Study Guide

The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again Chapter 17

By J.R.R. Tolkien

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Chapter 17

The Clouds Burst

  • The next day, Bard, the Elvenking, and "an old man wrapped in cloak and hood" (17.3) appear in front of Thorin's Front Gate.
  • Bard shows Thorin the Arkenstone and demands that they negotiate terms.
  • Bilbo admits that he was the one who gave the Arkenstone to Bard.
  • Thorin agrees to give Bilbo's share of the treasure (one-fourteenth) to the elves and men in exchange for the Arkenstone.
  • But he also casts Bilbo out of the Lonely Mountain, adding, "no friendship of mine goes with him" (17.19).
  • Thorin sends his raven buddies to tell Dain what has been gong on.
  • Thorin is already starting to wonder if he can use Dain's forces to capture the Arkenstone without paying the agreed price for it.
  • Dain and his men arrive. The humans and elves block their access to the Lonely Mountain.
  • Bard refuses to let the dwarf army join Thorin, but the Elvenking doesn't want to wage a war for gold.
  • The Elvenking advises, "Let us hope still for something that will bring reconciliation" (17.37).
  • The dwarves launch a surprise attack on the elves and men.
  • Suddenly, Gandalf cries out, "Halt! [...] Dread has come upon you all! Alas! [...] The Goblins are upon you!" (17.41).
  • The goblins are everyone's enemies, so they immediately stop fighting each other.
  • Bard, the Elvenking, and Dain all join together to make war plans with Gandalf.
  • They gather against the Lonely Mountain and prepare for the goblins to attack.
  • Then war breaks out. It comes to be known as the Battle of Five Armies.
  • Throughout the day, the advantage goes sometimes to the elves', humans', and dwarves' side, sometimes to the goblins and their allies, the Wargs.
  • Thorin makes a plunge into the goblin army from the Front Gate of his mountain, armed with all his fine armor and backed by his twelve companions.
  • But the tide of the battle seems to be going against the good side.
  • Suddenly, Bilbo (wearing his invisibility ring and up out of the way) sees the Eagles flying in from far off.
  • But just then, Bilbo gets clocked on the head by a falling rock.
  • He loses consciousness and totally misses the end of the battle.

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