An encyclopedia of Middle-earth and Numenor
Richard Armitage as Thorin in The Hobbit
Thorin Oakenshield was the leader of the company that set out to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from Smaug the Dragon. Bilbo Baggins was hired as the company's Burglar, and it was on the journey that the Hobbit found the One Ring. The quest was successful, but Thorin did not survive to reign as King under the Mountain, for he was mortally wounded at the Battle of the Five Armies.
Thorin was born in 2746 of the Third Age. His father's name was Thrain. Thorin and his younger brother Frerin and younger sister Dis lived in the Lonely Mountain, where their grandfather Thror ruled a prosperous realm as the King under the Mountain. Thror was also the King of Durin's Folk - the leader of the Dwarves who were descended from Durin, the eldest of the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves.
As a young Dwarf, Thorin was of an adventurous nature. One day in 2770 when Thorin was about 24 years old, he was wandering outside when Smaug descended on the Lonely Mountain. Many of the Dwarves inside were slain, but others managed to escape. Thror and Thrain used a secret door in the mountainside, though they did not tell Thorin how they had gotten out.
Thorin's family and a small band of followers wandered homeless for many years. They performed menial work to survive, including blacksmithing and coal mining. For a time they settled in Dunland.
In 2790, Thorin's grandfather Thror went to Moria intending to reclaim the ancient Dwarf realm of Khazad-dum, but he was slain by the Orc-leader Azog. Thorin's father Thrain mustered an army and waged war against the Orcs of the Misty Mountains.
Thorin fought at the Battle of Azanulbizar in 2799. It was there that he earned the name Oakenshield when his shield was broken and he used the branch of an oak tree in its place. Thorin was wounded and his brother Frerin was killed, but in the end the Dwarves were victorious. Nevertheless, the Dwarves did not reclaim Khazad-dum because of Dain Ironfoot's warning that Durin's Bane, the Balrog, still lurked within.
Thorin and his father Thrain returned to Dunland and then they travelled to Eriador, where they settled in the Blue Mountains in 2802. They prospered to some extent, but they worked mainly in iron and had little gold.
In 2841, Thrain became consumed with the desire to find gold and he said farewell to Thorin and set out for the Lonely Mountain. But Thrain never got there; he was captured and imprisoned in Sauron's stronghold of Dol Guldur. Gandalf the Grey found him there and Thrain gave him the map of the Lonely Mountain and the key to the secret door to be passed on to his son. But Thrain could not remember his own name or Thorin's and Gandalf did not know who he was, so the Wizard held onto the map for many years.
Thorin did not know his father's fate, though Balin and Dwalin returned with the news that Thrain had vanished. Thorin became the King of Durin's Folk, and he was styled Thorin II. Thorin was strong and vigorous and proud. The colony in the Blue Mountains grew as many Dwarves came to dwell there, and under Thorin's leadership they expanded their halls and worked hard to increase their wealth.
But as the years passed, Thorin began to brood about the treasures of the Lonely Mountain and of the wrongs that his family had suffered. He felt it was his duty to seek revenge against Smaug, but he did not know how to achieve this. Thorin found himself thinking of Gandalf and he felt compelled to seek his counsel, though he had never met the Wizard and did not know where to find him.
Then on March 15, 2941, Thorin was returning home from a journey when he happened upon Gandalf at the Prancing Pony in Bree. Thorin approached the Wizard and invited him to his halls in the Blue Mountains and Gandalf agreed. Gandalf also wanted to rid the Lonely Mountain of Smaug because he feared that Sauron might use the Dragon to wreak havoc in the north while he attacked Rivendell and Lothlorien.
Thorin's initial idea was to assemble an army to march to the Lonely Mountain and vanquish Smaug, but Gandalf pointed out that there was no such army for Thorin to call upon and that it would be better to rely on stealth and secrecy. To that end, Gandalf proposed bringing along a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins as a member of the company, for Hobbits were known to be stealthy and Smaug would be unfamiliar with a Hobbit's scent. The Dwarves had the notion that Bilbo was a burglar seeking employment, and Gandalf went along with this idea. Thorin was scornful of Hobbits and he was extremely doubtful that one could help him on his quest, but at last he agreed to meet Bilbo.
Thorin assembled a company of thirteen Dwarves including himself and his nephews Fili and Kili, along with Balin, Dwalin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Oin, Gloin, Dori, Nori, and Ori. They travelled east from the Blue Mountains to the Shire. In Hobbiton on April 26, they found a smial called Bag End with a mark on the door indicating that a burglar for hire dwelled within.
Thorin was among the last to arrive, and Bilbo opened door so suddenly that Thorin fell inside with three other Dwarves including the extremely fat Bombur on top of him. Thorin accepted Bilbo's profuse apologies, but he was not at all impressed with Gandalf's choice of burglar, and Bilbo's behavior during the course of the evening did nothing to change Thorin's mind.
Thorin was won over to the idea of a secret mission, however. Gandalf produced the map and key that Thrain had entrusted to him and he told Thorin that his father's last wish was that Thorin make use of them.
Still, Thorin was not convinced of the need to include Bilbo in the company. Thorin argued with Gandalf long into the night after Bilbo had gone to bed, but the Wizard was adamant, and he told Thorin that the quest would fail without Bilbo. Finally Thorin relented with great reluctance. The next morning, Thorin & Company gathered at the Green Dragon in Bywater to await Bilbo and when the Hobbit arrived at 11:00 am they embarked on their quest.
In the Trollshaws in late May, Thorin & Company were captured by three Trolls named Tom, Bert and William. Thorin tried to fight them and he poked Bert in the eye with a flaming branch, but the Trolls seized him. Gandalf tricked the Trolls into arguing until dawn, when the Trolls turned into stone. Thorin took a magnficent sword from the Troll's hoard. When the company arrived in Rivendell, Elrond identified the sword as Orcrist, the Goblin-cleaver, a blade that had been made by the Elves of Gondolin in the First Age.
Thorin & Company were captured by Orcs in the High Pass of the Misty Mountains. The Orcs recognized Thorin's sword as the Goblin-cleaver, and they were enraged, but Gandalf slew the Great Goblin and the Dwarves escaped. Bilbo became lost under the mountains, and it was then that he found the One Ring and encountered Gollum.
As they continued on their journey, Thorin & Company were attacked by Wargs, rescued by Eagles, and taken by Gandalf to the house of the skinchanger Beorn. At the edge of Mirkwood, the Dwarves parted company with Gandalf and entered the gloomy forest.
Thorin & Company were drawn away from the path by the lights of the Wood-Elves, who were feasting in the forest, but each time they approached the lights went out and the Elves vanished. On the third occasion, Thorin was captured. Orcrist was taken from him and he was brought before the Elvenking Thranduil. When Thorin refused to tell Thranduil what the Dwarves were doing in Mirkwood, he was imprisoned.
After many days in captivity, Thorin began to lose hope and he considered telling Thranduil about the quest. But then Bilbo appeared with an escape plan, and Thorin's opinion of the Hobbit's worth began to rise. Bilbo put the Dwarves into empty barrels and they floated down the Forest River to Lake-town.
Thorin proclaimed to the Master of Lake-town that he was descended from the King under the Mountain and he had returned to reclaim his kingdom. They received ponies and supplies from the Men of Lake-town and set out for the Lonely Mountain.
On Durin's Day, Bilbo solved the riddle on the map and Thorin unlocked the secret door with the key. Thorin then told Bilbo that it was time for him to earn his reward as a Burglar. Bilbo retrieved a cup from Smaug's lair and the Dragon emerged from the mountain enraged. Thorin made sure that everyone in the company made it safely inside the secret passageway. The next day, after Bilbo spoke to Smaug, the Dragon flew to Lake-town. The town was destroyed, but Bard the Bowman slew Smaug with an arrow.
Unaware of Smaug's demise, Thorin & Company ventured into Smaug's lair and found their fabulous lost treasures. Thorin clad himself in golden mail and took a silver axe, and he gave Bilbo a magificent coat of mithril mail. But Thorin could not find the treasure he most sought - the Arkenstone. Thorin told the company to look for the Arkenstone, which he claimed for himself, and he said he would punish anyone who withheld it. Bilbo had already found the Arkenstone, but the Hobbit kept it and did not tell Thorin.
Thorin led the company to the Front Gate and out to Ravenhill. There they met an old Raven named Roac who told Thorin that Smaug was dead. Roac also brought the news that the Lake-men and the Wood-elves were coming to the Lonely Mountain seeking a share in the treasure. Roac advised Thorin to trust Bard of Lake-town, but Thorin was angry at the thought of anyone trying to claim part of the treasure. He asked Roac to send for help from Dain Ironfoot in the Iron Hills, and then Thorin & Company returned to the Lonely Mountain and began to fortify the Front Gate.
The Lake-men and Wood-elves came to the gate to parley with Thorin. Bard asked for reparations from the Dragon's hoard on the grounds that it was he who had slain Smaug and that part of the Dragon's treasure had once belonged to Dale. He also asked for help for the people of Lake-town, who had given assistance to Thorin & Company and were now in need aid themselves.
Thorin refused. His desire to keep the treasure that his ancestors had lost at such great cost was overwhelming and it clouded his judgment. Thorin told Bard that the destruction of Lake-town was not his responsibility and he refused to parley with armies camped outside the mountain. He was particularly opposed to any dealings with the Elvenking Thranduil, who had imprisoned him and his company.
The Lake-men and Wood-elves withdrew from the gate. Bard sent a messenger several hours later asking for one-twelfth of the treasure, but Thorin shot an arrow into the messenger's shield. The messenger then announced that the Lonely Mountain was under siege and that no one would be allowed to leave.
Bilbo thought Bard's claims were reasonable, so one night he snuck out of the mountain to the camp of the Men and Elves. He gave Bard and Thranduil the Arkenstone as a means to negotiate with Thorin. The next day, Bard offered Thorin the Arkenstone in exchange for a share of the treasure. Thorin was enraged, and when he found out that Bilbo had taken the Arkenstone he threatened to throw the Hobbit down onto the rocks below, but Gandalf appeared and stopped him.
Thorin reluctantly agreed to pay Bilbo's one-fourteenth share of the treasure in exchange for the Arkenstone, but he did not send the payment right away. He still hoped that when Dain arrived with help, they would be able to retrieve the Arkenstone by force.
Dain's forces arrived the next day, but before they could come to Thorin's aid an army of Orcs and Wargs descended on the Lonely Mountain. Dain agreed to join forces with the Elves and Men to fight their common enemy in the Battle of the Five Armies. The battle had turned in favor of the enemy when Thorin led his company from the gate and rallied the Dwarves, Men, and Elves to him. Thorin charged the ranks of the Orc-leader Bolg, son of Azog, but he was struck down with many wounds.
In the end, the Eagles arrived along with Beorn and the Orcs and Wargs were defeated. Beorn carried Thorin away from the battlefield. Before he died, Thorin asked to see Bilbo.
"Farewell, good thief," he said. "I go now to the halls of waiting to sit beside my fathers, until the world is renewed. Since I leave now all gold and silver, and go where it is of little worth, I wish to part in friendship from you, and I would take back my words and deeds at the Gate ... There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. 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 was buried deep under the Lonely Mountain. Bard placed the Arkenstone on Thorin's breast, and Thranduil laid Orcrist on his tomb. Since Thorin's nephews Fili and Kili had also died in the battle, Thorin was succeeded by his nearest kinsman Dain Ironfoot as King under the Mountain.
The Hobbit: "The Return Journey," p. 300-301
Appendix A: "Durin's Folk" in The Lord of the Rings tells of Smaug's attack on the Lonely Mountain and the Battle of Azanulbizar and the wanderings of Thorin's family. It also gives a brief version of the meeting of Thorin and Gandalf in Bree before the quest.
"The Quest of Erebor" in Unfinished Tales describes the first meeting of Thorin and Gandalf in further detail and tells of Thorin's reluctance to take Bilbo on the quest.
Birth of Thorin.
Birth of Thorin's brother Frerin.
Birth of Thorin's sister Dis.
Smaug attacks the Lonely Mountain. Thorin and his family wander homeless for many years.
Thorin's grandfather Thror is slain by Azog in Moria.
The War of the Dwarves and the Orcs begins.
Battle of Azanulbizar. Thorin is wounded and earns the name Oakenshield for using an oak branch as a shield.
Thorin and his father Thrain settle with their people in the Blue Mountains.
April 21: Thorin's father Thrain sets out for the Lonely Mountain.
Thrain is captured and imprisoned in Dol Guldur.
Gandalf finds Thrain. Thrain gives him the map and key of the Lonely Mountain and then dies.
March 15: Thorin meets Gandalf in Bree. They begin to plan the quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from Smaug.
April 26: Thorin & Company
arrive at Bag End and meet Bilbo Baggins.
April 27: Thorin & Company set out on the quest for the Lonely Mountain.
Late May: Thorin finds Orcrist in the hoard of the Trolls Tom, Bert and William.
June: Thorin & Company visit Rivendell and meet Elrond.
Summer: Thorin & Company are captured by Orcs in the Misty Mountains. Bilbo becomes separated from his companions and finds the One Ring.
Autumn: Thorin & Company become lost in Mirkwood. Thorin is taken captive and brought before King Thranduil. Bilbo concocts an escape plan.
September 22: Thorin & Company arrive in Lake-town.
Durin's Day: Thorin & Company enter the Lonely Mountain. Bilbo sneaks into Smaug's lair. The next day Bilbo speaks to Smaug. The Dragon leaves the Mountain and attacks Lake-town and is killed by Bard.
Late Autumn/Early Winter: Men and Elves come to the Lonely Mountain seeking a share of the dragon's hoard. Thorin refuses. Orcs and Wargs from the Misty Mountains attack and the Battle of the Five Armies begins. Thorin leads his Dwarves from the Lonely Mountain and is slain. He is laid to rest under the Lonely Mountain.
Thorin means "daring" in Old Norse, from the word thor meaning "audacity" and the verb thora meaning "to dare." Thorin is one of the names that appears in the Old Norse poem Voluspa. Thorin was styled Thorin II because he had an earlier ancestor named Thorin I.
Völuspá: The Poetic Edda: Modern English translation by Bekie Marett
The Elder Eddas and the Younger Eddas translated by I.A. Blackwell
Thorin earned the name Oakenshield at the Battle of Azanulbizar, when his shield was broken and he cut a branch off an oak tree to use in its place.
Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "Durin's Folk," p. 355
Tolkien derived the name Oakenshield
from Eikinskjaldi, a Dwarf in the Old Norse poem Voluspa.
The Annotated Hobbit by Douglas Anderson: "Roast Mutton," p. 77 note 20
Thorin was descended in a long line of Kings from Durin, the eldest of the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves. Thorin became the King of Durin's Folk after his father Thrain was lost.
Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "Durin's Folk," p. 358 and genealogical table p. 361
Thorin called himself King under the Mountain after the Dwarves took possession of the Lonely Mountain, but he died shortly afterwards at the Battle of the Five Armies. He was succeeded by Dain Ironfoot.
Family tree of Thorin Oakenshield:
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