Aug 3, 2015

Let's Read Tolkien 11: On the Doorstep

In two days going they rowed right up to the Long Lake and passed out into the River Running, and now they could all see the Lonely Mountain towering grim and tall before them.

This is a really short chapter, with only eight pages of text and a one-page illustration. Flush from their triumphal reception at Lake-Town, the traveling circus takes a boat ride up the Long Lake, and enters the Desolation of Smaug. They make their way to the Lonely Mountain itself, and find their way up the slopes to a secret path, which eventually leads them to the "doorstep", a small expanse of grass before a sheer stone wall, where they believe the secret door into the mountain is. There's no sign of the dragon, but smoke and fumes pour out of the menacing Front Gate, which the party doesn't dare approach. The dwarves try to find a way to open the door or break through, and fail. Eventually they start grumbling amongst themselves that maybe Bilbo should put on his special ring and sneak in the front door, which he isn't too enthusiastic about. Eventually, just as the moon-letters that Elrond read in the map promised back in Chapter 3, Durin's Day comes along, the keyhole is revealed, and the secret door opens with a twist of Thorin's key. The way into the mountain is open.


That's it, really. Like I said, this is a very short chapter. It's a little odd that the door showing up on Durin's Day is told as a sudden flash of insight by Bilbo that was completely unexpected by the party, when I thought the moon-letters made the whole thing pretty clear. Other than that, though, this chapter works quite well together with the previous one to build up anticipation toward actually reaching the mountain, the dragon and the treasure. I like that we haven't seen so much as a glimpse of the dragon, or that we don't even know if he's there at all. There is tension here.

A short chapter gets a short post; next time: burglary!

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