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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Dwarves' lost opportunity

Mixel
The Shire

Feb 1 2013, 11:52pm

Post #1 of 15 (2061 views)
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Dwarves' lost opportunity Can't Post

Even though dwarves sacked many orc strongholds in the war, they did not achieve anything else than revenge. Of course they helped to save the world from Sauron by decreasing the number of orcs in Mordor so that the Fellowship could get though it, but at the time they did not know this effect so they were probably very demoralized. The loss of thousands of dwarves was too great a price for revenge alone, so they should have used the opportunity to take possession of some of the strongholds. It would have been important to reduce orcs' living and spawning space. Would it have been possible?


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Feb 2 2013, 9:00pm

Post #2 of 15 (1004 views)
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Which war do you mean? [In reply to] Can't Post

The War of the Dwarves and Goblins? The Battle of the Five Armies? The War of the Ring?

Following the Battle of the Five Armies, Dain was too busy re-establishing the Kingdom under the Mountain. Many other dwarves of the Longbeard clan (and maybe others?) joined him in Erebor. That seems to have been enough. Balin did try to retake Moria; look how that turned out.

After the War of the Ring, the dwarves seem to have been unable to reclaim their past glories. Perhaps their population had simply dropped to low.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Feb 2 2013, 9:06pm)


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Feb 3 2013, 5:04pm

Post #3 of 15 (973 views)
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That's my guess too... [In reply to] Can't Post

...that the dwarves didn't have the numbers to do much colonization. Aglarond, the Glittering caves at Helm's Deep, to which Gimli returns as Lord after the end of the Third Age, is the only new founding I'm aware of.
Alternatively, you can view them as not being all that expansionist by nature - more interested in treasure and making things than military conquest, unless pressed.

Perhaps also there's a theme of the non-human races dying out or leaving as the ages of Middle-earth go by?

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....
Feel free to meddle in the affairs of noWizardMe by agreeing or disagreeing (politely...) with my posts! I may not be subtle, but at least I'm usually slow to anger...


Escapist
Gondor


Feb 3 2013, 5:07pm

Post #4 of 15 (968 views)
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Much about the dwarves is unknown, I think. [In reply to] Can't Post

But they did also help some others (especially certain elves) to build strongholds. That is a pretty big help, I'd say.


Mixel
The Shire

Feb 3 2013, 5:25pm

Post #5 of 15 (967 views)
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I mean War of Dwarves and Orcs [In reply to] Can't Post

They seemed to simply leave the places that they conquered for orcs to recolonize.


Escapist
Gondor


Feb 3 2013, 5:31pm

Post #6 of 15 (973 views)
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Yeah, that did happen. [In reply to] Can't Post

I guess it is too bad that they left and weren't able to find a way to stay.

It is a sad loss, yes ... of opportunity among other things.


PhantomS
Rohan


Feb 3 2013, 11:56pm

Post #7 of 15 (1017 views)
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The war was incredibly vicious [In reply to] Can't Post

By the time Azog was killed, the entire Dwarven army was left with one third of their men alive and able to move on, and that was not counting those that died when the war started and throughout the three years. The Longbeards were in fact the minority of the forces, since the other Great Houses also sent armies of their own, which went home after not getting any spoils from Khazad-dum.

Your question is answered by the discussion between Thrain and Thorin- he asks what to do now since the other Houses are now going home with all their equipment, and Thorin says they will go back to the anvil. The alternative was to go begging for money and food. Conquest was out of the question, as even the cousins from the Iron Hills Dwarves seemed to just pack up and go home, leaving Thrain with only the original Longbeards he had from the Blue Mountains and elsewhere. The numbers were just not enough to do anything yet.

It was only after they retook Erebor that the Dwarves had prospects of occupying new lands, which is why Balin was tempted to recolonize Khazad-dum and Gimli boldly declares Aglarond his new project, as well as services of his kin to help rebuild Minas Tirith (and presumably the Hornburg). We have to assume they later built up enough power or alliances to retake Khazad-dum much later in the time of the last Durin or another king.


Felagund
Lorien


Feb 7 2013, 1:34pm

Post #8 of 15 (952 views)
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Mount Gundabad [In reply to] Can't Post

An interesting topic Mixel, thanks for posting.

The fact that Mount Gundabad is described as the 'goblin capital' in III.2941, at the time of the Battle of the Five Armies, underscores your point. If the Dwarven host slaughtered its way through every orc-stronghold it could find during the War of the Dwarves and Orcs (III.2793-2799), then this must have included Mount Gundabad. This was the ancient awakening place of Durin the Deathless, and was presumably sacred to the Longbeards at the very least, if not all Dwarves. That Thráin and Thorin don't seem to have contemplated moving to the newly-cleansed Gundabad in III.2799 strongly suggests (as has been raised in this thread) that the Longbeards simply didn't have the population to recolonise anywhere that might be remotely contentious. That certainly ruled out Moria, Erebor and Ered Mithrin, and even, apparently, Mount Gundabad - despite the fact that the latter was at least temporarily free of orcs.

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


PhantomS
Rohan


Feb 7 2013, 3:30pm

Post #9 of 15 (946 views)
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Good ol' Gundabad [In reply to] Can't Post

The logistics of living on a mountain on the wrong side of the Misty Mountains could be difficult for the weakened Longbeards. Gundabad also has the Trollshaws and the Northern Wastes for neighbors plus the ruins of Angmar and the even more ruined Eriador. There is no one to grow food for the Dwarves or to trade with them., and their own kin are too far away to help.

Living in the Blue Mountains they had the Hobbits and local Men to trade with to some extent and buy food, which is what Thorin and kin suggested to his father. When they finally took Erebor they also rebuilt Dale, re-established relations with the Iron Hills and the Wood-Elves plus the Long Lake and Carrock- a safe, economically sound neighborhood. Gundabad might be where Durin awoke but he lived and built up Khazad-dum where his Axe is apparently resting somewhere.


Felagund
Lorien


Feb 17 2013, 11:32am

Post #10 of 15 (936 views)
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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


CuriousG
Valinor


Feb 17 2013, 2:34pm

Post #11 of 15 (863 views)
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That's very informative [In reply to] Can't Post

Pragmatic Dwarves follow the money, not the heart, it appears.


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Feb 20 2013, 10:10pm

Post #12 of 15 (879 views)
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Something fishy about the whole Moria reconquest project? [In reply to] Can't Post

In The Council of Elrond, Gloin gives a short account of the decision to return to Moria, before moving on to describe an embassy to Dain from Sauron. It implies some relationship between the two episodes. Gloin says:

Quote
...a shadow of disquiet fell upon our people. Whence it came we did not at first perceive.


The result of the disquiet is disatisfaction with Erebor, and the decision to attempt a reconquest of Moria. I don't believe that Gloin explains any conclusion as to whence the disquiet came, though the "at first" bit suggests that an explanation did eventually emerge. There doesn't seem to be much other reason for Gloin to preface his remarks about Sauron's overtures with the Moria material. So why are the two presented as if connected in Glons account? Was the Re-occupy Moria whispering campaign a Sauronish plot, rather than a simple pragmatic re-expansion? And if so, what was Sauron up to?

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....
Feel free to meddle in the affairs of noWizardMe by agreeing or disagreeing (politely...) with my posts! I may not be subtle, but at least I'm usually slow to anger...


CuriousG
Valinor


Feb 20 2013, 10:42pm

Post #13 of 15 (852 views)
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I'm never sure what to read into that either [In reply to] Can't Post

It does sound like the darkness came from Sauron, since just about every dark influence at that time could be traced back to him or cronies like Saruman. Did he hope to disperse the Dwarves so he could divide and conquer? Possibly.

But Gloin also says that their population seemed to be growing enough that they needed more living room. Maybe the "disquiet" wasn't sinister, just Dwarves getting annoyed at living at close quarters with each other? Maybe all that hammering kept them up at night?

They could also have had more of a seismic shift in group thinking. They had been on the defensive for quite some time, but they got Erebor back, so why not go after other halls they'd been driven from? The disquiet could have been frustration that they weren't keeping up their momentum of reconquest.


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Feb 21 2013, 10:01pm

Post #14 of 15 (837 views)
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"Wormbeard" at work... [In reply to] Can't Post

Certainly, the dwarves' dissatisfaction could be just normal politics, but I'm going to hold onto the hint that it has an outside cause, and enjoy speculating about Plots caused by the bad guys. Maybe there's a Wormtongue equivalent (Wormbeard! Smile ) at work?...

What's the aim of the putative plot? Maybe to scatter the dwarves into smaller, more vulnerable colonies. Or maybe the idea is to spread dissatisfaction and a lust for the glories of the Old Halls so as to enhance the chances of the kind of embassy Sauron eventually makes. The latter idea is my current favourite: it would explain why Gloin seems to regard the sequence Disquiet --> Moria adventure ---> Sauron's ambassador as if its a series of related events.

OK, "Wormbeard" is not essential to this idea, but I quite like the thought of him (or indeed, her).

Of course there is also a Tolkienish plot here: the author uses the Council of Elrond to set us up for the Fellowship's decision 2 chapters on to travel through Moria and not the Gap of Rohan (and other later matters). But JRRT usually avoids a contrived info dump : the characters' speeches are usually consistent with their agendas and character. So I think Gloin raises Moria for a reason that ought to make sense to him, rather than because the author needs us to know.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....
Feel free to meddle in the affairs of noWizardMe by agreeing or disagreeing (politely...) with my posts! I may not be subtle, but at least I'm usually slow to anger...


Cirashala
Grey Havens

Feb 25 2013, 11:13pm

Post #15 of 15 (1569 views)
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Moria [In reply to] Can't Post

We know from the Hobbit that Balin was very close to Thorin and his nephews, so is it possible that the disquiet was not a part of Sauron's plotting so much as it was a discontent for riches paid at such a high price? Perhaps Balin thought that the gold and jewels and reclamation of Erebor and seeing Durin's folk begin to prosper again would help to ease the ache of their deaths, but as time wore on he realized that it couldn't ease the ache?

Perhaps he wished to reclaim Moria in an effort to find somewhere else to live that did not hold bad memories of loved ones (not necessarily relations, but loved as friends). Two other members of the company went with him to Moria, Oin and Ori.

Those Balin was said to be close to in the company are Thorin, Fili, Kili, and Dwalin (his brother). None of those four were still at Erebor- the first three died at the Battle of 5 Armies, and Dwalin had returned to Ered Luin to become Lord of Thorin's Halls. So Balin didn't really have much of a reason to stay at Erebor once the kingdom was restored to its former glory.

It could be that the disquiet was due to Sauron, but it could simply have been that there was no one holding Balin to the mountain, so he thought he would try his luck elsewhere since he didn't really have much to lose.

Half Elven Daughter of Celethian of the Woodland Realm

 
 

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