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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
***The Hobbit Read-through: Chapter 18 - :"The Return Journey" (Part 1 of 3)
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CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 18, 12:32pm

Post #26 of 42 (1477 views)
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Who you calling a child, gramps? [In reply to] Can't Post

I actually love that line a lot. Thorin has been gruff or formal or haughty throughout most of the book, but he’s really a different person here, or he’s letting down all his pretense and revealing his inner self.

I never thought Thorin & Bilbo had a surrogate father-son relationship, the way Gandalf does with Frodo, but he sounds like father/uncle/grandfather here, and after all the complaints about how Bilbo didn’t measure up as a burglar or fighter, here’s a ringing endorsement that he brought valuable qualities to the quest that were sadly lacking otherwise.

More to your question: I think it’s a loose reference, and maybe is meant to include Rivendell and the Shire, and Bree and the Havens if you want to project to LOTR. Those are all kindly places that aren’t bent on profit and imperialism.


noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 18, 12:53pm

Post #27 of 42 (1474 views)
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Yeah, really shouldn’t have eaten that orc food [In reply to] Can't Post

The problem of whether dragons, trolls, talking trees etc. are ‘people’ in Middle-earth is a further dustbin of dragons...Wink

~~~~~~
Now you dwarves must be careful with that machine with a rotating cutting tip or reciprocating hammer or chisel, used for making holes - it's not a drill, y'know!"


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 18, 1:03pm

Post #28 of 42 (1471 views)
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The Kindly West [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
'child of the kindly West'...is what the dying Thorin calls Bilbo. What does it mean? Is it merely literal - e.g. Bilbo comes from West of the Misty Mountains, Thorin from the other side - or does 'West' here have other connotations?


Here Thorin seems to be referring to the quiet, peaceful lands of the hobbits, but we can see another disassociation between The Hobbit and Tolkien's larger legendarium where the peoples of Eriador have seen their share of hardship: Civil strife; invasions from Angmar; plague; hard winters; famine; and flood.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Sep 18, 1:04pm)


noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 18, 1:11pm

Post #29 of 42 (1466 views)
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I was also wondering about religious interpretations [In reply to] Can't Post

‘The West’ can refer to the Valar (at least later in Tolkien, perhaps taking a Quest of Erebor era view). We only know what story the elves tell of dwarfish origins, and no doubt that’s all wrong, but maybe ‘the West’ means the values by which ‘people’ (dwarves, elves, Men & all) ought to live, of which Bilbo might be a reminder and model?

But I’m not insisting on this Wink

~~~~~~
Now you dwarves must be careful with that machine with a rotating cutting tip or reciprocating hammer or chisel, used for making holes - it's not a drill, y'know!"


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 18, 1:22pm

Post #30 of 42 (1459 views)
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Yeah... [In reply to] Can't Post

I saw where you were coming from; I just don't read that much into Thorin's words here.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


Bracegirdle
Valinor


Sep 18, 8:22pm

Post #31 of 42 (1449 views)
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Not to be misread about them there Eagles [In reply to] Can't Post

I would certainly like Gwaihir to be “King of all Birds” and it seems a logical way to think. But…


In Reply To
For myself, I don't find Tolkien's punctuation here confusing at all. Both Gwaihir and his brother Landroval are great and mighty Eagles. Further, the passage tells us that the chieftainship of the Great Eagles does seem to be passed down from one generation to the next.

“There came Gwaihir the Windlord, and Landroval his brother, greatest of all the Eagles of the North, mightiest of the descendants of old Thorondor, who built his eyries in the inaccessible peaks of the Encircling Mountains when Middle-earth was young. Behind them in long swift lines came all their vassals from the northern mountains, speeding on a gathering wind.”

Admittedly I’m being picayune about the commas, but even so I’ve never been confused by the sentence. I think that it’s just that the first comma seems superfluous.
The passage does indicate that Kingship was passed down through some 6,000 years from Thorondor. But this is not firm and through such a length of time there could have been a usurper or two. Yet even if blood-Kingship WAS passed down uninterrupted through the ages that doesn’t answer who is the King of all Birds at the end of the Third Age, Gwaihir or Landroval. Yes, both were greatest and mightiest, and yes, Gwaihir was swiftest; but swift does not necessarily a King make…

And therein lies my quandary. We all want Gandalf to be associated with only the Best of Birds, and Gwaihir is so fleshed-out he seems the logical choice. But it is never in any way confirmed.


In Reply To
Well, Gwaihir is referred to as 'the Windlord' which is enough of a title to satisfy me. While I do not believe that Gwaihir is the Lord of the Eagles from The Hobbit, I am convinced that he is his successor: the current chieftain of the Eagles of the North by the time of the War of the Ring.

Yes, Gwaihir was “swiftest” and “Windlord” seems a logical epithet for the swiftest. And he no doubt was a lord, but I have the very small nagging, nagging doubt that he just may not have been “King” or “Lord of all Eagles”. I wish I could have your firm absoluteness on the matter, but for many reasons there will always be that small bit of doubt…
Lor bless me! SOMEBODY TELL ME WHY LANDROVAL COULDN’T HAVE BEEN “THE LORD OF THE EAGLES”!!!

‘. . . the rule of no realm is mine . . .
But all worthy things that are in peril . . . those are my care.
For I also am a steward. Did you not know?'

Gandalf to Denethor




Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 18, 9:33pm

Post #32 of 42 (1445 views)
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Comma Commotion [In reply to] Can't Post

Granted, Tolkien's use of commas here could set Gwaihir apart as even more swift and mighty than his brother. If anything, that makes a better case for him as the Lord of the Eagles at the time of the Ring-war.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


Bracegirdle
Valinor


Sep 19, 3:28am

Post #33 of 42 (1424 views)
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Outside information... [In reply to] Can't Post

My wife who doesn’t have a dog in the fight (ret. English teacher & not heavily into Tolkien), is of the opinion that the first comma, as I said, seems superfluous, but in or out it doesn’t change the tone of the sentence. She suggested a dash in place of the second comma might clarify the sentence. She finds the sentence somewhat confusing and had to read it twice to clarify in her mind. But it IS clear that Tolkien is talking about BOTH Eagles being greatest and mightiest because of the word “descendants” (plural).

I don’t see Gwaihir being set apart as mightier than his brother from this sentence. Yes, Gwaihir is swifter than his brother, and we are told elsewhere that he is the “swiftest of the Great Eagles”, and “Gwaihir the Windlord” seems a proper nick, but not necessarily an allusion to Kingship.

How many ways could Tolkien have easily clarified this passage if he wished us to KNOW that Gwaihir was King of all Birds? If he wished us to know…

‘. . . the rule of no realm is mine . . .
But all worthy things that are in peril . . . those are my care.
For I also am a steward. Did you not know?'

Gandalf to Denethor




Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 19, 8:33am

Post #34 of 42 (1406 views)
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Plurals [In reply to] Can't Post

In this case, 'descendants' would seem to refer to many generations of Eagles, not specifically to the pair of brothers; I think your wife is mistaken on that particular point. However, have we answered the question of how the Lord of the Eagles became the King of All Birds?


Quote
And so they parted. And though the Lord of the Eagles became in after days the King of All Birds and wore a golden crown, and his fifteen chieftains golden collars (made of the gold that the dwarves gave them), Bilbo never saw them again -- except high and far off in the battle of Five Armies.


If this was a title bestowed upon him by Dáin Ironfoot as King under the Mountain, does it really carry much (or any) authority, compared to, say, the word of the Vala Manwë? It seems to me to be more honorary than enforceable.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Sep 19, 8:38am)


squire
Half-elven


Sep 19, 11:47am

Post #35 of 42 (1392 views)
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King of All Birds, wearing a golden crown, with courtier eagles wearing golden collars... [In reply to] Can't Post

That kind of thing seems to me more like a touch of Grimm's Folk Tales than something that can be related to Thorondor and the Silmarillion's already-established tradition of the Eagles as the Messengers of Manwe. Much the way Bilbo lives "happily ever after", this wraps up the story of the eagles in a childishly satisfying way.

Once again, we should beware of tripping over the fuzzy line that separates The Hobbit from the more tightly-linked mythological constructs of the Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 19, 1:45pm

Post #36 of 42 (1382 views)
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Crowned with Gold [In reply to] Can't Post

And yet the presentation of a crown to to the Lord of the Eagles from the King under the Mountain is presented here in a completely factual manner. Not that I suppose the object served as anything more than a decoration and trophy for the Eagle's Eyrie. I certainly have a hard time imagining the Eagle-chieftain wearing a crown with anything resembling regularity or formally holding court as King of All Birds. Similarly, I do not see the title King of All Birds as being much more than an honorary one bestowed by Dáin.

I find it interesting that, out of everything that could be unpacked from this chapter, we are spending so much time on this particular topic. I wonder what discussion will be spawned by Part 3 of this read-through after I post it tomorrow.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Sep 19, 1:47pm)


Bracegirdle
Valinor


Sep 19, 4:27pm

Post #37 of 42 (1367 views)
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A final Eagle thought (I hope) [In reply to] Can't Post

The passage clearly speaks of the two Eagles. Your interpretation of ‘descendants’ seems correct. (I cannot blame that on my wife.) But to me the entire passage refers to both Eagles: ‘Behind them…’ ‘All their vassals…’.

As for how the Lord of the Eagles became the King of All Birds, I wasn’t aware that was a question we were considering. But it does bring back to mind that you are satisfied that “Windlord” was enough proof that Gwaihir was ‘King of all Birds’. But there were many ‘lords’ throughout history that were not ‘kings’.

A final thought: Were a poll to be taken – ‘Was Gwaihir the King of all Birds at the end of the Third Age?’: Yes, No, Unknown - the results would likely be far-and-away in your favor – Yes! But I would have to join the ‘Unknown’ faction (as much as I would wish to join yours) as there is no absolute definitive proof to be found, just inference.

Er… P.S. Otaku. Apologies if I have inadvertently shanghaied such a portion of your well-led chapter. Lead on my good man! I shall likely be an ardent observer only – keeps me out of trouble…… Cheers!

‘. . . the rule of no realm is mine . . .
But all worthy things that are in peril . . . those are my care.
For I also am a steward. Did you not know?'

Gandalf to Denethor




Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 19, 4:46pm

Post #38 of 42 (1362 views)
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That's not quite right. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
As for how the Lord of the Eagles became the King of All Birds, I wasn’t aware that was a question we were considering. But it does bring back to mind that you are satisfied that “Windlord” was enough proof that Gwaihir was ‘King of all Birds’.


That is not what I stated or what I meant. I am satisfied that Gwaihir the Windlord is the Lord of the Eagles during the War of the Ring; that's not necessarily the same thing.


In Reply To
Er… P.S. Otaku. Apologies if I have inadvertently shanghaied such a portion of your well-led chapter. Lead on my good man! I shall likely be an ardent observer only – keeps me out of trouble…… Cheers!


That is perfectly all right! I was half-expecting, though, to be in the middle of a debate over the Order of Succession in the Line of Durin following the death of Thorin Oakenshield.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


Bracegirdle
Valinor


Sep 19, 8:09pm

Post #39 of 42 (1345 views)
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What we mean and how we are interpreted… [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
BG: But it does bring back to mind that you are satisfied that “Windlord” was enough proof that Gwaihir was ‘King of all Birds’.

Otaku: That is not what I stated or what I meant. I am satisfied that Gwaihir the Windlord is the Lord of the Eagles during the War of the Ring; that's not necessarily the same thing.

BG: And I must revert to the fact that Gwaihir was never called “Lord” or “King”, just “swiftest”, and in this sentence one of the “greatest” and “mightiest”.

Otaku: Well, Gwaihir is referred to as 'the Windlord' which is enough of a title to satisfy me.

Well, I do apologize if I have misinterpreted you. But I still can’t say I’m reading you properly. . . and likely vv? If you’re saying that Gwaihir was A lord of the Eagles I would agree. If you’re saying he was THE Lord of the Eagles or The King of all Birds I would hesitate to agree.

‘. . . the rule of no realm is mine . . .
But all worthy things that are in peril . . . those are my care.
For I also am a steward. Did you not know?'

Gandalf to Denethor




Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 19, 9:10pm

Post #40 of 42 (1335 views)
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Are they the same? [In reply to] Can't Post

Is the King of All Birds a title that is transferred from one generation to the next? I am not so certain. I am much more confident that the current chieftain of the Great Eagles of the North can be considered to be the Lord of the Eagles regardless of his individual identity. That's the point I was trying to make; my apologizes if I was less than clear.

I am satisfied that Gwaihir the Windlord is the Lord of the Eagles at the time of The Lord of the Rings. and a descendant of the Lord of the Eagles in The Hobbit. That does not require you to be convinced of the same. We can certainly agree to disagree! Wink

It is also clear to me, for the reasons stated previously, that it is very unlikely that the Lord of the Eagles who leads his forces in the Battle of Five Armies is the same Eagle later known as Gwaihir.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Sep 19, 9:13pm)


Roverandom
The Shire


Sep 20, 2:02pm

Post #41 of 42 (1286 views)
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The Eagles [In reply to] Can't Post

I believe that Tolkien plays fairly with the reader in The Hobbitt, much more so than in The Lord of the Rings, where it's "Deuses Wild". The Eagles and Beorn were both fairly introduced in earlier chapters as bitter enemies of the goblins. I have no problem with either of them turning up at the crucial moments of battle, and both provide a unique and logical counter-attack. The Eagles rout the goblins on the upper slopes of the Mountain, and Beorn wins personal combat against the enemy chieftain, which is a feature of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon tradition, if I'm not mistaken.

That the Eagles were able to gather intelligence, formulate a plan of attack, and carry it out in "shock and awe" manner works, given the type of being introduced to us earlier. Eagles have great eyesight, can observe from afar without being themselves noticed, and stoop swiftly to conquer in the wild. Why not on the battlefield?

I have greater issue with the sudden coming of the Eagles in LotR, with little or no story-based warning. I don't feel the same level of proper set-up in earlier chapters that I do in The Hobbit, and it screams of "deus ex machina" to me. The army of the dead seems to be something along similar lines, but that's a matter of discussion for another time.

As for Gwaihir, I've always assumed that he was not the Lord of the Eagles in the Hobbit, but had become so by the time of LotR. I agree with the majority here who have argued as such.

For just as there has always been a Richard Webster, so too has there been a Black Scout of the North to greet him at the door on the sill of the evening and to guard him through his darkest dreams.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 20, 2:16pm

Post #42 of 42 (1286 views)
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The Scrubbing Bubbles of the Dead [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I have greater issue with the sudden coming of the Eagles in LotR, with little or no story-based warning. I don't feel the same level of proper set-up in earlier chapters that I do in The Hobbit, and it screams of "deus ex machina" to me. The army of the dead seems to be something along similar lines, but that's a matter of discussion for another time.


I'll continue with this digression just long enough to note that I had no problems with Tolkien's use of the Army of the Dead; my objection was when Peter Jackson brought it to Minas Tirith. At least Aragorn of the films had enough wisdom to dismiss it at that point. Jackson was still capable of reining in some of his worst impulses.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Sep 20, 2:22pm)

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