The Hobbit: The Enchanting Prelude to The Lord of the Rings

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Overview

THE GREATEST FANTASY EPIC OF OUR TIME

Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit who wanted to be left alone in quiet comfort. But the wizard Gandalf came along with a band of homeless dwarves. Soon Bilbo was drawn into their quest, facing evil orcs, savage wolves, giant spiders, and worse unknown dangers. Finally, it was Bilbo–alone and unaided–who had to confront the great dragon Smaug, the terror of an entire countryside . . .

This stirring adventure ...

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Overview

THE GREATEST FANTASY EPIC OF OUR TIME

Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit who wanted to be left alone in quiet comfort. But the wizard Gandalf came along with a band of homeless dwarves. Soon Bilbo was drawn into their quest, facing evil orcs, savage wolves, giant spiders, and worse unknown dangers. Finally, it was Bilbo–alone and unaided–who had to confront the great dragon Smaug, the terror of an entire countryside . . .

This stirring adventure fantasy begins the tale of the hobbits that was continued by J.R.R. Tolkien in his bestselling epic The Lord of the Rings.

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  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Trailer)
    The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Trailer)  

Editorial Reviews

Horn Book Guide
All those, young or old, who love a finely imagined story, beautifully told, will take The Hobbit to their hearts.
Times of London
A flawless masterpiece.
From the Publisher
"All those, young or old, who love a finely imagined story, beautifully told, will take The Hobbit to their hearts." Horn Book Guide

"A flawless masterpiece." The Times of London

Booklist
"… the best available ... "
--Booklist
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345339683
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/28/1986
  • Series: Lord of the Rings Trilogy
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 36,005
  • Lexile: 1000L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.87 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892, in Bloemfontein, South Africa. After serving in the First World War, he embarked upon a distinguished academic career and was recognized as one of the finest philologists in the world. He was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, a fellow of Pembroke College, and a fellow of Merton College until his retirement in 1959. He is, however, beloved throughout the world as the creator of Middle-earth and author of such classic works as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. He died on September 2, 1973, at the age of 81.

Biography

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on the 3rd January, 1892 at Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State, but at the age of four he and his brother were taken back to England by their mother. After his father's death the family moved to Sarehole, on the south-eastern edge of Birmingham. Tolkien spent a happy childhood in the countryside and his sensibility to the rural landscape can clearly be seen in his writing and his pictures.

His mother died when he was only twelve and both he and his brother were made wards of the local priest and sent to King Edward's School, Birmingham, where Tolkien shine in his classical work. After completing a First in English Language and Literature at Oxford, Tolkien married Edith Bratt. He was also commissioned in the Lancashire Fusiliers and fought in the battle of the Somme. After the war, he obtained a post on the New English Dictionary and began to write the mythological and legendary cycle which he originally called "The Book of Lost Tales" but which eventually became known as The Silmarillion.

In 1920 Tolkien was appointed Reader in English Language at the University of Leeds which was the beginning of a distinguished academic career culminating with his election as Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford. Meanwhile Tolkien wrote for his children and told them the story of The Hobbit. It was his publisher, Stanley Unwin, who asked for a sequel to The Hobbit and gradually Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings, a huge story that took twelve years to complete and which was not published until Tolkien was approaching retirement. After retirement Tolkien and his wife lived near Oxford, but then moved to Bournemouth. Tolkien returned to Oxford after his wife's death in 1971. He died on 2 September 1973 leaving The Silmarillion to be edited for publication by his son, Christopher.

Author biography courtesy of HarperCollins (UK).

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    1. Also Known As:
      John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 3, 1892
    2. Place of Birth:
      Bloemfontein, Orange Free State (South Africa)
    1. Date of Death:
      September 2, 1973
    2. Place of Death:
      Oxford, England

Read an Excerpt

AN UNEXPECTED PARTY

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats—the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill—The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it—and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river.

This hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was Baggins. The Bagginses had lived in the neighbourhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected: you could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him. This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbours’ respect, but he gained—well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end.

The mother of our particular hobbit—what is a hobbit? I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have become rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us. They are (or were) a little people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded dwarves. Hobbits have no beards. There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which helps them to disappear quietly and quickly when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along, making a noise like elephants which they can hear a mile off. They are inclined to be fat in the stomach; they dress in bright colours (chiefly green and yellow); wear no shoes, because their feet grow natural leathery soles and thick warm brown hair like the stuff on their heads (which is curly); have long clever brown fingers, good-natured faces, and laugh deep fruity laughs (especially after dinner, which they have twice a day when they can get it). Now you know enough to go on with. As I was saying, the mother of this hobbit—of Bilbo Baggins, that is—was the famous Belladonna Took, one of the three remarkable daughters of the Old Took, head of the hobbits who lived across The Water, the small river that ran at the foot of The Hill. It was often said (in other families) that long ago one of the Took ancestors must have taken a fairy wife. That was, of course, absurd, but certainly there was still something not entirely hobbitlike about them, and once in a while members of the Took-clan would go and have adventures. They discreetly disappeared, and the family hushed it up; but the fact remained that the Tooks were not as respectable as the Bagginses, though they were undoubtedly richer.

Not that Belladonna Took ever had any adventures after she became Mrs Bungo Baggins. Bungo, that was Bilbo’s father, built the most luxurious hobbit-hole for her (and partly with her money) that was to be found either under The Hill or over The Hill or across The Water, and there they remained to the end of their days. Still it is probable that Bilbo, her only son, although he looked and behaved exactly like a second edition of his solid and comfortable father, got something a bit queer in his make-up from the Took side, something that only waited for a chance to come out. The chance never arrived, until Bilbo Baggins was grown up, being about fifty years old or so, and living in the beautiful hobbit-hole built by his father, which I have just described for you, until he had in fact apparently settled down immovably.

By some curious chance one morning long ago in the quiet of the world, when there was less noise and more green, and the hobbits were still numerous and prosperous, and Bilbo Baggins was standing at his door after breakfast smoking an enormous long wooden pipe that reached nearly down to his woolly toes (neatly brushed)—Gandalf came by. Gandalf! If you had heard only a quarter of what I have heard about him, and I have only heard very little of all there is to hear, you would be prepared for any sort of remarkable tale. Tales and adventures sprouted up all over the place wherever he went, in the most extraordinary fashion. He had not been down that way under The Hill for ages and ages, not since his friend the Old Took died, in fact, and the hobbits had almost forgotten what he looked like. He had been away over The Hill and across The Water on businesses of his own since they were all small hobbit-boys and hobbit-girls.

All that the unsuspecting Bilbo saw that morning was an old man with a staff. He had a tall pointed blue hat, a long grey cloak, a silver scarf over which his long white beard hung down below his waist, and immense black boots.

“Good morning!” said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat.

“What do you mean?” he said. “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”

“All of them at once,” said Bilbo. “And a very fine morning for a pipe of tobacco out of doors, into the bargain. If you have a pipe about you, sit down and have a fill of mine! There’s no hurry, we have all the day before us!” Then Bilbo sat down on a seat by his door, crossed his legs, and blew out a beautiful grey ring of smoke that sailed up into the air without breaking and floated away over The Hill.

“Very pretty!” said Gandalf. “But I have no time to blow smoke-rings this morning. I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.”

“I should think so—in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them,” said our Mr Baggins, and stuck one thumb behind his braces, and blew out another even bigger smoke-ring. Then he took out his morning letters, and began to read, pretending to take no more notice of the old man. He had decided that he was not quite his sort, and wanted him to go away. But the old man did not move. He stood leaning on his stick and gazing at the hobbit without saying anything, till Bilbo got quite uncomfortable and even a little cross.

“Good morning!” he said at last. “We don’t want any adventures here, thank you! You might try over The Hill or across The Water.” By this he meant that the conversation was at an end.

“What a lot of things you do use Good morning for!” said Gandalf. “Now you mean that you want to get rid of me, and that it won’t be good till I move off.”

“Not at all, not at all, my dear sir! Let me see, I don’t think I know your name?”

“Yes, yes, my dear sir—and I do know your name, Mr Bilbo Baggins. And you do know my name, though you don’t remember that I belong to it. I am Gandalf, and Gandalf means me! To think that I should have lived to be good-morninged by Belladonna Took’s son, as if I was selling buttons at the door!”

“Gandalf, Gandalf! Good gracious me! Not the wandering wizard that gave Old Took a pair of magic diamond studs that fastened themselves and never came undone till ordered? Not the fellow who used to tell such wonderful tales at parties, about dragons and goblins and giants and the rescue of princesses and the unexpected luck of widows’ sons? Not the man that used to make such particularly excellent fireworks! I remember those! Old Took used to have them on Midsummer’s Eve. Splendid! They used to go up like great lilies and snapdragons and laburnums of fire and hang in the twilight all evening!” You will notice already that Mr Baggins was not quite so prosy as he liked to believe, also that he was very fond of flowers. “Dear me!” he went on. “Not the Gandalf who was responsible for so many quiet lads and lasses going off into the Blue for mad adventures? Anything from climbing trees to visiting elves—or sailing in ships, sailing to other shores! Bless me, life used to be quite inter—I mean, you used to upset things badly in these parts once upon a time. I beg your pardon, but I had no idea you were still in business.”

“Where else should I be?” said the wizard. “All the same I am pleased to find you remember something about me. You seem to remember my fireworks kindly, at any rate, and that is not without hope. Indeed for your old grandfather Took’s sake, and for the sake of poor Belladonna, I will give you what you asked for.”

“I beg your pardon, I haven’t asked for anything!”

“Yes, you have! Twice now. My pardon. I give it you. In fact I will go so far as to send you on this adventure. Very amusing for me, very good for you—and profitable too, very likely, if you ever get over it.”

“Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not today. Good morning! But please come to tea—any time you like! Why not tomorrow? Come tomorrow! Good-bye!” With that the hobbit turned and scuttled inside his round green door, and shut it as quickly as he dared, not to seem rude. Wizards after all are wizards.

“What on earth did I ask him to tea for!” he said to himself, as he went to the pantry. He had only just had breakfast, but he thought a cake or two and a drink of something would do him good after his fright.

Gandalf in the meantime was still standing outside the door, and laughing long but quietly. After a while he stepped up, and with the spike on his staff scratched a queer sign on the hobbit’s beautiful green front-door. Then he strode away, just about the time when Bilbo was finishing his second cake and beginning to think that he had escaped adventures very well.

The next day he had almost forgotten about Gandalf. He did not remember things very well, unless he put them down on his Engagement Tablet: like this: Gandalf Tea Wednesday. Yesterday he had been too flustered to do anything of the kind.

Just before tea-time there came a tremendous ring on the front-door bell, and then he remembered! He rushed and put on the kettle, and put out another cup and saucer, and an extra cake or two, and ran to the door.

“I am so sorry to keep you waiting!” he was going to say, when he saw that it was not Gandalf at all. It was a dwarf with a blue beard tucked into a golden belt, very bright eyes under his dark-green hood. As soon as the door was opened, he pushed inside, just as if he had been expected.

He hung his hooded cloak on the nearest peg, and “Dwalin at your service!” he said with a low bow.

“Bilbo Baggins at yours!” said the hobbit, too surprised to ask any questions for the moment. When the silence that followed had become uncomfortable, he added: “I am just about to take tea; pray come and have some with me.” A little stiff perhaps, but he meant it kindly. And what would you do, if an uninvited dwarf came and hung his things up in your hall without a word of explanation?

They had not been at table long, in fact they had hardly reached the third cake, when there came another even louder ring at the bell.

“Excuse me!” said the hobbit, and off he went to the door.

“So you have got here at last!” That was what he was going to say to Gandalf this time. But it was not Gandalf. Instead there was a very old-looking dwarf on the step with a white beard and a scarlet hood; and he too hopped inside as soon as the door was open, just as if he had been invited.

“I see they have begun to arrive already,” he said when he caught sight of Dwalin’s green hood hanging up. He hung his red one next to it, and “Balin at your service!” he said with his hand on his breast.

“Thank you!” said Bilbo with a gasp. It was not the correct thing to say, but they have begun to arrive had flustered him badly. He liked visitors, but he liked to know them before they arrived, and he preferred to ask them himself. He had a horrible thought that the cakes might run short, and then he—as the host: he knew his duty and stuck to it however painful—he might have to go without.

“Come along in, and have some tea!” he managed to say after taking a deep breath.

“A little beer would suit me better, if it is all the same to you, my good sir,” said Balin with the white beard. “But I don’t mind some cake—seed-cake, if you have any.”

“Lots!” Bilbo found himself answering, to his own surprise; and he found himself scuttling off, too, to the cellar to fill a pint beer-mug, and then to a pantry to fetch two beautiful round seed-cakes which he had baked that afternoon for his after-supper morsel.

When he got back Balin and Dwalin were talking at the table like old friends (as a matter of fact they were brothers). Bilbo plumped down the beer and the cake in front of them, when loud came a ring at the bell again, and then another ring.

“Gandalf for certain this time,” he thought as he puffed along the passage. But it was not. It was two more dwarves, both with blue hoods, silver belts, and yellow beards; and each of them carried a bag of tools and a spade. In they hopped, as soon as the door began to open—Bilbo was hardly surprised at all.

“What can I do for you, my dwarves?” he said.

“Kili at your service!” said the one. “And Fili!” added the other; and they both swept off their blue hoods and bowed.

“At yours and your family’s!” replied Bilbo, remembering his manners this time.

“Dwalin and Balin here already, I see,” said Kili. “Let us join the throng!”

“Throng!” thought Mr Baggins. “I don’t like the sound of that. I really must sit down for a minute and collect my wits, and have a drink.” He had only just had a sip—in the corner, while the four dwarves sat round the table, and talked about mines and gold and troubles with the goblins, and the depredations of dragons, and lots of other things which he did not understand, and did not want to, for they sounded much too adventurous—when, ding-dong-a-ling-dang, his bell rang again, as if some naughty little hobbit-boy was trying to pull the handle off.

“Someone at the door!” he said, blinking.

“Some four, I should say by the sound,” said Fili. “Besides, we saw them coming along behind us in the distance.”

The poor little hobbit sat down in the hall and put his head in his hands, and wondered what had happened, and what was going to happen, and whether they would all stay to supper. Then the bell rang again louder than ever, and he had to run to the door. It was not four after all, it was five. Another dwarf had come along while he was wondering in the hall. He had hardly turned the knob, before they were all inside, bowing and saying “at your service” one after another. Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, and Gloin were their names; and very soon two purple hoods, a grey hood, a brown hood, and a white hood were hanging on the pegs, and off they marched with their broad hands stuck in their gold and silver belts to join the others. Already it had almost become a throng. Some called for ale, and some for porter, and one for coffee, and all of them for cakes; so the hobbit was kept very busy for a while.

A big jug of coffee had just been set in the hearth, the seed-cakes were gone, and the dwarves were starting on a round of buttered scones, when there came—a loud knock. Not a ring, but a hard rat-tat on the hobbit’s beautiful green door. Somebody was banging with a stick!

Bilbo rushed along the passage, very angry, and altogether bewildered and bewuthered—this was the most awkward Wednesday he ever remembered. He pulled open the door with a jerk, and they all fell in, one on top of the other. More dwarves, four more! And there was Gandalf behind, leaning on his staff and laughing. He had made quite a dent on the beautiful door; he had also, by the way, knocked out the secret mark that he had put there the morning before.

“Carefully! Carefully!” he said. “It is not like you, Bilbo, to keep friends waiting on the mat, and then open the door like a pop-gun! Let me introduce Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, and especially Thorin!”

“At your service!” said Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur standing in a row. Then they hung up two yellow hoods and a pale green one; and also a sky-blue one with a long silver tas- sel. This last belonged to Thorin, an enormously important dwarf, in fact no other than the great Thorin Oakenshield himself, who was not at all pleased at falling flat on Bilbo’s mat with Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur on top of him. For one thing Bombur was immensely fat and heavy. Thorin indeed was very haughty, and said nothing about service; but poor Mr Baggins said he was sorry so many times, that at last he grunted “pray don’t mention it,” and stopped frowning.

“Now we are all here!” said Gandalf, looking at the row of thirteen hoods—the best detachable party hoods—and his own hat hanging on the pegs. “Quite a merry gathering! I hope there is something left for the late-comers to eat and drink! What’s that? Tea! No thank you! A little red wine, I think for me.”

“And for me,” said Thorin.

“And raspberry jam and apple-tart,” said Bifur.

“And mince-pies and cheese,” said Bofur.

“And pork-pie and salad,” said Bombur.

“And more cakes—and ale—and coffee, if you don’t mind,” called the other dwarves through the door.

“Put on a few eggs, there’s a good fellow!” Gandalf called after him, as the hobbit stumped off to the pantries. “And just bring out the cold chicken and pickles!”

“Seems to know as much about the inside of my larders as I do myself!” thought Mr Baggins, who was feeling positively flummoxed, and was beginning to wonder whether a most wretched adventure had not come right into his house. By the time he had got all the bottles and dishes and knives and forks and glasses and plates and spoons and things piled up on big trays, he was getting very hot, and red in the face, and annoyed.

“Confusticate and bebother these dwarves!” he said aloud. “Why don’t they come and lend a hand?” Lo and behold! there stood Balin and Dwalin at the door of the kitchen, and Fili and Kili behind them, and before he could say knife they had whisked the trays and a couple of small tables into the parlour and set out everything afresh.

Gandalf sat at the head of the party with the thirteen dwarves all round: and Bilbo sat on a stool at the fireside, nibbling at a biscuit (his appetite was quite taken away), and trying to look as if this was all perfectly ordinary and not in the least an adventure. The dwarves ate and ate, and talked and talked, and time got on. At last they pushed their chairs back, and Bilbo made a move to collect the plates and glasses.

“I suppose you will all stay to supper?” he said in his politest unpressing tones.

“Of course!” said Thorin. “And after. We shan’t get through the business till late, and we must have some music first. Now to clear up!”

Thereupon the twelve dwarves—not Thorin, he was too important, and stayed talking to Gandalf—jumped to their feet, and made tall piles of all the things. Off they went, not waiting for trays, balancing columns of plates, each with a bottle on the top, with one hand, while the hobbit ran after them almost squeaking with fright: “please be careful!” and “please, don’t trouble! I can manage.” But the dwarves only started to sing:

Chip the glasses and crack the plates!

Blunt the knives and bend the forks!

That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates—

Smash the bottles and burn the corks!

Cut the cloth and tread on the fat!

Pour the milk on the pantry floor!

Leave the bones on the bedroom mat!

Splash the wine on every door!

Dump the crocks in a boiling bowl;

Pound them up with a thumping pole;

And when you’ve finished, if any are whole,

Send them down the hall to roll!

That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates!

So, carefully! carefully with the plates!

And of course they did none of these dreadful things, and everything was cleaned and put away safe as quick as lightning, while the hobbit was turning round and round in the middle of the kitchen trying to see what they were doing. Then they went back, and found Thorin with his feet on the fender smoking a pipe. He was blowing the most enormous smoke-rings, and wherever he told one to go, it went—up the chimney, or behind the clock on the mantelpiece, or under the table, or round and round the ceiling; but wherever it went it was not quick enough to escape Gandalf. Pop! he sent a smaller smoke-ring from his short clay-pipe straight through each one of Thorin’s. Then Gandalf’s smoke-ring would go green and come back to hover over the wizard’s head. He had a cloud of them about him already, and in the dim light it made him look strange and sorcerous. Bilbo stood still and watched—he loved smoke-rings—and then he blushed to think how proud he had been yesterday morning of the smoke-rings he had sent up the wind over The Hill.

“Now for some music!” said Thorin. “Bring out the instruments!”

Kili and Fili rushed for their bags and brought back little fiddles; Dori, Nori, and Ori brought out flutes from somewhere inside their coats; Bombur produced a drum from the hall; Bifur and Bofur went out too, and came back with clarinets that they had left among the walking-sticks. Dwalin and Balin said: “Excuse me, I left mine in the porch!” “Just bring mine in with you!” said Thorin. They came back with viols as big as themselves, and with Thorin’s harp wrapped in a green cloth. It was a beautiful golden harp, and when Thorin struck it the music began all at once, so sudden and sweet that Bilbo forgot everything else, and was swept away into dark lands under strange moons, far over The Water and very far from his hobbit-hole under The Hill.

The dark came into the room from the little window that opened in the side of The Hill; the firelight flickered—it was April—and still they played on, while the shadow of Gandalf’s beard wagged against the wall.

The dark filled all the room, and the fire died down, and the shadows were lost, and still they played on. And suddenly first one and then another began to sing as they played, deep-throated singing of the dwarves in the deep places of their ancient homes; and this is like a fragment of their song, if it can be like their song without their music.

Far over the misty mountains cold

To dungeons deep and caverns old

We must away ere break of day

To seek the pale enchanted gold.

The dwarves of yore made mighty spells,

While hammers fell like ringing bells

In places deep, where dark things sleep,

In hollow halls beneath the fells.

For ancient king and elvish lord

There many a gleaming golden hoard

They shaped and wrought, and light they caught

To hide in gems on hilt of sword.

On silver necklaces they strung

The flowering stars, on crowns they hung

The dragon-fire, in twisted wire

They meshed the light of moon and sun.

Far over the misty mountains cold

To dungeons deep and caverns old

We must away, ere break of day,

To claim our long-forgotten gold.

Goblets they carved there for themselves

And harps of gold; where no man delves

There lay they long, and many a song

Was sung unheard by men or elves.

The pines were roaring on the height,

The winds were moaning in the night.

The fire was red, it flaming spread;

The trees like torches blazed with light.

The bells were ringing in the dale

And men looked up with faces pale;

Then dragon’s ire more fierce than fire

Laid low their towers and houses frail.

The mountain smoked beneath the moon;

The dwarves, they heard the tramp of doom.

They fled their hall to dying fall

Beneath his feet, beneath the moon.

Far over the misty mountains grim

To dungeons deep and caverns dim

We must away, ere break of day,

To win our harps and gold from him!

As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and a jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves. Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick. He looked out of the window. The stars were out in a dark sky above the trees. He thought of the jewels of the dwarves shining in dark caverns. Suddenly in the wood beyond The Water a flame leapt up—probably somebody lighting a wood-fire—and he thought of plundering dragons settling on his quiet Hill and kindling it all to flames. He shuddered; and very quickly he was plain Mr Baggins of Bag-End, Under-Hill, again.

He got up trembling. He had less than half a mind to fetch the lamp, and more than half a mind to pretend to, and go and hide behind the beer-barrels in the cellar, and not come out again until all the dwarves had gone away. Suddenly he found that the music and the singing had stopped, and they were all looking at him with eyes shining in the dark.

“Where are you going?” said Thorin, in a tone that seemed to show that he guessed both halves of the hobbit’s mind.

“What about a little light?” said Bilbo apologetically.

“We like the dark,” said all the dwarves. “Dark for dark business! There are many hours before dawn.”

“Of course!” said Bilbo, and sat down in a hurry. He missed the stool and sat in the fender, knocking over the poker and shovel with a crash.

“Hush!” said Gandalf. “Let Thorin speak!” And this is how Thorin began.

“Gandalf, dwarves and Mr Baggins! We are met together in the house of our friend and fellow conspirator, this most excellent and audacious hobbit—may the hair on his toes never fall out! all praise to his wine and ale!—” He paused for breath and for a polite remark from the hobbit, but the compliments were quite lost on poor Bilbo Baggins, who was wagging his mouth in protest at being called audacious and worst of all fellow conspirator, though no noise came out, he was so flummoxed. So Thorin went on:

“We are met to discuss our plans, our ways, means, policy and devices. We shall soon before the break of day start on our long journey, a journey from which some of us, or perhaps all of us (except our friend and counsellor, the ingenious wizard Gandalf) may never return. It is a solemn moment. Our object is, I take it, well known to us all. To the estimable Mr Baggins, and perhaps to one or two of the younger dwarves (I think I should be right in naming Kili and Fili, for instance), the exact situation at the moment may require a little brief explanation—”

This was Thorin’s style. He was an important dwarf. If he had been allowed, he would probably have gone on like this until he was out of breath, without telling any one there anything that was not known already. But he was rudely interrupted. Poor Bilbo couldn’t bear it any longer. At may never return he began to feel a shriek coming up inside, and very soon it burst out like the whistle of an engine coming out of a tunnel. All the dwarves sprang up, knocking over the table. Gandalf struck a blue light on the end of his magic staff, and in its firework glare the poor little hobbit could be seen kneeling on the hearth-rug, shaking like a jelly that was melting. Then he fell flat on the floor, and kept on calling out “struck by lightning, struck by lightning!” over and over again; and that was all they could get out of him for a long time. So they took him and laid him out of the way on the drawing-room sofa with a drink at his elbow, and they went back to their dark business.

“Excitable little fellow,” said Gandalf, as they sat down again. “Gets funny queer fits, but he is one of the best, one of the best—as fierce as a dragon in a pinch.”

If you have ever seen a dragon in a pinch, you will realize that this was only poetical exaggeration applied to any hobbit, even to Old Took’s great-grand-uncle Bullroarer, who was so huge (for a hobbit) that he could ride a horse. He charged the ranks of the goblins of Mount Gram in the Battle of the Green Fields, and knocked their king Golfimbul’s head clean off with a wooden club. It sailed a hundred yards through the air and went down a rabbit-hole, and in this way the battle was won and the game of Golf invented at the same moment.

In the meanwhile, however, Bullroarer’s gentler descendant was reviving in the drawing-room. After a while and a drink he crept nervously to the door of the parlour. This is what he heard, Gloin speaking: “Humph!” (or some snort more or less like that). “Will he do, do you think? It is all very well for Gandalf to talk about this hobbit being fierce, but one shriek like that in a moment of excitement would be enough to wake the dragon and all his relatives, and kill the lot of us. I think it sounded more like fright than excitement! In fact, if it had not been for the sign on the door, I should have been sure we had come to the wrong house. As soon as I clapped eyes on the little fellow bobbing and puffing on the mat, I had my doubts. He looks more like a grocer than a burglar!”

Then Mr Baggins turned the handle and went in. The Took side had won. He suddenly felt he would go without bed and breakfast to be thought fierce. As for little fellow bobbing on the mat it almost made him really fierce. Many a time afterwards the Baggins part regretted what he did now, and he said to himself: “Bilbo, you were a fool; you walked right in and put your foot in it.”

“Pardon me,” he said, “if I have overheard words that you were saying. I don’t pretend to understand what you are talking about, or your reference to burglars, but I think I am right in believing” (this is what he called being on his dignity) “that you think I am no good. I will show you. I have no signs on my door—it was painted a week ago—, and I am quite sure you have come to the wrong house. As soon as I saw your funny faces on the door-step, I had my doubts. But treat it as the right one. Tell me what you want done, and I will try it, if I have to walk from here to the East of East and fight the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert. I had a great-great-grand-uncle once, Bullroarer Took, and—”

“Yes, yes, but that was long ago,” said Gloin. “I was talking about you. And I assure you there is a mark on this door—the usual one in the trade, or used to be. Burglar wants a good job, plenty of Excitement and reasonable Reward, that’s how it is usually read. You can say Expert Treasure-hunter instead of Burglar if you like. Some of them do. It’s all the same to us. Gandalf told us that there was a man of the sort in these parts looking for a Job at once, and that he had arranged for a meeting here this Wednesday tea-time.”

“Of course there is a mark,” said Gandalf. “I put it there myself. For very good reasons. You asked me to find the fourteenth man for your expedition, and I chose Mr Baggins. Just let any one say I chose the wrong man or the wrong house, and you can stop at thirteen and have all the bad luck you like, or go back to digging coal.”

He scowled so angrily at Gloin that the dwarf huddled back in his chair; and when Bilbo tried to open his mouth to ask a question, he turned and frowned at him and stuck out his bushy eyebrows, till Bilbo shut his mouth tight with a snap. “That’s right,” said Gandalf. “Let’s have no more argument. I have chosen Mr Baggins and that ought to be enough for all of you. If I say he is a Burglar, a Burglar he is, or will be when the time comes. There is a lot more in him than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself. You may (possibly) all live to thank me yet. Now Bilbo, my boy, fetch the lamp, and let’s have a little light on this!”

On the table in the light of a big lamp with a red shade he spread a piece of parchment rather like a map.

“This was made by Thror, your grandfather, Thorin,” he said in answer to the dwarves’ excited questions. “It is a plan of the Mountain.”

“I don’t see that this will help us much,” said Thorin disappointedly after a glance. "I remember the Mountain well enough and the lands about it. And I know where Mirkwood is, and the Withered Heath where the great dragons bred."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 463 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 463 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 18, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    good

    That was great. I enjoyed every minute reading this. J.R Tolkien is one of the best !!!!

    36 out of 46 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 6, 2012

    The Realm of Tolkien

    The Hobbit is a great book for people of all ages. As you read this book it will bring you back to a time when life was as simple as good versus evil. Every detail of the world that J.R.R Tolkien creates is brought to life. As challenges arrive, the characters' personalities change and they develop their own unique characteristics and feelings. As I read this book I felt as if I was growing and learning along with the heroes. I liked how the main character Bilbo began as a normal friendly four foot tall and became the heroic thief that risks his life for the sake of his friends.
    The Hobbit is just one of those books that you read for hours at a time and still want more. This is one of my favorite books and I would recommend it for any adventurer seeking the thrill of a goblin fight, the terror of a dragon's lair, or the excitement of encountering talking man-eating spiders. The world of the hobbit is truly a well thought out literary treat. Tolkien sows in stories and adventures that are not directly related to Bilbo to give the story more depth. One example of this is when he tells of how Bilbo's relative, a Took, who fought in the Goblin War and invented golf. One of the greatest things about The Hobbit is Tolkien's writing style makes the story sound as if someone is personally telling you a story. The casual way that the author writes in allows the story to come to life and be more realistic.
    From cover to cover the mysteries unfold as you learn more of this world of mystery and magic. The quest's sense of urgency forces the reader to want more, but when that last page is finished and all tensions are resolved your life is at ease. Finishing The Hobbit was a self-fulfilling task. It gave me the joy of understanding a world unlike our own. If you want to learn more of how the Lord of the Rings trilogy began or if you just want to leisurely read another feel-good book then The Hobbit is the perfect book for you.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

    Bilbo Baggins lived in a hobit-hole in a town called the Shire. It is almost been quiet in the shire, except for interruptions from a wizard named Gandalf. When Bilbo won't go with Gandalf on a quest for treasure, Gandalf and his nine dwarf companions annoy Bilbo so much that he agrees to go. Using one of the dwarf's maps, they they set out through forests, rivers, and mountains facing danger, hunger, and obstacles all the way. Ending with a big battle it is a good book. One of the things I liked about this book is that there is a bunch of action and adventure. Unfortunetly, in between the events there is a lot of waiting and walking which can become very boring. There is also a good amount of unnecisary information. It depends on who the reader is to say whether or not I recommend it. If it is a reader who can't stand waiting, I wouldn't recommend it. If the reader likes to wonder what is going to happen next, then I would certainly recommend the Hobbit. J.R.R. Tolkien writes somewhat clear in the Hobbit. He brings in other things where he should go straightforward. He writes in a third-person limited point of view, but he is telling a story, chipping in his own personal opinion from time to time, so that the reader knows what he was thinking while he wrote the book. So he writes in a casual sense, as if he is talking, not writing. Also, J.R.R. Tolkien likes to use similes.Some similar novels are the Chronicles of Narnia and the rest of the Lord of the Rings series. An intresting fact is that J.R.R. Tolkien was friends with the author of the Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 21, 2011

    A great book

    In the novel the Hobbit by J.R. R. Tolkien which is a fantasy novel. It is a well written book with phrases and great dialog from the characters which is amazing with several songs and riddles. The protagonist Bilbo Baggins doesn't really do anything in the book till he meets Gollum near the middle of the book. Another good character is Gandalf and he very important to the entire book. He saves Bilbo and the thirteen dwarves countless times. When the group was captured by the three trolls and they were deciding how eat them. Gandalf tricks them into fighting each other. Later on Bilbo finds a ring while he solves riddles with a creature named Gollum. Gollum was plagued by the ring since he first got it on his birthday a long time ago. Thorin is the leader of the thirteen dwarves because he is royalty. In the story the call Bilbo the thief because he steals the ring from Gollum. The book has several antagonists including the three trolls, the wargs, and the goblins the wargs are wolves that are friends with the goblins and try to kill the dwarves, Gandalf and Bilbo because the killed the head goblin. While running away of the wargs and goblins the group climbs up a tree to save themselves, then Gandalf throws fireballs at the wargs to make them go away. Soon the goblins finally come and try to burn them out of the tree. The giant eagles come and save the by carrying them to the homes. I loved this book. It is from a great author and has challenging words that I don't really know, but I like that. This book is perfect to 7th graders to adults. I recommend this book to any fan of fantasy and adventure.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    I have always wanted to delve into J.R.R. Tolkien, but, the time

    I have always wanted to delve into J.R.R. Tolkien, but, the time never came. When The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey came into theaters, I immediately saw it. Afterwards, I picked up the book at the library and delved in. (As you can see, I loved the movie.) I haven't seen or read The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but, The Hobbit is definitely a must read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    amazing from the very begining to the very end!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    great piece of art by j r r tolkien!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and one awesome read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An Unexpected Read!

    I've heard in the past that The Hobbit is considered a "childrens book". However, I completely disagree! The Hobbit can appeal to all ages, I certainly loved it! It's a great start to this magnificent series. We get adventure, thrill, humor, among other things. I'm glad Bilbo was able to embrace his Tookish side, thus The Hobbit was born! A must read for anyone who is a fan of the trilogy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent.

    I don't have this exact copy (mine is my grandpa's from 1972) but it's all the same. It's a great classic and, if you're like me, a better book to do for a report than "Little Women". The action is great, and the sheer amount of imagination that was put into this is unfathomable.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 29, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    A favorite I will pass down generations..

    I read this book outloud the first time I read it, did the voices and all. I just can't read it any other way. I must have an audience. Leading you directly into the Lord of the Rings trilogy, nothing will every replace "The Hobbit".<BR/><BR/>Great read for all ages. Again and again as we travel through life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2006

    Ick!

    I like all kinds of books. I just wanted to let you know that so you don't think that I am judging based on genre. Anyways. This book was so boring. I had to red out loud and make stupid voices for the characters and insert comical things into their sentences to get through the first two chapters. Please, use your money on something else. Something actually worth your time.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2005

    The Hobbit is not a cool book

    I just finished the fantasy The Hobbit. The Hobbit is a story about how a band of thirteen homeless dwarves led by Thorin (son of Thrain, son of Thror¿King under the Mountain) and a hobbit named Bilbo who go on a long and dangerous quest facing evil orcs, savage wolves, giant spiders, and worse unknown dangers to recover a lost treasure that Smaug the Great Dragon guards. Gandalf is the wizard who elects Bilbo to go on the journey with the dwarves. He helps them on their way. Gandalf is the wizard who organizes the quest. Bilbo the hobbit is the one who confronts Smaug. He uses his invisible ring to get dreadfully close to Smaug and actually talks to him. He also saves the dwarves from death on their journey to the treasure. Thorin is the leader of the dwarves and of the whole quest that is why their team is called, ¿Thorin Company.¿ Smaug is the dragon who has guarded the treasure for many years deep inside the mountain where he lives. He is very greedy, and he kills many people in the story. The last main character is Bard. He is the character who becomes a hero at the end. The main characters run into many problems. A few of which I just described above. The characters were also almost killed by trolls and were almost kept in prison by goblins. This whole book is an adventure and the characters are right in the middle of it. Bilbo is my favorite character because he is small and the others underestimate him because of his size from the beginning. I can definitely relate to how he feels about the others talking bad about his size. They believe he was too small to do anything to help them recapture the treasure. I have felt like this before, but I learned that size does not matter. Just like Bilbo, I had to prove people wrong to earn their respect and trust. In the novel Bilbo proved himself to his team and they did not question his abilities any longer. I didn¿t enjoy this book. I hated it actually. I had to force myself to finish reading it. I think it¿s because I don¿t like books that aren¿t real. The characters in this book are all fictional characters for example wizards, hobbits and goblins don¿t exist in life and this causes me to loose interest in the book because it¿s not real or even plausible. My favorite part is when Bard kills Smaug. My least favorite part is when Bilbo is knocked out during the battle of the five armies. This is the part I would change I would keep Bilbo fighting during the battle. I would make him a key character instead of a knocked out character. This book appeals to people with wild imaginations. I don¿t recommend The Hobbit to anyone unless they like fairy tales and fantasy.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2005

    This book sucks!

    I'm sorry, but this book is awful, and it never gets better. I had to read it for a class and ended up going to cliffnotes.com ( i think) and got the summary. At least i could understand it. Really, it doesn't even deserve 1 star. Please save yourself and don't read this book.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2001

    An INSULT to the LORD OF THE RINGS

    Okay, maybe that was a bit harsh. Even if a zero-star option was available, I would still give it a one - simply because it was written by Tolkien. Honestly though, I feel that the book caters more towards kindergarteners and maybe 1st graders, not the sophomore in highschool that I am. It is a pure waste of paper, devoid of any plot more intricate than one can find in fairy tales such as Snow White. read the Lord of the Rings and absolutely loved it. The epic trilogy takes you into a world that you can only imagine, a world that you get tantalizing glimpses of and wish you could examine in greater detail. The Lord of the Rings is masterfully written, in such a way that there is just enough information to form an image but still leaves room for your own imagination (one reason why I ABSOLUTELY REFUSE to see the movie). One is also able to appreciate fully the entirely new and original language that Tolkien created. Upon reading the Hobbit, however, I felt all of a sudden that the awesome, magnificent Middle Earth was nothing more than a child's creation, lacking any credibility. In my opinion The Lord of the Rings HAS NO PREQUEL - it is it's own creation, and nothing can ever try to equal or enhance it. I strongly suggest that you read the Lord of the Rings, it is a masterpiece; and I equally strongly recomment you save your time and skip the Hobbit, which, far from enhancing your understanding of the Lord of the Rings, will do more to sully it - and probably irritate you in the process.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2014

    Review of The Hobbit by Morgan on May 26, 2014, Goodreads The Ho

    Review of The Hobbit by Morgan on May 26, 2014, Goodreads
    The Hobbit is the first book author John Ronald Ruel published. J.R.R is a talented and creative author. J.R.R started writing The
    Hobbit on his free time, and was always making up new stories to entertain his children. He wanted to experiment with new ideas
    and concepts for the book. The theme of the book is about a hobbit named Bilbo who goes on a dangerous quest with dwarves and
    its one big adventure. Bilbo is reluctant at first, but he decides to take the adventure on. The hobbit in this fiction book learns his
    strengths and abilities through a wild adventure that can change his life. The Hobbit is an entertaining fantasy, and I love all
    the details included in the book because it makes the book really interesting. 
    The possibilities in the book show you can learn who you are if you have an open mind and try new things. The book leaves out
    how Bilbo Baggins quest will end. This book affects me because there is a lot of creativity throughout the novel, and I am going
    to apply that to my life. My opinion on the topic has changed because you don’t judge a book by its cover. It doesn’t matter if you
    are big or small you can accomplish great things. In life it makes me think if you put effort into something you can achieve it. Overall
    I enjoyed this book from beginning to end, it left me wanting to know more. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2014

    Overall, The Hobbit was a really interesting, exciting, book! Th

    Overall, The Hobbit was a really interesting, exciting, book! This book has a little bit of every theme. It has excitement. For example when they fight Smaug. There is also fear when they are up in trees while wolves are trying to get to them. The Hobbit has excellent description of characters, and settings. I was really able to understand the characters images and what and where the setting was. At time though, the book was confusing. It seemed like they werein one place in one sentence and then they were in a completely different setting. I also learned a lot of great word choice. when I was confused I looked up the word, and know understand and use a lot more vocabulary words. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2013

    To be quite honest, I have never been a huge Lord of the Rings f

    To be quite honest, I have never been a huge Lord of the Rings fan, but I was promised by a friend that I would not regret reading The Hobbit. I was surprised as I became sucked in right away! This is truly a story for all ages, and it is a classic that can be read again and again.
    This is a fun story of an adventure, full of dwarfs, wolves, spiders, a dragon and a hobbit. Bilbo begins as a quiet hobbit who wanted peace. As the story unfolds, he grows as he faces dangers and trials in his quest. Although the reader is not a hobbit or doesn't fight dragons, they can relate to Bilbo as he faces many unpleasant things. And although there is much danger throughought the story, there is also a lot of light humor that makes the reading very enjoyable.
    I truly enjoyed this book, and I know that it will be one I will one that I'll read again. Even though it is now a story that every one now knows because of the movies, the book allowed me to use my imagination and enjoy the story differently. I reccomend this book to anyone who is ready to go on a n adventure.

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  • Posted July 14, 2012

    "The Hobbit" was one of my two favorite books growing

    &quot;The Hobbit&quot; was one of my two favorite books growing up, and I have never stopped loving it. Timeless.

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  • Posted June 20, 2012

    a must read

    I have really enjoyed reading The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. The writing style took me a bit to get used to and once I did it made it more enjoyable. The is a wonderful adventure read ,with man-eating spiders ,the goblin fight and of course the dragons lair, and yet having to go through that Gandolf and the 9 dwarves were strong to handle it all. Tolkien , through his writing gets you to like the characters more and allows you to expereince whatthey do as he pulls you in to the story wanting more at every page! I do recommend this book it you havent already had the visit with them, go out and do so. It was well worth it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2012

    Great read, would recommend to everyone.

    Great read, would recommend to everyone.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 31, 2012

    "In the ground in a hole there lived a hobbit"

    This book is amazing, in addition to anything else Tolkien has ever written. I loved the Lord of the Rings Trilogy so much that I knew I would not be dissapointed when reading this book. It reads much easier than LOTR, as its intended audience was children, though I would highly recommend to any person who loves to read no matter what there age group is. Enjoy going on this adventure with little Bilbo - who simply not sure about his feelings towards the journey until the excitement begins.

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