In Tolkien’s narrative conceit, in which all the writings of Middle-earth are translations from the fictitious volume of The Red Book of Westmarch, Bilbo is the author of The Hobbit and translator of The Silmarillion.
The Hobbit relates how Bilbo Baggins, in comfortable middle age at 50 years old, is hired in spite of himself as a burglar by Gandalf and thirteen dwarves led by their king Thorin Oakenshield on a quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and its treasure from the dragon Smaug. The adventure takes Bilbo and the companions through the wilderness, to the elf haven of Rivendell, across the Misty Mountains and the black forest of Mirkwood, to Lake-town in the middle of Long Lake, and eventually to the Mountain itself. Here, after the dragon is killed and the Mountain reclaimed, the Battle of Five Armies takes place.
In his journey, Bilbo encounters other fantastic creatures, including trolls, elves, giant spiders, a man who can change shape into a bear, goblins, eagles, wolves and a mysterious, murderous creature named Gollum. Underground, near Gollum’s lair, Bilbo accidentally finds a magic ring of invisibility, which he uses to escape from Gollum.
While Bilbo initially comes across as a timid, easily-flustered bumbler, he grows wiser and more confident as the story progresses. In many gruesome situations, he is the one who saves the day. He rescues the dwarves from giant spiders with the magic ring and a short Elven-sword he acquired. He uses the ring to sneak around in hostile environments, as well as his wits to smuggle the dwarves out of the elves’ prisons. He is able to hold his will in conversation with the wily Smaug. When tensions arise over ownership of the recovered treasure, he tries unsuccessfully to bring the opposing sides to compromise, using a stolen heirloom jewel as a leverage. This strains his relationship with Thorin, but the two are reconciled at Thorin’s dying. Bilbo impresses leaders of men and elves, as well as Gandalf, who knew all along that there was more behind the easily-flustered hobbit from the opening chapter. At the end of the tale, Bilbo has become very wealthy due to his share of the dwarves’ treasure; he also finds that he has traded respectability for experience and wisdom.
* Bilbo Baggins
* Burglar, from a note on Bilbo’s door left by Gandalf
* Thief, from Gollum after Bilbo stole the One Ring. Smaug also gave the name to Bilbo after he stole a cup.
* Clue-finder, a name given to Bilbo by himself during his conversation with Smaug
* Web-cutter, a name given to Bilbo by himself during his conversation with Smaug
* Stinging Fly, a name given to Bilbo by himself during his conversation with Smaug
* Ringwinner, a name given to Bilbo by himself during his conversation with Smaug
* Luckwearer, a name given to Bilbo by himself during his conversation with Smaug
* Barrel-rider, a name given to Bilbo by himself during his conversation with Smaug, Smaug also later addressed Bilbo by this name.
* Mr. Lucky Number, a name given to Bilbo by Smaug.
* Child of the Kindly West, a name given to Bilbo by Thorin II Oakenshield.
* Bilbo the Magnificient, a name given to Bilbo by Thranduil
* Elf-friend, a name given to Bilbo by Thranduil
* Madd Baggins, a name given to Bilbo by Rorimac Brandybuck after Bilbo disappeared from the Shire suddenly.
* Ring-bearer, for his bearing of the One Ring.
* Bilba Labingi, the original hobbit name for Bilbo.
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