This is the fourth in a series of what I am calling my "Thorincentric" posts. The reason behind the series is to "flesh out" the character of Thorin for myself, in particular, so that I can understand the role Richard Armitage is going to have to play. At the moment, for me, Thorin is still a fairly vague image in my mind. From writing these posts, I now know that he has had a very tragic family history which I think in part may contribute to the "haughty, stern, officious" demeanor described in so many of the articles I have read about him. The reader will discover numerous links over the internet with regard to the description of Thorin in the movie casting call notices published on the Spoiler TV site, 4th January 2020
"[THORIN OAKENSHEILD] Heir to the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, Thorin Oakensheild was forced to lead his people far away from their homelands into exile in the Blue Mountains. Powerfully built and a legendary fighter, Thorin has led a tough and dangerous life and it shows on his face. He is sharp eyed and sharp tongued, proud in his bearing and un-trusting of those he does not know. But Thorin is also capable of intense loyalty, immense courage and surprising gentleness and humour. Thorin will be required to wear a wig and beard and some minor prosthetics make-up, like a nose or forehead, is possible. LEAD. AGE: EARLY 40’S to MID 50’S. ACCENT – STANDARD R.P. OR SLIGHTLY ACCENTED REGIONAL ENGLISH ACCENT." (Spoiler TV)
I think there were some doubts about the authenticity of the casting call notices published online especially given the fact that Oakenshield is spelled incorrectly. The description seems to be accurate however and the age fits.
I will immerse myself once again into Thorin's world again. I've been dreading this part as I feel it would be easy for me to get bogged down in the history. It is quite significant in Thorin's life however.
Firstly, the map - I am still staying with a small section of the map of Middle-earth but in later posts, will include the full map. Click to enlarge.
To recap, Thrór, Thorin's grandfather has been tragically murdered by Azog, the Chief of Orcs living in Moria. He died a broken and unhappy man who has set out to reclaim part of his inheritance. He was hoping to once more inhabit Moria, abandoned kingdom of his forefathers.
Nár, companion of Thrór, escaped the orcs of Moria and returned to Dunland (west of the Misty Mountains) to let Thráin know of the loss of Thrór.
"..... and when he had wept and torn his beard he fell silent. seven days he sat and said no word. Then he stood up and said: 'This cannot be borne!'. That was the beginning of the War of the Dwarves and Orcs, which was long and deadly, and fought for the most part in deep places beneath the earth." (J.R.R. Tolkien: "Return of the King": Appendix A: III - p 355).
To make this post a little easier for me to write, I have summarised the events of the next nine years in the form of a timeline as follows:
2790 of the 3rd Age: Thráin sends messengers carrying the story of Thrór’s murder to all dwarves spread across Middle-earth. Thorin is now aged 44 years. ("Battle-age and still young")
2793 - 9 (3rd Age): Thráin musters an army of dwarves from all Houses of the Dwarves to assail and attack the orcs (goblins) living between Mount Gundabad in the Misty Mountains to the north (see map) and the peak of Methedras in the south near the Gladden River (North east of Moria). Most of the war was fought in the tunnels of the mountains where the dwarves excel at combat.
2799 Battle of Azanulbizar (3rd Age). Azanulbar was situated at the east gates of Moria. The orcs were winning the battle and had the advantage. In the first assault, Thráin and his warriors were driven back into a wood of great trees where Frerin (Thorin's brother) and Fundin (a kinsman) were both killed. Thorin and Thráin were wounded.
"It is said that Thorin's shield was cloven and he cast it away and he hewed off with his axe a branch of an oak and held it in his left hand to ward off the strokes of his foes, or to wield as a club. In this way he got his name." (J.R.R. Tolkien: "Return of the King": Appendix A: III - p 355).
Elsewhere, the battle raged and many were killed until the mailed warriors of Náin (kinsman of Thráin) from Iron Hills, finally arrived to help end the battle. Náin was killed by Azog in battle but his death was avenged by his son Dáin Ironfoot who, while only a very young dwarf (32 years), killed Azog with his axe. Thorin was aged 53.
When the battle was won by the dwarves, Thráin claimed Khazad–Dûm as theirs once more, but his decision to enter the Gate was thwarted by his dwarf allies and kinsmen.
"You are the father of our folk and we have bled for you, and will again. But we will not enter Khazad–Dûm. You will not enter Khazad–Dûm. Only I have looked through the shadow of the Gate. Beyond the shadow, it waits for you still: Durin's Bane. The world must change and some other power than ours must come before Durin's folk walk again in Moria." (Dáin's speech to Thráin. J.R.R. Tolkien: "Return of the King": Appendix A: III - p 356).
(This speech is prophetic. Those who are familiar with Lord of the Rings will know the "other power" refers to Gandalf. Durin's Bane is the balrog. It seems Dáin has an ability to predict the future).
When the dwarves had built pyres and burned their dead (they were unable to build tombs in that place), they dispersed once more to their homes leaving Thráin and Thorin to decide their own future.
"Thráin said to Thorin Oakenshield:
' ........ Will you come with me back to the anvil? Or will you beg your bread at proud doors?'
'To the anvil' answered Thorin. 'The hammer will at least keep the arms strong, until they can wield sharper tools again' "
(J.R.R. Tolkien: "Return of the King": Appendix A: III - p 357)
2799 (3rd Age): Thráin and Thorin returned with their people to Dunland and soon after wandered west in Eriador until they made a home in exile in the east of Ered Luin where they mined iron and made a living for themselves. Their numbers increased slowly for there were not many women. Thorin remained unmarried.
(Next post: I will need to look into the Rings of Power to explain the dwarven rings and Thráin's downfall).