One Last Update

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OneLastTime

Dear Readers,

It has been three years since I began this blog, back in December of 2011, and I have chosen to officially end updates to the website with the premiere of the final film (the site will remain up as an archive for the next year at least).  My main purpose for the site was to gather all the Hobbit news and resources I could find, to engage in discussion of the text and films, and perhaps, most importantly, to promote and celebrate one of Tolkien’s most under-appreciated races – The Khazad. Since then, Dwarven pride has become lodged in many hearts, and for that I am glad.

I would like to express my deepest gratitude for the contributors to Heirs of Durin: ArchedCory, Kingfisher, Iduna, Ori’s Quill, Ewelina the Wonderer, DanielLB, Michelle Nevins, Anjy Roemelt, Susan Messer Chan, and Dwalin.  These are the folks who wrote essays, convention reports, gathered images and interviews, or translated articles. Also thanks to my unseen, and very humble co-admin.  I would not have made it this long without your support.  Lastly, I must thank our readers for your insightful comments and passion.  The blood of Durin flows in you all!

As my final duty, I have updated the Photo Gallery with the latest Battle of the Five Armies images, and I might as well share with you my “ode to the Hobbit” video which I made before seeing the last film.  The lyrics struck me as being fitting for these particular characters.


But sad or merry, I must leave you now.
Farewell,
-DarkJackal (D.J.)

Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies Article in “CINEMA” magazine

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

[German article in the October 2014 issue of CINEMA magazine translated by ArchedCory]

On December 10th the last journey to Middle-earth starts. CINEMA was on set and saw destroyed cities and elves covered in blood.

Thick snowflakes silently fall onto Dale’s crumbling city walls. Richly decorated wells and gates were in the meantime grown over by grass and thickets and give evidence of the former wealth of the kingdom in Middle-earth’s North. Houses, muddy paths, a row of decayed trees provide the impression of the disaster that must have taken place here. 171 years ago the dragon Smaug had opened the fire on Dale and laid the city in ruins.

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Now the metropolis on Erebor’s mountainside is again becoming the scene for death and destruction. Men from Esgaroth that fled into Dale’s ruins are being chased by gruesome orcs. With drawn axes and swords they fight screaming through the narrow streets of the ruined city. And are finally defeated by the Mirkwood elves.

At the end of the massacre, Thranduil (Lee Pace), king of the wood elves, at the same time angry and sad looks at his fallen companions and the dead bodies of the orcs as he is torn out of thoughts by Gandalf (Ian McKellen). The wizard is clad in grey and pleads to Thranduil for help in the fight against the powers of darkness. He however only replies: “The elves have already shed enough blood in this land.”

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“Thanks!”, shouts director Peter Jackson, and makes the orcs jump over elvish blades a few more times this day.

So Middle-earth will become sinister. For the end of his trilogy, covering the fantasy world invented by J.R.R. Tolkien in 1937, Peter Jackson lets hell come down over Middle-earth. Just like in his last “Lord of the Rings” adventure “Return of the King”, he ends his epic with massive battle scenes, tragic losses and emotional chasms. For this the kiwi gathered his actors once more for six weeks in June 2013 in his home, the idyllic Wellington. It was very challenging for the actors. “It was already two and a half years ago when I first played Bilbo”, says Martin Freeman. “Since then I have worked on lots of other projects. So in the beginning I needed some time to empathize with the role of a hobbit again.”

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The shiny chain mail (mithril shirt) which he’ll wear in his next scene has probably helped him with this, just like Jackson’s perfectionism. “Peter already knows how to cut a scene before he has even shot it”, explains Ian McKellen who has the number 9 in elvish tattooed on his upper arm as reference to the nine members of the fellowship in the first “Lord of the Rings” film.

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When the word “pick up shooting” is uttered in film industry usually alarm bells start to ring. After all, under normal circumstances they are the studio’s reaction to bad test screenings. It’s different here. Due to e.g. bad weather conditions certain scenes couldn’t be finished. Further Peter Jackson is constantly haunted by new ideas on how to end the final chapter in Middle-earth. This means he has written some sequences already two years ago and others as late as last night. “I still don’t believe that we are done”, Ian McKellen jokes. “I have said goodbye to Tolkien’s world already a lot of times.”

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Despite Jackson’s passion for the topic, many fans remained skeptical about the director’s intention to expand a book with 300 pages into three films. Many feared an overblown fantasy spectacle. Jackson answered with two emotional 3D-epics for which he used the appendices of “Return of the King” amongst others, invented characters like ninja-elf Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) or let known characters like Legolas (Orlando Bloom) return despite not appearing in the book. This way Jackson designed his own vision of Tolkien’s world – without raising himself above the mastermind.

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Even after all these years in Middle-earth the 54-year-old still doesn’t seem to believe what his team lines up for him. To turn the city of Dale into a ruin it first had to be destroyed. Over the span of six weeks approximately 130 craftsmen prepared statues, pillars and houses out of plaster, cement and wood at Mount Crawford to demonstrate the destructive power of dragon Smaug.

And another set has to suffer from the monster: Esgaroth. Over three months the Venice of Middle-earth was erected in the Stone Tree Studios in Wellington’s district Miramar – including 54 houses, boats and canals. In the end the largest set for this production fell victim to Smaug’s flames.

Next to a series of sets built solely for this production, Peter Jackson also counts on CGI effects, especially in the Battle of Five Armies which make up the core of this film.

“After this battle”, he says, “the idea of shooting a small drama sounds really tempting.”

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Text in one of the boxes:
The plot of the film: While Smaug destroys Esgaroth the dwarves under the lead of a slowly going mad Thorin entrench inside Erebor. While the wargs and orcs head for the mountain, elves, men and dwarves form an alliance in the “Battle of Five Armies” against enemies that act under the influence of the Necromancer.

Óin – A Healer And His Staff

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Óin – A Healer And His Staff
by Kingfisher

*****

This is the seventh part in a series highlighting the various weapons used by the dwarves in the Company of Thorin, including speculation on their form and function. The essay concentrates on the original weapons as shown in the first movie “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”, and doesn’t cover additional concept weapons that were never actually used – or weapons from the following films. References are drawn from the films, tie-ins and supporting materials.

Related articles are:
1. Weapons of a King – Thorin Oakenshield
2. Fili: Twice as Fierce – or – “The One-Dwarf Walking Arsenal”
3. Kili and His Weapons – Deadly At Every Range
4. Dwalin – Weapons of a Veteran
5. Balin – Mace or Sword from Ancient Times?
6. Glóin – His Axe Stands Ready

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Along with his brother Glóin, Óin is a distant cousin of Thorin Oakenshield. A brave Northern Dwarf, Óin joins The Company of Thorin Oakenshield out of a sense of loyalty to his kin, and also because he has a substantial sum of money invested in the venture. Well read, with an inquiring mind, Óin is the healer of the group and carries with him a considerable collection of plants and herbal remedies.

Despite his age, he can still lay about him to brutal effect with his iron-shod staff, and he has picked up many cunning fighting tricks in his time, so don’t mess with this dwarf either.

Óin’s staff
Óin carries a long, two-handed staff and – as with Glóin and his battle axe – Óin can use his staff to support his steps in rough terrain, and to lean on when he needs a rest.

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A staff in general is a close combat weapon which extends the fighter’s effective range considerably and therefore increases the momentum of his blow when the weapon is swung. Range and force of impact make it an effective weapon against armored enemies on horseback, or very tall enemies like trolls. It gives the fighter the ability to keep the enemy horse and rider at a distance and strike or stab the rider up in the saddle (or the troll in the eye).

Source: P. H. Ditchfield: Old English Sports, Pastimes and Customs. England, 1891.

Source: P. H. Ditchfield: Old English Sports, Pastimes and Customs. England, 1891.

Staff weapons are known to have existed throughout history in both Western and Asian cultures. They have been called by many names – for example, the quarter-staff in European cultures, the Gun in China, or the Bō in Japan. They all developed and practiced techniques for staff-like weapons that ranged from 4 to 12 feet in length. Offensive and defensive techniques usually consist of striking, levering, thrusting and blocking.

The quarter-staff is – as mentioned – a traditional European pole weapon. Mostly it refers to a shaft of hardwood from 6 to 9 feet (1.8 to 2.7m) long, often with a metal tip, ferrule or spike at one or both ends. The name derives supposedly from the way the staff is held, when you imagine it being divided into four quarters: the right hand grasping it one-quarter of the distance from the lower end.

Source: Dwight C. McLemore: The Fighting Staff. Paladin Press, 2010, p. 3.

Source: Dwight C. McLemore: The Fighting Staff. Paladin Press, 2010, p. 3.

The Chinese Gun refers to a long staff used in Chinese martial arts. It is known as one of the four major weapons, along with the Qiang (spear), Dao (sabre), and the Jian (sword), called in this group “The Grandfather of all Weapons”. A (Korea: bong, Chinese: kon) is also a very tall and long staff used in Okinawa and feudal Japan.  Bō are typically around 1.8 m (5.9 ft) long and used in Japanese martial arts.

Here are some examples on typical fighting moves with above mentioned asian staff types.

Shaolin Yin Shou Gun (Reverse hands bow staff):

Variation of Chinese staff fighting in Wing Chun (mainly from 0:56 onwards):

How to spin a bō staff:

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Óin’s staff seems to be made from a thick piece of hard-wood just like a quarter-staff, reinforced with beefy steel knobs on both ends, somewhat resembling the head of a mace with protruding sharp flanges (see here details on maces). The most common types of wood for quarter-staffs are oak, hazel, ash, hawthorn, and wax wood (a white wood from China that has been used for centuries for staffs and polearms). Hazel and ash saplings make light, flexible staffs, but ash has a tendency to flake and split. Hawthorn and oak are probably the toughest and most durable staff material, but they tend to be a bit rigid. So as Óin’s staff looks considerably sturdy we could assume that it is made of one of the latter woods – hawthorn or oak.

Concept Art by Frank Victoria, Weta Workshop. Click for full size.

Concept Art by Frank Victoria, Weta Workshop. Click for full size.

The shaft of his staff can be used to deflect hostile attacks, while the thickened ends allow bone-crushing blows. And even though Óin’s staff cannot penetrate any armor (because it has no blade), the power generated while thrusting the long shaft can deliver severe injuries and is capable of overwhelming any opponent with its blunt damage and speed.

The knobs at the ends are even a bit pointy with sharp edges, and if you’re something bigger than a dwarf (such as a troll) that’s the one thing you don’t want to have jabbed in your eye or any other sensitive parts of your anatomy.

In general, staff fighting techniques involve slashing, swinging and stabbing, and include a wide variety of blocks, strikes, sweeps, and entrapments. Óin’s staff also has some leather straps attached, most probably to provide additional aid while swinging it, as we will see later when he fights his way through Goblin Town.

John Callen, Oin’s actor, says himself in the book “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Chronicles: Cloaks & Daggers” on his “fighting stick”:

Putting a leather strap on it meant I could lean on it or rest it on the ground and hang on to the strap. It could be used for lifting, carrying or whacking. It turned out to be a wonderful weapon.

He might, for example, wield it very similarly to a bō, which is gripped in thirds, and held horizontally in front, the right palm facing away from the body while the left hand is facing the body, enabling the staff to rotate. The power is generated by the back hand pulling the staff, while the front hand is used for guidance. When striking, the wrist is twisted, as if turning the hand over when punching.

Staff techniques require as much great skill as swinging an axe or a sword, and the staff may even be used to sweep sand into an attacker’s eyes. And as master of his weapon, Óin handles it almost as an extension of his limbs, as we can see looking at his wicked fighting moves in Goblin town, where he whirls it around on the wrist strap.

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References

Glóin – His Axe Stands Ready

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Glóin – His Axe Stands Ready
by Kingfisher

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This is the sixth part in a series highlighting the various weapons used by the dwarves in the Company of Thorin, including speculation on their form and function. The essay concentrates on the original weapons as shown in the first movie “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”, and doesn’t cover additional concept weapons that were never actually used – or weapons from the following films. References are drawn from the films, tie-ins and supporting materials.

Related articles are:
1. Weapons of a King – Thorin Oakenshield
2. Fili: Twice as Fierce – or – “The One-Dwarf Walking Arsenal”
3. Kili and His Weapons – Deadly At Every Range
4. Dwalin – Weapons of a Veteran
5. Balin – Mace or Sword from Ancient Times?
7. Óin – A Healer And His Staff

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Glóin, son of Gróin, accompanies Thorin Oakenshield on his quest as both participant and investor. Being sturdy retainers and traditionalists, Glóin and his brother Óin are cousins to Thorin, the King in Exile, and hold his quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the Dragon Smaug as one of greatest importance for the future of their people.

Along with Bombur, Glóin is the only other married Dwarf in the Company (there being a shortage of female dwarves in general). His wife is an acclaimed beauty with a particularly fine beard. Glóin is the proud father of a young son, Gimli, who will go on to become part of the famous Fellowship of the Ring.

Both Glóin and Óin are old enough to have known the glorious days before the fall of Erebor and feel keenly its loss – for Erebor is the heritage of the House of Durin. Over time, this lost heritage burdens their dreams and Glóin would see the majesty of the Dwarves restored for his son Gimli’s sake, and all the Dwarves to come, and he rallies to Thorin’s side, packing axe and coin for the journey.

As adroit with weapons as he is astute in business, Glóin is a stout but sturdy warrior and wary of both Elves and the Wizard. The dwarves that Glóin grew up with used to work hard – and play hard. Being an outspoken and hot-tempered dwarf, politics and sweet promises are not to his liking, and he mistrusts and sees through those who try to blind others with their allegedly cunning attitude. Glóin proves that dwarves are as strong as the pillars of the earth.

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Glóin’s Battle Axe
Glóin’s Battle Axe is most probably a family heirloom, given from father to son when he comes of age to carry the axe for the family, and is as sturdy as its wielder, though being a fine piece of dwarven craftsmanship. In the first place it’s of course a weapon for chopping wargs, slicing trolls, beheading orcs and – finally – killing dragons. But due to its long handle it can also double as a walking stick in rough country, to ease the strain of long walks through the vast open grasslands of Middle-earth.

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Axes in general are very popular weapons because they can also be used as tools and are cheap to make. A battle axe is specifically designed for combat, so to say a “specialized” version of a utility axe. Some are suitable for use in one hand, while others – like Glóin’s Battle Axe – are larger and normally wielded with two hands.

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The shaft of Glóin’s Battle Axe is square edged, with tightly wrapped double-cross leather strapping, which keeps the axe from slipping through his grasp. The length of the handle gives Glóin’s axe a much longer reach, which – combined with his great strength – enables him to hack into enemies at a three foot distance.

The blade should be made entirely from steel rather than iron with a steel cutting edge, which has been fire-welded in place separately. It’s carefully crafted and the ornate detailing befits the weapon of a wealthy dwarf of Durin’s Line. The socketed head of the blade also includes short langets – long strips of metal affixed to the faces of the haft to prevent it from being damaged during combat.

Glóin’s axe has a curved blade which increases the cutting edge. That single, sharpened crescent-shaped blade concentrates the whole weight of a blow on a small target area, so that the battle axe should be able to slice deeply into an opponent’s armor. Additionally it has a spiked tip which Glóin can use to directly stab at an opponent, and so provides him with a secondary weapon of penetration.

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In battle, Glóin charges forward with a powerful swing of this axe, fighting enemies at a medium range because of the long haft of his axe, which is not good in defense, so combat can get tricky in a crowd and requires great skill. But it’s perfectly fitting for his statue, because it extends the arc and impact of his blow.

I want to quote Heirs-of-Durin-user Grim Helbeard here, explaining about the handling of a Dane Axe which can count as an early type of battle axe. It has primarily been used during the transition between the European Viking Age and early Middle Ages and reminds us (a little) of Glóin’s axe:

A Dane Axe held at half shaft can use its shorter lower bearded blade to grasp and drop shields – then you can project the longer upper end of the blade forward as a thrusting tip. Depending on the curvature and texture of the shaft – you need to become comfortable with projecting and retracting the axe handle smoothly for transitions from close combat to more aggressive field warfare.” (Grim Helbeard)

So maybe we can assume, that Glóin might use his axe with a similar technique. Holding his axe with two hands at the end for a wide swing at medium range fighting – but slipping to half shaft for close quarters fighting. So Glóin needs to react quickly in battlefield conditions and types of enemies he has to face.

Glóins Throwing Axe
In addition to his melee weapon, Glóin utilizes a smaller throwing axe for ranged attacks (and to be ready for combat in crowded situations), which he carries tucked in his belt on the right side. It’s very similar in shape to his battle axe.

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Throwing axes are especially difficult to use, as their rotation must match the distance to a moving target, or the enemy only receives a hard thump with the handle – and a new weapon.
The objective is for the axe blade to stick into the target with a sufficient amount of force. For this to be successful, accuracy, distance, number of rotations and placement of the body must be all taken into account – usually, they are thrown in an overhand motion and before contact with the enemy to create gaps in the battle lines.

As a skilled fighter, Glóin knows how to rotate the axe throughout its flight so that the sharpened edge of its heads will “stick” effectively. But it’s apparent that Glóin prefers engaging in direct combat rather than using his throwing axe.

Glóin’s knives with bone/tusk handles
In addition and almost unseen throughout the films, Gloin carries two beautiful knives in a little sheath attached to his belt at the back. I know of no other scenes where these knives are shown, except as in this picture, so I can’t analyze the blade shape properly, but we can at least see the handles of those knives which seem to be made from bone – or rather tusks, according to their curved shape.

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Bones, tusks, and antlers from living animals as grip material for knives can memorialize an important and successful hunt and give the knives a high personal value. The choice to use horn, bone, shell, or ivory as grip material can be one of beauty, adding visual appeal to the smooth and polished blade – but also the texture of many of these materials helps to improve grip strength. Many horns, bones, and ivories become sticky when wet, thus improving grip security while fighting.

And to hide those little knives at his back makes them perfect weapons “of last resort” for Glóin. No matter which weapon, however, Glóin uses them all with equally devastating power!

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References

Interview with Graham McTavish at HobbitCon 2014

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At HobbitCon (full report here) I had the wonderful honour to interview the great Graham McTavish. He was so nice that I didn’t even have a reason to be starstruck. Enjoy!

ArchedCory: You are the first dwarf to enter Bag End. What would you say is Dwalin’s role in establishing the audience’s expectations for Tolkien’s dwarves?

Graham McTavish: Good question. For me it was certainly the most enjoyable moment in the whole making of the film that I had the privilege to be the first one to enter Bag End. It’s such an iconic building. But I think as far as Tolkien is concerned, and in the way we have done it, is that Dwalin is the most ferocious of all the dwarves, and if you had to choose one that you didn’t want to arrive at your door you’d probably choose Dwalin. And for Bilbo to open the door to such a figure I think really conveys that these are not the dwarves from Snow White. These are dwarves that eat all your food and then go to battle afterwards. So I think that’s why.

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Which is your favourite weapon? The axes or the warhammer?

The axes or the warhammer. Well there are a few more weapons to come.

Also the knuckledusters, but the Elves took them away.

Yes, but there are some you haven’t seen yet. But I’d say the ones that you have seen…

Well, you can tell me your favourite of all of them.

No, no, I won’t do that. But the ones that you have seen, I loved the warhammer. I really did. The axes are fantastic but there was something about how you can spin a warhammer.

We also saw you doing archery training.

Yes?

Yes, in the vlogs. So are we going to see Dwalin use a bow?

Well, you might. You have to wait and see. Yes, I can’t tell you that! (laughs)

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We know that Dwalin has an unbending loyalty for Thorin. How far will that loyalty go when he falls under the gold sickness?

Well, again, you know the book. I can’t really say in terms of the film where that leads, but… Let’s put it this way: All the characters go on journeys. And Dwalin is no different. So that’s the best way I can answer to that question.

Let’s say if Thorin was crowned king, what would you say would be Dwalin’s place in his court?

Well, I think he’d be a trusted advisor and also a man that would stand with him in the event of any trouble. And he would probably be the first to meet that trouble. That’s the kind of character Dwalin is. He is this sort of “do things first and ask questions later” guy.

We all know that Thorin and Dwalin almost grew up like brothers. Do you think that Dwalin had some kind of role to teach Fili and Kili to fight?

Sure, I do! I think they’d have a very close relationship as they were growing up.

Like a father?

Yeah, he would have been a mentor to some degree. I think he would have seen a great deal of himself, particularly in Kili. I think he sees something of himself there.

Really? How?

Cause looking back to his youth I think that there is sort of… not an irresponsibility about Kili, but there is a sort of… He wants to do more than he is perhaps capable of at a certain point in his story. And I think that that’s the kind of thing that Dwalin would have remembered from his own youth.

We read in an earlier interview that maybe you were going to do a haka at the premiere of the third film. Do you have any news on that?

No news. We are definitely trying to get it done. We are talking to Philippa and Peter and Fran… The only difficulty is getting all this together for rehearsals. Cause you don’t want to do it half-cocked. So it may end up not all of us but just some of us that can do it. Particularly the Kiwi based actors I think would be able to come together and do something. But I think it would be wonderful.

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Can you tell us anything about your upcoming movie “Plastic”?

Plastic? Oh, it’s completely different! It’s based on a true story. It’s based on a con that was perpetrated against a jeweller, an L.A. based jeweller. And they changed that to a Florida based jeweller. And I play that character. But he is conned out of a great deal of money with jewels. There are gunfights and running around, jets, so it couldn’t be any more different from the Hobbit.

So you are going to have an American accent in it?

(mocking, in American accent) Yeah, yeah, I’m an American as well.

That’s too bad actually. I love the Scottish.

Well thank you!

Thank you very much for the interview, Graham McTavish!

HobbitCon 2014 Gallery

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These pictures were made kindly by my friend Eva who has a much better camera than me. Cheers to her for the great work!  Read my full report on HobbitCon 2014 here.

HobbitCon 2014 Report

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HobbitCon Report by ArchedCory

HobbitCon 2014 took place at the Maritim Hotel in Bonn during the Easter weekend. This Con is very special in the sense that it really covers only ONE fandom, which means all the stars know each other and every visitor also knows the work of every star! Also, the list of stars on HobbitCon 2014 was long: 10 dwarves, Richard Taylor, Mark Atkin, Royd Tolkien and Jed Brophy brought his son as a last minute surprise guest.

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Once again the stars were totally down to earth, roamed the con area themselves, and on the other side, the fans stayed decent and never annoyed anyone! We were all the same for a couple of days it seemed. Partying every evening with the dwarves (like dwarves…) was legendary as well.

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Being at the con area meant stepping into Middle-earth. The decoration was amazing! But not only that, the visitors brought it to life as well. There was a lot more cosplay than last year.  Also, while last year there were few costumes besides the three Heirs of Durin, this year had a larger variety. Nearly all dwarves were covered and there were Tauriels, Thranduils, hobbits, Gandalfs, even Smaugs! And just when I complained that nobody came as Bard, I found one! The reason might be that there was a Costume Contest, which was judged by none other than Sir Richard Taylor. He even mentioned that after all these years visiting ComicCon he has never seen such great cosplay as here at HobbitCon.

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There were various shops with merchandise, and spending more money than expected was easy there. Sadly though the truck from the biggest fantasy merchandise shop in Germany – Elbenwald – was destroyed on the way to the con, so they couldn’t sell anything.

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The signing sessions and photo sessions were extremely well organized again. Everybody got their picture or signature, even when it came to such popular stars like Richard Taylor or Dean O’Gorman. This year I actually decided to get the group picture – myself on a photo with ten dwarf actors. When would you ever get that chance again? Oh, but better not ask what that photo cost.

I did something funny at the signing session this year. I brought the DVD of a children’s movie from 1996 called “Return to Treasure Island”, which features Dean O’Gorman, Jed Brophy and William Kircher. I gave it to all three of them to sign. And the reaction of all three was exactly the same: Surprise that I brought that there and that I even had it, and a bit of shame to have played in it. I may quote William Kircher: “I was awful in it, Dean was awful in it, but at least Jed was great.”  In fact, 18 years later, Jed Brophy spontaneously quoted one of his lines from that film! Wow!

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Once again there were panels, where you could ask your stars questions. There were workshops, lectures and also some special events. One was a panel with five actors at the same time, which was a brilliant idea since they could make fun of each other while answering the questions (and of Aidan Turner for some reason).

The best part however was the Comedy Hour. Just like last year it was Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Stephen Hunter and Dean O’Gorman playing ridiculous games to win… I have no idea if there actually WAS anything to win!

First round was a Tolkien quiz, and hardly surprising they didn’t do too well in it. Then they had a game in which two actors had to play one person – Jed Brophy and Mark Hadlow being one, Dean O’Gorman and Stephen Hunter being the other – and these two merged persons then had to go on a date together. Sounds a bit complicated, but don’t worry, Mark Hadlow and Jed Brophy didn’t get it either.

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In another game each actor had to be an animal and then had to go to an audition as that animal to get a job. Jed Brophy was an ostrich, Mark Hadlow a kangaroo, Stephen Hunter a unicorn (really, what else?) and Dean O’Gorman a giraffe. He needed to be carried by Jed Brophy to be tall enough though.

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The last game was the best by far! Mark Ferguson (who happens to be the moderator of all those shows) wrote his own fanfiction, and at the same time the four actors had to play it as their dwarves. Stephen Hunter however demanded to play Kili. So it ended up being a Nori, Dori, Fili, Kili fanfiction in which somehow everybody ended up being paired up with everybody else. And all of them were “suddenly aroused” at the least likely situations. I really can’t wait for the DVD to see this again!

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I know everybody is waiting for the Dean fangirling part… Yes, I talked to him again a couple of times, I hugged him, and since he happened to appear at the con with a gorgeous beard, and me being a beard fanatic… I couldn’t help but ask him kindly if I could maybe touch it. But luckily he didn’t mind.  Anyway, he is still my favourite, but at least now he doesn’t make me nervous anymore. He’s a great guy!

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And about the other stars:
Peter Hambleton and John Callen are such a great duo! They are totally fun to listen to. Loved their panels! Too bad their planned Oin/Gloin spin-off will never happen.

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Ken Stott was on his first EVER convention and he definitely seemed as if he enjoyed himself. I really hope we changed his mind about conventions.

Graham McTavish was as brilliant as last year, I could definitely listen to him for hours as well. I was lucky enough to get an interview with him. Be sure to check it out here!

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Jed Brophy was hyperactive and funny as always. He brought his son Sadwyn who played Aragorn’s and Arwen’s son in Return of the King. He is 17 now and definitely enjoyed the party.

Mark Hadlow also brought a lot of fun into the panels and the Gameshow. He was often seen in the audience when other actors gave their panels.

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Adam Brown was a bit braver than last year. The story how his left testicle fell out during a theatrical play will probably go down in history. It definitely became a running gag during the con!

William Kircher was on HobbitCon the first time and I have no idea why they didn’t invite him last year. He was great in his panels, asked people to come on stage to ask their questions from there and was generally very active. And you have no idea how much Khuzdul that man still speaks!

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Stephen Hunter made me really happy this year. He appeared quite shy last year, but you could definitely see that he enjoyed himself to the maximum this time around. Please come again!

Royd Tolkien is the great-grandson of J.R.R., and he seems to be a really nice guy.

Mark Atkin was a huge surprise! He’s the stunt/scale double of Thorin Oakenshield, so we didn’t really know what to expect. But he turned out to be such a sweet and charming guy! What I didn’t know: This was his first work for a film, he was an English policeman before. Interesting career!

Richard Taylor…what can I say, the man is a legend. I was surprised what a calm and down-to-earth person he is. He took so much time for everybody at the signing sessions, wrote a personal dedication to everybody, and what probably was the best part: He took pictures of the cosplayers with his own phone! I think he was really overwhelmed by the amount of details in some of these costumes. Needless to say he got several minutes of standing ovations at the closing ceremony.

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Speaking of Opening/Closing ceremonies means talking about songs. During the Opening ceremony they played “Blunt the Knives”, while during the Closing ceremony they played “I see Fire”, the choir sang “Song of the Lonely Mountain” and at the very end the dwarves had the stage to themselves again to sing “Misty Mountains”. That was a goosebump moment, just like last year.

After last year’s HobbitCon we were sure it was a once in a lifetime experience. There weren’t too many visitors, and as we expected, the event made no profit. I was surprised, but of course happy they took the risk to organize a second one. And the number of visitors this year showed that they were right to do so! Everybody sounded completely convinced there will be a HobbitCon 2015 – three films, three cons. I will definitely be back a third time if it happens again, there is no way I would ever miss this. And if you have the chance to attend, neither should you!

Check out the full gallery of photos from the convention here!

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Balin – Mace or Sword from Ancient Times?

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Balin – Mace or Sword from Ancient Times?
by Kingfisher

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This is the fifth part in a series highlighting the various weapons used by the dwarves in the Company of Thorin, including speculation on their form and function. The essay concentrates on the original weapons as shown in the first movie “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”, and doesn’t cover additional concept weapons that were never actually used. References are drawn from the films, tie-ins and supporting materials.

Related articles are:
1. Weapons of a King – Thorin Oakenshield
2. Fili: Twice as Fierce – or – “The One-Dwarf Walking Arsenal”
3. Kili and His Weapons – Deadly At Every Range
4. Dwalin – Weapons of a Veteran
6. Glóin – His Axe Stands Ready
7. Óin – A Healer And His Staff

1-Balin-portrait

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Balin, son of Fundin and older brother of Dwalin, is a descendant of Durin’s line – like Thorin himself, and his nephews Fili and Kili, as well as Óin and Glóin. He is Thorin’s cousin by blood and brother in arms, as is Dwalin, and together they escaped the sack of Erebor when Smaug descended in flame and fire. They fought at each other’s sides during the Battle of Azanulbizar, and Balin also accompanied Thráin on his doomed expedition to Erebor, during which his king was captured by Sauron’s henchmen and lost to his folk.

As back in the old glorious days of Erebor, Balin is still known for his eloquence, his quick wit and circumspect actions. As the elder statesman of the group, he often acts as the second in command and drafter of official contracts. But despite his advanced age, his eyes are still sharp, and he is a skilled and powerful warrior.

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Introduction
Balin carries “just” one primary weapon – not multiple axes like Gloin, not dozens of knives like Fili, or a gigantic warhammer, double axes and knuckle-dusters like Dwalin. Just this weapon – but it’s a unique and special one. This weapon looks like a sword, but in promotional material it’s called “Balin’s Mace”, and we will try to explore what it could be in fact.

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First of all – I’m not calling it “mace”, because a mace – especially a military mace – is something entirely different. A mace intended for battle and combat usually has a massive head made of stone, bronze, iron or steel, which can even be shaped with “flanges” (protruding edges of metal) or knobs to cause severe damage. This heavy, three-dimensional head sits on a solid, wooden or metal shaft, and the whole weapon is primarily used to bludgeon opponents and deliver powerful blows. It’s a mere blunt weapon, one can’t cut with it like with a sword.

And even though the massive head of Balin’s weapon gives it a slightly mace-like profile (though the head is flat and not 3-dimensional), what is it? It’s not a pure sword either. By the broadest of definitions, in my opinion it is a hybrid or combination weapon – a weapon, which combines particular elements from different weapon types into a unique one.

But let’s have a closer look at it.

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Blade and grip
First of all we can see a thick and broad blade which widens considerably towards the tip and ends in a triangular, star-shaped point. It is intricately decorated with dwarven-style line work and appears to be double-edged up to where it widens into the tip, sharpened along both sides.
The star-shaped broad tip features nasty edges and points, which seem sharp enough to snag clothing or flesh or inflict terrible wounds. It also has a hexagonal cut-out, which might serve to lighten the tip in order to prevent it being too top-heavy. But more on that later.

3-Balin-grip-tip

The grip, wrapped with leather strips which prevent it from slipping from the hand, is longer than, for example, the grip of one of Fili’s dual swords, Kili’s sword or even Thorin’s Deathless – about one third of the total length, according to promotional pictures and concept art. This also means a change in handling due to the shift of the balance point, because the weight distribution becomes more top-heavy.

5-Balin-sword-comparison

The grip ends in a diamond-shaped pommel (knob at the top of the hilt), which aids to secure the grip on the hilt as well as acts as a counterweight to the thick blade, bringing the center of gravity closer to the hilt.

That pommel also gives the whole weapon more the appearance of a “herald’s staff”, a scepter or ceremonial mace. Ceremonial maces for example are highly ornamented staffs of metal or wood, intended to represent authority and usually carried before a king or other high official.

The functional parts of these ceremonial maces though, like the blade-like flanges, are degenerated into mere ornaments and show high status and power.

This could lead us to the assumption that this weapon might be intended to serve a double function – first of all, being of course a device to inflict damage or act for defense, but second, serve as a sign of Balin’s high status as Thorin’s advisor. As Balin’s actor, Ken Scott, says himself: “My character has a short sword, that is, in a sense, his badge of office as Thorin’s counselor”.

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Groove/Fuller, Cross-section and Taper
A very distinctive feature is the central groove (fuller) which runs along the length of the sword blade and can be broad or narrow, shallow or deep, depending upon the sword’s design and intended mission. It is often referred to as a “blood groove” or “blood channel”, but in fact has nothing to do with that, but is intended to lighten a blade without weakening it. How can this be possible though?

To understand this, one has to realize that one of the most important requirements for a sword-blade is stiffness:

There is no possible use of a sword in cutting, thrusting, or guarding, in which too great flexibility would not be a disadvantage. Sometimes this defect – flexibility of a blade – is assumed as the criterion of a good blade. The error arises from confounding flexibility of the blade with elasticity of the steel – the latter is necessary, the former useless and always injurious. But to resume: a blade which has been ground thin to lighten it, will frequently be too flexible and whippy. In this case by putting a groove on each side, we not only make it still lighter, but we also make it stiffer; for if we apply any force to bend a grooved blade side wise we meet with the greatest amount of resistance which any mechanical form can supply.
(John Latham: The Shape of Sword Blades, 1862, p. 416.)

So to sum up, a fuller can add to lighten a blade, but without making it too flexible and whippy, as when the blade would just have been ground thin. On the contrary, the fuller stiffens the blade and breaks the line of force on a blow – from one edge to the other.
When striking with a sword, the impact when hit adds “stress” to the edges of the sword – rather than to its middle (due to the leverage effect) – and bends the whole sword. Removing material from this middle part (neutral axis) breaks that “power transmission” from blade edge to blade edge and therefore the sword will be stiffer and doesn’t bend that easily.

Concept Art by Frank Victoria, Weta Workshop. Click for full size.

Concept Art by Frank Victoria, Weta Workshop. Click for full size.

In addition we can see, the blade has a hexagonal cross-section with double-fullers (you can only see the blade’s cross-sectional design if you were to cut a blade in half crosswise and then look at its cut end). A hexagonal cross-section simply consists of a blade with six faces. Two broad faces that make up the flat of the blade and four smaller angled faces that form the edge.

The taper of a blade describes thickness (distal taper) and width (profile taper) of a blade. Usually the thickness lessens from the base towards the tip of a blade.

When the blade is almost the same thickness base to tip (no or little distal taper) like in Balin’s weapon, it results in a weapon being heavier and more unresponsive than a comparable one with lesser thickness towards the tip.

The width of the blade though refers to the narrowing upon the edges of the flat of the blade. Blades with a more gradual profile taper are meant for cutting, slashing and chopping blows – some falchions even get wider towards the point. In contrast, blades designed mostly for thrusting will sometimes taper to a needle point.

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The Point of Balance
If Balin’s weapon were a genuine mace, its chief advantage would be that it would not need to cut an opponent’s armor to be effective (unlike many edged weapons like swords). Its mass, concentrated at the end, could injure and simply stun the enemy by blunt force. An unarmored opponent might even be killed right away. But this top-heavy distribution of mass affects also the handling of the weapon, probably a little like swinging a club. Held straight out and motionless its weight is apparent, but disappears mostly when swung. All that is left is momentum, as you can see here when Balin is fighting the goblins of Goblin Town.

12-Balin-Moves1-slow2

And though it isn’t a true mace, we can recognize some of these characteristics – the longer grip and the thick head of Balin’s hybrid weapon. Both affect the Point of Balance (PoB) and change how the weapon is wielded (The PoB can be found by balancing a weapon (or try it with a pen or long stick), lengthwise, upon your finger. It’s the point where the object is “in balance”, where the center of gravity is located. The spot that has equal mass on either side of a blade’s length).

The Point of Balance is of vital importance for the handling of every weapon. When it shifts more to the tip of the blade, the heavier that weapon feels. That means, a weapon with the PoB closer to the grip feels lighter and more movable, having more control over the point – but it also sacrifices some power from the cutting stroke. On the other hand, the further out the PoB is, the more momentum and mass in the cut, but less point control the weapon will have. So mass distribution plays a very important role as well.

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Conclusion
To sum up, Balin’s weapon features the following characteristics:

  • Elements of a military mace: A long handle and a heavy tip (lightened by the hexagonal cut-out), which have an effect on the mass distribution, the placement of the balance point and the handling, so the weight is top-heavy and aids a hacking motion. The tip though is flat, not three-dimensional and doesn’t feature blade-like flanges like a traditional mace.
  • Elements of a ceremonial mace: The finishing and the decorative elements are very special for an ordinary weapon – Balin’s weapon isn’t “just” from steel, but shines coppery and is – in this – an impressive sight. It also fits his red clothing he sets out with on the journey. So it’s not just a weapon but also shows high status and quality, representing Balin’s function as Thorin’s councilor and “Vice President”.
  • Elements of a sword: The blade seems to be double-edged in the middle part, but shows no real cutting edge to speak of towards the business end of the blade, though the star-shaped projections seem sharp enough to add stabbing moves. Adding to this, the blade is almost equally thick from base to tip (little distal taper) which adds even more weight in addition to the heavy tip. The little profile taper (width of the blade) suggests as well that the weapon is intended for more slashing and chopping blows than thrusting.

Concluding now that Balin’s weapon is a hybrid weapon, it can double both as a mace and a sword – weighted towards the far end to act like a bludgeon, but with a bladed edge in the middle like a more traditional sword, to be used in close quarters for hacking at legs, arms or neck. In this, the head of the weapon, having the rectangular cut-out, can be useful for bashing in orc skulls or cracking ribs at a longer, more comfortable range.

Frank Victoria from Weta Workshop, who designed Balin’s weapon, explains the initial concept they had for it:
“Actor Ken Stott told me, ‘I would like to have a weapon that is between an axe and a sword.’ That got me thinking, we’ve never seen anything like that before. Four or five sketches later we had this really unique weapon that is definitely not something human. It’s totally a Dwarf weapon. It has a silhouette, this thing we were all searching for, and it looks like it could be on a flag or a religious symbol. It was originally going to be grey, but to go with his costume they made it coppery and it looks great.” (The Hobbit, an Unexpected Journey – Chronicles, Art and Design)

Balin’s weapon might be an heirloom from ancient times, old dwarven craftsmanship from Erebor, speaking of a past glory the exiles of Erebor have yet to regain. And though age and experience might have tempered the keenness of the old warrior’s reflexes, both mind and weapon are as sharp as the day the dragon first descended upon the Dwarves’ mountain home, and Balin will not shy from drawing his star-pointed blade when foes threaten.

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References

  • Chris McNab: Swords, a Visual History. London, 2010.
  • Rupert Matthews: Weapons of War: From Axes to War Hammers, Weapons from the Age of Hand-to-hand Fighting. London, 2009.
  • Dorling Kindersley: Arms and Armour. London, 2011.
  • Harvey J.S. Withers: The Illustrated Directory of Swords & Sabres. London, 2011.
  • Ken Mondschein/J.Paul Getty Museum: The Knightly Art of Battle. Los Angeles, 2011.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien: The Peoples of Middle Earth. London, 2002.
  • Daniel Falconer: Chronicles: Art & Design (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), 2012.
  • Brian Sibley: Official Movie Guide (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), 2012.
  • Jude Fisher: Visual Companion (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), 2012.
  • http://hole-intheground.blogspot.com/2012/07/arming-crew-thorin-companys-weaponry.html
  • http://www.screenslam.com/blog/the-weaponry-and-languages-of-the-hobbit-an-unexpected-journey/
  • http://l-clausewitz.livejournal.com
  • The Shape of Sword Blades, by Mr. John Latham, firm of Messrs Wilkinson and Son. In: Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Volume 6, By Royal United Service Institution, 1862, p. 410-322, here p. 416.

Dean O’Gorman in January/February issue of GEEK magazine

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In the January/February issue of the German version of GEEK magazine there is a funny “interview” with Dean O’Gorman in which he is asked five simple questions and was asked to silently act out the answers.

1) How did you react when you heard you really got the role in “The Hobbit?

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2) What is the favourite activity of dwarves?

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3) How would a Tolkien dwarf react when he gets confused with a Disney/Snow White dwarf?

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4) What is Fili’s most striking characteristic?

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5) How brave would you be if you would really be a dwarf?

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Dwalin – Weapons of a Veteran

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Dwalin – Weapons of A Veteran
by Kingfisher

*****

This is the fourth part in a series highlighting the various weapons used by the dwarves in the Company of Thorin, including speculation on their form and function. The essay concentrates on the original weapons as shown in the first movie “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”, and doesn’t cover additional concept weapons that were never actually used. References are drawn from the films, tie-ins and supporting materials.

Related articles are:
1. Weapons of a King – Thorin Oakenshield
2. Fili: Twice as Fierce – or – “The One-Dwarf Walking Arsenal”
3. Kili and His Weapons – Deadly At Every Range
5. Balin – Mace or Sword from Ancient Times?
6. Glóin – His Axe Stands Ready
7. Óin – A Healer And His Staff

1-Dwalin-portrait

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As one of the more senior members of the Company of Thorin Oakenshield – next to his older brother Balin and the brother-pair Oin and Gloin – Dwalin is a professional warrior and veteran fighter, and heavily armed with a bunch of weapons: a mighty war hammer, two nasty axes strapped to his back, a dagger, and of course – his brutal knuckle dusters which translate every handshake into an assault. Some also say, his head would be a weapon too… talk about being prepared.

Dwalin and Thorin are said to have a especially close relationship. Growing up together and sharing the bitter air of exile while fighting their way through numerous hordes of goblins and orcs – for example at the dreadful “Battle of Azanulbizar” (T.A. 2799) where Dwalin and his brother Balin lost their father Fundin – Dwalin remains “Thorin’s staunchest supporter” with a fierce and unbending loyalty. More like a brother than distant kin, Dwalin would willingly lay down his own life if it would save Thorin Oakenshield’s.

2-Thorin-and-Dwalin Since his life and the lives of others depend on his weapons and his skill in wielding them, Dwalin takes great care of them. It’s told that he “cherishes every nick and scratch, since each marks the death of an enemy. He does not suffer fools gladly nor is he the most loquacious member of The Company, leaving the talking to his brother, Balin. In truth, Dwalin prefers his weapons to do the talking for him, and he is looking forward to letting them chatter loudly” (Jude Fisher: Visual Companion (AUJ), 2012).

Dwalin’s War Hammer
It’s not surprising that a war hammer consists of a handle and a hammer head – much like a normal hammer. It is primarily used as a bludgeoning weapon and designed to deliver the full force from a blow to the opponent, with the fighting method being based on strength and accuracy in hitting the target.
It is a weapon of mass, having the ability to strike with shock and percussion through armor – or to smash thick orc skulls. Such strikes can injure the foe by causing concussions or denting the armor and joints so that the enemy would be unable to move. While – in contrast – swords and battle axes concentrate on slashing and thrusting moves, tending to ricochet off hard surfaces (like armor) and are sometimes likely to give only a glancing blow when not aimed properly, a single blow from a war hammer is sufficient to shatter bones and cave in skulls, even when a helmet is worn.

3-Dwalin-warhammer The head of a war hammer is typically made of metal. It can apply more force than other hammers, due to its larger size and has the ability to distribute force over a wide area. For weaker foes like goblins, just the weight of the head may be used for blows, but for tough Orcs or Uruk-hais, the war hammer is swung like an axe.
The handle can have different lengths – very similar to long-handled axes vs. throwing axes – and according to the length of the handle, the use of the war hammer is different as well. A long haft extends the arc when the hammer is swung and – in this – increases the power of the blow. It’s also very effective against mounted opponents or tall foes like trolls or giants, when directed at their legs and making them stumble and topple to the ground where they can be attacked more easily. Of course the handle end of the hammer can also be used as a weapon when the opponent is within direct reach. Though shorter handled hammers are generally better in close quarter fighting or from horseback.

Dwalin’s war hammer is indeed a fearsome weapon to meet. The enormous, four-sided hammer-head has a pyramid-shaped protrusion on its face which focuses even more impact into a small area. It is counter-balanced by a peen (or pein – the end of a hammer head opposite the face, typically wedge-shaped). To protect the handle from assault by an opponent armed with an edged weapon, the socket extends into steel-langet-like enforcements that run down the sturdy wooden haft and are riveted to it. The war hammer has some notable heft, with the mass centered around the head. Nevertheless, the hammer is quick enough to make fast recoveries should the first blow not find its target.

04-Dwalin-peen-hammer With these specifics, Dwalin’s war-hammer resembles mostly a blacksmith’s straight-peen (sledge) hammer. These hammers have a wedge-shaped head which is oriented parallel to the hammer’s handle (in contrast to cross-peen/diagonal hammer heads). They are normally used by blacksmiths during the forging process to deliver blows for forging or to strike other forging tools. A main difference though is the pyramid-shaped protrusion on the hammer face. But as this hammer is a weapon of war and not a mere tool any more, this modification is understandable. But Dwalin doesn’t need to hammer the heads of his enemies flat (though he may want to), but only to inflict some serious damage to his foes. Nevertheless it can be seen as a natural extension of the blacksmith’s tool becoming a weapon.

Simple as the hammer might seem, there are different approaches to using it. Holding the handle very close to the hammer head makes the hammer easier to control and quicker to strike, but it reduces the force of the blow (also known as “choking the hammer”). Whereas holding the handle close to its end increases the lever arm and produces a more effective – though slower – blow. Fighting with a war hammer typically requires two hands and a swinging motion involving the entire body, in contrast to smaller hammers used for driving in nails.

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Dwalin’s Axes
As if such a gigantic war-hammer wouldn’t be enough, Dwalin – as a professional warrior – also fights with two axes, which he carries crossed upon his back. Unlike Gloin’s long-handled battle-axe with its curved blade, Dwalin’s axes have a straight cutting edge, which gives rigidity, stability and control when cutting. Though a curved blade increases the cutting edge and is ideal to penetrate deeply in a strike or slice, a straight edge aids more a hacking motion – to chop easily through bone, dent plate armor, or inflict blunt trauma through mail armor (compare this to Fili’s swords, cutting one way and concentrating on thrusts and chops while working largely in the manner of an axe).

5-Dwalin-Axes Those two short-hafted axes are simple in shape, but wide in blade and can be wielded one-handed and simultaneously – unlike Thorin’s and Gloin’s long-handled axes. The Blog “In a Hole-in-the-Ground” speculates in addition: “The fact that Dwalin, a mighty and renowned warrior among the dwarves, carries axes like Thorin (the heir of Durin) and Gloin (a close relative of Thorin) may add further weight to the theory that axes are seen as a symbol of power or prestige in dwarven culture.”

We can also see two inscriptions on Dwalin’s axes – in Angerthas Moria, a variation of the Cirth (runes) used by the Dwarves of Moria.

Michelle Nevins analyzes in her essay “An Introduction to Runes in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”:
As our heroes Journey on to Rivendell and are greeted by Lindir, a close up of Dwalin’s battle axes reveals cirth cast into the cheeks of the axe heads. Recall that the Angerthas Daeron, Angerthas Moria and Angerthas Erebor have slightly different phonic sounds for certain runes, but the English translation is “Grasper” and “Keeper”. The runes read uk.lat (Ukhlat – “grasper, holder”) and umraz (Umraz – “keeper”). (…) The names “Grasper” and “Keeper” were Graham McTavish’s suggestion based on the names of two hounds Emily Brontë owned. Mr. McTavish’s take is that Dwalin “grasps your soul with one axe and keeps it with the other”. Initially Sir Peter Jackson loved the idea and was quoted as saying “we could get it in Elvish and the fans will love it”. Considering the amount of research and detailed analysis that David Salo did on Khuzdul, Dwarvish outstanding smithing abilities, the crudeness of the weapons, and Dwarvish resentment of Elves, it can be most likely ruled out that the translation is A. Daeron.”

In addition, Dwalin wears a wicked dagger in a scabbard attached to his belt on his left hip (picture see portrait of Dwalin at the beginning of this essay, where he holds the dagger), with the blade being notched or serrated close to the hilt. A serrated blade has a jagged cutting edge, so that the cutting action results in many tiny splits of the cut material – not unlike a saw. It acts as a weapon of last resort, but can also be applied as a utility tool.

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Dwalin’s Knuckle Dusters
One could also argue if Dwalin’s knuckle dusters count as armor or weapons, but as he doesn’t wear leather vambraces to protect his hands and forearms and – instead – chose to transform his already deadly fists to weapons of their own, they shall be included here.

Graham McTavish himself describes his approach as follows:
I have a pair of knuckle-dusters. I mentioned that I saw Dwalin as the kind of guy whose hands are as much of a weapon as his hammers. So if he ever finds himself with no weapons, he still has his hands.That led to a discussion about the possibility of armoured gauntlets and how it would be good to have something that was articulated. Then Richard Taylor (…) came up with spring-loaded knuckle-dusters that will probably be responsible for some serious Orc damage.” (Brian Sibley: Official Movie Guide (AUJ), 2012)

6-Dwalin-knuckle

Dwalin’s knuckle dusters carry heavy steel blades, held together with chains which are linked to broad wrist straps, so that when Dwalin pulls his fists, the knuckle pieces would stick out wickedly. They are weapons used in hand-to-hand combat to strengthen the impact of a punch.
Both knuckle dusters are also different from each other – while the right-hand one features two broad blades, Dwalin carries four smaller, but nonetheless equally sharp blades on the left one. And though they are really tough tools, as every dwarven weapon they show distinctive dwarven motifs, like the little ornamental designs etched into the sides of the four blades and the heavy geometric chain elements.
In general, this is canon for all dwarven weapons – they are tough, and made to last, but always crafted with an attention to intricate details and a high degree of finesse.

And – taking into account that Graham McTavish says he sees his hands as “Insult” and “Injury”, the primary purpose of his knuckle dusters becomes quite clear…

Dwalin’s Head
And last but not least, Dwalin’s hands are not his only built-in weapons – so is his head!

7-Dwalin-head

It consists of thick, sturdy and stubborn dwarven bone and is decorated with distinctive dwarven tattoos, as angular and hard-edged in design as the Dwarf himself.
The tattoos show a pictorial history of what happened to the dwarf race – “a memorial to their suffering” as Graham McTavish says himself in the Extended DVD-Edition of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”. Dwalin commemorates every important episode in his life with a new tattoo.

And how he uses this deadly weapon of a head? See for yourself…

8-Dwalin-headbutt

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References