Wandering Middle-earth’s winding paths is the travelling conjurer Gandalf, known by many names to many peoples in many lands, though few could guess the true extent of his powers or purpose.
His fireworks may delight many a Hobbit youngster, but the Grey Wizard is no mere magician or trickster. Gandalf is old beyond reckoning and wise beyond the reach of mortal men. Where Middle-earth’s lords and kings brood over the fortunes of their realms, Gandalf’s gaze is cast across a wider canvas and it is the greater good of all the world’s free peoples that he is concerned with.
Needless are none of the acts of the Wizard, so when he councils Dwarf king in exile Thorin Oakenshield to enlist the services of Mister Bilbo Baggins as a burglar in his quest to reclaim his birthright from the dragon Smaug, it is done with a keen insight into the sheltered Hobbit’s qualities and an understanding of how crucial these will be to their success. The Hobbit impresses Thorin Oakenshield little upon their first meeting, but, despite his misgivings, the Dwarf knows enough of Gandalf to credit him with good reasoning, and indeed it will not be long before Bilbo Baggins’ mettle is tested and the Wizard’s wisdom proven.