Re-reading Tolkien 5: The Hobbit, chapters 10-19

The Hobbitcover1, 2, 3, 4

So the end of The Hobbit is a lot less smutty and a lot like the Brexit fiasco instead.

Finding themselves washed up in Lake-town, the dwarves promise the townsfolks all sorts of future goodies if they will only assist them in reclaiming a long-lost kingdom and its fabulous wealth. But Bilbo and his stumpy companions – the Raiders of the Lost Arkenstone – instead unleash Smaug the dragon who lays waste to Lake-town, utterly destroying it.

And when the townsfolk come looking for compensation, the dwarves hide inside their walled compound and refuse to live up to their promise to share the wealth.

During the ensuing battle, Bilbo slips on his ring of invisibility and disappears like George Osborne (who, frankly, I thought was bound to be unearthed curled into a ball and red-eyed, hiding away from it all in a Limehouse opium den).

The Master of Lake-town, who was annoyed at everyone stopping work and turning things ‘into a long holiday in which business was at a standstill’, gets as pissy as a Blairite in the PLP when it seems like the steadfast and heroic Bard might become leader by popular acclaim; and although Bard demurs, no-one could possibly be surprised when the Master flees with all the town’s gold to his tax-haven, where he sits on the boards of companies he enriched while in power and appoints himself a Middle East peace envoy. Or something like that.

But how can the impasse in the mountains be resolved? How can crisis be averted?

Hurrah, a genocidal war against the goblins!

Bloody goblins, coming over here, seeking recompense for the murder of their king…

Fortunately, there’s also some elves, who I have always suspected of white supremacism, around to help out. And, as Bilbo excitedly points out, ‘The Eagles! The Eagles!’, with their secret weapon of boring everyone to death by repeatedly playing ‘Hotel California’. (In later years, we learn, Beorn oversees the ethnic cleansing of the Misty Mountains.)

On a cheerier note, Tolkien finally concedes my main point: when Bilbo eventually gets back home it is to find that he is ‘in fact held by all the hobbits of the neighourhood to be “queer”’.

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