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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Dwarf Genealogy
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Elizabeth
Valinor


Dec 27 2013, 2:07am

Post #1 of 29 (705 views)
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Dwarf Genealogy Can't Post

There was a recent discussion of Fili's role in the movies, in which a sub-discussion broke out about whether Fili is "next in line for the throne". I asserted that he is not. Fili and Kili are sons of Thorin's sister Dís, and the line of the throne went via patrilineal primogeniture. Even if Fíli and Kíli had survived, Dáin Ironfoot would still have been the King of the Longbeards after Thorin. He was Thorin's second cousin, grandson of Thrór's younger brother.

Fili (the TORn one) asserted:

Quote
There might be an exception if Dís, the mother of Fíli and Kíli, had been part of a matrilineal marriage, whereby the children born of Dís would belong to the Durin dynasty and not the clan of their father. This rarely happened in Europe, but has happened in other cultures throughout history.

If this were the case, then primogeniture would say that Fíli and Kíli DID have a greater claim to the throne, as they are of the Durin dynasty with Thrain II as their nearest agnate who held the crown, while Dain's closest crown-wearing agnate was Dáin I, Thror's father, two generations removed from Fíli and Kíli's claims.

So MAYBE Fíli and Kíli's dad wasn't much to write home about, but Dís' marriage was made matrilineal to protect the line in case Thorin never married or had children?


Since I love this kind of argument, I asked my friend Reera the Red (who maintains the Framecaplib and is an expert on both genealogy and Tolkien), who commented:

Quote
Maybe, but probably unlikely... We have no indication whatsoever that this could, or did, happen among Dwarves; what little we are told about them says that they reckoned patrilineally. And there would be no need to make an exception for Dís's kids, since it's not as though there were any lack of potential heirs. Just among the ones we know of who were close to the throne in that generation, there were Thorin, his brother Frerin (killed at Azanulbizar), Dáin, Balin, Dwalin, Óin, and Glóin. Dwarves often did not marry, so having your heir be a cousin of some degree would be quite commonplace in their society.

Fíli and Kíli may or may not have been members of the Longbeard clan. Given Dís's high birth, I would expect her husband to be highborn also, but we're acquainted with the highest-ranking Dwarves of Durin's house and he doesn't seem to be among them. He could have been of somewhat lesser degree, or he could have been of suitable rank from one of the other clans, most likely the Firebeards or the Broadbeams, since they lived in the Blue Mountains, where Thorin's bunch had settled by the time Fíli and Kíli were born.

(Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur were probably from one of these two clans, too, since we are told that they weren't Longbeards. And I've always held in my personal fanon that Gimli's mother was a Firebeard. Almost everyone who has depicted Gimli has shown him as a redhead, though there is no canonical statement about his hair color, and I pictured him that way even before seeing any illustrations of him. One would guess that the Firebeards were often redheads, so that could have been where it came from.).









marillaraina
Rohan


Dec 27 2013, 2:38am

Post #2 of 29 (356 views)
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I disagree. [In reply to] Can't Post

I disagree that we know that dwarves are strictly patrilineal. We "know" no such thing. In The Hobbit book, they had Thorin introduce Kili and Fili as his sister sons. I feel this shows Tolkien was saying they were important in terms of succession as his sister's sons, and him with no children of his own, they'd be his heirs.

Otherwise why not simply introduce them as Kili and Fili "sons of some guy, my nephews", if it was only say "hey these two are related to me, I might like them a bit better than the rest"? :)

IMO if Tolkien didn't want them to be assumed next in line after Thorin, he would have made a point of saying so, since most of his audience would naturally assume they were. Yet I don't believe anyone has mentioned seeing him write this ANYWHERE in his writings, he never made a point of it, never said the sons of a king's daughter could not inherit, and despite the point he made of bringing Dain. If Dain was always the heir, I believe that would have been mentioned somewhere in his writings, in fact he probably would have mentioned it in the book.

If Kili and Fili's father was of any consequence to their lineage and Dis by virtue of her being the daughter of the king did not "outrank" him, he would have been mentioned at some point. So it's clear her status was the decisive factor in THEIR status, not whoever their father was.

This in and of itself shows the dwarves were NOT entirely strictly patrilineal. If they had Kili and Fili would have bore their father's name and status, not her's, daughter of a king or not.


Elizabeth
Valinor


Dec 27 2013, 4:27am

Post #3 of 29 (314 views)
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"Sister-sons" don't necessarily have standing for inheritance. [In reply to] Can't Post

The "sister-son" relationship was a sentimental bond in the early middle ages, and one that Tolkien referred to often. However, inheritance laws, especially in England, generally excluded them.

We know a great deal about the Dwarves from LotR Appendix A-III, Durin's Folk, as well as from Tolkien's other writings. In particular, in addressing this issue, Tolkien writes (in connection with the death of Thorin), "There fell also Fíli and Kíli, his sister-sons. But Dáin Ironfoot, his cousin, who came from the Iron Hills to his aid and was also his rightful heir, became then King Dáin II, and the Kingdom under the Mountain was restored, even as Gandalf had desired" (italics mine).

So, it was sad that Thorin's sister-sons died, but there's no suggestion that Dáin was the rightful heir because they fell, he just was. The genealogy of the Dwarves of Erebor is also presented in Appendix A-III, and it is clear from it that Dáin Ironfoot has the direct lineage from Dáin I.








(This post was edited by Elizabeth on Dec 27 2013, 4:33am)


Fili
Lorien


Dec 27 2013, 5:04am

Post #4 of 29 (291 views)
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Very Good Arguments [In reply to] Can't Post

These are definitely fun discussions to have.

In my opinion, Elizabeth isn't off-base in assuming agnatic primogeniture for the crown of Durin. As noted, the line of succession presented in the family tree of the appendices follows that pattern for many generations.

Also, very good close-reading of that "and also his rightful heir" line. Although I don't believe it definitively supports the argument for Dain always being the rightful heir, it certainly gives one pause.

To me, the one detail that keeps me from writing off Fili and Kili completely is their mother's name in that family tree. Dis stands out not only as the only female dwarf ever named, yet also as the only female dwarf in that royal family tree. That seems significant to me. It also seems significant to have her sons included in it, for this suggests that they were Longbeards in the line of the kings. The exclusion of their father suggests he was not, and could very well have been a Firebeard or other clan member.

To include the mother and her sons in the pedigree but exclude the father to me suggests more than just mere sister-sons. Its their presentation in the layout of this royal pedigree that fuels my speculations of matrilineal marriage/adoption.

“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings.”


Elizabeth
Valinor


Dec 27 2013, 5:12am

Post #5 of 29 (289 views)
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The genealogy is written to support the story. [In reply to] Can't Post

Its purpose is to identify the seven members of the Company who are descended from the Line of Durin. There are obviously many, many dwarves who might appear in a more thorough chart. I think Dís appears solely to establish the relationship between Fíli and Kíli and Thorin, and because of the sentimental attachment to "sister-sons" in early cultures.








marillaraina
Rohan


Dec 27 2013, 5:26am

Post #6 of 29 (279 views)
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stupid subject lines. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The "sister-son" relationship was a sentimental bond in the early middle ages, and one that Tolkien referred to often. However, inheritance laws, especially in England, generally excluded them.

We know a great deal about the Dwarves from LotR Appendix A-III, Durin's Folk, as well as from Tolkien's other writings. In particular, in addressing this issue, Tolkien writes (in connection with the death of Thorin), "There fell also Fíli and Kíli, his sister-sons. But Dáin Ironfoot, his cousin, who came from the Iron Hills to his aid and was also his rightful heir, became then King Dáin II, and the Kingdom under the Mountain was restored, even as Gandalf had desired" (italics mine).

So, it was sad that Thorin's sister-sons died, but there's no suggestion that Dáin was the rightful heir because they fell, he just was. The genealogy of the Dwarves of Erebor is also presented in Appendix A-III, and it is clear from it that Dáin Ironfoot has the direct lineage from Dáin I.


I know what sister sons are. I was just using the word because it was used in the book. my main point was there father was given absolutely no consequence at all. ONLY their mother, Thorin's sister, daughter of a king, was. Whereas if it was truly as patrilineal as you make out, that wouldn't really matter when it comes to introducing them. They would be introduces as "sons of [father's name]" just like Thorin is, just like Balin is, etc.. Any familial relationship would be secondary to that.

As for that italicized comment I'd take that to mean he was "also" meaning "as well as". Kili and Fili were dead, which made Dain, who had come from Iron Hills to help, Thorin's rightful heir. As in Dain was also rightful heir, as Kili and Fili had been prior to their death's". I don't feel that statement means he was exclusively Thorin's heir but was "ALSO" Thorin's heir, as others could be.

I don't think anyone disputes that Dain was a rightful heir to throne due to his lineage once Kili and Fili were dead. He would definitely have been next.


Fili
Lorien


Dec 27 2013, 5:27am

Post #7 of 29 (264 views)
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That's Possible [In reply to] Can't Post

Their inclusion could merely have been to show Hobbit fans how they're related.

Then again, it could be more than that. Tolkien seemed to be all about verisimilitude with the materials he prepared for the appendices. To me, the family tree presents itself like an authentic royal pedigree, though obviously abridged as you point out.

In such pedigrees, however, I don't believe one normally includes sister-sons as a rule? Perhaps Reera can clear that up. But to include Fili and Kili and break the verisimilitude of the presented chart and create the only named female dwarf just to show us that Fili and Kili are Thorin's sister-sons (which could have just been, and had been, stated elsewhere), seems unnecessary to me.

“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings.”


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Dec 27 2013, 5:49am

Post #8 of 29 (256 views)
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Like the hobbit family trees. [In reply to] Can't Post

On those genealogical charts, Tolkien specially notes hobbits who were at Bilbo's 111th birthday party, "or their ancestors".

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Cirashala
Grey Havens


Dec 27 2013, 6:33am

Post #9 of 29 (243 views)
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yet [In reply to] Can't Post

Eomer became King of Rohan after the Battle of the Pellenor when Theoden died.

Tolkien establishes here that patrilineal primogeniture may not be the way that he set out his inheritance to the throne. Because if that applied, then his heir wouldn't have been Eomer, because he was a sister-son as well.

And if you look at the geneology, Thorin II Oakenshield is the first dwarf king EVER in the line of Durin to have died without a son, since the elder line went unbroken from Durin I all the way to him. It could be that the dwarves practiced patrilineal primogeniture because they never had to deal with the sister-sons as heirs aspect.

And for all we know, Thorin could have formally adopted Fili and Kili as his sons and heirs after the death of their father, or it could have been a live adoption conditional upon whether Thorin ever married and had sons of his own. Either way, if they had been adopted and he became their legal guardian, then they would be his sons, and thus ahead of Dain's claim to the throne.

Meaning that, should Erebor be reclaimed and Thorin chose to marry and produce heirs, Fili and Kili would no longer be his heirs. However, should he not marry, or die before he could, then Fili would have been his heir (basing off his birthdate in the appendices, because as we know Fili was mentioned to be the youngest in the book).

In the film at least Thorin mentions that Fili will be king someday, thus implying that he was the heir. I am not certain whether PJ&co got that from the source material or not (practicing the nearest male relative heir idea-not sure what that type of lineage/heirs is called) but I am inclined to agree, simply because of how Tolkien set up Eomer as heir to Theoden after Theodred died.

I don't see the professor being completely inconsistent between races for heirs in his world. But I don't know Tolkien's mind. I don't think he explicitly stated how it went, and like I said Dis and her sons would have been the first time the Longbeards had ever had the issue.

And, though Tolkien liked the idea of his works being a sort of English "mythology", there is no doubt (at least in my mind) that he referenced other cultures as well, especially with the dwarves (Celtic and Norse specifically, as well as some aspects of Jewish culture as well). So patrilineal primogeniture may have been applicable in England but not matrilineal, but perhaps not in those other cultures as much. They could have practiced a nearest male relative idea, much like the movie did (as well as several people's head canon, mine included Smile).

I believe, had Fili and Kili (or one or the other) survived the BO5A, it could have been very interesting politically as this "who's the rightful heir, and how do we determine that" question would come into play for the first time in the Longbeard history due to patrilineal vs matrilineal primogeniture (or nearest male relative idea). Fili may have had to fight for his right to the throne as this question would be arisen.

Sounds like an excellent angle to work into my fan fiction Cool I was going to have it be a question of whether or not he's old enough, but this idea sounds so much more interesting as a political dramatic aspect!

Thanks for the idea Elizabeth!



(This post was edited by Cirashala on Dec 27 2013, 6:34am)


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Dec 27 2013, 6:33am

Post #10 of 29 (259 views)
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"In The Hobbit book, they had Thorin introduce Fili and Kili as his sister sons." [In reply to] Can't Post

Who are "they", anyway? Tongue


Actually, I don't think the word "sister" appears in The Hobbit at all. When the Master asks, Thorin identifies his nephews as "The sons of my father's daughter, Fili and Kili of the race of Durin".


I think the only other time the relationship is mentioned in the book is near the end, when Thorin is described as "their mother's elder brother".

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N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Dec 27 2013, 6:43am

Post #11 of 29 (260 views)
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"the first dwarf king EVER in the line of Durin to have died without a son" [In reply to] Can't Post

We don't know that. The family tree is slightly misleading: Durin I is not the father of Durin VI. The dwarf who first received a ring of power, for instance, was Durin III, and he's not shown in the genealogy. There may be something like 60 generations not shown.

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(This post was edited by N.E. Brigand on Dec 27 2013, 6:43am)


Cirashala
Grey Havens


Dec 27 2013, 6:47am

Post #12 of 29 (241 views)
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I stand corrected [In reply to] Can't Post

In my defense I have a 4 year old asleep next to me on my bed, and didn't want to get up to get my book and risk waking her Smile

But Tolkien still gives that indication by the line. At the very least that issue hadn't come up for quite a long while (considering the longevity of the dwarves and how many generations were depicted).

I could see (if they survived) the issue coming up with Fili and Kili's status again during a meeting to decide who would be Thorin's heir.



shivanwurm
Registered User

Dec 27 2013, 7:01am

Post #13 of 29 (230 views)
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a [In reply to] Can't Post

Wasn't it also a middle age practice for a person to name his own successor at times?

Thorin could have named Fili and Kili as his direct inheritors of the crown himself. In terms of succession that might over rule any in place succession terms. Thorin could have chosen them if not for a more direct relationship to him and his line, then the fact of their support on the taking of Erebor.


(This post was edited by shivanwurm on Dec 27 2013, 7:07am)


Elizabeth
Valinor


Dec 27 2013, 8:05am

Post #14 of 29 (227 views)
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It might, indeed, have been an interesting discussion. [In reply to] Can't Post

Since, as N. E. Brigand notes, much of the genealogy is omitted as being irrelevant to the pedigrees of the principal characters in this story, we don't know how many situations have arisen that weren't obvious.

But my whole point in raising this discussion is to confront the widespread assumption that "obviously" Fíli and Kíli were Thorin's heirs. Since the boys were barely old enough to have been included on this quest, Dáin would have been a strong candidate.








(This post was edited by Elizabeth on Dec 27 2013, 8:09am)


Cirashala
Grey Havens


Dec 27 2013, 8:22am

Post #15 of 29 (207 views)
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true [In reply to] Can't Post

we don't know for certain. But it is safe to say we have a thousand years or so of recorded geneology, so it's likely that such a situation hasn't happened in living memory...even if a well versed person could possibly go further back.

I do think the age could be a factor as well.

Btw, I remember you mentioning above about England having patrilineal primogeniture. I have to disagree. I may be incorrect, but if there was the case of patrilineal primogeniture, then Queen Elizabeth II couldn't be the present ruling monarch of England, nor could William be heir apparent, because she's female, and the lineage is through her, not her late husband.

I don't know enough about British history to conclude whether or not this was the case hundreds of years ago, but I recall there being a Mary Queen of Scots (bloody Mary), Mary Tudor, and Queen Elizabeth I at some point in their history that were all female rulers by birth.



Elizabeth
Valinor


Dec 27 2013, 8:46am

Post #16 of 29 (209 views)
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We can't actually see those "thousand years or so" [In reply to] Can't Post

...of recorded genealogy, since Tolkien reproduced only the subset that would identify the 7 Dwarves of Durin's line that appeared in The Hobbit.

As for England: there is no universal rule for royal succession, although the inheritance rules are much clearer. The earliest opportunity for a ruling queen was in 1135, when Henry I died. His only legitimate son had died in a shipwreck in 1120. Henry's nephew Stephen of Blois claimed the throne. However, he was challenged by Henry's daughter, the Empress Matilda (Henry's choice), leading to a period of anarchy that lasted till 1153. When Stephen died, Matilda's son became Henry II. Had the right of a woman to succeed been even marginally acceptable in that era, the violent anarchy could have been avoided.

Mary Queen of Scots was not "bloody Mary", that was Mary I, the daughter of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon, who had been raised Catholic and became queen upon the death of Edward VI, Henry's only son. She attempted to reverse the establishment of the Anglican church by executing a very large number of people who refused to return to Catholicism.

Mary's successor, Elizabeth I, was so successful and popular that the reluctance to accept a ruling Queen waned, however it's only in this generation that the English law was changed to make the eldest child of the reigning monarch the heir to the throne. Previously, the succession preferred male heirs even if there were older females.








Riven Delve
Grey Havens


Dec 27 2013, 12:15pm

Post #17 of 29 (222 views)
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As far as the movies are concerned, Fili IS the heir [In reply to] Can't Post

because Thorin says he is in DoS. "When you are king, you will understand," I believe Thorin says to Fili in Laketown, or something to that effect.


As for who is the heir according to the book, well... I think the fact that we are going around in circles is a pretty good indication that there is at least a measure of doubt. The two opposing arguments have already been made: apparent male primogeniture among Dwarves v. Dis's mention in the genealogy/the special "sister-son" relationship.


My personal theory is that Tolkien himself thought Dain was probably the heir, and killed Fili and Kili off (as more or less an afterthought, it seems) so that the story could be wrapped up tightly in a tidy bow. Having the boys die for their uncle is touching, but also gets rid of any pesky extra claimants to the throne.


"Our perennial spiritual and psychological task is to look at things familiar until they become unfamiliar again." --G. K. Chesterton



(This post was edited by Riven Delve on Dec 27 2013, 12:26pm)


arithmancer
Grey Havens


Dec 27 2013, 1:38pm

Post #18 of 29 (192 views)
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Tolkien *book spoiler* [In reply to] Can't Post

Would have been free to specify that in the Dwarven kingdoms, rule could neither be held by females, nor passed through a female to her sons. For this reason the idea that he "had" to kill Fili and Kili off to ensure Dain's succession has never made sense to me. I think he decided to kill them off because they were the youngest, as a nod to the First World War which killed off so many young men (including many of Tolkien's closest friends from his school days).


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


Dec 27 2013, 1:50pm

Post #19 of 29 (166 views)
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sister-sons ... cirashala beat me to it [In reply to] Can't Post

 
probably the most well-known inheritance by a sister-son is eomer as heir to theoden.

also adding (in devil's counter-argument) that tolkien might have chosen to

1. have his races deal with inheritance differently
2. have his races deal with inheritance differently over time
3. might not have been so interested in hammering out the details of succession to the nth degree, but having primary interest in the story, and might have chosen to deal with it when it came up in the plot

also to say, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

it does seem odd that dis is mentioned in the genealogical table so boldly. tolkien could have dispensed with dis entirely, by making fili and kili sons of frain or a second younger brother of thorin's. but he made that particular thorin sibling female.

i've read things that suggest that tolkien not only was aware of the special status and familial affection for sister-sons in these older cultures, but that he had a fondness himself for the concept. i don't offer that as fact, but as something i've come across in my travels.

i'm inclined to look at fili and kili as next in line for the throne, and do not find the appendix quote (mentioned by elizabeth) as conflicting because (as mentioned by kili-torn) the sentence could be read as dain being the rightful heir after the deaths of fili and kili. i also see that appendix statement as tolkien's way of communicating that -- after the deaths of fili and kili -- dain was the rightful heir. that tolkien didn't want readers to think that dain swooped in (after refusing to take part of the quest initially) and was looking to take advantage of the situation.

and the printed genealogies are mysterious. we could have slews of sister-sons inheriting where there are breaks in succession. we just don't see that because the histories held in focus by tolkien are the ones around the finding of the ring and its destruction.


cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


Dec 27 2013, 1:53pm

Post #20 of 29 (192 views)
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plot-reasons for the deaths of fili and kili [In reply to] Can't Post

 
arithmancer, this is my take also on why tolkien killed off fili and kili. to demonstrate the horrific and useless waste of youth. an entire generation wiped out, just as he had seen, first-hand, in world war i.


cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


Riven Delve
Grey Havens


Dec 27 2013, 2:13pm

Post #21 of 29 (172 views)
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Very good point, Maciliel and arithmancer [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
an entire generation wiped out, just as he had seen, first-hand, in world war i.





Though the reason behind that theory makes me very sad indeed. Frown


"Our perennial spiritual and psychological task is to look at things familiar until they become unfamiliar again." --G. K. Chesterton



(This post was edited by Riven Delve on Dec 27 2013, 2:14pm)


Noria
Rohan

Dec 27 2013, 2:42pm

Post #22 of 29 (168 views)
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I agree, Riven Delve, that in the movie Fili is Thorin's heir [In reply to] Can't Post

because in the movieverse, Thorin says so.

It seems to me likely that the deaths of Fili and Kili do reflect the author's WWI experiences.

But those deaths do neaten up the story as well.


Fili
Lorien


Dec 27 2013, 2:58pm

Post #23 of 29 (152 views)
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I Agree [In reply to] Can't Post

I always thought that Fili and Kili's death was a sad homage to Tolkien's war experience. He probably didn't want people dwelling on succession issues when he originally wrote the Hobbit. Still, it seems to me he was keen on providing more details later on when he fleshed out Durin's folk for the appendices.

But as Elizabeth points out, the facts are far from conclusive in regards to who Thorin's heir would have been.

“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings.”


Cirashala
Grey Havens


Dec 27 2013, 7:03pm

Post #24 of 29 (123 views)
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thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the English history lesson Smile That was helpful, but it did establish some of my points. When the issue of female succession came up due to lack of a male child, it caused a period of anarchy as the challenge was placed. I have little doubt that the issue could have come up had Fili survived to assert a possible claim to the throne through his mother.

The thousand years or so I mentioned (in actuality 1,288 as I just looked at my book) was not the gap from Durin I through Durin IV, but rather where the actual genealogy listed in the ROTK appendices began. There's 1,288 years between Durin IV birth and Dain's death, when Thorin III Stonehelm became king of Durin's folk (there isn't dates listed from Thorin III Stonehelm to Durin VII and last).

That was quite a long time of unbroken male father-son succession. Thorin would have been the first king of Durin's folk in 1,288 years to die without a son. This could have prompted Fili to challenge the succession, given that this would have been the first time in such a long time that a male son of a female royal would have happened.



Elizabeth
Valinor


Dec 27 2013, 9:19pm

Post #25 of 29 (108 views)
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322 sets of brothers died in WWI [In reply to] Can't Post

in the British army (including Commonwealth forces). Many on the same day.

I agree that this is the most probable reason that Kili and Fili had to die.

And thanks, all, for an interesting discussion!







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