Oh it's on now. Not it it, but the general sort of "it." A dungeon of caverns, a horde of goblins, magic weapons, wizards throwing fireballs and/or bolts of lightning, and of course my favorite thing to tell people not to do ever, splitting the goddamn party. Accidentally, of course, but still.
It seems, to myself as well as the esteemed Mr. Baggins, that we're so very far away from that lovely hole in the ground where lived, in more cheerful and settled days, a hobbit. A run-in with a trio of trolls in the whereverlands is one thing, but now our party is fully inside enemy territory. Last Homely House indeed. Stone giants playing deadly games amid thunderstorms, hordes of goblins infesting a mountain cave, darkness and discouragement, I think it's fair to say that STRESS IS HERE. IN BOOK FORM. And I love it. :D
So we're up in the Misty Mountains now, still not even really in Wilderland, and already we're up a creek, if you get my gist. I don't know why they entrusted Bilbo to Bombur. Really I don't know why they entrust Bombur to Bombur, but hey, they're dwarves, it's fantasy nepotism I guess. At this point in the story, we seem to be counting down really fast when it comes to who's not a colossal cock-up with a beard and hood. Fili and Kili get it this time, picking out a cave and failing to check for, you know, cracks of doom. I get that it was secret, but come on, they're dwarves, they could have found that. And before anyone tries to tell me these aren't D&D dwarves, their own map says they made secret doors in mountains. This should be their jam. It was, needless to say, not their jam.
Now on the one hand, the goblins are just goons. Whack, dead. Foom, dead. What's that pointy thing, dead. Huge numbers makes for an advantage in ambush, but they haven't done anything else that's the least bit effective. Time for that other shoe to drop, and the playmaker here is that goblins are sort of intimidating. No, really. They are the masters of this maze-like cavern system, with scouts and prowlers trained-up in Move Silently that can stalk ahead faster than the party can move. They have numbers, and two magical swords won't keep them back for long. They chant songs promising to enslave and torture their victims and that's plenty eerie and distressing, and then make it clear that goblins are all kinds of talented in the fields of making everyone else's day much much worse. Grabbed and pulled back into the darkness, you know what I was thinking of when that happened. I'm not happy to think about that. Moving on.
There are so many little flourishes that I love in this book that I have to mention the one thing that irked me this chapter: I get that you're a narrator, but don't mention the post office. That took me right out of the world of the book. There's fairy tale structure and then there's having a conversation, and this went too far into the back category. The distinction might be between experiences and things, where the former is excellent for roping in the audience and the latter sticks out like a sore thumb. I don't know, because this is really my first experience with this sort of fiction, but that's just my gut instinct here.
I mentioned a worry a couple of chapters back that Gandalf would turn into a deus ex machina, basically a plot solution that comes to save the characters' bacon without them having a say. Agency is the word, I thiiiink someone back me up on that one. Self-representation like an agent? It's either that or ambivalence or I really really think it's agency. Rolling with agency. No, I don't have self-filters, why do you ask? So back to Gandalf. I was worried about him being a free pass for the plot, but here (even though he does it again) the stakes are actually bearing on him too. He's just as peeved by the crappy weather and rough circumstances as the rest of them are, he'd have been seized if Bilbo hadn't gotten off a warning in time, and his measures against the goblins consist of one magic trick and one hearty helping of try my new sword, it's magic-flavored. Two magic tricks, I suppose, though the gunpowder smell and flash makes me wonder if it was a fireball/lightning bolt or if he set off one of his fireworks that Bilbo mentioned. Our wizard keeps being little in the line of wizardry, but it keeps the stakes going and I think this chapter gives me a real sense that Gandalf's not immortal or immune to the trials of the adventure; he's just got a nose for removing himself from danger.
My next magic weapon is getting an enemy name. I thought that was just the best idea ever (not that Beater is a great name, but still), that a noteworthy magic weapon made to fight Xes is going to have a nickname that's not the right word but I'm rolling with it for now a nickname among those same Xes. I don't know the word, moving on. I'm so used to magic weapons being like Suntongue and Hellbreaker and all these, why shouldn't a cool weapon have more than one name? (Technically Suntongue did, for the record; and of course it wasn't Burner or Scorcher or Lighter, it was Suntongue the Burn-o-nater, because Ryan's an idiot who likes making up stupid words). There were a few references to a war between dwarves and goblins over a mine, which is a classic thing from campaigning and I think one DM actually ran a published module with that setup. Black dragon at the end? Anyway, back on track.
Holy shit that module was ripping off The Hobbit wasn't it
Back on track an excellent chapter, and one that ends with STRESS as Bilbo vanishes and Dori's probably just become the first dead dwarf of the book. DON'T IMPERIL PEOPLE AT THE END OF THE CHAPTER. IT IS RUDE.
I said I'd do this last time, and I did it this time: here are the words I don't know, if people want to toss me some definitions or tell me they're made up.
• Gnash. I hear it, I get the sense that it's something one does with teeth, but I don't get what it is.
And that's it! Looking forward to finding out the fate of poor Bilbo. Poor Dori too, while I'm here.