Without further ado, here's this chapter. Because he got to it first, I think I'll directly respond to some of RM points:
- Gandalf's Foresight: While I think it's certainly present, his utter failure to see and recognize the One Ring seems really out of place. He has his suspicions that something is up, even in this chapter, but leaves it alone. I suppose this can be written off as trusting to Fate, which is an underlying theme of all the works. I really need to think about this theme further as it applies to the hobbits and Gandalf. It seems as if Gandalf brings Bilbo along for a reason, even if that reason isn't clear even to Gandalf. So, he's trusting in something beyond his immediate ken (his own intuition, Fate, God) that he's doing the right thing. It will be interesting to track Gandalf's trust in this as we progress through the books and to look at Fate as a theme. (Example: Gandalf doesn't want to go into Moria in Fellowship. It's not clear if he really knows about the Balrog, has some foresight of his own death there, or if it's just "bad feelings" Gandalf falls, but is brought back in the necessary form to finish the fight against Sauron. Did he then have to go into Moria for everything to work out?)
- I picked up on the human settlements as well, which I had forgotten about (along with the rockslide). I had always pictured this part of the world as wilderness.
- I had also forgotten that this whole situation was a lot of bad luck. Bilbo et al just happen to stumble into the wolf/goblin conference room at the appointed meeting time. I also like the idea of the wargs being smart, evil, and intelligent on their own and not just the mounts of goblins.
- Speaking of the goblins, what about the songs?! The image of goblins piling brush under the dwarf-trees, singing with malevolent glee, is a wonderful one with a lot of game take-away. Most of the time, my humanoids are fodder, nameless hordes to be chopped up into little bits. They would be much more memorable with a little personality! I think Paizo's Classic Monsters Revisited is wonderful for this.
- I'll disagree with the Monkey on the "noble animals" theme as reoccurring., at least according to my memory. You get a lot of intelligent animals in The Hobbit (eagles, Beorn's, spiders, birds), but I really don't remember very many in the LoTR (except the eagles again). The animals are one of the things that make The Hobbit more of a child's story, in my opinion. And I don't mean that in a derogatory way at all.