||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (May 2014)|
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (May 2014)|
|Tolkien's legendarium character|
|Aliases||Elvenking of Mirkwood|
|Book(s)||The Hobbit (1937)|
Thranduil is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He is a supporting character in The Hobbit, where he is referred to as the "Elvenking," and is referenced briefly in The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and Unfinished Tales. Tolkien describes Thranduil as having a crown made of red leaves and berries in the autumn, and wearing a similar crown of flowers in the spring. Like all of the Sindar, he would have been beardless, tall, and grey-eyed.
Thranduil was one of the Sindar, or Grey Elves. Although the date and place of his birth are unrecorded, he may have been born in Beleriand, during the First Age of Middle-earth. Following the end of the First Age and the destruction of much of Beleriand during the War of Wrath many Sindar migrated into the east of Middle-earth. Crossing the Misty Mountains, they found populations of Silvan Elves living in the woodlands that bordered the River Anduin. The Sindar were welcomed by these people and some were made princes over them. Among these was Thranduil's father Oropher, whose realm included the southern portions of the forest of Greenwood the Great, which was later known as Mirkwood.
At the end of the Second Age Thranduil marched with his father and a large army of their people to join the Last Alliance of Elves and Men in their war against Sauron. The Silvan Elves suffered grievous losses, including Oropher who was slain in the Battle of Dagorlad before the Black Gate of Mordor. Following the war Thranduil, now king of his people, led the remnants of his army, only a third of what had set out, back to their woodland home. During the Third Age Thranduil's people migrated northward in the forest, especially after the year 1000 when a shadow began to fall on its south. Thranduil's folk eventually settled in north-east Mirkwood, beyond the Forest River. Here they managed to hold the evil emanating from the feared fortress of Dol Guldur at bay and lived lives of guarded peace in both the forest and the great underground halls they built.
Being located so far north, and on the eastern edge of an increasingly perilous Mirkwood, Thranduil's realm became somewhat isolated, but he established cordial diplomatic and trade relations with the Dwarves and Men who lived nearby in Erebor, Dale, and Esgaroth. However, the attack of the dragon Smaug in TA 2770 destroyed Erebor and Dale, and reduced Esgaroth to a shell of its former self; though there remained a healthy wine trade between the lake and the wood. This situation remained unchanged until TA 2941 and the arrival of Bilbo Baggins and a company of Dwarves on their quest to reclaim Erebor. The Dwarves were captured by Thranduil's guards and, suspicious of their intentions, he had them locked in his dungeons from which they later escaped. After the death of the Smaug, Thranduil along with the people of Esgaroth demanded a share of the treasure of Erebor, beginning a confrontation with the Dwarves, recently reinforced by an army from the Iron Hills, that nearly led to war. War with the Dwarves was averted by the intervention of the wizard Gandalf, just prior to the arrival of the allied forces of Orcs and wargs. The combined army of Elves, Dwarves, and Men was victorious in the ensuing Battle of Five Armies, but at great cost of life. Following the battle, Thranduil established generally positive relations with the re-established kingdoms of Erebor and Dale, but ancient grievances and prejudices between the Dwarves and Elves continued to strain the friendship between the peoples.
Thranduil did what he could to aid his fellow enemies of Sauron during the War of the Ring, including holding the creature Gollum in his dungeons for interrogation by Gandalf on the history of the one ring. Gollum soon escaped his prison with the aid of Orcs, and Thranduil sent his son Legolas to Rivendell to seek the counsel of Elrond and Gandalf on this and other matters. Thranduil and his people withstood attacks by Sauron's forces during northern battles of the war. Having routed their foes in the north, Thranduil's forces moved south, and joined with the armies of Lorien under Celeborn and Galadriel in destroying Dol Guldur, cleansing Mirkwood of Sauron's taint of evil. After the war, Thranduil's realm was expanded to include all Mirkwood north of its central mountains, and he and his people enjoyed peace. When, or if, he departed Middle-earth for Valinor is unknown.
He is one of the playable Elven heroes in The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II real-time strategy game, joining Elrond, Arwen, Glorfindel, and the Dwarves in destroying Dol Guldur in the final battle of the Good version of the game, and falling to the Goblins mustered by the Mouth of Sauron in the penultimate struggle of the Evil one along with all Mirkwood itself.
In the film adaptation of The Hobbit he is portrayed by American actor Lee Pace. Peter Jackson announced the casting news on 30 April 2011, while simultaneously revealing that Pace had been a favorite for the part, after he saw his performance in The Fall. The character first appeared in the prologue in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, was featured prominently in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and is set to appear in the third movie. Thranduil's role in The Desolation of Smaug places him as one of the main antagonists in the movie aside Smaug, Azog and the Necromancer. At one point in the movie, he mentions he has encountered dragons before and reveals a massive scar on his face caused by battle with a dragon, which he then heals or magically conceals instantly by force of will.
- In Appendix B of "The Lord of the Rings" Tolkien states that Thranduil was one of Sindar who migrated eastward early in the Second Age and established kingdoms among the Silvan Elves, implying he had a Beleriand origin and was alive during the First Age. However, in later writings, featured in "Unfinished Tales," Thranduil's father Oropher was made founder of the realm and reigned for thousands of years before his son, putting the time and place of Thranduil's birth into question.
- Unfinished Tales, 335.
- While his having a son indicates that Thranduil was, or had been, married, his wife is never named or discussed in any writings.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1937), Douglas A. Anderson, ed., The Annotated Hobbit, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 2002), ISBN 0-618-13470-0
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), Appendix B, "The Tale of the Years", ISBN 0-395-08256-0
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1980), Christopher Tolkien, ed., Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn," Appendix B: "The Sindarian Princes of the Silvan Elves", ISBN 0-395-29917-9
Cadet branch of the House of the SindarBorn: ? Years of the Trees Died: ? Years of the Sun
|King of Mirkwood|