Study Guide

The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again Chapter 14

By J.R.R. Tolkien

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Chapter 14

Fire and Water

  • Meanwhile, back in Lake-town, they observe a red glow from the Lonely Mountain.
  • They think it's a good thing: "The King beneath the Mountain! [...] His wealth is like the Sun, his silver like a fountain, his rivers golden run! The river is running gold from the Mountain!" (14.8).
  • But one grim-voiced guard warns them: it's actually the dragon coming!
  • This grim fellow is Bard, and he's a descendent of the old lords of Dale. We'll be coming back to him in a second.
  • Smaug flames the town from a distance while the men of Lake-town pepper him with arrows.
  • Because Bard's ancestors were the lords of Dale, he can understand the language of thrushes. (...Right.)
  • So when a thrush flutters up and starts talking to him – the same thrush that showed Bilbo where the side door's keyhole was – Bard understands the bird.
  • The thrush explains, "The moon is rising. Look for the hollow of the left breast as [Smaug] flies and turns above you!" (14.20).
  • The thrush tells Bard everything that he's heard from Bilbo and the dwarves.
  • So Bard takes his great bow and his finest arrow and shoots Smaug in his weak spot as he flies overhead.
  • Smaug's body falls directly on Lake-town. So Smaug and Lake-town are both dead.
  • The people are so impressed with Bard that they want to make him king of Lake-town.
  • The Master of Lake-town doesn't want to let go of power, though.
  • The Elvenking, meanwhile, has heard the news of what's going on in Lake-town from his own messengers.
  • The Elvenking travels quickly to Lake-town to help the people rebuild their home.
  • All of the able-bodied soldiers from Lake-town and the troops of the Elvenking march to the Lonely Mountain to see if Thorin is still alive.

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