Jane_Austen_coloured_versionIt’s long past time to announce February’s Rewrite Tolkien contest winner – apologizes for the delay!  We had several great entries for February’s theme – ‘The Hobbit’ in the style of Jane Austen – but as they say, There Can Be Only One.

February’s winner is….



Jill Richardson of Chicago, Illinois!   Congratulations, Jill – Your entry will be read live on TORn Book Club this Sunday, 9th March.

Stay tuned for March’s contest (hint: don’t forget your towel) and keep those entries coming in!


An Unexpected Party (Which Is, of Course, Most Disagreeable) by Jill Richardson (Chicago, IL)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a dwarf, formerly in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of its return.

However little known this truth may be to the individuals involved in the particulars of his quest, it is so well fixed in the minds of dwarves and their subsequent generations that any necessary additions to their party are quite considered their rightful property.

So Bilbo Baggins learned when a large party of such dwarves paid an him afternoon call. An entire party to whom, I must add, he had not yet been properly introduced.

This lamentable fact had no effect on Sir Oakenshield, however, as he proceeded to deliver his haughty glance around the room—a room which did not quite meet his specifications. “It seems a trifle shabby that I must hang my own cloak,” he sniffed to no one in particular. “And that,” here he touched his elbow which had been regrettably bruised on the threshold of Bilbo’s establishment, “one must be injured in order to be welcomed into this . . . estate.” He waved off Bilbo’s profuse if somewhat unrequired apologies. “Nevertheless, let us attend to our business. I feel sure that someone might offer us something stronger than tea before the evening is at its end.”

“What, if I may be so bold . . .” began Mr. Baggins. (In truth, Mr. Baggins and ‘bold’ were not two words commonly associated.) “What is the nature of this business? And why . . .” He began to stutter now at his recklessness in questioning so great a personage. “Why must it take place in my humble abode?”

“Because, Mr. Baggins, the party requires your services.” Sir Gandalf, who had hitherto remained quiet, spoke. Mr. Baggins felt sure from previous encounters that when Gandalf stood quietly, some mischief would follow. “The offer would be generous,” he continued.

“Indeed.” Bombur addressed his host for the first time. “And you must realize, Mr. Baggins, that in spite of your manifold attractions . . . ” At this his gaze lingered on the dining table so recently laden with its lavish substance. “It is by no means certain that another such offer may ever be made to you.”

“I beg your pardon, my friend of generous girth.” (It was Bilbo’s turn for the display of some little wit.) “I cannot mistake your meaning. I may not have ten thousand a year, gentlemen, but I live comfortably enough.” He turned up his own nose at Sir Oakenshield here, a feat made all the more difficult by the fact that he was, most charitably, a half-foot below that dwarf’s stature. “I do not need to work for my keep like a . . . a grocer.”

“Ah, but have you a taste for adventure, sir?” Kili betrayed his own taste for such uncomfortable pursuits by his shining eyes and eager looks. “And surely you would not object to taking in the sights at Laketown, particularly such a sight as Smaug the magnificent dragon. Quite the prodigious tale you would have to tell, you understand.”

“Dragons? Adventure? I should prefer to be struck by lightning that endure anything so disagreeable. And who is this Smaug? I have certainly never heard of him. I am in no humor at present to give consequence to dragons who are slighted by history books.”

“My dear Mr. Baggins,” queried Fili. “Have you not heard of the dreadful row at The Lonely Mountain? But I suppose that news of real import rarely travels so far to the country. Ah country living; it is so, enchantingly . . . innocent.”

Then something Tookish arose in Bilbo. He was as aware as the next gentleman of the dismissive nature of young master Kili’s tone, and his noble lineage of Bullroarer Took could be denied no further. “I assure you, Mr. Kili, the country is quite as full of information as your Lonely Mountain or whatever place you mean. Pardon me, I don’t pretend to understand what you are talking about, but tell me what you wish to be done. I am at your service. Who is this Smaug you wish me to take notice of, and in what part of the country does he reside?”

Sir Oakenshield, grand in stature and, if truth be known, rather plodding in speech, began the tale. “My grandfather possessed both title and fortune, you know, and as his rightful heir, I stood to inherit. But through the wiles of a penniless fortune-hunter, all was lost in the halls of Erebor.”

“Smaug, the dragon in question, simply rose from nowhere to make his attempt at our fortune. He had no parents of consequence, no substance. A mercenary fellow, make no mistake.” Balin punctuated his remarks with a stern shake of his head.

“And it was a good deal too rude of him too, I believe, but then, he was a younger son, you know, and his brother got all that there was to live upon when the old dragon passed away. Younger sons must make their way in the world in some fashion.” As a younger son himself, Oin might be forgiven this remark, had he chosen to time it more prudently.

That it was not prudent became clear by Sir Oakenshield’s withering glare. “He is a cursed creature, and thus must be those who defend him. Let us formulate a plan and be quick about it. I desire to quit this establishment by morning and be on our journey.”

“But how shall we manage to regain what is rightfully ours?” Bofur’s petulant speech demonstrated that he had no plan himself for this endeavor.

“There is a secret door on the side of the mountain . . .” began Gandalf.

“Secret? Is that quite . . . seemly? It does appear so . . . so . . . not quite the thing to take such a backhanded approach.” The Baggins portion of Bilbo’s lineage began to reassert its adherence to strict propriety.

“Shall we have some music?” Fili felt it best to distract the company. “I sing tolerably well, but I do not play, so perhaps my brother would consent to accompany me? How about the Misty Mountains tune?”

So wore the evening, while good friends enjoyed good conversation, and those perhaps not so well pleased by the company sat in corners brooding, or stood together making disparaging remarks on the dress or style of Mr. Baggins’ establishment. That Bilbo would go was determined. That he would obtain the dwarves’ good graces quite another.

At length, Bilbo stifled a yawn and rose. “In any case, good sirs, before I retire I shall require one matter to be resolved once for all. In no way shall I leave my home without my pocket handkerchiefs. It is simply not proper. Good evening to you all.”