The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again
How we cite our quotes:
Thorin and Company to Burglar Bilbo greeting! For your hospitality our sincerest thanks, and for your offer of professional assistance our grateful acceptance. Terms: cash on delivery, up to and not exceeding one fourteenth of total profits (if any); all traveling expenses guaranteed in any event; funeral expenses to be defrayed by us or our representatives, if occasion arises and the matter is not otherwise arranged for. (2.8)
What do you think of the terms of Thorin's job offer for Bilbo? Why does Thorin insist on an official contract with his burglar? What might Thorin be afraid of if he doesn't have a contract with Bilbo? Would you accept the contract Thorin offers Bilbo?
They had thought of coming to the secret door in the Lonely Mountain, perhaps that very next last moon of Autumn – "and perhaps it will be Durin's Day" they had said. Only Gandalf had shaken his head and said nothing. Dwarves had not passed that way for many years, but Gandalf had, and he knew how evil and danger had grown and thriven in the Wild, since the dragons had driven men from the lands and the goblins had spread in secret after the battle of the Mines of Moria. Even the good plans of wise wizards like Gandalf and of good friends like Elrond go astray sometimes when you are off on dangerous adventures over the Edge of the Wild; and Gandalf was a wise enough wizard to know it. (4.3)
The dwarves often get ahead of themselves in their plans. They can see the end point so clearly that they never take into account the dangers in the way. That's not only the case in this passage; we can also compare this to later scenes in Lake-town, when Thorin "looked and walked as if his kingdom was already regained and Smaug chopped up into little pieces" (10.38).
There is [a way around Mirkwood], if you care to go two hundred miles or so out of your way north, and twice that south. But you wouldn't get a safe path even then. There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go. Before you could get round Mirkwood in the North you would be right among the slopes of the Grey Mountains, and they are simply stiff with goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs of the worst description. Before you could get round it in the South, you would get into the land of the Necromancer, and even you, Bilbo, won't need me to tell you tales of that black sorcerer. I don't advise you to go anywhere near the places overlooked by his dark tower! Stick to the forest-track, keep your spirits up, hope for the best, and with a tremendous slice of luck you may come out one day and see the Long Marshes lying below you and beyond them, high in the East, the Lonely Mountain where dear old Smaug lives, though I hope he is not expecting you. (7.145)
In this description from Gandalf just before Bilbo and the dwarves head into Mirkwood, we finally get a sense of the larger layout of the world of The Hobbit. Up until now, they have mainly been traveling in a straight line on a road heading east. But now, the option does exist to keep going east, north, or south. So, as their adventure is getting more dangerous, the setting itself – the layout of The Hobbit's fantasy world – is also growing more complex.