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Reading Fiction: The Hobbit (the Dragon Attacks)

In this worksheet, students read an extract about an attack by Smaug (the dragon). Then they answer questions to check their understanding of the passage.

'Reading Fiction: The Hobbit (the Dragon Attacks)' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:   Reading

Curriculum subtopic:   Check Understanding

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Read this extract from 'The Hobbit' by J.R.R. Tolkien. Then answer the questions in the worksheet, adding quotations from the text where you can. You may find it helpful to print the text.

The townspeople are threatened by Smaug the dragon.

Before long, so great was his speed, they could see him as a spark of fire rushing towards them and growing ever huger and more bright, and not the most foolish doubted that the prophecies had gone rather wrong. Still they had a little time. Every vessel in the town was filled with water, every warrior was armed, every arrow and dart was ready, and the bridge to the land was thrown down and destroyed, before the roar of Smaug's terrible approach grew loud, and the lake rippled red as fire beneath the awful beating of his wings.

Amid shrieks and wailing and the shouts of men, he came over them, swept towards the bridges and was foiled! The bridge was gone, and his enemies were on an island in deep water - too deep and dark and cool for his liking. If he plunged into it, a vapour and a steam would arise enough to cover all the land with a mist for days; but the lake was mightier than he, it would quench him before he could pass through.

Roaring, he swept back over the town. A hail of dark arrows leapt up and snapped and rattled on his scales and jewels, and their shafts fell back kindled by his breath burning and hissing into the lake. No fireworks you ever imagined equalled the sights that night. At the twanging of the bows and the shrilling of the trumpets the dragon s wrath blazed to its height, till he was blind and mad with it. No one had dared to give battle to him for many an age; nor would they have dared now, if it had not been for the grim-voiced man (Bard was his name), who ran to and fro cheering on the archers and urging the Master to order them to fight to the last arrow. Fire leapt from the dragon's jaws. He circled for a while high in the air above them lighting all the lake; the trees by the shores shone like copper and like blood with leaping shadows of dense black at their feet. Then down he swooped straight through the arrow-storm, reckless in his rage, taking no heed to turn his scaly sides towards his foes, seeking only to set their town ablaze.

Fire leapt from thatched roofs and wooden beam-ends as he hurtled down and past and round again, though all had been drenched with water before he came. Once more water was flung by a hundred hands wherever a spark appeared. Back swirled the dragon. A sweep of his tail and the roof of the Great House crumbled and smashed down. Flames unquenchable sprang high into the night. Another swoop and another, and another house and then another sprang afire and fell; and still no arrow hindered Smaug or hurt him more than a fly from the marshes.

Already men were jumping into the water on every side. Women and children were being huddled into laden boats in the market-pool. Weapons were flung down. There was mourning and weeping, where but a little time ago the old songs of mirth to come had been sung about the dwarves. Now men cursed their names. The Master himself was turning to his great gilded boat, hoping to row away in the confusion and save himself. Soon all the town would be deserted and burnt down to the surface of the lake.

That was the dragon's hope. They could all get into boats for all he cared. There he could have fine sport hunting them, or they could stop till they starved. Let them try to get to land and he would be ready. Soon he would set all the shoreland woods ablaze and wither every field and pasture. Just now he was enjoying the sport of town-baiting more than he had enjoyed anything for years.

But there was still a company of archers that held their ground among the burning houses. Their captain was Bard, grim-voiced and grim-faced, whose friends had accused him of prophesying floods and poisoned fish, though they knew his worth and courage. He was a descendant in long line of Girion, Lord of Dale, whose wife and child had escaped down the Running River from the ruin long ago. Now he shot with a great yew bow, till all his arrows but one were spent. The flames were near him. His companions were leaving him. He bent his bow for the last time.

Suddenly out of the dark something fluttered to his shoulder. He started - but it was only an old thrush. Unafraid it perched by his ear and it brought him news. Marvelling he found he could understand its tongue, for he was of the race of Dale.

"Wait! Wait!" it said to him. "The moon is rising. Look for the hollow of the left breast as he flies and turns above you!" And while Bard paused in wonder it told him of tidings up in the Mountain and of all that it had heard.

Then Bard drew his bow-string to his ear. The dragon was circling back, flying low, and as he came the moon rose above the eastern shore and silvered his great wings.

In paragraph 1, how do the people prepare for the dragon's attack?  

 

 

In paragraph 1, how do the people appear to be succeeding in fighting him off?

 

In paragraphs 3 and 4,how does the author build up the increasing desperation of the townspeople as the dragon overcomes them?

Later on, part of the story is told from the dragon's viewpoint.  Write the dragon's thoughts at this stage, in the first person. 

 

Find and copy five phrases which describe how the dragon moves and identify the verb in each.

 

  • Question 1

In paragraph 1, how do the people prepare for the dragon's attack?  

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
They collected water in every vessel. They prepared all their weapons and destroyed the bridge 'before the roar of Smaug's terrible approach grew loud'.
  • Question 2

In paragraph 1, how do the people appear to be succeeding in fighting him off?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
When he reached the bridge he found it was gone, 'and his enemies were on an island in deep water - too deep and dark and cool for his liking.' and he feared it would extinguish his flames. 'It would quench him before he could pass through.'
  • Question 3
In paragraphs 3 and 4,how does the author build up the increasing desperation of the townspeople as the dragon overcomes them?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
There seems to be hope but the people find their arrows are useless against his flames. Bard encourages them to fight on but the dragon gathers momentum and 'down he swooped straight through the arrow-storm, reckless in his rage'. In spite of all the water thrown by the people, they cannot extinguish the dragon's fire which is destroying everything and no arrow can 'hurt him more than a fly from the marshes.'
  • Question 4

Later on, part of the story is told from the dragon's viewpoint.  Write the dragon's thoughts at this stage, in the first person. 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
"Soon they will only have the lake to go to. They can all get into boats and I shall have a great time hunting them down! They might even starve to death as I shan't let them come near the land. Besides, there won't be anything left as I'll have set it all on fire. I'm having such fun!"
  • Question 5

Find and copy five phrases which describe how the dragon moves and identify the verb in each.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
'swept towards the bridges' (swept) 'he hurtled down' (hurtled) 'He circled for a while' (circled) 'Back swirled the dragon' (swirled) 'down he swooped' (swooped)
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