Chapter X: A Warm Welcome
" 'I hope I never smell the smell of apples again!' said Fili. 'My tub was full of it. To smell apples everlastingly when you can scarcely move and are cold and sick with hunger is maddening. I could eat anything in the wide world now, for hours on end—but not an apple!' "

This is a great chapter. It is one of those chapters that is not covered in the cartoon, so it always stand out more in the reading. Also, you can tell Tolkien had a greater image of the lay of the Mountain and the Lake as his descriptions take a huge step up in quality. Or I am just forgetting myself because I have taken so much time off reading this book. You choose.

Well first off once more luck steps up to the plate. In this case it could have been completely ignored and the reader would have been none the wiser, but Tolkien makes a special effort to reveal it.

It turns out that the dwarves and Mr. Baggins would not have been able to make it from the end of the trail they were following in Mirkwood to their destination of the Lonely Mountain because "the marshes and bogs had spread wider and wider on either side." "So you see Bilbo had come in the end by the only road that was any good." So at this point, Tolkien is obviously stressing the luck of all of this. One could see it as Tolkien pointing to a benevolent providence (which he does do in The Lord of the Rings), it could be a nod towards the luck in old legends, or Tolkien could just not have the same disdain for giving things to luck as I do, or heck, something else entirely. This is just an instance where he goes out of his way to stress the luck. There is more to come, so I shall continue to hound on this (hound in the sense of hunt, I am do not seek to complain about it anymore).

Tolkien also begins to show the true intentions of the dwarves that I do not believe was expressly indicated before this. Besides the fact that they had employed a burglar, not a great warrior in their journey back to their home. They had spoken of taking back their home, but here Tolkien indicates that this is not their intention. In regards to the Wood-Elf King, "He at any rate did not believe in dwarves fighting and killing dragons like Smaug, and he strongly suspected attempted burglary or something like it—which shows he was a wise elf and wiser than the men of the town."

There is also mention of the dwarves being uneasy when pushed with the idea that they would slay the dragon and share their treasure with Laketown. One could obviously read that as their being uneasy about the idea of sharing their treasure, which the have proven and will prove is not something they will willingly do, but it could also indicate their fear of attempting to battle Smaug in any fashion.

But anyways, the fanfare and revelry of Laketown puts the later events of the book in a more glaring light. These people have lived in a dreary hopeless land and they are given a glimpse of hope and they embrace it full-heartedly. Little do they know... All that to say, along with dreams, prophecy is a fun little thing to play with in Fantasy novels, if done right.

The King beneath the mountains,
The King of carven stone,
The lord of silver fountains
Shall come into his own!

His crown shall be upholden,
His harp shall be restrung,
His halls shall echo golden
To songs of yore re-sung.

The woods shall wave on mountains
And grass beneath the sun;
His wealth shall flow in fountains
And the rivers golden run.

The streams shall run in gladness,
The lakes shall shine and burn,
All sorrow fail and sadness
At the Mountain-king's return!

Additional Notes:

" 'Thorin son of Thrain son of Thror King under the Mountain!' said the dwarf in a loud voice, and he looked it, in spite of his torn clothes and draggled hood. The gold gleamed on his neck and waist; his eyes were dark and deep. 'I have come back.' " Tolkien loves to describe eyes as deep. It occurs many times in the rest of his writing. I love the adjective, even though I hardly know what he means. My thought is a depth of thought, understanding, perception, all which shows up in his gaze. I actually think it is my unknowing of his meaning that makes it such a lively adjective.

I love the play of prophecy and pragmatism with the people of Laketown posed against the Master of Laketown. Tolkien seems to paint both in a bit of a poor light.

It is interesting that Thorin identifies Fili and Kili as his nephews. Specifically " 'The sons of my father's daughter.' " If I recall correctly, in the Scandinavian tradition there is supposed to be a special relationship between the children of a woman and her brother. I would assume because if she got married off to a wretch, her brother would have the power in that culture to be the one who could protect and look out for them in spite of their father. But this shows why Fili and Kili seem to be closer to Thorin in a different way than the rest.

I wonder if Tolkien should have set up Bard in this chapter.

Tolkien playing with the narrator's voice: "I have never heard what happened to the chief of the guards and the butler."

"The rotting piles of a greater town could still be seen along the shores when the waters sank in a drought." What a great image to light up the imagination of the little boy in me. I love the glimpses of the past Tolkien practices but perfects in The Lord of the Rings.

Okay, I know I have said this before, and I realize how weird it makes me sound, but I love the smell of the old Ballantine paperbacks. Love the smell. They need to bottle that stuff.

Favorite Quotation: Okay, this is an easy one, but I love the image of the curse feeding down from the Mountain and oppressing the land about. That doesn't so much show up in this quotation however. But Tolkien says torn cloud... I can't not give this award to this paragraph when it has torn cloud in it.

"The lands opened wide about him, filled with the waters of the river which broke up and wandered in a hundred winding courses, or halted in marshes and pools dotted with isles on every side; but still a strong water flowed on steadily through the midst. And far away, its dark head in a torn cloud, there loomed the Mountain! Its nearest neighbours to the North-East and the tumbled land that joined it to them could not be seen. All alone it rose and looked across the marshes to the forest. The Lonely Mountain! Bilbo had come far and through many adventures to see it, and now he did not like the look of it in the least."

There, I feel better about that post.

1 comment:

Skip said...

Heh, it was a better post. I felt it.

I like the extrapolation about the dwarves and their reluctance to take direct action towards their goal. I never thought about it but it totally fits.

For the favorite quote this round, good choice. =) I am looking forward to reading the Tolkien books again now that I have a little more experience to throw at it. Things to think about as I read such as the Mountain being a character rather than simply a place holding the dragon.

Good times.