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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Gundabad, and "Of Dwarves & Men"


Feb 17 2013, 11:32am

Views: 185
Gundabad, and "Of Dwarves & Men" [In reply to] Can't Post

PhantomS, you inspired me to go back and read one of my favourite essays by Tolkien, "Of Dwarves & Men" (HoMe XII).

The economic and security expediency of the relationship between the Longbeard 'mansions' (Moria etc) and their non-Dwarven neighbours is neatly explored therein, starting in the Second Age. Dwarves provided the smithcraft and weapons, and others (especially Men) provide the foodstuffs in exchange – and together, they fought off Orcs and wild men from the East. Thinking beyond this essay for a moment, the First Age Dwarves of Nogrod and Belegost (Broadbeams and Firebeards) also traded with Caranthir of the Noldor, and Eöl of Nan Elmoth. The model was well-established and mutually beneficial, right down the era of Dale and The Shire.

On Gundabad, the essay describes it as a place revered by the Dwarves because of Durin I’s awakening there, and as a place where, “in the early ages”, Dwarves of all clans "held assemblies of delegates”. Gundabad therefore seems to have been a pan-Khazâd site, of political, cultural and sacred significance. That Gundabad, which is described as a Khuzdul name, was situated approximately halfway between the western and eastern ‘awakening’ sites of the Fathers of the Seven Houses, also no doubt played a part in how Gundabad came to occupy this position. It is also implied that Gundabad changed hands several times in the Second and Third Ages, as Dwarves and Orcs fought their long wars.

Putting all this together, I return to the point about Gundabad being too isolated, and the Longbeards being too weak in the wake of the War of the Dwarves and Orcs, for a re-colonisation of Gundabad to be realistic. With the geo-political changes brought about by the events described in The Hobbit, Gundabad would theoretically have become a more realistic reconquista project – the Beornings bring security to the Vales of Anduin and the High Pass (or at least more than there was previously – thus protecting the eastern flanks of any putative expedition), and the Orc population takes a hammering at the Battle of the Five Armies. However, whilst the Orcish occupation of Gundabad may have offended Dwarves far and wide, perhaps there simply wasn’t a sufficient economic incentive to risk a new takeover bid at that time. Gundabad is never mentioned as being a source of gems or precious metals. This may explain why Durin I himself decamped to Moria. Post-Battle of the Five Armies, the newly liberated Erebor was the natural focal point of Longbeard re-colonisation – it had friendly (ish) neighbours, and an abundance of wealth to be mined. Similarly, Balin heads to Moria, not Gundabad, when he strikes out on his own – mithril and other precious commodities are up for grabs, thus making the risk worthwhile. Despite its sacral significance, Gundabad essentially becomes a ‘nice to have’, rather than something Dwarves will risk all to possess.

Anyway thanks for prompting me to re-read this essay!

Welcome to the Mordorfone network, where we put the 'hai' back into Uruk

Subject User Time
Dwarves' lost opportunity Mixel Send a private message to Mixel Feb 1 2013, 11:52pm
    Which war do you mean? Otaku-sempai Send a private message to Otaku-sempai Feb 2 2013, 9:00pm
        That's my guess too... noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Feb 3 2013, 5:04pm
            I mean War of Dwarves and Orcs Mixel Send a private message to Mixel Feb 3 2013, 5:25pm
                Yeah, that did happen. Escapist Send a private message to Escapist Feb 3 2013, 5:31pm
    Much about the dwarves is unknown, I think. Escapist Send a private message to Escapist Feb 3 2013, 5:07pm
    The war was incredibly vicious PhantomS Send a private message to PhantomS Feb 3 2013, 11:56pm
    Mount Gundabad Felagund Send a private message to Felagund Feb 7 2013, 1:34pm
        Good ol' Gundabad PhantomS Send a private message to PhantomS Feb 7 2013, 3:30pm
            Gundabad, and "Of Dwarves & Men" Felagund Send a private message to Felagund Feb 17 2013, 11:32am
                That's very informative CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Feb 17 2013, 2:34pm
                    Something fishy about the whole Moria reconquest project? noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Feb 20 2013, 10:10pm
                        I'm never sure what to read into that either CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Feb 20 2013, 10:42pm
                            "Wormbeard" at work... noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Feb 21 2013, 10:01pm
                        Moria Cirashala Send a private message to Cirashala Feb 25 2013, 11:13pm


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