"Thorin and company to Burglar Bilbo, greeting! For your hospitality our sincerest thanks, and for your offer of professional assistance our grateful acceptance. Terms: cash on delivery, up to and not exceeding one fourteenth of total profits (if any); all travelling expenses guaranteed in any event; funeral expenses to be defrayed by us or our representatives, if occasion arises and the matter is not otherwise arranged for.
Thinking it unnecessary to disturb your esteemed repose, we have proceeded in advance to make requisite preparations, and shall await your respected person at the Green Dragon Inn, Bywater, at 11.00am sharp. Trusting that you will be punctual,
We have the honour to remain
Thorin & Co." (JRR Tokien: The Hobbit)
The note left by Thorin for Bilbo after their party. Coincidentally I was recently looking up sources on how a letter was addressed to a Knight in medieval times and interestingly, this is in the same style. Thorin, and company are literate and well versed in music as well as craftsmanship and combat. Many commentaries have also noted that Tolkien uses anglo-saxon mythological creatures such as the trolls in this chapter.
The map above outlines the first section of travel - it is not clear how long this took but Karen Wynn Fonstad at ÉowynChallenge.net has made an excellent attempt at breaking down the journey from Hobbiton to Rivendell. Points of interest that are later mentioned in The Lord of the Rings are:
- Bree and surrounds: "Then they came to lands where people spoke strangely, and sang songs Bilbo had never heard before"
- Weathertop, described as "dreary hills, rising higher and higher, dark with trees. On some of them were old castles with an evil look, as if they had been built by wicked people". In LOTR, this is where Frodo is stabbed by the Nazgul.
- The trolls camp: William, Tom and Bert, the trolls, were unwittingly caught by the dawn and turned to stone. Strider takes the wounded Frodo along with Sam, Merry and Pippin to the trolls glade where they meet Arwen.
Of the dwarves mentioned in this chapter, Fili and Kili fall in the river while attempting to rescue a pony; Dori and Nori, along with Bilbo complained of hunger and the lack of regular meals; Oin and Gloin are the best fire makers (but are unable to light a fire on their first night because of the inclement weather); and Balin has the sharpest eyes of the company and is their chief look-out. Gandalf strangely deserts the company for a short while.
Bilbo is sent by Thorin on his first mission for the company to check out the red light of the trolls, William, Bert and Tom, in the woods. This is his first act of courage and a sign of things to come. Before he is able to warn them of danger however, all the dwarves, except Thorin, unwittingly walk into a trap. Thorin however makes a decent attempt at rescuing them before he too, is caught. This should be a good fight scene in the movie.
Fortuitously, Gandalf appears and tricks the trolls into arguing until dawn breaks and they are turned to stone. (Below: Strider with the Hobbits near the stone trolls, Bert, William and Tom).
The trolls cave and horde contains three significant weapons; two swords, and a small knife which Bilbo takes. The swords are links to heroic epics from the norse traditions. The possession of a sword with a name is a symbol of heroism in battle. (Bilbo will name his small sword after an act of bravery later in the story).