Mar 7, 2016

Let's Read Tolkien 18: The Return Journey

When Bilbo came to himself, he was literally by himself.

Having been knocked out cold in the battle, our intrepid burglar wakes up on the slopes of the Mountain. Since he'd been wearing his ring, no-one had found him, but now he's taken down to the camp, where Thorin is on his deathbed. The dwarf apologizes for what he said to Bilbo earlier, and they make their peace before Thorin passes away. Of the original company, Fili and Kili were also killed in the battle.

This is another short chapter, only clocking in at eight pages; we're given a short recap of the end of the battle, with Beorn's intervention and the attack of the Eagles turning the tide. Thorin is buried at Erebor with the sword Orcrist and the Arkenstone. Daín is crowned King under the Mountain, and in sharp contrast to his predecessor, "Dain dealt his treasure well"; a fourteenth part of the treasure was given to Bard of Dale as agreed, the Elvenking gets a share, and even though Daín particularly wants to reward Bilbo, the protesting hobbit pleads logistics and manages to leave with only such treasure as a single pony can carry.

The epic and the middle-class clash memorably when Bilbo takes his leave from the dwarves; they promise him splendid feasts in their halls, while Bilbo reminds them that tea is at four. Bilbo, Gandalf and Beorn elect to make their way back west by going around Mirkwood to the north, rather than by passing through. This means parting with the Elvenking, and as they do so, Bilbo does his best to combine the two registers by presenting him with the gift of a jeweled necklace, in return for the provisions Bilbo stole from his pantries. A grocer's honor, you might say if you were unkind. Bilbo, Gandalf and Beorn then make their way to Beorn's hall for a Yule-tide feast and a little closing narration on how things are better now that the dragon is dead, and that's the end of the short penultimate chapter.

Next time, the last chapter and some closing thoughts.

No comments: