March 30, 2017

A Long-Expected Party

Pages To Read:
FR.Party “The next day more carts” (~p.6) – “those that had inadvertently remained behind” (~p.16)

– Today is also first day with a song! I will always send out a musical adaptation of songs in the text on the same day, and I *highly* recommend listening to the songs as you come to them in the text (not just afterward). With no further ado, here is The Tolkien Ensemble’s rendition of today’s verse. I would have it ready and start playing it as Bilbo drops the ring- then the words will come in right about as you get to them on the page.

– Preparations for the party intensify, leading to Bilbo putting up a sign on his door saying “No Admittance Except On Party Business”
– Finally the day arrives, the sky clears, and every hobbit in Hobbiton and the surrounding areas shows up to celebrate Bilbo’s one hundred and eleventh birthday.
– The party goes splendidly and Gandalf puts on a marvelous fireworks display, culminating in a dragon reminiscent of Smaug as the dinner call. (Gandalf’s Magic by Norloth)
– After the feast, Bilbo gives a lengthy speech which he ends by saying “GOOD-BYE”, putting on his Ring, and disappearing. (illustration by Inger Edelfeldt)
– Bilbo says a farewell to Gandalf in Bag End, but they fight briefly over the Ring, which Bilbo had promised to leave to Frodo. Bilbo finally relinquishes it and departs (Illustration by Joe Gilronan)
– Frodo discovers that Bilbo has already left and Gandalf tells Frodo to keep the Ring safe and secret, and to never use it.

Featured art:
Illustration of the party, by Joe Gilronan. I’ve already linked to his amazing art once, and many more will follow over the course of the story. His enchanting oil paintings really have a way of bringing out the whimsical mood of the first chapter. Top-notch depictions of the Shire, even if this particular one is severely lacking in pavilions.

Trivia, Quotes, and Details:
– Can’t overlook one of my favorite quotes from the book: “‘I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve!'”
– I think it’s important to note Frodo’s relatively serious mood throughout this section. It sets the tone for a very different character than the one portrayed in Peter Jackson’s movies, so just be mindful of that if Elijah Wood is your reference point.
– The description of the fireworks is really beautiful, as is the rest of this section. Even if you don’t read anything else from this chapter, make sure to read about the party!
– PJ did do a really wonderful job of adapting the dialogue and emotions in Bilbo’s farewell, so much so that I recommend watching it after you’ve read the section. I’ll include movie scenes from time to time, but I can really only justify it in cases such as this where the narrative and dialogue are followed very closely.


Note from coordinator:
Really splendid section today, I had a great time reading it. Make sure to listen to the song as you come to it, and check out the art once you’re done. As a side note, this is the first section which literally ends at the end of the ‘day’. This will be very typical once we get to the “real time” part of the book in 2 weeks: whenever you see “The next morning” it’s probably time to stop reading. But I still recommend going ahead and finding the end quote before you even start reading, that way you know exactly where to stop. ~Tom


March 11, 2017 (Hobbit Day 3)

Hobbit Appreciation Day 3 – Chapters 7-10

– ‘Queer Lodgings’ – The Dwarves, Bilbo, and Gandalf receive food, shelter, and a short rest in the house of Beorn.
– ‘Flies and Spiders’ – things go awry during the trek through Mirkwood
– ‘Barrels Out Of Bond’ – Bilbo saves the Dwarves from the Wood-elves
– ‘A Warm Welcome’ – the party makes it to Laketown and receive… a warm welcome

– “‘I’m always last and I don’t like it,’ said Bombur. … ‘You should not be so fat.'”
– “Somehow the killing of the giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark without the help of the wizard or the dwarves of of anyone else, made a great difference to Mr. Baggins.”

Links to Other Content:
– Art: Meeting Beorn
– Recipes: , Two different recipes for Beorn’s cakes! Haven’t tried these yet, but I will soon and report back
– Music: The Wind Was On The Withered Heath (song)
– Art: Mirkwood, by aegeri
– Featured Art: more abstract representation of the Mirkwood adventure (Norloth does amazing art; expect to see more)
– Art: really fun portrait of the Elven king by s-u-w-i
– Music: , songs from Barrels Out Of Bond and A Warm Welcome

Notes: Lots of links today to go along with the 4 chapters covered. Again, the pace for Lord Of The Rings will be much, MUCH slower. Classic adventures in Mirkwood today; enjoy the music and pretty pictures! ~Tom

March 9, 2017 (Hobbit Day 2)

Hobbit Appreciation Day 2: Chapters 4-6

– “Over Hill and Under Hill” – The party tries to take the pass through the Misty Mountains, but are captured by goblins. Gandalf helps them flee, but Bilbo is lost.
– “Riddles In The Dark” – Bilbo finds a ring and a creature named Gollum, and \ plays a riddle game with Gollum in order to escape. (note: must-read chapter!!)
– “Out Of The Frying Pan Into The Fire” – Bilbo, the dwarves, and Gandalf are attacked by Wargs and goblins but escape in the nick of time.

Music and Art: one of the original Tolkien illustrations for The Hobbit, “The Mountain-path”, which is sometimes oddly used as a cover for The Silmarillion The scene where goblins attack the dwarves, by faQy A slightly campy but fun performance of “Down To Goblin Town” by Joshua Burnell (Featured) Gollum’s cave, by Miruna Lavinia “Fifteen Birds In Five Fir Tress”, song performed by Joshua Burnell Out Of The Frying Pan, by Miruna Lavinia

Important/Interesting Quotes:
– “[Bilbo] wished again and again for his nice bright hobbit-hole. Not for the last time.”
– “It is not unlikely that [goblins] invented some of the machines that have since troubled the world, especially the ingenious devices for killing large numbers of people at once, … but in those days and those wild parts they had not advanced (as it is called) so far.”
– (*) “And a sudden understanding, a pity mixed with horror, welled up in Bilbo’s heart: a glimpse of endless unmarked days without light or hope of betterment, hard stone, cold fish, sneaking and whispering.”
– “[Gollum] had lost: lost his prey, and lost, too, the only thing he had ever cared for: his precious.”
– “‘Thief, thief, thief! Baggins! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it for ever!'”

Note about songs: I managed to find a really cool album by Joshua Burnell on YouTube, which contains performances of all the songs in the text. If you are reading along with The Hobbit (which of course you don’t have to! it won’t impede your enjoyment of LOTR at all if you don’t) I would highly highly recommend opening the songs first, then playing them as you get to them while reading. It’s really easy to just sort of skip over Tolkien’s songs, but they’re almost all well-written and enjoyable – listening to a musicalized version makes them easier to appreciate for me. (More to come about songs during Lord Of The Rings.)

General notes: Iconic chapters today, especially ‘Riddles In The Dark.’ Ranks in contention for best chapter Tolkien ever wrote. Even if you’re not reading the rest of the Hobbit, I would 100% say READ RIDDLES IN THE DARK. The events here are of critical importance to Lord Of The Rings. Especially note the quote I starred above about Bilbo’s pity for Gollum. That sentence could be the most important sentence in the whole book, in terms of impact on LOTR. Also interesting in chapter 4 are the various mentions to the Dwarf and goblin wars that Thorin’s people fought. These are covered in some detail in the LOTR appendices, so we’ll get to learn more about them eventually!

As a final note: I’m covering threeish chapters at a time of The Hobbit because these are just sort of practice for me, a way to get into the Middle Earth spirit, and an encouragement to read The Hobbit if you have never before. Just know that when we get to Lord of the Rings, we will NOT be covering 3 chapters a day (at least 99% of the time). There will be room for a lot more appreciation of small sections. As an example, March 20, the first day, will only cover the first page or so of the prologue.

~Tom, coordinator