Tolkien Calendar: The Hobbit

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November 15: TA 2941

15 November 2008 19:23:21
Categories: Hobbit Calendar

The Joint Forces Reach Dale at Dusk

"Who are you, and of what would you parley?".
© Alan Lee.
The dwarves, having fortified their position ready for a confrontation, are now faced with the reality: a large company of lake-men and wood-elves are setting up camp in Dale. An advance party sent to reconnoitre the dwarves' defences is surprised to find the wall and the pool which they have constructed; when Thorin challenges them in his capacity as "King Under the Mountain" (his grandfather Thror's title), they do not respond, returning instead to their tents. Soon afterwards, Bilbo and the dwarves hear them making sweet elvish music:

"Then Bilbo longed to escape from the dark fortress and to go down and join the mirth and feasting by the fires. Some of the younger dwarves were moved in their hearts, too, and they muttered that they wished things had fallen out otherwise and that they might welcome such folk as friends; but Thorin scowled."

To squash this (entirely natural) instinct for peace and to remind the dwarves of the differences between them and their perceived enemies, Thorin retaliates by having them make music of their own. The metre and verse structure of their song matches that of the one the dwarves sang to Bilbo in Chapter One, but the words are far more forbidding. The earlier song encouraged the dwarves to set out on their quest; this one is preparing them for war. You can almost hear the beat of the military drum; the tone is defiant and proud, as though a fight has already been won.

The line "The dwarves no more shall suffer wrong" reminds us that Thorin is not simply reacting to recent events - his strong sense of injustice goes back generations to the time when Smaug first captured the gold and destroyed Dale. Whatever the claims of the Elven-King and the lake-men may be, Thorin does not appear to be in the mood to listen, and Bilbo is very apprehensive indeed that tomorrow the conflict will move beyond making music . . .

© Middle-earth Journeys. Images © Alan Lee.