Thorin Oakenshield

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

Thorin Oakenshield 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 .


Commentators have noted that Thorin is Old Norse both in name and character, being surly, illiberal, independent, proud, aristocratic, and like all dwarves greedy for gold.


Thorin II was the son of Thráin II; he was born in the Lonely Mountain. The dwarves were forced to flee by the dragon Smaug while Thorin was quite young. In exile, he became a capable warrior, and fought in the Battle of Azanulbizar. During the fighting, his shield broke, and he took up an oak branch to serve as a shield; "Oakenshield" thus became his epithet. Thorin became King-in-Exile of Durin's Folk after his father presumably died in the dungeons of Dol Guldur. He led the expedition recounted in The Hobbit to win the Lonely Mountain back from Smaug, but was killed in the Battle of Five Armies described at the end of that book.


The Hobbit

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 destroyed, 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 let greed get the better of him 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 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

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. When Smaug attacked Erebor in 2770, Thorin was driven into exile with the other surviving dwarves. When he was 53 (young for a Dwarf), he marched with a mighty dwarf-army against the orcs of Moria. After the battle Thorin led his people to establish a foothold in the Blue Mountains west of the Shire.

Unfinished Tales

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.


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. The name "Thorin" ultimately derives from that of the Norse god Thor. [2] The names also appear in Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda . [3] The Norse Þorinn means darer or bold one, [4] 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 Thráin, 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.


The Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey writes that in chapters 6–8 of The Hobbit, Tolkien explores "with delight that surly, illiberal independence often the distinguishing mark of Old Norse heroes". [5] The philosophers Gregory Bassham and Eric Bronson contrast the way Tolkien introduces hobbits, as "plain, quiet folks who never do anything unexpected", with how Thorin would have "introduce[d] himself, with aristocratic titles and songs of ancient lineage. We do not open the book to read of the wrath of Thorin the way we learn of the wrath of Achilles in the opening lines of The Iliad ." [6] The Tolkien scholar Paul H. Kocher writes that Tolkien characterises dwarves as having the "cardinal sin of 'possessiveness'", [7] seen sharply when Bard the Bowman makes what Bilbo feels is a fair offer for a share of Smaug's treasure, and Thorin flatly refuses, his "dwarfish lust for gold fevered by brooding on the dragon's hoard". [7]


Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit Thorin, from the Hobbit.jpg
Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit

In the 1977 animated version of The Hobbit, Thorin is voiced by Hans Conried. In the 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. [8]

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 Peter Jackson's three-film adaptation of The Hobbit (2012–2014), Thorin is portrayed by Richard Armitage. [9] The film adaptation adds to Thorin's quest a personal vendetta against the orc Azog, who murdered Thorin's grandfather, Thrór. 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 and Azog mortally wound each other, and Thorin dies in Bilbo's arms.

Family tree

Durin's Folk [10] [lower-alpha 1]
Durin IDwarves of Moria
Durin II
Durin III
Durin IV
Durin V
Durin VI
Náin I
Thráin I
Thorin I
Náin II
Dáin IBorin
Thráin IINáinFundinGróin
Thorin II Oakenshield Dáin II IronfootDwalin Balin GlóinÓinOri, Dori, NoriBifur, Bofur, Bombur
Fili, KiliThorin III Stonehelm Gimli
Durin VII


  1. Names in italics in the family tree are Thorin and his company from The Hobbit .

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  2. "Poetic Edda". Translated by Henry Adams Bellows. 1936. Retrieved 27 September 2007.
  3. Sturluson, Snorri. "Prose Edda". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 27 September 2007. Tr. Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur.
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  5. Shippey, Tom (2005) [1982]. The Road to Middle-Earth (Third ed.). HarperCollins. pp. 90–91. ISBN   978-0261102750.
  6. Bassham, Gregory; Bronson, Eric (2012). The Hobbit and Philosophy: For When You've Lost Your Dwarves, Your Wizard, and Your Way. John Wiley & Sons. p. 67. ISBN   978-0-470-40514-7.
  7. 1 2 Kocher, Paul (1974) [1972]. Master of Middle-Earth: The Achievement of J.R.R. Tolkien. Penguin Books. p. 26. ISBN   0140038779.
  8. Campbell, Stuart (December 1991). "Top 100 Speccy Games". Your Sinclair . New York City: Dennis Publishing (72): 28.
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  10. J. R. R. Tolkien. The Return of the King , Appendix A, Part III, "Durin's Folk"