I think Freelancer has a good point, especially considering how precious Bilbo's home is to him (or, I should say, was). Maybe Bilbo should have made up an amusing ditty (like the one the Dwarves sung at the beginning) to sing as he ran towards the Elvenking, holding the Arkenstone aloft and just out of Thorin's reach. But no, my imagination runs wild. I personally think that giving the Arkenstone away was necessary and that had Thorin come to possess it the doors to the mountain would have remained fast, especially with the Elven King outside. And what do we think about sneaky, sneaky Gandalf, eh?
What is it with villains in Middle Earth? Leaving priceless treausres lying around liable to be picked up by a hobbit in the dark. Smeagol did it, Smaug did it. Saruman left his Palantir lying around in Isengard, although his lack of care can be excused because he was otherwise occupied at the time. Anyone I forgot? And thinking about Bilbo being enchanted by the treasure, personally, I don't think many of us would fail to be enchanted by a dragon's horde. The Crown Jewels in the Tower of London attract many visitors, and I think Smaug's little collection would outclass that! I like the way that tension is built by not telling the reader what Smaug was doing at this point. I seem to have a memory of, when reading this part previously, getting a sinking feeling that Smaug was just being sneaky and he was about to appear at any moment to attack the Company. If we were reading that he was on his way to Lake Town to pick up the groceries then we could be confident about the future health of our short friends.
@Alpha Lews-Rand-Elan-Ishydin as the Captain of Elayne's guards? But that would draw attention to himself, and end his quiet retirement by returning to public office. I think it's going to be difficult for him to get near Elayne, Min or Avi without the penny dropping for someone that He Who Left With the Dusk is still alive.
@birgit That may be true, but don't forget that the Dragon, the Coramoor and He Who Comes with the Dawn are also different propecies. The Aiel even make a point about how they're not following those wetlander prophecies about the Dragon. In any case, top points to Demandred. Although, I feel that we're getting a little ahead of ourselves here since it's only the prologue. I like the idea about Talmanes being the captain of Elayne's guard!
It was sad to watch the destruction of Caemlyn, but I also felt that Talmanes' and the band's trek through the burning city to feel like it could fit in Warcraft III (or some other strategy game). A hero and a group of soldiers making their way through a city, meeting up with enemies and discovering caches of weapons (or dragons in this case), joining together with the beleagured defenders of the city, etc. etc. I completely missed the significance of Shipless and Egwene until someone mentioned it in the spoiler thread. And after so much discussion around the place about that Dream, too!
The trouble with a Wheel of Time reread, as others have alluded, is that as the wheel turns, earlier rereads become legend, and then legend turns to myth so that by the time you get to A Memory of Light reread, the Eye of the World is forgotten again. Which means you can reread the reread. Very appropriate. I'd like to give a shout out to Talmanes, who is not only proving to be a very able commander, but commendably concerned for the welfare of Caemlyn's citizens. Another thread in the theme of the good guys winning because of their own strength of character.
@Lauren Interesting observations. I'm thinking of the dwarf-made west gate into Khazad-dum which could be opened at any time by someone speaking the correct password "friend". But the instructions written on the door only appear in star/moonlight. Likewise, I tend to think of the back door as able to be opened at any time by someone who knows where the keyhole is, has the key, and makes the right sound (a thrush trill). The purpose of being in the right spot on Durin's day is, in my view, to discern the location of the keyhole, for those who do not know already. Of course this still requires some help from our friend the thrush, who appears to either be intelligent enough to take an active part in revealing the keyhole, or the dwarves knew that thrushes would be in that spot singing at the right time for many years to come. Here's a question for everyone, since it seems likely that the end of the second movie will be somewhere very close to this point. What do you think the climactic scene of Desolation will be? Barrel riding or partying in Lake Town don't quite seem exciting enough.
Thorin as Captain Mainwaring indeed; very apt. This chapter has always been, for me, the one that stands out in my mind when I think of The Hobbit. A very evocative chapter with the enchanted stream, the dark wood and the fight with the spiders. I do confess to being a little disappointed in our dear company that they weren't able to successfully navigate the wood without the help of Gandalf. Of course it turns out alright in the end, and it would have made for a boring story if they simply followed the path, but it certainly taps into the theme of the dwarves and Bilbo growing from a general lack of preparedness and lack of competence at the beginning of the book. Things are looking up soon, though with (spoiler) the barrels!