March 28, 2013

The Company of Thorin Oakenshield

I have Danania from "The Adventures of Danania, Supergirl of Lorien" blog to thank for this fantastic post idea!  I don't know how this didn't occur to me before now, so double-thanks to you for hitting me over the head with this one!

Who exactly are all of the Dwarves who were in the company of Thorin Oakenshield, what was their relationship to each other, where does the doughty Gimli fit in, and where (if anywhere) do we find them (or references to them) in LOTRO?

I briefly touched on this in my post on Goblin Town last December, and even speculated about whether we would see some of the surviving Dwarves when we made it to Erebor.  And sure enough, we now have some answers!  But I never really took an in-depth look at them, and the roles they played in the Hobbit or how Turbine integrated them into LOTRO.  What a fun topic!

OK, before you read any further, count off all of the Dwarves by memory.  A chocolate chip Cram for each of you who can!  Thanks to the Hobbit movie, it definitely helps many of us remember them.  Here's a list, just because I find it fun to make such a list:

  1. Thorin Oakenshield
  2. Balin
  3. Dwalin
  4. Fili
  5. Kili
  6. Glóin
  7. Óin
  8. Dori
  9. Nori
  10. Ori
  11. Bifur
  12. Bofur
  13. Bombur

Cool, I didn't even have to look to do that.  And there's even a bit of logic (at least in my mind) in how I have them ordered.  Thorin, Balin, Dwalin, Fili, Kili, Glóin, and Óin are all related (as I'll discuss below), and are all descendants of Durin the Deathless.  Take a look in the Appendix, as there's a nice genealogical chart that is far better than anything I could create.  Dori, Nori, and Ori are also mentioned as being part of the House of Durin in Appendix A but more remotely related to the others.  Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur are said to be descended from Dwarves of Moria but not of Durin's line.

Thorin's Hall, as viewed from Frerin's Court
Thorin Oakenshield

We all know him - Thorin, leader of the party to reclaim Erebor.  Thorin was a descendant of Durin I, the first Dwarf to awaken on Arda, and would have been in line to become King under the Mountain following his grandfather, Thrór and father, Thráin II.  He's actually Thorin II; there was another King Thorin I about 500 years before our Thorin.

In The Hobbit, Thorin is described as wearing a sky-blue hood with a long silver tassel, and plays the harp.

After Smaug routed the Dwarves from Erebor, Thorin later settled in Ered Luin and founded the area of Thorin's Hall.  In LOTRO we see Frerin's Court is named after his younger brother, who was killed in the Battle of Azanulbizar while trying to take back Moria and avenge the murder of King Thrór by the orc Azog.  Just beyond the gates near Frerin's Court, you enter the Vale of Thráin, named after Thorin's father.  (I guess he did not feel the need to name anything in Ered Luin after his grandfather, who got Thrór's Coomb in Enedwaith as his namesake.)  Thorin of course dies from wounds received during the Battle of Five Armies, and is laid to rest deep under the Lonely Mountain, with the Arkenstone on his breast and Orcrist the sword laid atop his tomb.  We can barter at skirmish camps for a nice bust of Thorin to add as a housing decoration!

Balin and Dwalin

Balin's Tomb
Balin and Dwalin were brothers, sons to Fundin, and distant cousins to Thorin, as well as first cousins to Glóin and Óin.  I have to say, I found the first Hobbit movie adorable; yes I'm a Lore Junky, but I have no problems with what Jackson did in order to adapt it to the big screen (and I just have fun telling my son the REAL lore when they get it wrong lol).  I get a kick out of these two guys and they are absolutely my two favorite Dwarves in the movie!

In the book, both play large viols.  Dwalin wore a green hood and Balin a scarlet one.

In LOTRO, Dwalin is now ruling in Thorin's Hall, working to defend Ered Luin.  We meet and assist him during the introductory section for Elves/Dwarves, and then can stop by to see him at any time at his seat at Thorin's Hall.  Just remember that he does NOT like sugared honeysuckle candy.

In The Fellowship of the Ring, we first hear of Balin when Frodo and Glóin are dining together, and Frodo asks what had become of Balin, Ori, and Óin, who went to Moria together.  "A shadow passed over Glóin's face. 'We do not know,' he answered.  'It is largely on account of Balin that I have come to ask the advice of those that dwell in Rivendell."  It was 30 years before the time of the War of the Ring that the 3 Dwarves took a company to resettle Moria.

Gandalf reads what he can from the book in the Chamber of Mazarbul:  "The first clear word is sorrow, but the rest of the line is lost, unless it ends in estre.  Yes, it must be yestre followed by day being the tenth of novembre Balin lord of Moria fell in Dimrill Dale.  He went alone to look in Mirror mere.  An orc shot him from behind a stone.  We slew the orc, but many more...up from east up the Silverlode....Poor Balin!  He seems to have kept the title that he took for less than five years."

We unfortunately know all too well what happened to Balin.    He was entombed in the Chamber of Mazarbul, or the Chamber of Records, which had been established as his seat in Moria, and was later discovered by Gimli and the rest of the Fellowship during their journey through the Mines.

Fili and Kili

Fili and Kili were brothers, and nephews of Thorin.  Their mother, Thorin's young sister, was the sole named female Dwarf that we know of from the Hobbit - Dís.  Fili and Kili were killed at the Battle of Five armies, trying to defend Thorin "with shield and body."  With their deaths, thus ended this particular line of the House of Durin; neither Thorin or his brother Frerin had children.

Oddly these two Dwarves are not - thus far - worked in to LOTRO in any manner that I can recall.

In the book Fili is noted as having the best sight.  Both wore blue hoods, silver belts, and had yellow beards, and played little fiddles.

Glóin and Óin

At Glóin's Camp
Glóin and Óin were brothers, wore a white and brown hood respectively, and were cousins to Balin and Dwalin.  Their father was the unfortunately named Gróin, who was brother to Fundin, dad of Balin/Dwalin.  (Really, just look at the chart in Appendix A, it is so much easier!)  And of course Glóin is dad to our favorite LOTR Dwarf, Gimli.  So Gimli is indeed of the line of Durin!

The two brothers were reputed in the book to be particularly skilled at building fires, but do not seem to have been musical, unlike the other Dwarves.

Glóin is alive and well in LOTRO, and can be found at the camp named after him just north of Rivendell, as we pass into the Misty Mountains.  Glóin has been protecting the passes of the  mountains, and has much business for us to take care of in Goblin Town.

The Remains of Óin
Óin, on the other hand, was not so fortunate.  After Erebor, he elected to accompany Balin in his attempt to recolonize Moria.  From the book found in the Chamber of Mazarbul, we learn that Óin was killed by the Watcher in the Water.  And sure enough, we get to meet him - er, his remains - when doing both Volume II and wrapping up Volume III of the Epic Book line.  The fabled axe that belonged to Durin, what LOTRO calls Zigilburk, is closely tied to the fate of Óin.

Dori, Nori, and Ori

In the movie, these three Dwarves are brothers.  Did you know that in The Hobbit book, no mention is made of their actual relationship?  Maybe they are related, maybe not.  Curiously, Dori and Nori both wear purple hoods in the book, with Ori wearing a grey one.  All three played the flute.

As stated earlier, Ori accompanied Balin to Moria, where he met his end with the others.  In LOTRO we see him in a session play during the Volume II epic line, "We Cannot Get Out."   It was Ori who recorded the last moments of the Moria settlers in the book of Mazarbul. 

Captain Ori in "We Cannot Get Out"
"Here is something: a large bold hand using an Elvish script. 'That would be Ori's hand,' said Gimli, looking over the wizard's arm. 'He could write well and speedily, and often used the Elvish characters.'"

"We cannot get out.  We cannot get out.  They have taken the Bridge and second hall.  Frar and Loni and Nali fell there....the pool is up to the wall at Westgate.  The Watcher in the Water took Óin.  We cannot get out.  The end comes...drums, drums in the deep...they are coming."

In The Hobbit book, Dori is noted to be the strongest Dwarf, and most often looked after Bilbo, often having to carry or assist him.  Dori was actually carrying Bilbo through the darkness of the caves of Goblin Town when he tripped and dropped Bilbo, who rolled off unconscious and unseen in the blackness, later making his way to Gollum's lair.  Dori also saved Bilbo from the Wargs by letting him jump on his back to climb up the tree, almost at his own peril.  He also took a lot of heat from the others for supposedly putting their "Burglar" in peril.

Dori and Nori at the Battle for Erebor
In LOTRO, we get to see Dori during the introductory session for Elves/Dwarves, in Frerin's Court with Dwalin.  We also encounter him later in the North Downs, where he has been imprisoned in a fortress near Othrikar, then later shows up in Esteldin.

We also see both Dori and Nori at the entrance to the new Battle for Erebor raid!

Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur

Bofur and Bombur are brothers, and cousins to Bifur.  Bifur and Bofur wore yellow hoods, and Bombur a green one.  The former two were talented with the clarinet, while Bombur played a drum.
Bifur and Bofur Fight the Fires of Smaug

All three survived the Battle of Five Armies, and prospered at Erebor, though in perhaps different ways.  As we learn in the Fellowship of the Ring, "Bombur was now so fat that he could not move himself from his couch to his chair at table, and it took six young Dwarves to lift him."  In LOTRO, we have not yet seen or heard much of Bombur, except in a possibly very appropriate way - the Bombur's Beard ale is named after him.  (There is also a fake version, Bombur's Breath, available from the Ale Association.)

In LOTRO, we meet cousins Bifur and Bofur at the entrance to the new Fires of Smaug raid.  (I'm sorry, but that raid - ugh.)

Interestingly, in LOTRO we see other traces of Bifur and Bofur in Moria.  Remember all of the "B" Dwarves you help throughout Moria?  The Devs created Bori, who is the son of Bosi, son of none other than Bifur!  And we can infer that Brogur, who is the father to Bróin, is the son of Bofur.  Bosi refers to Brogur as his cousin (and we are sort of tipped off by the name of a quest that Bosi confers named "Cousin Brogur.")  Bori also calls Bróin his cousin.  I believe Brogur, in the instance "Zigelburk Returned,"  refers to Óin as a "friend to my father."

Whew.  Those are a lot of Dwarves to incorporate into LOTRO, and a lot of Dwarves to keep track of!  I have very much enjoyed how LOTRO has found ways to keep the Company alive - either truly alive or in memory.  (What about Fili and Kili?!)  So have I missed anything?  Let me know!

References:  The Fellowship of the Ring, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Appendix A


  1. Great post as usual! And I agree that poor Gróin got a snicker-ful name. I know that Tolkien took all/most of his dwarf names from the Eddas; was Gróin from there as well?

    1. Hi Ship! I don't know the answer to that. Although I did look it up on the Tolkien Gateway site (not always totally reliable), and they have the following (this sort of makes me feel even worse for Gimli's poor grandpa): "Jim Allan has suggested that Gróin (like Grór) is derived from Old Norse gróa ("to grow"), thus meaning "Growing-one"." Eeek.

  2. McFarlane, you indeed are a scholar of the highest regard!

    Thanks so very much for taking my request! :)
    It has been on my mind for ages... I meet these dwarves but to these elven eyes, they all look the same... lil bearded fellows. With your handy guide, I vow to not call them all "that dwarf" and "that other dwarf" and will refer back to your guide on meeting dwarves in the future.

    I definitely have a new appreciation for the characters in "The Hobbit" and the dwarves of Middle Earth.
    Danania, Supergirl of Lorien

    1. Thank you! And thanks again for the suggestion, as you can tell I loved the idea and didn't want to wait to tackle it. "That dwarf" and "that other dwarf" - I lol'd!

  3. Another great read! Thank you!

  4. Excellent post as ever! Thank you