who knows what went wrong after that? It sounds a bit too much like what happened to the property developers who had such a great time with their megalomaniacal plans here in Ireland before they crashed back to earth a few years ago!

I assume that Bard provided more gold for a new Master, and made sure he appointed one who would use it wisely.

Does it make any sense, to lend the mithril-coat to a museum?

It has a nice Victorian ring to it, I find. The joke in LotR, as I recall, is that this precious object just gathers dust there!

What do you make of the reference to Bilbo's young relatives? Are they really that better than the S.-B.s?

Well, first of all I think this sentence reflects Bilbo's own self-deprecating assessment of himself. We shouldn't take at face value that the young relatives only liked Bilbo for the presents, although as we hear in A Long-expected Party, hobbits do enjoy getting them. But the point of the S-B's isn't just that they want "stuff" - it's that they want respect they haven't earned. They have that great English vice, snobbery.


In Reply To
And the anachronism at the very end of the book – the tobacco-jar!
Had Tolkien rewritten The Hobbit to the end, would he have changed this very last sentence? Wouldn't this have been criminal?

There's tobacco in the first chapter too, and in fact it comes up a number of times. It's not so much an anachronism as a "different translation". Later, Tolkien would prefer "pipe-weed" to make it clear that it's similar but not identical to what we call tobacco. In The Hobbit, his terminology is looser, both because he's telling a children's story and (probably) because he hadn't worked out his world in full detail yet.


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



sador
Half-elven


Nov 20 2012, 8:43am

Post #4 of 12 (417 views)
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I'm not so sure [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It is not clear in The Hobbit that Gandalf knows the true identity of the Necromancer; but, he clearly knows much more about him than either Bilbo or the Dwarves.


It appears from the conversation between Gandalf and Elrond that both know quite a bit about the Necromancer, enough to make predictions whether he would recover from this defeat.
True, we never read the name "Sauron" (anyway, Tolkien haven't yet conceived of that form) - but I think that on the contrary, there is no suggestion in The Hobbit that his true identity was long secret; that was a twist in The Council of Elrond, explaining Gandalf's opaque "finding out things, and a nasty business it was" from our first chapter.
And in the early drafts. it is clear that both Gandalf and Thorin (or Bladorthin and Gandalf, as they were called then) knew enough of him; however, Tolkien decide to delete the reference to Luthien, making the Necromancer a pretty obscure, but powerful, adversary.


In Reply To

Bad magic twists and corrupts both those using it and the victims of its power.

As opposed to Saruman's magic?


In Reply To
That was a simple connection to make. I automatically assumed that Radagast would have been part of Gandalf's council of white wizards.


So did I - after all, he was the only only wizard mentioned by name!
But I don't think I noticed the geographical proximity of Rhosgobel to Dol Guldur in the first several readings. Perhaps only when I started poring over the map appended to LotR (in which Rhosgobel doesn't appear, IIRC).


In Reply To
Over all, I think that the story benefits from the added depth, especially upon re-reading the book.


Perhaps I wasn't clear enough. That was the intent of my previous question. In this one I was wondering whether being left as a standalone book, people would simply not read it as often or as carefully as they do know - so that even if the sequel might be detrimental to The Hobbit as a story, it was beneficial to it as a book. Personally, I am leaning towards this opinion.


In Reply To

The visit that was accompanied by Balin was probably not the first and certainly not the last prior to LotR.


I get the impression that it was the first.
And it definitely wasn't the last - here, Bilbo is only considering writing his memoirs; but we know for sure that Gandalf forced the truth about Gollum from him some time afterwards!





"As all things come to an end, even this story..."

Here we read of Bilbo, who is “quiet and drowsy”, that “every now and again he would open one eye” and listen to Gandalf’s tale. Is Tolkien deliberately echoing this passage in LOTR when he writes, “At that Bilbo opened an eye, almost as if he had heard … ‘You see, I am getting so sleepy’, he said.”?
- N.E. Brigand



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sador
Half-elven


Nov 20 2012, 9:32am

Post #5 of 12 (446 views)
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''wizard' as a general term? [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think it works:

In Reply To
It is true that for ever after he remained an elf-friend, and had the honour of dwarves, wizards, and all such folk as ever passed that way.


However, it is clear that "wizards" are not just the Istari. As a matter of fact, even in The Lord of the Rings they aren't - weren't the Nine Rings given to "kings and wizards" of Men?


In Reply To
I'm not sure numbers really come into this. I think it's more about the "greatness" of the members than the size of the council.


Ooh, that's a neat explanation!
(and I agree with your previous answer, regarding OFS)


In Reply To

Gandalf is telling the whole tale, to a large audience ("there were many eager ears that evening to hear the tale of their adventures"), so he may well repeat things that are known to some of his audience, since others will want to hear it. I imagine Gandalf doesn't name the White Council members, but I can easily imagine a situation where one or more members of the Council are actually present at the telling of the tale.


Another good idea. It runs counter to my intuitive reading (and to squire's), but it might work. Thank you!


In Reply To
I always like the sense in Tolkien's writing that other versions of every story could be told, in another style, another context, by another witness. Bilbo's own story is a fairytale, but it can also be seen as part of a great myth - it's all in the telling of the tale.


QFT


In Reply To
Not a good idea if you want a children's fairytale, that's for sure. But of course, The Hobbit really is "subordinated" in the film world. It is only being made because of its "prequel" status.


I agree. Which is pretty much what happened with the book, isn't it? The book itslef is pleasant and charming, interesting and even wise at times - but it wouldn't be read as often or as thoroughly had it not been subordinated to its greater sequel.
Just think of the lovely Farmer Giles of Ham. It might be a masterpiece in its own limited sphere, but not being remotely connected to Middle-earth, and offering little in terms of understanding Tolkien's attitude and creative process (which Leaf by Niggle and Smith of Wootton Major do), it is not read that much - and possibly not less than it deserves. Frown


Quote

I read this as meaning that the new Master serves under the King, not that Lake-town is independent. It would be similar to the Steward of Gondor serving under the King, or of course client kings like Eomer being subject to the King of Gondor. That's how medieval feudalism would have worked, with towns like Lake-town (or indeed the Shire) having their own Mayor or Master, but still acknowledging the sovereignty of the King.

Really? I see no hint that the Master acknowledges Bard as king. Once Aragorn becomes King, he might claim overlordship over both - but not at the present.

And regarding medieval city-states - would they even formally acknowledge the Emperor had he not been preceived as Holy, i.e. deriving his power directly from God? And even in Italy there were the Guelphs opposing the Ghibellines (with Papal active support!), and the town of Flanders also withstood attempted conquests by foreign monarchs.


In Reply To
It sounds a bit too much like what happened to the property developers who had such a great time with their megalomaniacal plans here in Ireland before they crashed back to earth a few years ago!


Please. I am doing my utmost to avoid drawing any contemporary connections...


In Reply To

Well, first of all I think this sentence reflects Bilbo's own self-deprecating assessment of himself. We shouldn't take at face value that the young relatives only liked Bilbo for the presents, although as we hear in A Long-expected Party, hobbits do enjoy getting them.

Point taken.


In Reply To
There's tobacco in the first chapter too, and in fact it comes up a number of times. It's not so much an anachronism as a "different translation".


I'll make myself clearer: in the 1960 rewrite of the first two chapters, Tolkien did indeed change "tobacco" to "pipe-weed" in all occurances, even having Bilbo offer Gandalf some Old Toby.
But this suggests that had the re-write gone all the way through, the very last sentence of the book, its coda, would need to have been changed. I think this is far too heavy a price to pay for expunging one anachronism.

As an aside, having tobacco come originally from Numenor (as Merry suggests in his Herblore of the Shire) might have solved the seeming "anachronism" - why not have this a relic of a once-existing trade? This might have made sense of your "different translation" - I don't know if Tolkien ever considered this idea seriously, and why he rejected it.

"As all things come to an end, even this story..."

Here we read of Bilbo, who is “quiet and drowsy”, that “every now and again he would open one eye” and listen to Gandalf’s tale. Is Tolkien deliberately echoing this passage in LOTR when he writes, “At that Bilbo opened an eye, almost as if he had heard … ‘You see, I am getting so sleepy’, he said.”?
- N.E. Brigand



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


FarFromHome
Valinor


Nov 20 2012, 11:07am

Post #6 of 12 (460 views)
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Hope you don't mind.... [In reply to] Can't Post

turning this into a conversation...


In Reply To
Wizard as a general term? I don't think it works...However, it is clear that "wizards" are not just the Istari....

Actually, that's good enough for me. I only meant "general" as in "not just Istari" really. Any "lore-master" might be called a wizard in The Hobbit's terminology, I think. It's all about having "the knowledge" - the store of transmitted wisdom and skills that ordinary people had no access to.


In Reply To
It [that Elrond may already know the story Gandalf tells about the White Council] runs counter to my intuitive reading (and to squire's), but it might work.

Yes indeed, I know squire and I aren't on the same page about this - I've made this argument before, on the Hobbit Movie board, and as you'll see if you read the replies, squire was not impressed at all! Crazy But I have to admit that I'm sometimes tempted to push my "metafictional" speculations beyond any reasonable bounds...


In Reply To
Really? I see no hint that the Master acknowledges Bard as king. Once Aragorn becomes King, he might claim overlordship over both - but not at the present.

Perhaps you're right. I had always just assumed that a King would trump a Master, and that even if a Master might have substantial freedom of action he would always be positioned in the feudal hierarchy below the King. If there's any evidence either way about Bard, I'd be interested to hear it -my knowledge of the Appendices, Unifinished Tales and so on is very limited. Your evidence drawn from the messy politics of medieval Europe is interesting, but I'm not sure you can really explain away the acknowledged overlordship of the Emperor as being just because he was Holy. It's true that real-world feudalism, by its very nature, had the Christian God at the top of the apex, but fantasy feudalism has the same structure, I think, just with a more fluid notion of providence or destiny providing the almost-but-not-quite-divine right of kings. (Also, I think England might be a better real-world template than continental Europe, and the King was very much acknowledged there as the ultimate authority over what the traders of the growing towns did - my own home town of Preston still holds a celebration once every 20 years to commemorate being given "guild" status by Henry II in 1179!)

And if Bard is still ultimately responsible for Lake-town, that would explain how they got a new Master and new funds for rebuilding...


In Reply To
Please. I am doing my utmost to avoid drawing any contemporary connections...

Oops, sorry! Blush But the Master is quite a modern character, don't you think? I'm interested to see what Stephen Fry will make of him.


In Reply To
I'll make myself clearer: in the 1960 rewrite of the first two chapters, Tolkien did indeed change "tobacco" to "pipe-weed" in all occurances, even having Bilbo offer Gandalf some Old Toby.


Oh, that's interesting! I didn't know about these changes, which appear not to have been made in currently available editions. At least, my 1999 HarperCollins paperback has 'tobacco' throughout, starting with:
“What do you mean?” he said. “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”

“All of them at once,” said Bilbo. “And a very fine morning for a pipe of tobacco out of doors, into the bargain."
My e-book (bought in the last few months) has the same, although it's probably based on the same edition. Do you know if other currently available editions do have pipe-weed instead?

On the whole, I think "pipe-weed", with its apparent reference to a different smokable substance, has caused more confusion than leaving the word "tobacco" would have done! But Tolkien was probably innocent of all such connotations when he came up with it, just as he must have been about "Teleporno" and "Bilbo's Last Lay"!

Tongue


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



CuriousG
Valinor


Nov 20 2012, 12:58pm

Post #7 of 12 (457 views)
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The magic of politics [In reply to] Can't Post

How does one differentiate between "good" and "bad" magic?
Galadriel tells the hobbits that it doesn't make sense to use the same word for both. Elves don't really practice magic in our traditional sense of casting spells. Instead, they put their love into all they make, and that passion has the byproduct of conferring magical properties on things like ropes and cloaks. She dismisses bad magic as "the deceits of the Enemy." Elven magic, as seen in the Three, isn't about war and dominion, but about healing what's harmed, preserving what's good, and deepening understanding.

Outside the context of Tolkien, good magic usually means healing people and fighting evil. Bad magic means hurting people and fighting good.

How many white wizards are needed to make the council "great"?
This sounds like a joke about how many of them are needed to screw in a lightbulb. One to test his wand in the socket, two to carry off the one who tested the socket, and a fourth to actually screw in the bulb. The fact that blue wizards aren't included in this conjecture doubtless contributed to their alienation and departure to the East.

On a side note: given that an attack was directed at the Necromancer just as Thorin and co. were cruising through Mirkwood, did Gandalf have his own reasons to warn them off a route more to the south?
Never thought of this--great point.

Was Elrond on the secret of Gandalf's real mission? Did Gandalf actually report back to him? Was Beorn?
Later we're told that it was the White Council that put forth its power to drive out Sauron, and Galadriel was the summoner of the White Council. I can't imagine it existing without Elrond and Cirdan and a few other celebrities. But Tolkien couldn't put all that in The Hobbit. I equally can't imagine Beorn being involved--too rustic and uncouth. He's a fighter in a physical way. I'm not sure he'd have any magic to "put forth" like the others did, and clawing his way through Dol Guldur doesn't seem possible.

Do you find this transition convincing? Does it change your perception of The Hobbit? How different is reading The Hobbit with this grandiose backstory in mind, from reading it as a simple adventure story? Which reading works better?
Did The Hobbit as a book benefit, or suffer from being post facto subordinated to its sequel? Would you read it as often as you do now?

I think The Hobbit benefited from the inclusion. It features significant characters from LOTR, and if it didn't fit into the grander story arc, it might seem a little silly. It already seems pretty light-hearted. Tra-la-la.

Is this a good idea? Would the story be seriously lacking, if this element would be missing? And are you willing to accept an entirely original story-line for the attack upon Dol Guldur (which Tolkien never tackled), for the sake of completeness?
I'm looking forward to it--it could be very cool. The lack of detail from Tolkien on the subject just fires up the imagination, making you want to know more.

It is noteworthy that Elrond grieves especially for Dale. Is this because he was, at this stage, conceived of as a Man?
I think The Hobbit's details don't mesh well with those of LOTR. I find it hard to understand why the LOTR Elrond would have ever visited Dale. True, he mentions at the Council of Elrond that he had been a traveler once, but I have trouble picturing him going all the way to Dale--what for? To mail post cards?

From the very beginning, Elrond was conceived as the descendant of Thingol. Is this a reason for his "not altogether approving" of dwarves? On the contrary, is this a mild sentiment?
Mild. I think it sets up the later, stronger mistrust between Thingol and the dwarves.

Would Elrond have accepted the dwarves, if they were not accompanied by Gandalf?
Hard to say in this book. The LOTR Elrond had no trouble accepting strangers.

Does the later reference to Thingol in Flies and Spiders confuse the issue?
Yes, especially since when I reread what's said in The Hobbit, the dwarf-elven king story seems to have been in the relatively recent past, not all the way back in the distant First Age. And when you think of Thingol and Doriath and what happened there, how likely is it that faraway Thranduil would know what happened? Yes, there were refugees from Beleriand, but how many went to Greenwood, and of all their tales of woe, how prominent would be the one about dwarves killing Thingol and ransacking Doriath? Did they also mention that the Sons of Feanor dealt the real deathblow to Doriath? Was Celebrimbor blamed as a result since guilt seems to be passed on from father to son?

Was this the first visit of Gandalf after the Quest of Erebor? Why did it take him so long? Does this contradict the impression that he kept a close watch on Bilbo ever since his adventure?
Even when Gandalf kept a close eye on Frodo and the Shire, he often used Dunedain as surrogates. His idea of "close watch" was showing up every few years. I suppose when you're immortal, that's often enough.

What was Balin, the oldest and most senior of Dáin's relatives, doing in the area? Was he just visiting Bilbo – or did he have another purpose?
Dwarves used the roads for trade, presumably with each other, and with whoever was growing food that they could buy. Balin could have been Dain's trading emissary to the Blue Mountains. Or maybe Balin was addicted to pipe-weed, and Bilbo was his drug dealer, which would explain his gold buttons. The dragon gold story was a cover for his criminal enterprise. He only appeared to "disappear" when the dwarves were hallucinating.

How does the knowledge that Balin would be the one to fall under the spell of the whispers of unrest and go to Moria, influence your perception of him? How did he get along with Dáin?
I'm disappointed, but don't blame him. And I think he got along well with Dain until he wanted to break away. Dain had a pure blood line as king, so I doubt Balin resisted his authority.

When Modtheow led the discussion of Fire and Water, it appeared that the consensus was that Tolkien views warrior-kings as superior leaders to elected politicians – does the new Master suggest a more nuanced attitude?
Yes.

Kingship: because so little is said of the king, and he's unnamed and uncapitalized, I'm not sure Tolkien fleshed out this idea and let it drop since he wasn't putting too much of the story in Eriador. If the dwarves have a good sense of history, they may know that the people of Rhudar rejected Arvedui's claim to the kingship of Arnor and allied with the Witch-King of Angmar, so though they acknowledged a king, it was the wrong one. It could be said that the dwarves meant Arvedui, but that's me making the connections. It would be similar to spiders: why do they talk in The Hobbit, but Shelob never speaks a word, not even in cursing Sam or saying "ouch!" Nor do the local orcs refer to her speaking--if she did speak, she should have been known for it. Not everything maps from one book to the other.

The fate of the Master of Esgaroth: I think the point of the story is that you can't buy food with gold when you're in a wasteland with no food, so his greed led him to a bad end. His followers abandoned him because he led them to a bad end. I think it's more of a morality tale than anything else.


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Nov 20 2012, 1:02pm

Post #8 of 12 (418 views)
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For the most part, I agree... [In reply to] Can't Post

Going strictly by the text of The Hobbit, Gandalf (and Elrond) most likely did know that the Necromancer was Sauron. Even when the company was still at Bag End, Gandalf knew that the strength of the Necromancer was far beyond the might of all of the Dwarves combined. When he and Elrond discuss the departure of the Necromancer from Mirkwood, they do seem to know exactly who he really is.

Saruman's magic: We only see Saruman use his power after his fall from grace. I doubt that, when he was still a 'good' wizard, he would have ever used his magic to thoroughly dominate another as he did to King Theoden. That is not to say that the devices or weapons that Saruman conceived to use against the forces of Dol Guldur were not destructive. They may well have been so. Even Gandalf's flaming pinecones wreaked destruction amongst a pack of Wargs.

'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


Nov 20 2012, 2:21pm

Post #9 of 12 (421 views)
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Not at all, but also yes [In reply to] Can't Post

I haven't yet finished the fifth and last thread of this chapter, and I also want to respond to others who have participated in this discussion... I actually began an answer to you on the poetry thread, and then my computer crashed.


In Reply To
I've made this argument before


How could I have missed it? Shocked Well, I miss so much on the Hobbit Movie board - which as a rule I follow more out of a sense of being updated with the community than because I understand all the speculations or am particulary interested in them for themselves.
But this was a very interesting debate over there - thank you!


In Reply To

But the Master is quite a modern character, don't you think?

Of course he is! Which is why I tread softly...


In Reply To
My e-book (bought in the last few months) has the same, although it's probably based on the same edition. Do you know if other currently available editions do have pipe-weed instead?


No such change was ever made. The story is different.

In 1960, Tolkien decided to re-write The Hobbit, in order to bring it more into line with The Lord of the Rings. He thoroughly revised the first chapter, and completely rewrote the second. However, he was persuaded to drop it, with the argument "It's wonderful, but it isn't The Hobbit". So when revising the book for the 1965 reprint, he made only minor corrections.

The whole story is told, and the second chapter published (under the name The Broken Bridge), by Rateliff in The History of the Hobbit. Personally, I only half-agree with those who dissuaded Tolkien from following it to the end: I agree that it is not The Hobbit, but I don't like it at all: The action is more consistent with the geography of Eriador as we know it, but it makes all the characters as flat as pancakes. I particulary resented the redrawing of Bombur.

In that rewrite, every occasion of "tobacco" is changed to "pipe-weed". But these amendments never made it to the published text.

"As all things come to an end, even this story..."

Here we read of Bilbo, who is “quiet and drowsy”, that “every now and again he would open one eye” and listen to Gandalf’s tale. Is Tolkien deliberately echoing this passage in LOTR when he writes, “At that Bilbo opened an eye, almost as if he had heard … ‘You see, I am getting so sleepy’, he said.”?
- N.E. Brigand



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


CuriousG
Valinor


Nov 20 2012, 2:50pm

Post #10 of 12 (434 views)
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His arm has grown long [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
and then my computer crashed.

Tis the Necromancer's black magic, I tells ya!


FarFromHome
Valinor


Nov 21 2012, 8:45am

Post #11 of 12 (436 views)
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*embarrassed* [In reply to] Can't Post

When I mentioned a "conversation" I was only apologising for my own self-indulgence in answering your answer to me... I didn't mean to imply that I expected you to indulge me too! But thank you for taking the time to do so anyway...Smile

And I'm sorry to hear about your computer crash - that's so frustrating! I do hope CuriousG is wrong about what's behind it...

Tongue

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



sador
Half-elven


Nov 22 2012, 3:48pm

Post #12 of 12 (1182 views)
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Answering without explaining [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Galadriel tells the hobbits that it doesn't make sense to use the same word for both. Elves don't really practice magic in our traditional sense of casting spells. Instead, they put their love into all they make, and that passion has the byproduct of conferring magical properties on things like ropes and cloaks. She dismisses bad magic as "the deceits of the Enemy."


Except that this seems to contradict what we know from The Hobbit and The Silmarillion. Both Luthien and Finrod (at least) used magic as a kind of power. And just how are the bewildering mazes of Melian difference from "the deceits of the Enemy"?
Also, both Elrond and Galadriel herself use magic to defend their realms, and in effect seal the border. If it isn't aggresive, it's okay? Such as Bombadil's?
In short, I'm not sure I buy her answer. I don't know what better answer can I give.

On another note - this is one of the changes Jackson made to the movie which I didn't like, but most people mind less than others: in the books, Theoden is a genuinely old man; Wormtongue accuses Gandalf of bewitching him, and with some justification; but in Helm's Deep, Theoden himself acknowledges that he is really old, for all Gandalf's arts. Only in Unfinished taels, Tolkien reports a rumor that Wormtongue was subtly poisoning the King, but nothing more.
In the movies - we have Saruman actively possessing the quite middle-aged king, and Gandalf just returning him to his natural state.
Consider this as a protest.


In Reply To

I can't imagine it existing without Elrond and Cirdan and a few other celebrities.

Legolas? Tauriel? Evil


In Reply To
I'm looking forward to it--it could be very cool. The lack of detail from Tolkien on the subject just fires up the imagination, making you want to know more.


Okay. I'm a bit concerned - I don't quite "trust Peter" enough. But It's not as if I care as about the coming movies as much as our friend on the Hobbit Movie board do. I expect to enjoy it - no more, no less.


In Reply To
I find it hard to understand why the LOTR Elrond would have ever visited Dale. True, he mentions at the Council of Elrond that he had been a traveler once, but I have trouble picturing him going all the way to Dale--what for? To mail post cards?


It's actually even worse - apparently, Dale wasn't built before Thror came to the Mountain, and according to The Tale of Years, Celebrian was abducted long before that. It seems very unlikely that Elrond would have crossed the Misty Mountains after that - not until the battle of Azanulbizar, when the orcs of the Mountains were routed. So no, I don't think that Elrond ever was in Dale - at least not the LotR Elrond.


In Reply To

I think it sets up the later, stronger mistrust between Thingol and the dwarves.

Surely you've meant the Elvenking.


In Reply To
And when you think of Thingol and Doriath and what happened there, how likely is it that faraway Thranduil would know what happened?


Elves have a wonderful way of knowing things. And I'm not sure what was the relationship between Beleriand and Mirkwood in Tolkien's mind at the time he wrote this.


In Reply To

Did they also mention that the Sons of Feanor dealt the real deathblow to Doriath?

Those refugees went to the west, not east.


In Reply To

Was Celebrimbor blamed as a result since guilt seems to be passed on from father to son?

Celebrimbor repudiated his father in Nargothrond already. But yes, the question of what exactly happened with Celebrimbor is an unclear one: Was he plagued by guilt for the crimes of his family? Was he shunned by other elves? Did he take an alias, or leave society for some time? Where did he become a friend of dwarves? What did he think of Men?


In Reply To
Or maybe Balin was addicted to pipe-weed, and Bilbo was his drug dealer, which would explain his gold buttons. The dragon gold story was a cover for his criminal enterprise. He only appeared to "disappear" when the dwarves were hallucinating.


Ataahua, have you read this?


In Reply To
It would be similar to spiders: why do they talk in The Hobbit, but Shelob never speaks a word, not even in cursing Sam or saying "ouch!"


I find her all the more terrifying for being silent. Don't you?








"As all things come to an end, even this story..."

Here we read of Bilbo, who is “quiet and drowsy”, that “every now and again he would open one eye” and listen to Gandalf’s tale. Is Tolkien deliberately echoing this passage in LOTR when he writes, “At that Bilbo opened an eye, almost as if he had heard … ‘You see, I am getting so sleepy’, he said.”?
- N.E. Brigand



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