This is the first of a number of posts I hope to write about Thorin II and his background. It has been a joy to be able to read excerpts of JRR Tolkien's wonderful writing.
I'm currently re-reading The Hobbit and whilst I'm enjoying the adventure, I felt that I was still not quite learning much about Thorin II or Thorin Oakenshield as he was known. I therefore went back to read the appendices located at the end of "The Return of the King". There I found an excellent chapter written about Durin's folk - ancestors and descendants of Thorin; their kingdoms, and their battles. I hope to explore these stories further but with the help of the diagram from Appendix A: III in Return of the King p. 352,( to which I've added a few extra details), the stories of Thorin and his ancestors are beginning to become clearer.
Thorin II is descended from a long line of Kings of the Longbeards reaching back to Durin the Deathless, the eldest of the seven fathers of their race. (There were four Ages: 1st, 2nd,3rd and 4th. Thorin lived in the 3rd Age). Durin I was known as "the Deathless" because he lived for so long and his descendants resembled him so greatly that six were named Durin also. Durin I made his home in the Misty Mountains in Khazad-Dûm (known many ages later as Moria).
I will explore the stories of Thorin's ancestors a little later but for the moment I wanted to find the explanation as to why Thorin II is known as Thorin Oakenshield. The name was given to Thorin during the War between the Dwarves and Orcs at the Battle of Azanulbizar. While fighting the Orcs, Thorin's shield was split rendering it useless. He cut a branch of an oak tree with his axe and held it in his left hand to ward off attack and use as a club as needed. He was called "Oakenshield" after this battle. I'm wondering if we might be lucky enough to have this included as part of Thorin's backstory in The Hobbit movies.
Next: Thorin's meeting with Gandalf before he meets Bilbo.