The Elves of Gondolin had named it Orcrist  and it had killed hundreds of Orcs in its time. It was crafted by the Elves of Gondolin, which not only made it a valuable weapon, but a feared one as well, particularly amongst Orcs who, like other evil creatures of Middle-earth, were traditional enemies of the Elves. Presumably Orcrist was like Glamdring and Sting in that "being the work of Elvish smiths in the Elder Days these swords shone with a cold light, if any Orcs were near at hand."
As the "mate" to King Turgon's sword Glamdring, Orcrist was likely borne by a high ranking lord in the King's entourage. The Great Goblin's referred to it as "the blade that sliced a thousand necks." Possible wielders include Ecthelion, "Lord of the Fountain Court," who killed countless Orcs during the Fall of Gondolin. How it came in contact with Glamdring is another mystery. Turgon the High King, bearer of Glamdring, perished with the fall of his tower.
Orcrist and Glamdring were lost and taken out of Beleriand in the 43 years after Gondolin's fall and before the end of the First Age, which would explain how and why the Orcs would know of and fear of Biter and Beater (as demonstrated by their reactions when they captured Thorin and Company). Later, the wielders of the swords may have been waylaid by trolls in the Ettenmoors. Thus may the swords have ultimately fallen into the hands of the trolls Tom, Bert, and William by the time of the events of The Hobbit.
In The Hobbit, Thorin and Company found Orcrist in the cave of the three trolls and Thorin claimed it as his own, while Gandalf claimed Glamdring. Thorin bore Orcrist throughout most of The Quest of Erebor. It and Glamdring were used against the goblins of the Misty Mountains when they captured the group, renewing the Orcs' hatred of the Elvish weapons. Orcrist was taken from Thorin during his captivity in the Woodland Realm by Thranduil the Elven king. It was returned to Thorin only after his death at the Battle of the Five Armies. We are told in The Hobbit that Thranduil placed Orcrist upon Thorin's tomb, so that thereafter it "is said in songs that it gleamed ever in the dark if foes approached, and the fortress of the Dwarves could not be taken by surprise. That may not have been literally true, however, because in The Lord of the Rings Tolkien tells us that by the time the Fellowship took the One Ring south from Rivendell, Orcrist "lay now upon the breast of Thorin under the Lonely Mountain,  indicating that the sword was buried with him. However, on his breast could also mean upon his sarcophagus.
Goblins refer to Orcrist as Biter.
Portrayal in adaptationsEdit
The Hobbit film trilogyEdit
In the Peter Jackson film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), Orcrist appears more similar in shape to Sting. Its appearance - a single-edged weapon with a somewhat curved pommel - is also somewhat reminiscent of Hadhafang, the blade wielded by both Arwen and Elrond in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. The main difference is that Hadhafang has a curved blade, whereas Orcrist's is straighter. It is also shown to be very powerful as it is able to knock back a vicious swing from the Goblin King with ease.
In the film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Orcrist is taken by Legolas when he and a group of elves capture Thorin's company, and it is subsequently shown being wielded by Legolas when he fights Bolg and other Orcs in defense of Lake-town.
In The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, Legolas uses Orcrist to stay his father Thranduil's blade when intervening in a conflict between he and Tauriel, in Dale. He then draws Orcrist to battle Bolg once more, but ultimately sacrifices Orcrist to save Thorin's life, throwing it from afar, into the chest of the orc who nearly killed Thorin, high up on the frozen waterfall. Thorin then retrieved the sword from the dead orc's chest as it fell over the edge and used it in the climactic battle with Azog on the Celduin near Ravenhill. Orcrist easily held up to Azog's much larger mace as well as his sword. Thorin dealt the mortal blow to Azog, by allowing Azog to pierce his chest, bringing Azog close enough to impale his heart. With Azog on his back, Thorin presses Orcrist deep enough that it splits the ice beneath Azog's body.
While it is an Elvish sword, it does not appear to glow blue (or glow at all, for that matter) when Thorin is in the presence of Orcs in the film.
The grip is made of a large tooth capped in a metal pommel. The pommel also displays Ecthelion's heraldry symbol, giving speculation that Orcrist was his sword. The runes running along the blade have been translated to be NAGOL E-LŶG or 'Tooth of-Snake [or Dragon]'. In the movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey The sword's designers went with a single-edged blade due to its name Goblin Cleaver.
Orcrist's spine was kept fairly straight, meaning it should also function well as a thrusting weapon. With this in mind, movie version Orcrist is surprisingly versatile, and well-suited to a dwarf; one may presume that a stout dwarf could wield it with the force needed to cut through nearly any orc-made armor.
|Weapons of Middle-earth|
|Aeglos | Andúril | Anglachel | Anguirel | Angrist | Aranrúth | Belthronding | Dagmor | Dailir | Dramborleg | Durin's Axe | Glamdring | Grond | Grond (Warhammer) | Gúthwinë | Gurthang | Herugrim | Morgul-blade | Narsil | Orcrist | Red Arrow | Ringil | Sting|
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 The Hobbit, Chapter II: "Roast Mutton"
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 The Hobbit, Chapter IV: "Over Hill and Under Hill"
- ↑ Many of the famed weapons in Tolkien's stories had names, such as Glamdring, Narsil, and Sting.
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter IV: "A Journey in the Dark". Only Sting was definitively described as glowing blue, or glittering with blue flame at its edges. Glamdring was "bright as blue flame" in the midst of a Goblin (Orc) horde, but the color of its light was always described as white, and Orcrist, being the same type of blade, was probably similar in this as well.
- ↑ The Hobbit, Chapter XVIII: "The Return Journey"
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter III: "The Ring Goes South"