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The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes
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THE NOVEL

THE PLOT

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit, one of a race of short, timid
creatures who live in cozy tunnels and who prefer to keep their
lives ordered and predictable. One day, he unexpectedly finds
himself playing host to Gandalf the wizard and thirteen
dwarves. The dwarves, with Gandalf's help, plan to travel to
the Lonely Mountain to recover the treasure that a dragon
named Smaug stole from their people long ago. Gandalf has
selected Bilbo to be their burglar. The dwarves aren't too happy
with the wizard's choice, especially when Bilbo faints at the
first talk of danger. But Gandalf insists there is more to the
little hobbit than meets the eye.

Bilbo himself isn't sure that he's happy about being chosen
burglar. But a part of him does yearn for adventure, and so one
spring morning he finds himself setting out for Lonely
Mountain with Gandalf and the thirteen dwarves. He doesn't
prove very helpful at first. But then something happens that
changes Bilbo's life. He finds a magic ring that makes him
invisible, and has several opportunities to use it to rescue the
dwarves from danger and imprisonment. They become quite
impressed by him, and even rely on him, just as Gandalf
foretold.



Bilbo and the dwarves finally reach Lonely Mountain, the
home of Smaug the dragon. The dwarves send Bilbo down a
secret passage to the dragon's lair. Bilbo has more confidence
in himself now and not only steals a cup, but manages to hold
his own in a conversation with the wily Smaug-not an easy
thing to do.

Furious that someone has dared steal a piece of his treasure,
Smaug attacks the mountainside where the dwarves have their
camp. Then he flies toward Lake-town, to punish the
inhabitants for helping the dwarves.

The people of Lake-town run at the sight of Smaug, but one
man, Bard, holds his ground. He kills the dragon with his last
arrow and escapes before Smaug falls, smashing the town.
Believing the dwarves are dead, an army of men, led by Bard,
and an army of elves march toward the Lonely Mountain to
divide the treasure. They find to their surprise that the dwarves
are still alive.

Bard, because he killed the dragon, claims his rightful share of
the treasure. When the dwarves refuse to surrender it, the army
besieges the mountain. Bilbo tries to end the dispute by
stealing the Arkenstone, the piece of treasure most valued by
the leader of the dwarves. He gives the jewel to Bard, hoping it
can be used to force the dwarves to negotiate. Bilbo's bravery
wins him praise from all but the dwarves, who are furious with
him. When more dwarves arrive from the north, they are
determined to fight.

Just as war begins to break out, an army of goblins and wild
wolves attack. The dwarves, elves, and men forget their
differences and join together to keep from being killed. Help
comes in the nick of time, and the goblins are defeated.

Bilbo finds that he's a hero, honored by men and elves and
even given a share of the treasure. But he's had enough of
adventure and sets off for home with Gandalf. Once there, he
finds that his house and furnishings are being auctioned off,
since everyone believed him dead. Finally, everything is
straightened out and he's able to settle down again into his old,
comfortable life. Although from then on, he's considered
eccentric by his neighbors, he continues his friendship with
elves and dwarves and the wizard, happily recounting his tales
to any who will listen.

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