So, I make no secret of loving to mess with hobbits in LOTRO, but when I read them, I find I'm more sympathetic to their plight (being hungry) than the more epic characters like, say, Aragorn. I frankly find him completely unrelatable in the book (which is why I think they made so many changes to his character for the movies, but more on that MUCH LATER), while I find mushrooms to be way more exciting because-- mushrooms. Sauteed in olive oil with a bit of salt and pepper--
The fandom inspired my other reason to read this book - or fanon, to be more precise. Fic characterization of Thranduil, king of the wood elves in Mirkwood, ranges from batshit to seduction personified, sometimes both, and I wanted to see where in hell they were getting that. I sure didn't remember any smoking hot elf kings in my previous reading of this book, and I assure you, my favorite character type is so established you can see me fangirling over elves and hot pretty boys way back before I read this at age 18. I thought it was a horrible shame that I had completely forgotten such a hottie. So I read the book, curious to see fanon's inspiration.
Verdict: nothing. They are pulling that characterization out of their asses. Thranduil was the quintessential elven king - wise, kind, etc. All I can think of to account for his batshit characterization in fanon is his argument with Thorin:
“Why did you and your folk three times try to attack my people at their merrymaking?” asked the king.
“We did not attack them,” answered Thorin; “we came to beg, because we were starving.”
“Where are your friends now, and what are they doing?”
“I don’t know, but I expect starving in the forest.”
“What were you doing in the forest?”
“Looking for food and drink, because we were starving.”
“But what brought you into the forest at all?” asked the king angrily.
At that Thorin shut his mouth and would not say another word.
Tolkien, J.R.R. (2009-04-17). The Hobbit (p. 184). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
... which doesn't take into account any secret knowledge from The History of Middle Earth, but whatever.
I figured that would be the case, but it merited checking out. On further thought, I've seen wood elves and Teleri in general characterized as more sensual or even feral than their Noldorin counterparts, and uh, I'm not seeing it. It's a strange assumption seemingly made according to faulty logic. But whatever, it's not like I don't benefit from it in the form of fic.
Maybe it's the crown of leaves and berries? That sounds like it should be accompanied by a loincloth.
So in any case, I found the Battle of Five Armies much more interesting than I likely did the first time I read the book. Bilbo's riddle competition with Gollum was fun. Thorin as a self-important blowhard was lots of fun. :D Smaug was rather interesting too, but not as much so as Glaurung - or not as sinister, nor as dangerous. You do not riddle with Glaurung unless you want to lose.
Well, it was a short book and a good read. I wish dwarves got more attention.