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War of the Dwarves and Orcs

Last edited on July 8, 2013
by Anonymous

The War of the Dwarves and Orcs was a great war fought between the two races from TA 2793-2799, mostly taking place in and around the Misty Mountains.

Siege of moria
Dwarves fighting the Orcs.


The War began when the elderly exiled Dwarven King Thrór, heir of Durin, journeyed to Moria with a single companion named Nár. When they arrived at the East Gate of Moria, Nár begged Thrór to take caution and refrain from entering the ill-fated place. His words went unheeded by Thrór, who went forth and entered Moria proudly as a returning heir. But he did not come back. Nár hid nearby for three days awaiting Thrór's return. On the first day of his absence, Thrór was captured by the goblins after being discovered in one of the armories, and was accused of 'thieving'. He was tortured for two days by Azog the Goblin, who attempted to pry information from the old dwarf, who would reveal little. On the third day when goblins informed Azog of a second dwarf, Nár, skulking outside the East Gate, Azog had another idea. Thrór's last words were heard by no one beyond Moria: in a tone of defiance and dignity, he cried out, "These are the halls of Durin!" before he was beheaded by Azog. Thrór's death came in TA 2790.

In response to the presence of Nár, Azog had Thrór's head and body flung out onto the steps of the East Gate. Nár, who had hid nearby, heard a great shout of triumph from within the gate, followed by the blast of a horn, and a headless body was flung out onto the steps. Nár approached, fearing that it was the body of Thrór, as indeed it turned out to be. Thrór's severed head lay next to his body. Azog then called out to Nár from the gate, demanding that he deliver a message back to Thrór's people, warning that beggars who dared to enter Moria and attempt thievery would meet a similar fate. Azog then proclaimed that he had killed Thrór and that he now ruled Moria as king. He had carved his name in runes onto the brow of Thrór, in turn forever branding his name into the hearts of the Dwarves. Nár was barred from retrieving the head of Thrór, and was struck with a small pouch of coins of little worth as a final gesture of scorn. Nár took the pouch and turned and fled. When he looked back, goblins had emerged from the Gate and were hacking apart the body and flinging the pieces to the ravens.

When Nár returned to Dunland many weeks later, this was the tale that he brought before Thráin II who wept and cursed and tore his beard at hearing Nár's account, and then he fell silent in his grief. For seven days he sat in silence with little food or drink at hand. Finally on the seventh day, he stood up and declared, "This cannot be borne!" He sent out messengers in all directions to deliver the tale. From TA 2790 to TA 2793 the Longbeards, Durin's folk, responded by mustering their forces, calling upon the other houses of the Dwarves in every corner of the world, for the dishonor to the heir of the eldest of their race filled them with wrath.

In TA 2793 when all was ready, the Dwarves attacked, sacking and assailing one by one all the goblin-holds of the Misty Mountains from Mount Gundabad in the north to the peak of Methedras in the south. Most of the war was fought underground, in the great mines and tunnels of the Misty Mountains, where Dwarves excel in combat, and as such they went unaided by the other Free Peoples, and they carried the advantage through their unmatched weapons and the fire of their anger as they hunted for Azog in every den under the mountains. Both sides were pitiless, and there was death and cruel deeds by dark and by light. This stage of the war was said to be so grim and bitter that few Dwarven veterans many years afterwards, ever recounted what took place beneath the mountains.

The war climaxed in TA 2799, when a final battle was fought in the valley outside the eastern gates of Moria, the Battle of Azanulbizar. The Dwarves finally won this notoriously bloody encounter when reinforcements arrived late on the scene from the Iron Hills. After the battle, Thráin II son of Thrór wanted to enter Moria and reclaim it, but the Dwarves not of Durin's folk refused, saying they had honored Durin's memory by fighting, and this was enough. The Dwarves feared Durin's Bane was still present and were reluctant to enter Moria while it still dwelt there.

Near the end of the battle Azog was killed by Dáin Ironfoot, who had just watched his father Náin die at Azog's hands. Afterward Azog's head, its mouth stuffed with the same coin-filled purse that he had flung at Nár after he had killed Thrór nine years before, was left impaled on a spike.[1]

The war was very costly for the Dwarven race, as nearly half of their warriors had been killed. Náin son of Grór, Frerin second son of Thráin II, and Fundin son of Farin, the father of Balin, were among the more noted casualties. Thráin II himself lost an eye, and Thorin was wounded when his shield broke and he had to use an oak branch to defend himself. This led to his by name, Oakenshield.

During and after the conflict many goblins fled south through Rohan, trying to claim a refuge in the White Mountains beyond, and they troubled the Rohirrim for two generations. Other effects of the war were that the goblins of the Misty Mountains virtually disappeared as a threat for Eriador and Wilderland for a long while; the goblins of the High Pass near Rivendell were some of the few survivors. A century and a half later the Goblins of the North still had not fully recovered, and their population was further reduced during the Battle of Five Armies in TA 2941, in which Bolg, son of Azog, tried to avenge his father. Bolg was killed by Beorn during the battle.

Portrayals in Adaptations

Peter Jackson changed the story line considerably for his film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012). Jackson had Azog kill Thrór during the Battle of Azanulbizar, dispensed with Dáin Ironfoot completely, and portrayed Thorin Oakenshield as having cut off Azog's arm in the battle, so that in the movie Azog would survive the War of the Dwarves and Orcs and be able to pursue Thorin and his Company out of revenge and a vow to wipe out the line of Durin.


  1. Tolkien Gateway,,"Azog"