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Old 05-14-2006, 02:55 PM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Sting The Hobbit - Chapter 17 - The Clouds Burst

The title of this chapter is a continuation of Chapter 15 - "The Gathering of the Clouds". The storm that has been building up is unleashed, first in the conflict of Men and Elves versus Dwarves, then their alliance against the common foes of Goblins and Wolves. It all begins with Thorin's continuing stubbornness. His words sound positive at first glance:
My mind does not change with the rising and setting of a few suns.
However, those words show that he is not willing to listen to reason. As the negotiations continue, he becomes more devious and breaks his given word. Evidently the other Dwarves respect his leadership so much that they do not gainsay him even though they feel uncomfortable with his handling of the situation, especially of Bilbo.

Is Bilbo foolish or courageous to come out and say that he took the Arkenstone? I doubt that Bard and the Elven King would have betrayed him. He could have stayed silent. Instead he incurs Thorin's wrath and feelings of revenge and could easily have been killed then and there had Gandalf not defended him.

Thorin turns against Gandalf as well. What prompts him to think that he can take on the rest of the world? Greed? Delusions of grandeur?

The descriptions of Dain's company give us some additional information about dwarves in general and his men specifically. What does this passage tell us about them? What is your opinion of dwarves after reading this chapter?

How much fault can we give the ravens for this escalation? True, they are holding to an old alliance, but should they have supported the dwarves when they realized that they were doing wrong?

The Elven-King comes across as very honourable here, with these words:
Long will I tarry, ere I begin this war for gold.
Let us hope still for something that will bring reconciliation.
The only thing that now prevents a war between the "good" races is the attack of their common foes. They are led by Bolg - what do we know about him from other sources?

Bats are mentioned as allies of the Goblins. Do you know of any further mentions of them in Tolkien's works?

For those of you who are interested in battle tactics and strategy, what do you think of the fast planning that the allies did?

Bilbo literally disappears for this part of the story. And aside from rallying the various troops together, Gandalf seems passive. The chapter closes with Bilbo's famous cry of "The Eagles are coming!", which is echoed by Pippin in RotK in a very similar situation. Bilbo loses consciousness, as does Pippin later.

Do you find it almost impossible to stop reading at the end of the chapter? Even though I know what comes next, I hate stopping in the middle of the action!

Do you have favourite lines or passages in this chapter? I enjoy the humorous lines about Bilbo's battle experience:
The most dreadful of all Bilbo's experiences, and the one which at the time he hated most - which is to say it was the one he was most proud of, and most fond of recalling long afterwards...
'Mercy!' cried Gandalf. 'If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What more do you want to know?' 'The whole history of Middle-earth...'
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Old 05-15-2006, 12:56 PM   #2
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lathspell has just left Hobbiton.
Just quickly a quote I like from this chapter.

"To me! To me! Elves and Men! To me! O my kinsfolk!" he cried, and his voice shook like a horn in the valley.
Down, heedless of order, rushed all the dwarves of Dain to his help. Down too came many of the Lake-men, for Bard could not restrain them; and out upon the other side came many of the spearmen of the elves.
This is Thorin's cry, when he finally comes from Erebor. When I read this part for the first time it astounded me that so many of the men and elves just leapt down to him after all that happened before the battle. Thorin's voice must have been hugely commanding at that hour for them to come to his aid so reckless. He was King under the Mountain at that moment.

'You?' cried Frodo.
'Yes, I, Gandalf the Grey,' said the wizard solemnly. 'There are many powers in the world, for good or for evil. Some are greater than I am. Against some I have not yet been measured. But my time is coming.'
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Old 05-19-2006, 03:51 PM   #3
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Ophelia has just left Hobbiton.
Palantir-Green A confusing chapter.

Oah dear and oah dear once more. I've missed the discussion of the only book by Tolkien that I am not less compitent of than the biggest most of the people around here. A pitty indeed, but a price I pay for droping by so 'often'

Firstly I must call this chapter the most depressing and psycologically most full of negativeness in the whole book. Two conflicts between three 'good' races of the Middle-Earth followed by two wars - one only begun and already put to halt by the next one following too soon. Though the second assault prevented the first one, which is actually better than you could think at first. If the first battle (between men+elves and the dwarves) would have actually continued, it would have caused many problems in the future for it would start a hatred between dwarves and the men and elves which would have a great influence on the events to follow (in LotR, for example). But in a way the biggest war is the doom and the saviour of many at the same time, which kind of takes off a part of the battles depressive contents. Aswell this chapter 'maintains' so many corpses, so much death and hate, that I would think twice before reading this to my children. Though here hate is shown as a good thing for it unites. As they say: the foe of your enemy is your friend. Plus just a small thing: for the first time I got to know how much hatred the elves had for the goblins (I am not going to be able to quote for my book is in my native language and I doubt the quality of the translation).

Estelyn, you gave some questions, for example, about the ravens. I dare say that alliance, especially such an old one is something that you must honor. And in Tolkiens works I've noticed many a time that the alliance is held before any reasons of sanity. For instance the rest of the dwarves staying by Thorin even when they see his thought is wrong, not to mention Bilbo going back to the mountain and his reasons. So I'd say that the ravens should have stayed loyal to the dwarves.

Of Bilbo's actions: hobbits are described as very simple people, which in my opinion includes being true (not minding to make sophisticated lies) and it shows when he steps forewards as the one who stole the Arkenstone from Thorin - he is fighting great fear but still confesses as if that would be sort of a need to do so, as if he wouldn't be able to controle his mouth not to confess.
Aswell, I must add that Bilbo can't effect anything and knows it very well,but he does. He is a character who is out of place all through the book, though this is not unintentional, for planned by Gandalf. Bilbo is the main character who wants to stay as invisible as he possibly can and this chapter is the one that he finally gets the chance to do so for at this moment there is absolutely nothing he can do to help (for he is no warrior as we all know).

As for the dwarves: it is kind af hard to concentrate on their description pictured with letters whilest there's a 'grand' picture of garden gnome like dwarves right beside them, but I'll try.
I must admit that this one of the best deescriptions of the dwarves I've read yet for it's simplicity. It mostly concentrates on a psycological description and shows their qualities. But the one thing I come to think of after this chapter is th fact that the dwarves love the gold more than their own sanity, but no gold will ever concure their qualities of their arts of war.

More or less that's it for now. Sorry for putting out such messy thoughts bet I find it harder and harder to put them to order lately.

I didn't lose my mind . It was mine to give away .
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Old 05-23-2006, 07:44 AM   #4
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Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.

Just a few quick thoughts here about a chapter known mainly for its exciting battle description.

Thorin's stubborness reminds me of Tolkien's thoughts about ofermod in The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth. Yes, there is ample explanation here that Thorin is overcome with greed, yet at the same time there is this terrible sense of honour, of not backing down from a position, of pride. Did the dwarves follow Thorin even though they thought him wrong because of their sense of conduct, just as the Anglo Saxons followed Beorhtnoth? As subordinates, love and loyalty are at their highest and personal pride their lowest. And for Thorin, his excess would have lead to a terrible battle had not the goblins interceded. Beyond "the bleak heroic necessity to excess--chivalry." Does this chapter show Tolkien's ideas about the difference between heroism and mere chivalry? And are hasty words and excessive pride only overcome by an overwhelming threat from another enemy? I suppose battle is more stirring than negotiation in a boys' adventure story.

Does this chapter contain the only reference Tolkien made to vampires?
I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away.
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