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179 votes
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What did Frodo mean by "He told me the true story"?

This is partly explained in the introduction. It's basically what these days we would call a retcon. In the originally published version of The Hobbit, Gollum is willing to give the Ring to Bilbo as ...
Daniel Roseman's user avatar
140 votes
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Why didn't Gandalf just fight Smaug directly?

It was not his job. The Istari (wizards) were sent to Middle Earth to oppose Sauron, but to do so by stirring the free people's of Middle Earth to resistance. They were explicitly forbidden from "...
Werrf's user avatar
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116 votes
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Why does Smaug have 4 legs in the 1st movie but only 2 legs in the 2nd?

Blame Benedict Cumberbatch, from MTV news: "Originally, the dragon we envisioned was bigger. The idea was to get the fear through his bulk. In fact, if you go back and look at the first film and ...
Ankit Sharma's user avatar
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113 votes

Why doesn't Smaug die in the 2nd Hobbit film if it was titled the 'Desolation of Smaug'?

It means "the desolation caused by Smaug". In the book, this is the description given to the barren area around the Mountain, specifically to the south and west. (The map displays north to ...
Daniel Roseman's user avatar
112 votes

Does everyone always eat, drink and sleep for free everywhere in Middle-earth?

Firstly, as Lord of the Rings is conceived to be taking place long ago in essentially our world, yes, to some degree, people were expected to provide free food and lodging for strangers. This was ...
Shamshiel's user avatar
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107 votes
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Are all instances of trolls turning to stone ultimately references back to Tolkien?

Trolls have turned into stone for a very, very long time One example is the myth about "the seven sisters", which tells the story of how seven trolls in Nordland, Norway, was turned into mountains ...
Abulafia's user avatar
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105 votes
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Was the Lonely Mountain, where Smaug lived, a volcano?

Speaking as a geologist: The Lonely Mountain is probably an extinct volcano. J. R. R. Tolkien depicted the mountain several times in sketches and watercolors, and in most of them the volcano is steep-...
Invisible Trihedron's user avatar
97 votes
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Are there other dragons in Middle-earth by the time of The Hobbit?

I think in The Hobbit "An Unexpected Party" the Dwarves talk shop, including discussing "the depredations of dragons" indicating that Smaug is not the only dragon then active in Middle-earth. In the ...
M. A. Golding's user avatar
91 votes
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Why are Hobbits so fond of mushrooms?

It's mentioned in his authorised biography that Tolkien had a personal liking of mushrooms, stretching as far back as his idyllic childhood days in Hall Green, Birmingham, the very same memories that ...
Valorum's user avatar
  • 702k
89 votes
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What is the purpose of the "Good Morning" dialogue from The Hobbit?

I think you are very close when you say it might be telling us that Gandalf is a pedant. As this is at the start of the book, Tolkien is (as you suggest) introducing the characters to us. This is our ...
Blackwood's user avatar
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74 votes

Why did Gandalf put the dwarves and the hobbit in danger of going through the cursed forest?

Because that was the shortest and least dangerous route to go Just to clarify: Gandalf wasn't going by another path to Erebor by himself, he was heading to Dol Guldur first with The White Council , ...
Voronwé's user avatar
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69 votes

What did Frodo mean by "He told me the true story"?

John D. Rateliff, in his History of the Hobbit series, has the original chapter as well as an interesting commentary. I quote here the original version of The Hobbit as an addendum to the accepted ...
isanae's user avatar
  • 11k
66 votes

What two things did Bilbo say that Gandalf interpreted as asking for an adventure?

Bilbo asked for Gandalf's pardon. And he did so twice. At first, "I beg your pardon, but I had no idea you were still in business!" And then a second time, "I beg your pardon, but I ...
Lexible's user avatar
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62 votes
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Why does Bilbo try to hide his job when presenting the contract as evidence of his identity?

Bilbo Baggins is (or at least was) a respected member of the Hobbiton community. He knows that by going on an adventure he has already lost some degree of respect in his community and probably does ...
Bellerophon's user avatar
  • 4,001
60 votes
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Why did it take longer to go to Rivendell in The Hobbit than in The Fellowship of the Ring?

I hate just dumping a quote on you, but The Atlas of Middle-Earth by Karen Wynn Fonstad explores this question in intricate details: As Frodo and friends later travelled between the same two points,...
isanae's user avatar
  • 11k
59 votes

Why does Thorin tell Bilbo that he has "keen eyes"?

Thorin doesn't tell Bilbo that he has keen eyes because Bilbo found the giant carved dwarf, but rather because he found the secret stairs that led to the top of the dwarf and thus to where the secret ...
Sava's user avatar
  • 8,859
58 votes

Why does Bilbo try to hide his job when presenting the contract as evidence of his identity?

There is no auctioneer in the book. Bilbo arrives halfway during the auction. He's not asked for a legal document, but "the legal bother lasted for years" and "it was a long time before he was ...
SQB's user avatar
  • 38.8k
58 votes

Why didn't Gandalf just fight Smaug directly?

Because Gandalf might not have won This is an out-of-universe explanation based on what we know of the author. The concept of A > B when comparing the fighting power of various superheroes, Jedi, ...
kingledion's user avatar
  • 3,633
55 votes
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Do we ever see a hobbit use their natural ability to “disappear”?

In the chapter Three is Company: For a short way they followed the lane westwards. Then leaving it they turned left and took quietly to the fields again. They went in single file along hedgerows and ...
Shamshiel's user avatar
  • 25k
53 votes

Was Smaug sealed inside the Lonely Mountain?

In the book, as well as the movie, there was a main entrance to Erebor—the Front Gate, where the dragon had come in to begin with. When the dwarves first discuss the mission with Bilbo, Thorin ...
Matt Gutting's user avatar
  • 20.4k
53 votes
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Did Gollum eat an orc child?

Gollum's last meal prior to when we meet him in The Hobbit is said to have been "a small goblin imp", and later described again as "young". And still sometimes he put [the Ring] ...
ibid's user avatar
  • 95.2k
52 votes

Why doesn't Smaug die in the 2nd Hobbit film if it was titled the 'Desolation of Smaug'?

The Desolation of Smaug does not mean the Destruction of Smaug. Dictionary Definition Definition of desolation the action of desolating the pitiful desolation and slaughter of World War I — D. F. ...
SQB's user avatar
  • 38.8k
52 votes

Did Frodo and Gimli ever discuss the adventures of Bilbo and Glóin with each other?

It's never explicitly stated that Gimli and Frodo discussed the adventures, but, Glóin and Frodo certainly did Before the Council of Elrond, after Frodo's recovery, Frodo and Glóin spend a lengthy ...
Edlothiad's user avatar
  • 77.5k
52 votes
Accepted

Had Bilbo with Thorin & Co. camped before the rainy night or hadn't they?

This relates to a change made in the third edition of The Hobbit. In the original text of The Hobbit as first published in 1937, there was no reference to them camping before, and thus it made sense ...
ibid's user avatar
  • 95.2k
49 votes

How can the bear-man refer to a "Jack-in-the-box" in The Hobbit?

Clocks exist in Middle-earth. Sufficiently miniaturised clockwork would easily allow for the invention of the Jack-in-the-box, although in this case it's likely that Tolkien is idiomatically ...
Valorum's user avatar
  • 702k
47 votes
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When Frodo was guided by Gollum to the Black Gate, how did he intend to enter Mordor?

He had no idea But it was not always the case. The development of Frodo's entrance into Mordor is somewhat complex. In chronological order of writing: Gollum takes them through secret paths around ...
isanae's user avatar
  • 11k
47 votes
Accepted

Was The Hobbit meant to be an adaptation of There and Back Again by Bilbo?

The Hobbit was not an adaptation, but a translation. Tolkien envisioned himself as a translator of ancient manuscripts that had made their way into his hands. The Red Book of Westmarch, in which Frodo ...
Edlothiad's user avatar
  • 77.5k
47 votes

How can the bear-man refer to a "Jack-in-the-box" in The Hobbit?

Everything is translated. What you describe is actually a common problem in translation, especially when dealing with artificial or unspecified source languages. The original word cannot be exactly ...
Austin Hemmelgarn's user avatar
46 votes

Compass/magnetic directions in Middle-earth

West was the direction of Sunset and Valinor and was the principle compass direction. One would face West and everything else would follow from that. The main compass direction is West. This is the ...
ibid's user avatar
  • 95.2k
45 votes
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Why did Tolkien refer to goblins in The Hobbit but orcs in The Lord of the Rings?

The Hobbit was originally meant to be separate from his Legendarium The Hobbit was written before The Lord of the Rings and as such wasn't originally part of the Legendarium, it was later added into ...
Edlothiad's user avatar
  • 77.5k

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