Guide to The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit/Chapter 14

Fire and Water is the fourteenth chapter of J.R.R Tolkien's The Hobbit.


Smaug attacks Lake Town after leaving the Lonely Mountain. The men of Esgaroth see the dragon coming and manage to fight back, but all seems lost until the thrush lands on Bard’s shoulder and informs him of Smaug's weak spot. Bard slays the dragon, but Esgaroth is destroyed in the process. Meanwhile, Thranduil assembles a host of Elves and marches to the Lonely Mountain with the intent of claiming the now unguarded treasure.


This chapter is devoted entirely to Smaug seeking vengeance against Lake-town for assisting Bilbo and the dwarves. The people of Lake-town see the dragon coming in the distance and prepare archers and many buckets of water to douse the coming flames. Their readiness is of little help, for Smaug flies over and sets the entire town on fire. The men’s arrows bounce harmlessly off the dragon’s body. When most of the men have abandoned the town, Bard, the captain of the archers, readies his last arrow. Suddenly, the thrush from the mountain lands on his shoulder and tells him to look for the dragon’s weak spot in the hollow of his left breast. Bard sees the open patch and fires his arrow. It plunges through the chink in the dragon’s armor and buries itself in his heart. Smaug comes crashing down, destroying what is left of Lake-town as he dies. Bard dives into the water and joins the rest of his people, who are mourning the dead and their lost town. Some blame the dwarves for waking the dragon, but most assume that they too are dead. The townsfolk then realize the treasure in the Lonely Mountain is now unguarded, and they think eagerly of how the wealth could rebuild Lake-town.

News of Smaug’s death spreads quickly, bringing the Elvenking and an army of elves to Lake-town to lend aid. The humans and elves unite in a single army and march toward the Lonely Mountain, with the intent of taking the treasure.


The account of the destruction of Lake Town, the town of humans, attests and emphasizes the formidable power and might of Smaug. Bard appears for the first time and becomes a hero. He kills the dragon by shooting an arrow into the weak spot that Bilbo had observed earlier. Interestingly, a thrush was the creature that reminded Bilbo of Durin's Day and allowed the dwarves to unlock the secret opening to Smaug's lair.



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