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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
***The Hobbit Read-through; Ch 14 - Fire and Water
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noWizardme
Valinor


Aug 21, 4:19pm

Post #26 of 32 (670 views)
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Prophecies gone totally wrong - boring? [In reply to] Can't Post

IN real life, we hear a lot of predictions, even prophecies that are totally wrong - for example the End Of The World has been prophesied many times that I can think of, but has not happened (as far as I can tell). But I think it might be quite difficult for a storyteller to dangle a prophecy in front of their audience, get the audience to invest in it, and then have it prove totally irrelevant - wouldn't that seem rather frustrating?

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


sador
Half-elven


Aug 22, 2:47pm

Post #27 of 32 (593 views)
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Different sequences [In reply to] Can't Post

I have heard that Tolkien originally tried a different sequence - maybe owners of ‘The History of the Hobbit’ (or other scholarship) can confirm this and say what the earlier schemes were?
dernwyn suumed it up nicely here.


As I see it, the advantage of the published scheme is that it kept up some suspense in ‘Not At Home’ – for all the first-time reader knows, Smaug is lying in ambush, or will return at any moment.
Well, the reader does know that Smaug is off for a visit to Lake-town.


If ‘Fire and Water’ immediately followed ‘Inside Information’ then I suppose the effect would be irony rather than suspense – we would know that Smaug is dead, but the dwarves do not and so are afraid of him.
And we would miss the wonder of birds flocking back to the Mountain.
Also, this order fits best with the reading out loud to a child convention. We need some important reason to break away from Bilbo's perspective.


More radically, I suppose the story could stay in Lake Town, with Fire and Water following directly after ‘A Warm Welcome’, with ‘On The Doorstep’ to ‘Not At Home’ following after. But I imagine that not working well
What about the discovery of the bare patch in his stomach?


If you can remember your first reading (or a time when you did not know how this story went) did it seem a plot twist that Smaug is killed by Bard rather than by Bilbo or Thorin, as might be more the conventional trope? I can’t really remember, myself
Neither can I.


Do you think that Smaug’s death at the hands of Bard makes the Battle of the Five Armies essential for satisfying storytelling, as well as following the perfectly logical political and military consequences of Smaug’s death?
More satisfying for me, at least.






noWizardme
Valinor


Aug 22, 7:07pm

Post #28 of 32 (568 views)
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bare patch [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
[NoWiz] More radically, I suppose the story could stay in Lake Town, with Fire and Water following directly after ‘A Warm Welcome’, with ‘On The Doorstep’ to ‘Not At Home’ following after. But I imagine that not working well

[sador] What about the discovery of the bare patch in his stomach?


Good point - I think we do need to discover Smaug's weakness before it is used against him.

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


CuriousG
Half-elven


Aug 23, 11:03am

Post #29 of 32 (464 views)
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Prophecies & reader patience [In reply to] Can't Post

You raise a good point. If an author brings up a prophecy in a book, a reader will expect it to come true, at least in some fashion. Let’s say the LOTR remains as is but we add Galadriel telling Frodo by her Mirror that if he achieves the quest, he will be rewarded with all of Sauron’s gold & silver, enough for 100 ponies to carry back to the Shire. But it doesn’t happen, and wouldn’t we be annoyed that we were misled? So if an author introduces a prophecy, they’d better make it work, or they lose credibility. (Or have a really good reason why it didn’t come true.)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Aug 23, 11:33am

Post #30 of 32 (461 views)
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Thanks for making those connections & distinctions [In reply to] Can't Post

Particularly the just-in-time approach of introducing prophecies right before it takes effect. I’d never thought of it that way before, but it certainly fits.

Then there are.others that you only pick up on re-reads, such as Gandalf’s internal rumination in Rivendell that Frodo may become like the Phial that Galadriel gave him. I probably didn’t notice that until my 3rd or 4th re-read.

So we get a plot-driving prophecy in The Hobbit, at least for the last part of the book, but LOTR has no plot-driving prophecy about defeating Sauron by destroying the One Ring. Maybe the closest is Elrond’s admission in the Council of Elrond that it was the hour of the hobbits to shake up the counsels of the Wise and shape history, but that’s not really the same.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Aug 24, 11:24am

Post #31 of 32 (408 views)
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Prophecies & predictions: does anyone doubt that Smaug would be killed? [In reply to] Can't Post

I took it for granted on 1st read that he was a dead lizard, and it was a question of how he’d be killed, not if.

But I wonder if anyone on 1st read or 1st movie-watch thought that Smaug might somehow survive? Maybe Gandalf put a “tame dragon spell” on him, or he slips away into the night after being wounded by Bard, vowing to fight again another day?

I’m not sure either storyteller left any doubt at all, but maybe I’m wrong.


noWizardme
Valinor


Aug 24, 6:55pm

Post #32 of 32 (379 views)
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..or just burgled? [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't remember what if anything I expected when I first read the book. I think that back then I just read stories to see what would happen, without many expectations.

I suppose that the purpose of Thorin's expedition is to 'burgle' Smaug, so it might be reasonable to suppose that Bilbo and the dwarves will carry off what they can and make a break for it, then have some exciting adventures trying to escape from Smaug's pursuit. But perhaps the dragon slayer trope, is too strong for this to be a common expectation, especially when we have the Lake Town men going on about how Thorin is going to restore his kingdom...

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm

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