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 a prize for winning the riddle game.
When Tolkien began writing The Lord of the Rings, he decided to make the Ring the focus; and clearly it had to be of such ...
Bilbo DID become addicted to the Ring - when it came time to part with it, he had a full on freakout:
‘Everything?’ said Gandalf. ‘The ring as well? You agreed to that, you remember.’
‘Well, er, yes, I suppose so,’ stammered Bilbo.
‘Where is it?’
‘In an envelope, if you must know,’ said Bilbo impatiently. ‘There on
the mantelpiece. Well, ...
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 "Matching Sauron's power with power".
While Smaug was not Sauron, and so one could argue that technically he did not fall under the ban, the reason for the ban was ...
You have hit upon a very astute observation about LotR and the nature of Sauron's power. Sauron loses every major military engagement in LotR. But where are his victories?
Clouding the Steward of Gondor.
Causing the Fellowship to squabble and split.
Goading the people of Harad to fight for him.
Without a shot, Sauron ...
The appearance of Smaug in the 1977 Rankin-Bass adaptation of The Hobbit was the result of artistic license and the nationality of the animators. The animation team was from Japan, and they depicted Smaug as a sort of hybrid of western dragons and Japanese dragons. However, Tolkien does make at least one reference to catlike traits when describing Smaug.
No, very definitely not.
There are tons of dwarves, all over the place. Gimli's own people [*] mainly lived around Erebor, where they moved to after the events of The Hobbit - Balin's expedition to Moria involved just a tiny group of those, not the whole population. As to why they weren't asked for help during LoTR, Gandalf refers (in Appendix A, section ...
In-universe, the explanation is simple: The Hobbit was Tolkien's translation into English of the original material from Common Speech, since the plot device is that both The Hobbit and LOTR are the writings of Frodo and Bilbo, that he (Tolkien) had access to and translated.
The Common Speech, as the language of the Hobbits and their narratives, has ...
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 when the sun rose. The myth was referenced in writing by the poet Peter Dass (1647 - 1707).
This peculiar weakness of trolls is again referred to in "Norwegian ...
One of the opening paragraphs of "The Istari", an essay printed in Unfinished Tales, largely answers this (emphasis mine):
[The Wizards] came from over the Sea out of the Uttermost West; though this was for long known only to Círdan, Guardian of the Third Ring, master of the Grey Havens, who saw their landings upon the western shores. Emissaries ...
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 the left.)
In two days going they rowed right up the Long Lake and passed out into the River Running, and now they could all see the Lonely Mountain towering grim and ...
In fact, it wasn't just written for children in general - it was written for Tolkien's own children.
Tolkien's own words:
The generally different tone and style of The Hobbit is due, in point of genesis, to it being taken by me as a matter from the great cycle susceptible of treatment as a ‘fairy-story’, for children.
- The Letters of JRR ...
In the book, it's the Wargs.
it was called the Battle of Five Armies, and it was very terrible. Upon one side were the Goblins and the wild Wolves, and upon the other were Elves and Men and Dwarves.
So in the book the armies are as follows:
The Eagles just turned up out of the blue. See also here.
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-sided and conical with a flattish peak. One of them clearly shows a crater at the top (http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Back_Door). None of the depictions show ...
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 same chapter is said that a shriek like Bilbo's would awake the dragon and all his relatives.
About 77 years after The Hobbit, in Fellowship of the Ring "The ...
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 supposedly inspired his writings about the Shire.
According to his younger brother Hilary Tolkien, his recollection is that a particularly loathsome farmer (...
The rights to "The Silmarillion" belong to Tolkien estate
Peter Jackson's movie adaptations were NOT positively recieved by the estate, especially Christopher Tolkien. He expressed that directly to Jackson, and Jackson stated so in an interview. From the article linked below:
Christopher Tolkien, the son of J.R.R. Tolkien and the editor ...
Bilbo wore the ring for substantially less time than Smeagol/Gollum (who was estimated to have been a ring bearer for nearly 600 years) but even limited exposure to its presence caused his behaviour to become erratic. He was incredibly reluctant to part with the ring, periodically wore it (despite dire warnings from Gandalf) and on one occasion, he flew into ...
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 first introduction to Gandalf, and I think the impression Tolkien wants us to get is that he:
Is surprising - he doesn't react the way you expect him to.
In the books:
I can't remember any scenes in which Galadriel and Elrond are in the same place and we read their dialogue in either The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, or Silmarillion1, but we do know that there were strong ties between them:
1. Both were members of the White Councils:
The first White Council was held in 1701 of the Second Age, and ...
It is just something that Dragons do in Tolkien's legendarium. It's in their nature. From The Hobbit:
Dragons steal gold and jewels, you know, from men and elves and dwarves, wherever they can find them; and they guard their plunder as long as they live (which is practically forever, unless they are killed), and never enjoy a brass ring of it. Indeed they ...
Most of the answers you are looking for can be sourced from The Silmarillion which basically charts the First and Second Ages of Middle Earth and explains the motivation behind a lot of the characters.
You are absolutely correct that Gandalf wants the Dwarfs to enter The Lonely Mountain. The reason for this is slightly more complex.
Before Sauron came to ...
Because that was the shortest and less dangerous route to go
Just to clarify: Gandalf wasn't going by another path to Erebor by himself, he was heading to Dol Guldur with The White Council, and afterwards going back to Bilbo and the Dwarves. The other way round that Gandalf mentions would take the party more time to travel, in addition to being more ...
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 answer.
After the first riddle, Gollum, in good faith, says he will give a present to Bilbo if he wins:
'Does it guess easy? - it must have a competition with ...
SPOILERS ALL UP IN THIS PIECE!!
The answers to your specifics are mostly found in the The Hobbit and LotR (including its appendices), and perhaps also in the Third Age section of The Silmarilion with dribs and drabs in Unfinished Tales. Most of this you would get simply by reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Here we go:
How did a powerful white ...