Folks there it is again in the chapter title and I still haven't seen an explanation. Did it just mean "strange" or something back then? That's kind of unfortunate, considering... anyway, I'm not gonna step in it just because it's a slow week for comments, but if someone could pleeease enlighten me it would be great. Anyway.
BEORN IS AWESOME. :D
I have to give a hugely approving shout-out to Gandalf's clever plan to get everyone in at Beorn's. I was grinning like an idiot every time Beorn twigged to the numbers being wrong, and at how subtle the slow play was. It's all well and good for the wizard to throw about his magic like it's the be-all and end-all of plot resolutions, but here a stellar Int check or two and cunning Diplomacy won the day. This really is the book D&D was born from. :D
Once again I get things wrong; the Carrock is just a rock, and Beorn a person, albeit a good pit stop for travelers. I'm starting to think there are no towns between where Bilbo lives and the lair of the dragon. Here's to Jeremy, Misreader of Maps. Wise and genius is he in no things. I did notice, though, that the chapter claims that the story ends with a five-sided war. So of course I'm incredibly on board with that even though it's confusing as all hell how the tale plans to get from dragons and wizards to war. I can't even think of five sides for there to be.
I wonder if Gandalf is always so irritable or if it's a consequence of traveling with inept and demanding dwarves. He's definitely capable of better moods. And he has relatives! Good heavens. His brother or cousin gets mentioned in this chapter, and I'd dearly like to see the family of a wizard. Mirkwood is on the map, you know, and both the relative and the Necromancer are to the south...
I'm going to pause here and level with you guys: after this chapter, and considering the map and what's been said... I would have expected the Necromancer to be one of the five armies that are mentioned at the start of the chapter, but I'm starting to feel like he's a throwaway sort of detail, nothing more than an excuse for Gandalf to pop in and out as he likes. I was sure we were going to get an evil wizard, but I'm feeling like we're consistently going in the other direction. It doesn't help that I can see where the dragon is (the mountain) and it's in the opposite direction and I know we're going there. Unless there's a magical teleport or something, I don't think the story can do both and have a war (still no idea what that will be) and so it has to go for dragons. Which is fair. I'd go for dragons.
SO YEAH ANYWAY HOW ABOUT THAT BEORN? Most awesome big bearlike type since Fezzik? Could be. I love his home, his food, his animals, the whole thing. Strange lodgings they may be, but the big man is willing to host them for the price of their tale, their enmity of goblins, and a quick promise not to bebother his bebearing. Someone help me on this because I honestly do not know: is Beorn the first example or one of the first of a sort of were-thing? I don't ever remember coming across werewolves in legends and here I have a "skinchanger" popping up in a hugely influential book... I don't know. I'm probably wrong. Still, you tell me.
Anyway, back to business, this man is clearly an inspiration for D&D druids. A shapeshifter who commands squads of animals to tasks - and that was hilariously fanciful, by the way, like getting to reimagine the best parts of fairy tales all over again with animals behaving fantastically - and has low regard for metal things... yeah. Druid. Talks to animals, too. The author paints the man perfectly by throwing in "growled" and "fiercely" to describe his approach to socializing, and I love it. I think Beorn actually means bear in... Coldeuropean. That language. That's a real thing.
So what's coming next? As much as I enjoyed the stay with Beorn, I feel like this might be the last or at most second-last haven we're going to have on the quest. From here on in, it's a spooky sort of monstrous dark forest filled with the stuff of random encounters and that classic warning they're totally going to break almost immediately. Don't go off the path indeed. And guys, I just have to say, don't grumble about being told not to steal. The hell is up with your greed? You have a mountain full of dragon waiting for you. Treasure. Treasure is what I meant. Mountain full of treasure. Since they get to do this part without Gandalf (watch him pop up as soon as they get across, of course) they'll definitely make a really stupid mistake. What remains now is to find out why. This was a much better chapter than that sort of "bridge" chapter we just had, and I'm excited to see the next one :D
Tippet and muff were on the list this time, and I think that was it for vocabulary. All I caught, anyway. Enlighten me, O enlighteners of the Jeremy.