Study Guide

The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again Chapter 15

By J.R.R. Tolkien

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Chapter 15

The Gathering of the Clouds

  • Thorin notices that there are huge flocks of birds flying to the mountain. Something strange is happening.
  • The old thrush appears and keeps singing meaningfully at them.
  • None of them can understand, but Thorin mentions that he can follow the speech of the ravens.
  • So the thrush flies off and comes back with an ancient raven, Roäc.
  • Roäc explains that Smaug has been killed (yay!).
  • But, "many are gathering hither besides the birds" (15.19).
  • The elves are marching to the Lonely Mountain in hopes of gaining a share of the treasure.
  • And the Lake-men aren't too happy with the dwarves. They want some cash to rebuild their town.
  • Thorin sends Roäc to bring all this news to his cousin, Dain. The dwarves need reinforcements.
  • The dwarves return to the mountain and block off as many gates as they can to prepare for war.
  • The dwarves are feeling braver and braver: even though there are only thirteen of them (well, plus one hobbit), they're fighting from their old home.
  • Also, they now have tons of treasure – that would make anybody feel better about things.
  • The elvish and human armies eventually arrive to camp in front of the Lonely Mountain.
  • The dwarves sing their song with a new, inspiring twist: "The king is come unto his hall / Under the Mountain dark and tall / The Worm of Dread is slain and dead, / And ever so our foes shall fall!" (15.35).
  • Bilbo is starting to feel really depressed: all of the dwarves' talk is so warlike.
  • The next day, Bard of Lake-town goes to address Thorin.
  • He reminds Thorin that Lake-town has been destroyed in part because Thorin got Smaug all riled up.
  • What's more, it was Bard who shot the arrow to destroy the dragon.
  • So doesn't Thorin owe the men of Lake-town a little something?
  • Thorin admits that there is some truth to this.
  • Still, he won't negotiate with an army on his doorstep.
  • And Thorin especially won't negotiate while the Elvenking is nearby – he hates that guy.
  • Bard replies, "The Elvenking is my friend, and he has succoured the people of the Lake in their need, though they have no claim of friendship on him" (15.47).
  • In other words, unlike you, Thorin, the Elvenking has helped us out now that our whole town has been crushed under a dragon corpse.
  • Then, the armies of the Lake-men announce that the Lonely Mountain is under siege. They won't actively attack the dwarves, but they won't let them leave without giving the Lake-men a portion of their gold first.
  • They hope to starve Thorin out.

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