Thorin Oakenshield

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Thorin Oakenshield
Tolkien's legendarium character
Aliases King under the Mountain
King of Durin's Folk
Race Dwarf
Book(s) The Hobbit (1937)
The Return of the King (1955)
Unfinished Tales (1980)

Thorin II Oakenshield, son of Thráin, son of Thrór, King under the Mountain is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's 1937 novel The Hobbit. Thorin is the leader of the Company of Dwarves who aim to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from Smaug the dragon. He is the son of Thráin II, grandson of Thrór, and becomes King of Durin's Folk during their exile from Erebor. Thorin's background is further elaborated in Appendix A of Tolkien's 1955 novel The Return of the King.

Characteristics[edit]

Thorin is described as haughty, stern and officious. He sings and plays the harp, wears a gold chain, and has a long beard. He wears a distinctive sky blue hood with a long silver tassel. He refers to his home in the Blue Mountains as "poor lodgings in exile". He is a capable and a cunning warrior, if not a particularly inspiring or clever leader. While shorter than Elves or Men, Thorin is said to be quite tall for a Dwarf.

Appearances[edit]

The Hobbit[edit]

In The Hobbit, Thorin and twelve other Dwarves visited Bilbo Baggins on Gandalf's advice to hire Bilbo as a burglar to steal their treasure back from the dragon Smaug. Smaug had attacked Erebor (the Lonely Mountain) about 150 years before, and had taken both the dwarves' mountain and their treasure. Thorin was determined to get the treasure back, and especially wanted the Arkenstone, the Heart of the Mountain, an heirloom of his house.

On the journey the company encountered a band of trolls, and Thorin alone of the Dwarves was not taken unawares. He found the Elven blade Orcrist in the trolls' cache, and used the sword thereafter until it was taken when he was captured by the wood-elves. He and Gandalf fought valiantly in the goblin tunnels in the Misty Mountains. When the dwarves were captured by the wood-elves of Mirkwood, Thorin insisted that the others not disclose their quest to their captors. He was the first to emerge from the barrels at Lake-town and marched right up to the leaders of the town, declaring himself as King Under the Mountain.

With provisions from Lake-town, Thorin led the company to Erebor. After Smaug was killed, the dwarves reclaimed the treasure, and Thorin, very pleased with Bilbo, gave the Hobbit a chain-mail coat made of mithril as the first installment of his payment. Faced with demands from Thranduil the Elvenking and Bard the Bowman for a fair share of the treasure to be distributed to the wood-elves and the men of Lake-town, Thorin became recalcitrant and refused to acknowledge their right to any of the hoard. He fortified the Mountain against his new rivals, and sent to his cousin Dáin Ironfoot for reinforcements. Thorin was furious when Bilbo stole the Arkenstone to use as a bargaining counter, and he drove him from the Mountain. The growing conflict was averted only by an invasion of goblins and wargs, whereupon the dwarves joined forces with the wood-elves, the men of Lake-town, and the great eagles in what became known as the Battle of Five Armies. During the battle, Thorin was mortally wounded, but he made his peace with Bilbo before he died.

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. But, sad or merry, I must leave it now. Farewell.

Thorin, The Hobbit

When Thorin died, he was buried with the Arkenstone, and Orcrist was returned and laid upon his tomb. The blade would glow blue should orcs approach, and they could thus not take the Mountain by surprise. Thorin was succeeded as leader of Durin's Folk by his cousin Dáin.

The Lord of the Rings[edit]

Part III of Appendix A in The Return of the King gives an overview of the history of Durin's Folk and gives more of Thorin's background. He was born in T.A. 2746, and when Smaug attacked Erebor in 2770, Thorin was driven into exile with the other surviving dwarves. In 2799 when he was 53 (a young age for a Dwarf), he marched with a mighty dwarf-army against the orcs of Moria. In the Battle of Azanulbizar in Nanduhirion beneath the East-gate of Moria, Thorin's shield was broken, and he used his axe to chop a branch from an oak tree to defend himself, thus earning the epithet "Oakenshield". After the battle Thorin led his people to establish a foothold in the Ered Luin - the Blue Mountains west of the Shire.

As Frodo Baggins prepared to leave Rivendell for Mordor, Bilbo gave him the mithril coat for his protection on the journey. Gandalf later referred to Thorin's gift to Bilbo, a "kingly gift" worth more than the value of the whole of the Shire, unaware that Frodo was wearing the coat at that moment. The coat later saved Frodo's life on several occasions.

Unfinished Tales[edit]

Unfinished Tales, a book of Tolkien's essays and stories about Middle-earth published posthumously in 1980, elaborates on Thorin's reasons for accepting Bilbo into his company. As depicted in the story "The Quest of Erebor", Thorin met with Gandalf in Bree shortly before the quest began. Gandalf persuaded him that stealth, rather than force, was needed to infiltrate Erebor; they would therefore need a burglar. Gandalf feared that Sauron could use Smaug as a weapon, and was concerned that Thorin's pride and quick temper would ruin the mission to destroy the dragon. He thought that Bilbo would be a calming influence on Thorin, as well as a genuinely valuable addition to the company. Thorin, who did not think much of Hobbits, reluctantly agreed, realizing that Bilbo's presence would be a small price to pay for Gandalf's help.

Names and titles[edit]

Tolkien adopted Thorin's name from the Old Norse poem "Völuspá", part of the Poetic Edda.[1] The name "Thorin" (Þorinn) appears in stanza 12, where it is used for a dwarf, and the name "Oakenshield" (Eikinskjaldi) in stanza 13.[2] The names also appear in Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda.[3] The Norse Þorinn means darer or bold one,[4] which is apt for the dwarf who initiated the quest of Erebor.

As he was by right of birth the king of Erebor following the death of his father Thrain, he was King under the Mountain in exile until Smaug was destroyed. Upon Thorin's death, the title passed to Dáin, his cousin and nearest heir.

Adaptations[edit]

Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit

In the 1977 animated version of The Hobbit, Thorin is voiced by Hans Conried. In the Golden Joystick Award winning[5] 1982 game The Hobbit Thorin appears as an AI controlled character and one of his seemingly random actions ("Thorin sits down and starts singing about gold", which occurs when the player does nothing for a while) became quite famous.[6]

In the 2003 video game, Thorin is voiced by Clive Revill. Thorin briefly appears in The Lord of the Rings Online during the prologue for the Dwarven characters, set shortly before The Quest for Erebor. In the game the stronghold in the Ered Luin of the refugees from Erebor bears the name "Thorin's Hall" in his honour.

In the Extended Edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) Gandalf briefly mentions Thorin as the one who gave the Mithril shirt to Bilbo as a gift. In the three-film adaptation of The Hobbit (2012–2014), Thorin is portrayed by Richard Armitage.[7] The movie adaptation adds to Thorin's quest a personal vendetta against the orc Azog, who swears to end the bloodline of Durin. In the book, Azog is killed by Dain at Azanulbizar; but in the film Azog fights Thorin and is not killed, but survives to become Thorin's nemesis. Thorin and Azog face each other once again following the dwarves' escape from Goblin-Town, and Thorin sets out to kill Azog once and for all during the Battle of the Five Armies. After a prolonged fight, Thorin manages to land a mortal blow, but succumbs to his own wounds soon afterward.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Solopova, Elizabeth (2009), Languages, Myths and History: An Introduction to the Linguistic and Literary Background of J.R.R. Tolkien's Fiction, New York City: North Landing Books, p. 20, ISBN 0-9816607-1-1 
  2. ^ "Poetic Edda". Retrieved 2007-09-27.  Tr. Henry Adams Bellows (1936).
  3. ^ "Prose Edda". Retrieved 2007-09-27.  Tr. Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur. The names appear as Thorinn and Eikinskjaldi. The name ultimately derives from that of the Norse god Thor.
  4. ^ John D. Rateliff (2007), The History of The Hobbit, volume 2 Return to Bag End, Appendix III Dvergatal; ISBN 0-00-725066-5.
  5. ^ "Playing the Game". CRASH (4): 43. May 1984. 
  6. ^ Campbell, Stuart (December 1991). "Top 100 Speccy Games". Your Sinclair (72): 28. 
  7. ^ Josh Winning (18 July 2011). "See Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit". totalfilm.com. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Thráin II
Kings of Durin's folk Succeeded by
Dáin II Ironfoot