Like A Short Rest, this is another chapter where our friends get to rest and relax in a fantastical setting.
Which is to say that, once again, not a lot happens. Tolkien does mention a few things which are probably worth pointing out, however.
He mentions Radagast the Brown, another wizard of Gandalf’s order. In his film adaptation, Peter Jackson is expanding Radagast’s part from a mere mention to a full-fledged character played by the great Sylvester McCoy. Radagast, of course, also has the distinction of being insulted by Saruman in The Lord of the Rings.
He mentions the Necromancer who has set up shop in Mirkwood. Gandalf will later reveal (at the end of The Hobbit, I believe; but it might also have been in The Lord of the Rings. I suppose we’ll find out when we finish this book!) that he leaves the quest at the edge of Mirkwood to go convince the various powers to force the Necromancer out of his stronghold there. I believe that Jackson is going to make this a larger part of his The Hobbit film as well. And, of course, The Lord of the Rings will eventually tell us that the Necromancer was really Sauron, the great Enemy of the Age.
We meet Beorn. Beorn is unique in Tolkien’s universe. He’s clearly magical but it is not at all clear from where that magic stems. Is he a Maia like Gandalf? Some other nature spirit? Something else entirely? I do not know. He’s at least as much an enigma as Tom Bombadil, but I’ve never seen him discussed at length.
And that’s it. The party hangs out at Beorn’s house for a bit and then they head into Mirkwood after being warned repeatedly to not stray from the path.
There’s not even a good hook in this chapter for me to tell a different story. Next week should hopefully give me something a little meatier to write about.