Monday, July 21, 2014

The Hobbit: Ch3 A Short Rest

Another short chapter sees the return of the narrative voice of my grandfather, skipping trivial details (he's not wrong, this narrator, it's lots more fun and more to talk about besides when things are all going to hell) to get to even more of the stuff I enjoy and hints about the next trials to come. Stoked. :D

The shrieking whistle of the kettle. I always loved it. It's odd, because Nan always says that it reminds her of a train and I never ever think of trains when I hear it. I think of the kitchen. Tarbish at the table. Tea biscuits. I can see why Bilbo would miss it. I miss it. I was on the phone with my grandparents one day and I heard the kettle go and nothing before or since has made me that kind of homesick. Can't wait to recover enough to get back there.

So I was wrong about Elrond; he's a guy, not a place. Right about Rivendell though, sort of, so go me! Elrond is, if I'm getting this right (the language is a little topsy turvy in this bit) a half-elf and lord of the elves, which is interesting. So the party descends at Gandalf's direction into a secret valley of musical elves (and I need to ask about something in a moment) ruled by a half-elf. Curious detour. Elrond, master of reading runes, uses Identify (he totally did) to name what must be two magic swords. This is, of course, completely awesome. We have magic swords. Orcrist, the Goblin-Cleaver (+1 goblinoid bane?) and Glamdring, the Foe Hammer and Women's Magazine. What? It says Glam right there. Oh fine. +2... something. I say +2 because Gandalf is more awesome than Roaring Boring Thorin. g. Look I'm sure Thorin's a fine fellow but so far all he's done is been a bad guest, griped about having to get a job and planned to imperil 12 friends and a complete stranger in a bid to get rich quick over the small matter of DRAGON AND ASSOCIATED NECROMANCER you're an idiot Thorin and no two ways about it. Back on track, me.

We've gone from April to June in three chapters, and now I feel we've been set a time limit with the moon-letter message about Durin's Day. I saw the bit about the sunlight and the keyhole and thought right away of Raiders, the temple room. Repeated adventure motifs; I wonder if Raiders borrowed from this book? Anyway, the more important part of the visit with Elrond, at least coming up, is the warning about goblins. We're going to run into goblins up the mountains, aren't we? I mean, it's basically been telegraphed at this point, especially with Thorin having just found out he has a goblin bane sword. I'm very curious to see what The Hobbit's goblins are like.

I believe I mentioned before that I need a serious vocabulary lesson after each chapter, but I've got an issue here that I need explained in the comments as soon as possible, please: "faggots?" I'm sure it doesn't mean what I think it means, but holy smokes was that ever jarring to see in the middle of a cheerful little poem thing. So if someone could explain that one to me it would be great. On a sort of related note, I'm thinking next chapter I might keep a pad with me and jot down the words I don't know to ask you all about.

Elves weren't quite what I'm familiar with. There's a bit more of the fairy to them than I was expecting, all songs and ridiculousness with implied serious... relevance, I guess? beneath it. Wondering how that boils down, especially with talk of a fallen elf kingdom where magic swords were made. There continues to be more and more to like in this book, and I can't wait to read more. :D

13 comments:

  1. A faggot was a bundle of sticks. Or a British meatball. Isn't English wonderful?

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    1. I've heard speculation that the bundle of sticks definition was part of the etymology of the slur. According to that theory, back in the day when heating your building came from burning wood in a fireplace boys in a boarding school would have to go out early in the morning and gather their own wood for their dormitory. And the older and/or tougher of the students would bully younger/weaker classmates into gathering their faggots of wood for them. These boys who gathered other boys wood for the fire were "fags". And being an all boys school some boys would bully their "fag" into doing, well, other "services" for them because there were no girls around thus it came to mean homosexual.

      Now, that etymology may not be correct but it's one theory I heard.

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  2. Ha. Faggot is a bundle of sticks... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faggot_(unit)

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  3. Gay just meant happy back then, too.

    Don't feel too bad. I just found out myself that "Confirmed Bachelor" was yet another euphemism.

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  4. Yeah, a faggot was a bundle of sticks, typically used for kindling. The implications of it in the modern age are... unsettling at times.

    As for the elves, Tolkien's source for his dwarves and elves are largely Germanic myth, which is to say, Nordic mythology. The svartalf, dark elves, or dwarves were noted craftsmen who created many a fine, magical object. Ships that can fold into your pocket, spears that always hit their mark, hammers that can crack mountains apart. The alf, elves, or fairies were noted more for their magic, song and poetry. The one elf blade I remember from these myths was one that, once swung, would suspend itself in the air and fight for the person who owns it. Dwarves made fantastic, exceptional, "superior" objects... but elves were overflowing with goddamn magic. If you wanted a hundred swords of the highest quality, you'd contract a dwarf, if you wanted one sword that could match the hundred at once, you'd contract an elf.

    Note that the reason the elf blades are so desired isn't because they are masterfully made, though they are, or that they are elegant, but because there is magic woven into them. Old magic, lost to time, but the sort of thing that is valuable even in the modern age.

    Tolkien didn't quite have it all together at the moment, but he eventually wove the Hobbit into a very laboriously constructed setting. I forget in the Hobbit has an index in it, but if it does, consider thumbing through it. Tolkien's indices are almost as interesting as his stories.

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    1. Thats true about the indices. Half the wonder of Tolkiens work is the incredible depth and size of his world, how much history it has. The Silmarillion is interesting, but I found an incredible visual guide to Tolkiens works in the local library - showing maps and journeys literally from the worlds creation and the birth of the evlves, up to the end of the books and even a little beyond I think. Theres soooooo much more to this than the Hobbit and LOTR.

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  5. Re: Associated Necromancer.
    Not AN associated necromancer.
    THE Necromancer.

    I believe Tolkien invented (or at least codified) the idea of a necromancer as a classic fantasy villain. As he invented (or codified) basically everything else about fantasy.

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  6. Note that "Orcrist", meaning "goblin-cleaver," has the syllable "Orc" in it.

    D&D separated them into different species, but Orcs are a creation of Tolkien, and "goblin" is just what hobbits call orcs.

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  7. Something on Tolkien half-elves- they're a bit different than most you've seen. Namely, they get a choice whether they want to live as elves or humans (both of which have benefits, the latter having to do with the afterlife). Elrond, obviously, is someone who picked elf. He and his brother were two famous half-elves, his brother picking human.

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  8. Tolkien doesn't QUITE get to be labeled as the originator of all this stuff. C. S. Lewis taught at the same college and was writing his Narnia books at the same time. They read each other's progress and offered suggestions and such. Narnia also has a pretty wide array of creatures such as dwarves, monsters, and such that also got woven into the overall DnD/Fantasy tapestry the same way and time frame that Tolkien's work did. Fun fact for the day, Lewis thought Tolkien was going way too deep in creating languages and the enormous backstory that the Hobbit grew, and encouraged him to turn it into a much lighter simpler fantasy story like the Narnia books. Imagine how fantasy would be these days if Tolkien had listened to him.

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    1. Heh, and now the makers of the new Narnia movies have been accused of trying to force them to be more like the Lord of the Rings movies.

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    2. More fun facts: Tolkien thought that Narnia was a terrible story. Also, Tolkien seems to have suggested that the entire purpose he created the stories he did was so that there would be a world where people spoke the languages he created. Last fact of the day: C.S. Lewis converted to Christianity as a direct result of his conversations with Tolkien.

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  9. In this context, as mentioned, faggot means bundle of sticks used for burning. Prachett used this confusion for a joke in Good Omens.

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