Oct 29 2012, 4:29pm
It seems to me that Thorin is actually not bad at his game.
At the first parley with Bard, he gained two important points: he made Bard waive the claims of the Lake-town folk, and made him admit that he really had no idea what to do upon finding Thorin alive. Also, he presistently calls attention to the fact that the Elvenking is there not for his own war. but his mere presence is a provocation. The elves might wonder what they are really doing there; and the Men why they are staying.
In short, Thorin is counting on disaffection settling in, while being pretty sure that apart of Bombur and Bilbo, his own followers are steadfast.
This is also the logic behind his words to Roac in the previous chapter regarding the effect of winter upon elves and men; and it is only to be expected that the news of Dain might be the last straw. Bard, perhaps wisely, perhaps not, did not assault the Mountain on the first days, and now it is stronger, and better fortified; and now his followers are up against another army, another bloody battle which even if they are victorious is probably only the first - and by now, Bard's is the only standing claim.
Are there murmurs within Bard's camp? His reaction to the news of Dain's approach is quite fierce towards Bilbo - is he really worried? We never know.
However, I think this is Thorin's strategy, and he's pretty good at it.
But of course, once the besieging army has the Arkenstone, the whole picture is different. Thorin must either ransom it (possibly with a curse on the treasure he surrenders, so that it would do Bard no good) or sieze it back; he can be no King without it. It also stands to reason that the besieging army lifts its spirit, while the dwarves would be downcast.
And while this opens new possibilities of internal strife within Bard's camp, such as an officer with the gumption trying to steal it and cut the best deal for himself (after all, if Bilbo could, why not others?) - Thorin has no control over this, and no reason to expect even such a scenario would help him in any way. And now that Gandalf has returned, but is on Bard's side, his prospects look even more glum.
"With all the various Dwarves of different Mansions that we see being excellent Smiths in the Silmariilion and TLOR, why is it only Dain's faction of the Longbeard's who hold the secret to making the metal mesh?"
- Tolkien Forever
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