Balin (Middle-earth)

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Tolkien's legendarium character
Aliases Lord of Moria
Race Dwarf
Book(s) The Hobbit
Unfinished Tales

Balin is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He is an important supporting character in The Hobbit, and is mentioned in The Fellowship of the Ring.


Balin is the only Dwarf of Thorin's company whose name does not come directly from the Old Norse poem "Völuspá", part of the Poetic Edda. The name was invented by Tolkien.


The Hobbit[edit]

Balin, son of Fundin and elder brother of Dwalin is a Dwarf member of Thorin Oakenshield company of dwarves who travel with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf in the Quest of Erebor, on which the plot of The Hobbit centers.

The second dwarf to arrive at Bilbo's house at the beginning of The Hobbit, preceded by his brother Dwalin, Balin is part of the company assembled by Thorin to kill the dragon Smaug and retake the mountain kingdom of Erebor. Like his brother Dwalin, he played a viol. Other than Thorin, he is the only one explicitly said to have been at the Mountain prior to the coming of the dragon. According to Appendix A in The Return of the King he was 7 years old while Thorin was 24 on that day. Among the company of dwarves, Balin is the second-eldest after Thorin.

Balin is described as "their look-out man": he spots Bilbo approaching the Green Dragon Inn at Bywater, spots the trolls' fire in the Trollshaws, and is the first to spot the elves in Mirkwood. Naturally Balin could not notice Bilbo (made invisible by wearing the One Ring) as look-out for the company after escaping the goblins in the Misty Mountains, and after this incident he came to respect Bilbo's abilities as a burglar. He becomes de facto spokesman for the party when the dwarves are captured by the Elvenking, as Thorin wasn't present at the time. Balin is the only dwarf who volunteers to accompany Bilbo down the secret passage to Smaug. Some years after the Quest, he and Gandalf visit Bilbo in Bag End, where Balin tells of the mountain's glory restored in the years after the Battle of the Five Armies.

The Lord of the Rings[edit]

An artist's rendition of Balin's tomb. The inscription as devised by Tolkien translates to "Balin Son of Fundin, Lord of Moria".[1]

In T.A. 2989 Balin left Erebor and ventured to reclaim Moria with a company of dwarves including Flói, Óin, Ori, Frár, Lóni, and Náli. Balin discovered Durin's Axe,[2] and established a small colony, but the dwarves were overrun by orcs soon afterward and Balin was killed by an orc archer in the Dimrill Dale in 2994.

In The Fellowship of the Ring, it is mentioned by Gloin before the Council of Elrond that no word came from Balin's company in Moria in many a year and their fate was uncertain. The Fellowship later comes upon Balin's tomb in the Chamber of Mazarbul, where Gandalf finds the dwarves' book of records and discovers Balin's fate from it. Upon Balin's tomb is written in Dwarven Runes: "Balin Fundinul Uzbad Khazad-Dûmu". An inscription in smaller runes below this gives the translation into English: "Balin, son of Fundin, Lord of Moria".

Portrayal in adaptations[edit]

Ken Stott as Balin in The Hobbit film series

Don Messick voiced Balin in the 1977 animated version of The Hobbit. In the 2003 video game adaptation Balin is voiced by James Arnold Taylor.[3] In The Lord of the Rings Online (2007) Balin makes a brief appearance in the prologue for the Dwarven characters, set shortly before The Quest for Erebor. In the Mines of Moria expansion (2008) the fate of Balin's company is elaborated upon, as the players can revisit Balin's old campsite and witness the signs of work the dwarves accomplished in Khazad-dum before their demise.

In Peter Jackson's film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings Gimli refers to Balin as his cousin, though their kinship is technically "first cousin once removed", and Gimli seems unaware that the dwarves who settled in Moria were in danger. After openly grieving for Balin when the Fellowship discover the Chamber of Mazarbul, Gimli takes up Balin's axe in addition to the ones already on his person.

In Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Hobbit, Balin is portrayed by Ken Stott. He is shown first-hand witnessing the arrival of Smaug in Erebor and, together with Thorin and his brother Dwalin, fights in the Battle of Azanulbizar. In the aftermath of the battle, with king Thror dead and Thráin II missing, Balin accepts Thorin as the new king and throughout the films acts as his most trusted advisor. In Bag End, Balin is initially skeptical of Bilbo's abilities as a burglar and at one point attempts to talk Thorin out of quest, but follows him without question after Thorin makes his decision clear. Balin signs Bilbo's contract as a witness and later tells him the story of Azog and how Thorin Oakenshield acquired his title. Upon arrival at the hidden door of Erebor, Balin openly fears that Thorin might succumb to the same dragon-sickness as his grandfather, and is later seen openly weeping when his fears come true. Balin explains to Bilbo the significance of the Arkenstone and personally bids farewell to the Hobbit after the Battle of the Five Armies.

Family tree[edit]


  1. ^ "Balin". The Encyclopedia of Arda. Mark Fisher. 1 March 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  2. ^ The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm".
  3. ^ "The Hobbit (2003 video game) Cast & Crew". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 

External links[edit]