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Was Thorin's efforts really in vain? *story spoilers*


Nov 27 2013, 5:03pm

Views: 1200
Was Thorin's efforts really in vain? *story spoilers*

This is just a thought I had this morning. In a few discussions some people said that Thorin didn't accomplish what he set out to do, but I don't think that's entirely correct. His efforts did, after all, lead to Smaug's destruction (granted, at a great cost), and Erebor was reclaimed for the Dwarves. In fact I read in another post that Bifur, Bofur and Bomber were still living in Erebor when Frodo went off to destroy the One Ring, and I'd guess that Gloin's family lived there, too. So, although Thorin died and didn't get to enjoy the fruits of his labor, others did.

On a personal note, I think it sucks that Fili & Kili were killed as well, such a waste. Sometimes I get real angry with authors for killing off characters that they should have kept alive - don't get me started on Harry Potter #7!Mad Yes, it's doubly tragic that Thorin had to see his nephews die before he did, especially as it was partially his fault due to his stubborness and greed, but still, totally unnecessary and didn't really add anything to the storyline. Just my opinion here.

(This post was edited by Ataahua on Nov 27 2013, 8:28pm)


Nov 27 2013, 5:11pm

Views: 708
Should be spoilers in title

I think Fili and Kili's death does add to the story in the sense that it means Thorin's willingness to reclaim Erebor not only lead to his own death, but also to his two young prince nephews, meaning he completely ended his line. It is a tragedy and is a story about how greediness can be one's downfall. Thorin sums it up in the end "If more of us valued food and music and cheer above hoarded gold the world would be a merrier place. Bt merry or not, I must leave it now. Farewell".


Nov 27 2013, 5:13pm

Views: 754
Fili and Kili *spoilers*

 have to die. I am glad that the story gets progressively darker with more shades of grey and main characters being killed. I want my Middle Earth-films more in the style of the awesome adult "Game of Thrones" and less like the chilish juvenility of Narnia and much of "An Unexpected Journey"

(This post was edited by entmaiden on Nov 27 2013, 6:07pm)

Old Toby
Grey Havens

Nov 27 2013, 5:18pm

Views: 697
I think Thorin did accomplish what he set out to do

He didn't set out to destroy Smaug. He didn't even know if Smaug was still there. He wanted to reclaim Erebor for his people, and that's exactly what he did in the end, regardless of who sat on the throne. And he did so at great personal sacrifice.

I don't believe Fili and Kili's deaths were Thorin's fault at all. The battle wasn't his fault; it wasn't due to his greed nor stubborness. The elves and men besieged Erebor to get what they thought they deserved, and the way they approached the whole thing, I don't blame Thorin for not bowing to their wishes whether or not he was under the influence of the dragon sickness. Then of course everyone died during the last battle with the goblins etc. for which I don't hold Thorin personally responsible. I have to say, I always sided with Thorin in the book, even though I didn't care for him. And I continue to do so, so far, in the films, unless he transforms into someone so dispicable that we won't care what happens to him. But I don't think that will happen. At least I hope not. In any case, I think the ending is going to be a tragedy of almost Shakespearean proportions.

"Age is always advancing and I'm fairly sure it's up to no good." Harry Dresden (Jim Butcher)

(This post was edited by Old Toby on Nov 27 2013, 5:20pm)


Nov 27 2013, 5:20pm

Views: 679

In Reply To
I am glad that the story gets progressively darker with more shades of grey and main characters being killed. I want my Middle Earth-films more in the style of the awesome adult "Game of Thrones" and less like the chilish juvenility of Narnia and much of "An Unexpected Journey"

Lost Hobbit

Nov 27 2013, 5:22pm

Views: 662
Interesting point...

...and with the other similarities in further events depicted in Lotr, this fault of Thorin is a straight connection to another ending - Frodo, who literally failed since the ring changed his mind at the last stage and only Gollum was the one to help him accomplish the task.

Na Vedui

Nov 27 2013, 6:22pm

Views: 638
[Book spoiler warning, just in case] Two reasons

suggest strongly that Fili and Kili were likely to die.
One is the Northern heroic culture - which Tolkien was so familiar with from his academic work and drew upon for his books - in which there is such a strong bond of love and obligation between uncle and sister's sons, and between leader and warriors. Fili and Kili would have felt it a disgrace, I think, if they had survived and Thorin had not.
The other, of course, is Tolkien's own war experience; he knew directly, not just from hearsay, how war means that young lives will be wasted, and lost close friends of his own that way. Fili and Kili may be his tribute to them.


Nov 27 2013, 7:29pm

Views: 569
You make a good point that it wasn't a total failure....

.. because the dwarves did regain Erebor, just a personal failure for Thorin - though he did redeem himself at the end.

But as far as Fili and Kili go, however upsetting it is when favourite characters die in books, how realistic do you think it would be to write about battle and war and not kill any of the main characters in the story? What it adds to the storyline is truth. People do get killed in battle and usually they are the young and the fit - the ones who put themselves forward. Tolkien knew that because he had seen it happen, and without labouring the point, I doubt if he would have wanted his children or any other children to grow up with the idea that it would always be OK and the goodies would never get hurt. That really would be fantasy.

Superuser / Moderator

Nov 27 2013, 8:27pm

Views: 523
I've added a spoiler warning

just in case we have anyone here who is keeping away from the book until the films have all come out.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauronís master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.

Ataahua's stories


Nov 27 2013, 8:41pm

Views: 555
Yes. authors who go killing off popular characters are a pain -

but only when they do this because they've run out of ideas or because they want to shock their readers. I think that GRR Martin in GoT is guilty of this but not Tolkien. Tolkien was writing from experience and he knew that the youngest and the brightest and the best who 'should have been kept alive', always died. Life is unfair, especially in a war. And if you could see, like I have, the American cemetery in the UK where the graves of 18 and 19 year olds, killed in WWII, stretch to the horizon, then you would realise that Tolkien is not being cavalier.

And I agree with people on this thread who are arguing that Thorin isn't to blame for the deaths of Fili and Kili and it was nothing to do with his pride or his greed. How many more times has this got to be pointed out? The goblins were coming for the gold. They would have come whether Thorin had been stubborn or not. They came because the dragon was dead and, as the book says, everyone then descended on Erebor to get their share of the gold: Thranduil, Bard, Dain, the goblins and the orcs.

Perhaps we should blame Bard, then, for killing Smaug for, without the news of the death of Smaug, no-one would have come and the battle would not have been fought. In fact, AUJ has it that, because there are signs and Smaug has not been seen for years, greedy creatures are already having a sniff around.

And, while we're at it, let's blame Gandalf: he is the one who sets the Quest in motion. He is the one who wants Smaug dead, whatever the cost to the dwarves, to Thorin's sanity, to the men and elves in the area who might get involved. He has obviously weighed the cost and, when faced with great evil, he obviously thinks that all the peoples of Middle-earth should be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice and, presumably, all burn together rather than sit back idly and let it take over their world.

Tol Eressea

Nov 27 2013, 8:54pm

Views: 527
Differences between book and film

He didn't even know if Smaug was still there.

I could be wrong as I haven't read The Hobbit in a while, but I thought that was a movie invention, since the movies have made the quest more about reclaiming Erebor, as opposed to reclaiming treasure. It doesn't make much sense to recruit an inexperienced burglar when your purpose shifts from stealing back treasure to reclaiming an entire lost realm, so I always assumed the whole "Smaug hasn't been seen in 60 years" bit was thrown in just so the idea of recruiting a burglar still made sense in light of the changes. In other words, Movie Bilbo is being recruited not to steal treasure like he was in the book, but to see if Smaug is still occupying the mountain.

He wanted to reclaim Erebor for his people, and that's exactly what he did in the end, regardless of who sat on the throne. And he did so at great personal sacrifice

Again, in the book it seems Thorin's main focus is to reclaim his hoard, not so much to reclaim Erebor for his people. Movie Thorin has been portrayed in a significantly more honorable light than his book counterpart was. As for him becoming despicable to the point that we don't care what happens to him, I think it should approach that in the films. Not to the point that we don't care about what happens to him, but to the point that we find his actions unacceptable. It seems like lot of people are in love with Movie Thorin to the point that they want the story modified so Thorin doesn't look like such a jerk at the end.

The elves and men besieged Erebor to get what they thought they deserved, and the way they approached the whole thing, I don't blame Thorin for not bowing to their wishes whether or not he was under the influence of the dragon sickness.

Ok, I will give you that the Elves being involved in the treasure dispute was a bit annoying after they unjustly (IMO) waylaid Thorin and Company, even if they were there mostly to support the Men of Esgaroth. But the Men of Esgaroth deserved what they were asking for, as it was because of Thorin's quest that their home was destroyed.

Anyway, going by Tolkien's story and not Jackson's, I would say yes, Thorin failed. And it was intentionally written that way to make the point that greed is destructive.


Nov 27 2013, 9:08pm

Views: 501

Fili and Kili's deaths are imho the logical consequence of such a battle. And I guess extremely inspired by WWI. We should never forget what an influence it must have had on Tolkien to have lost almost all close friends in the trenches.

But that is far from the annoying uninspired stuff GRR Martin has committed and at least for me ruined his series with. :(

ďAll good stories deserve embellishment."

Praise is subjective. And so is criticism.

"I am afraid it is only too likely to be true what you say about the critics and the public. I am dreading the publication for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at."

Tol Eressea

Nov 27 2013, 9:37pm

Views: 482

...I did not mean that you or anyone in particular wanted the story modified so that Thorin looks better at the end, just that some comments I've seen on other threads seemed to point in that direction.


Nov 27 2013, 9:37pm

Views: 502

I have difficulty understanding Thorin's failures or character 'flaws.'
Recently, I cursorily read the first part of The Hobbit and enjoyed
the characterization. I found Thorin endearing. I hadn't read the actual literature
for a time and had thus adopted the impression of Thorin as grumpy and antagonistic,
especially toward Bilbo. If anything, I find Thorin to be enthusiastic and gracious
to any who would aid this expedition.

If I recall correctly, I believe Tolkien mentioned that Dwarves liked the company of Hobbits.
I think Thorin expresses this sentiment in Bag End when at the effusive apologies of Bilbo he dismisses
any peevishness at his entrance. He even hails Bilbo and his putative willingness
to aid the expedition styled completely in host's manner of never wishing the hair to depart his Hobbit
Thorin is passionate about this expedition and understands its gravity. He knows they may never return
and is gracious for any succor. He is initially skeptical about the map and key, but is ultimately convinced by Gandalf
and eagerly accepts his advice.
He solicits the advice of Bilbo and has an amusing display of impatience at having to explain after all the songs and maps the tale
of Erebor and Smaug. To me, this is his zeal speaking. The book establishes Thorin as proud and important.
He launches into a tale of Smaug and the dwarves and peoples of Dale. It's enchanting to me how he mentions the
dwarves not bothering to scavenge or grow their foods but to concentrate fully on their own trades and rely on the peoples to provide
their sustenance in return for their crafts and apprenticships of their sons. It's amusing how the dwarves were so rich that they just made
the most splendid toys for no reason but their own amusement. Enchanting.

Their are other instances of Thorin's eagerness to accept aid. He thanks Gandalf for rescuing them from the trolls. I believe he and the dwarves are dismayed
when Gandalf departs them and tries to make him reconsider with the promise of treasure ... that is, if they ever succeed in procuring it.
Didn't Thorin and the dwarves try to convince the eagles to fly them all the way to Erebor? lol or was this just a rumor? Ultimately, I think
Thorin knows the gravity and long odds of this endeavor and accepts succor when he can get it from reputable sources. I don't think he cares
as much how it gets done, only that they find a way to get it done. I don't think he would judge any of the successes of the journey as personal
failures in the manner with which they were achieved. I think he's more about substance.

I think you make an interesting point in that Bard and the others could as easily be held culpable for the 'dragon sickness.' I like the book because
it doesn't seem to judge its characters. I like following the characters and I think they're easy to root for. I look forward to following these films
as the continue to convey these characters and storylines to the screen. I think we are in for a treat.

Does anybody agree with the interpretations above? Anyone have any other thoughts? Thanks!

(This post was edited by Dwarvenfury on Nov 27 2013, 9:41pm)

Tol Eressea

Nov 27 2013, 9:42pm

Views: 482
I do agree...

...that Book Thorin was more jovial in the early stages of the quest compared to Movie Thorin. But in the book he was also much more incompetent.

I think Armitage has portrayed Thorin's arrogance pretty well though.


Nov 27 2013, 9:50pm

Views: 484
oh yes.

I certainly am anticipating following Thorin's storyline in these upcoming films. This character seems
to be a pivotal hinge in the upcoming drama, and i think it's going to be a real treat to watch the other films
elaborate on the first installment of this trilogy. I like how Armitage was able to portray the royalty, gravity, and
pride of Thorin. It seems to have been a long time waiting for this opportunity to reclaim Erebor and Thorin
wants to make sure it works for the best and that he will have conducted this affair in accordance to his sense
of rightful pride of the Dwarvish race and the dignity of the legacy bequeathed by his line. It's an immense gamble
and the stakes are high, so Thorin can only have seriousness about this expedition. It's going to be interesting to watch
it all unfold.

(This post was edited by Dwarvenfury on Nov 27 2013, 9:59pm)

Old Toby
Grey Havens

Nov 27 2013, 10:32pm

Views: 445
Okay I think I was mixing apples and oranges here

I was referring to movie Thorin in my comments about how I thought he didn't know Smaug was there and wanted Erebor for his people. I like movie Thorin much better than I ever liked book Thorin. And I agree that book Thorin wanted Erebor for the gold, or at least that is the impression I got reading the book, rather for a nobler reason. So yeah, I'd say greed was the driving force of book Thorin and not so much movie Thorin (so far). I have a feeling movie Thorin will descend to some pretty dark depths before it's over, but having shown us his nobler side, perhaps we will care when he dies after all. And since we haven't seen the ending movie yet, I can only go by what I've read in the book as to the motives of the elves and men etc. As a side note, I thought that regardless of how justified the men of Esgaroth were in asking for (or rather demanding) recompense, I thought the way they went about it was definitely not the best way to get treasure off of a dwarf!

"Age is always advancing and I'm fairly sure it's up to no good." Harry Dresden (Jim Butcher)


Nov 27 2013, 11:48pm

Views: 434
About Kili & Fili

I understand that people die in battle, but the problem I have with their deaths is they didn't really add to the story, in fact it seemed like an afterthought - just "they died defending Thorin." Thorin's death actually did add to the story, and no I don't care much for the "Breaking Dawn/nobody died" storyline either. I'm sorry, I can't finish this post because my daughter is in a hurry to get some dinner - I'll try again later.


Nov 28 2013, 12:43am

Views: 396
I agree

I always like Thorin from the books and never understood why everyone else seemed to dislike or even hate him! Now the elves on the other hand.... I hated them from The Hobbit - they were childish, petty, and down right annoying. ( silly songs, greed for gold, unjust waylaying, drunkenness, ect.) Which is funny because they are the opposite in Tolkien's other works.
I feel that the elves ( and the men's) claim to the treasure was unjust. They argue that Smaug's arrival and subsequent destruction was solely the dwarves fault. They ignored that it is dragon nature to hoard gold and eat whatever he wants. They did ask just for their own heirlooms back ( which was a legitimate claim) instead they wanted the dwarves gold in restitution. I have always disliked Bilbo for handing over the Arkenstone - it seemed a little ( I know this is a harsh word) traitorous to me. I am sure everyone has their own separate idea as to the justice of Bard's claims - I do not mean to step on anyone's toes here Wink

Faithful servant yet master's bane,
Lightfoot's foal, swift Snowmane

Werde Spinner

Nov 29 2013, 11:22pm

Views: 301
I rather agree with you, actually.

I could see that Bard had some claim upon the Dwarves, since the Dragon *did* burn down Laketown. Since Dale and Erebor had been allies, it would only make sense if they rebuilt their realms together. However, I always thought Bard went about it the wrong way by keeping the Elven-king around (especially after Thorin told him to send Thranduil away), and Bilbo stealing the Arkenstone has always, always, *always* bothered me. It just feels so wrong to me! I want to scream at Bilbo through the book, "No, don't do this! You'll only make it worse!" Honesty and loyalty are very important qualities to me and so even just reading about Bilbo doing that bothers me.
Really, my take on the BOFA and the shenanigans that lead up to it is that everyone was sort of at fault. No one comes out looking good. Not even Gandalf, IMHO - why couldn't he have tried to get Thorin alone and talk some sense into him? (Or bonk him on the head with his wizard staff. That might work just as well.) The battle, though - that was no one's fault, and certainly not Thorin's. Actually, it turned out well in the end that Thorin *was* stubborn - it ensured that all the armies were there to fight the goblins. The hand of Eru at work, perhaps, using Thorin's stubbornness to win the BOFA as Gollum's desire for the Ring would be used to destroy it?
That all being said, I agree that it's not fair that Fili and Kili die. But wars aren't fair. On the one hand, I want them to live... and on the other, I know that it's just how life is.

"I had forgotten that. It is hard to be sure of anything among so many marvels. The world is all grown strange. Elf and Dwarf in company walk in our daily fields; and folk speak with the Lady of the Wood and yet live; and the Sword comes back to war that was broken in the long ages ere the fathers of our fathers rode into the Mark! How shall a man judge what to do in such times?"

"As he ever has judged. Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house."


Nov 30 2013, 1:02pm

Views: 285
I agree on many points in this thread *spoilers*

I also think Thorin accomplished what he set out to do. Smaug was destroyed and they reclaimed their realm and treasure... their home. It's a lot like Frodo's outcome. He achieved what he set out to do with a lot of help and intervention (like Thorin), but he didn't get to enjoy the fruits of his labour and (in Frodo's case) sacrifice.

In terms of Bilbo handing over the Arkenstone, I thought it was one of the most powerfully selfless and genius things ever done! He knew the value of the Arkenstone, he knew what it meant to Thorin and the dwarves, he knew he was giving away all claim to any treasure; but to try and stop the escalation and war that was developing when Thorin was obviously losing his grip was an incredible thing to do! He wasn't giving it away as a betrayal. AND THEN he went back to the mountain to face the music. What courage and quality! He gambled that the Stone would be retuned to the dwarves by Bard and Thranduil, but his judgment was spot on here. He heard the mindset of the Men during their parlays and hoped for the best. If it didn't work, the outcome would be the same... so there really was nothing to lose. It was just the strongest hand that could be played to get Thorin to fulfill his obligation to the Lake people. They saved the Company when they were beached in their town, got them to the mountain, and then suffered destruction when Smaug was unleashed. All they wanted was what was due to them, and the Stone would be their best hope of getting it. And Bilbo was right. Even after Thorin's death, they gave the Stone to him for eternity.

I also get VERY upset when the characters you love and who add so much to the story are killed off. Fili and Kili being killed... albeit heroically... really almost ruins the story for me. Book Thorin's death affects me like book Boromir's death. Their fates are a result of their personal failures, so to speak. The are good characters with noble intentions, but they lost their way and so their greed and selfishness caused their fall though they were both redeemed in the end. The characters are written in such a way that I can handle their deaths without getting horribly bummed. But in the film Boromir's case, his death devastates me... and I know the same thing is going to happen in the film. In the book, we only hear of Fili and Kili's deaths. I'm afraid the film version will have us right there with them... for the fall of all 3 dwarves... and I know I'm going to be an absolute mess when that happens. The only thing that will help me endure it is to go home with Bilbo. Not like when Sam came home from the Havens alone, but Bilbo returning to his beloved Bag End... though he will be changed himself. There really is no place like home.

5th draft of TH:AUJ Geeky Observation List - August 11, 2013
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"There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West."

I'm SO HAPPY these new films take me back to that magical world!!

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Nov 30 2013, 2:48pm

Views: 273
Most Excellent Thread...

Bomby writes Short Thingies.

My father, a WWII Fighter Pilot
( ACE..yes) Phillipines & England...
said this,
in a

" I'm not a Hero..
The Heroes are..the ones that
DIDN'T come

Thankfully he died
@ 92 in a warm bed.

Bomby (A son of an ACE!)


Nov 30 2013, 4:21pm

Views: 317
I think this is why Tolkien includes stuff like this

stuff being the non-spoilerish word for 'death of characters' ... keeping spoilers out of subject lines. :-)

I know I'm going to be an absolute mess when that happens. The only thing that will help me endure it is to go home with Bilbo. Not like when Sam came home from the Havens alone, but Bilbo returning to his beloved Bag End... though he will be changed himself. There really is no place like home.

I think we use these stories to process our own losses. Bad things happen to people in these stories but people also endure. Endure the experience of war or battle or defeat... and endure the loss of those they care deeply about.

We see them endure and we imagine we can endure at our lowest moments.

I responded deeply to the cost of 'war' in LOTR. I observed my father's tales of WWII, what he would say and what he wouldn't say. I observed the mental cost of war when those 'shell-shocked' WWII vets at the VA hospital would visit the Five and Dime I worked at. I watched my classmates ship off to Vietnam and come back physically and mentally altered forever... or not come back at all. I've attended the memorial/funeral services of a good friend, my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law, my mother, and lately... my brother.

We all hate when people die. But people die. And sometimes I need a story where no one dies and everyone lives happily ever after. And sometimes I need a story that helps me process my own losses and find a way to turn toward the light. I need a vision of that warm room of Sam's where I am greeted and a child is placed on my lap and I know that life goes on.

LOTR came to me a second time - after a 30+ year absence - just went I needed to process a lot of loss and worry and fear I'd experienced in the previous 5 years. It was exactly what I needed and even though I cried for at least a week after finishing, as we have been told, not all tears are bad.

I'm reminded of a song I heard on the radio that gave me goosebumps and made me cry the first time I heard it. It's about 'love' but it's also about life.

Well you only need the light when it's burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go
Only know you've been high when you're feeling low
Only hate the road when you're missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go
And you let her go

Tears and grief tell us how much we cared about that which is now gone from us.

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Dec 1 2013, 3:28pm

Views: 241
*mods up* Well said,

 and so lovely *tearing*

Once again, you touch the heart of it. I really do need happy endings, too; but these stories that include loss and how to endure it does help so much. Thank you for this :)

You've been in my prayers *warm hug*

5th draft of TH:AUJ Geeky Observation List - August 11, 2013
1st draft of TH:DOS Geeky Observation List - August 11, 2013


"There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West."

I'm SO HAPPY these new films take me back to that magical world!!

TIME Google Calendar
TORn's Geeky Observations Lists (updated soon)

Forum Admin / Moderator

Dec 1 2013, 6:46pm

Views: 231

thanks for posting this and putting into such amazing words.

You said exactly what I wanted to say, but I can't find such lovely words to say it.

That song also struck a chord with me when I heard it on the radio the first time.

Thanks again!


Dec 1 2013, 8:38pm

Views: 84
It is nice to know

that I am not the only one who feels that way! I loved the bit you added about Gandalf bonking heads with his staffWink I bet that is what he did to make Bilbo tell him the whole story about finding the ring!

Faithful servant yet master's bane,
Lightfoot's foal, swift Snowmane

N.E. Brigand

Dec 1 2013, 11:21pm

Views: 127
If the film is true to the book, you won't see it happen.

Not that I expect the filmmakers to be faithful, but in the book, the fatalities that concern you are tossed off as an afterward in just one sentence. An impressively brutal move on Tolkien's part. I don't think Jackson & Co. have the guts for that.

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