Lawyer, mother, avid reader. Game host extraordinaire! Partner in crime to Obsidian Black Plague! My bookish weaknesses include classics, fantasy, YA, and agreeing to read more books than is even remotely possible.
"Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway."
A Short Rest takes us to our first experience with elves and Rivendell, and it is hard to square these elves with the elves that we will meet in Lord of the Rings. Even Elrond, a character who appears in both books, is very different between now and then, although Tolkien is careful to describe him in a way that allows us to take him seriously, in spite of the fact that the elves are consistently behaving in a way that certainly appears to be juvenile and silly.
"In those days of our tale there were still some people who had both elves and heroes of the North for ancestors, and Elrond the master of the house was their chief. He was as noble and as fair in face as an elf-lord, as strong as a warrior, as wise as a wizard, as venerable as a king of dwarves, and as kind as summer. He comes into many tales, but his part in the story of Bilbo’s great adventure is only a small one, though important, as you will see, if we ever get to the end of it. His house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Evil things did not come into that valley."
I think it's also time to start pointing out that there seems to be a hand at work here that transcends even Gandalf. In "Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's Hobbit," Professor Olsen refers to it as the presence of "luck," which he defines as "good fortune" coupled with "prophesy." Experienced readers know that Chapter 5 constitutes a turning point, not just for Bilbo and the dwarves, but for the very survival of Middle Earth.
How is luck working for Bilbo? Well, first, he was chosen by Gandalf for this adventure and we still have no real idea why, out of all of the hobbits in all of the land (leaving aside all of the potential men and elves) Gandalf felt that Bilbo was the guy that needed to go on this adventure. It is ostensibly about treasure, but is it, really, just about treasure? Or is there a bigger purpose at work here?
And then we have the luck of finding two elvish blades - and not just any two blades, but two of the greatest elvish blades ever forged at killing Goblins, which are in the hands of the dwarves precisely when they are captured by Goblins. And then, of course, we also have the extraordinary coincidence of Elrond examining the map on the night and under the moon that allows him to read the moon runes, which would have otherwise gone undiscovered.
There is nothing so crude as a prophesy working here - no ancient foretelling of the halfling who will find the ring of power and carry it to the edge of doom sort of thing, but still, when I look at the string of coincidences conspiring to shove Bilbo into the wild, into a place where he should not and would not be but for these forces, you have to wonder. Is it just Gandalf? Or is it more.