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This probably should go to tumblr but making long posts there broke my eyes and flash and I'm a bit scared of having opinions there. Anyway, I saw something today about Thorin being a private citizen and Fili and Kili not being raised as princes ("We grew up on tales of the Mountain...") and how that affected the quest (only 13 dwarves instead of an entire army) and the boys' characterizations (people not taking them seriously). I have a different opinion about that.

Disclaimer: I haven't read Silmarillion (it's not published here and I'm still saving money for other things) and the appendices. So this is mostly from what I've read in the hobbit and things I heard on tumblr. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

I've always wondered why Thorin only brought 12 dwarves with him instead of an entire arrmy. He had seen the damage Smaug had done. The dragon had demolished AN ENTIRE KINGDOM. Thorin should know better than to think that 13 dwarves is enough to do the job. There's optimism but that was stupidity. Now, the private citizen idea could explain why there were only 13 dwarves. People weren't interested in the quest and Thorin didn't have any power to force them. But. I think Thorin wasn't just a private citizen.

We don't see it in the films but there was Thorin's Hall. I can't imagine a private citizen, no matter how rich, just claim a mountain as his home. So Thorin must have pretty strong influence and power to be able to do that. Also he must have the resources to carve the mountain to make a suitable home. I doubt that he could afford to pay workers to do all of that. I'm thinking that people volunteered to build it for him and his family because they're royalty. Also we have seen and read about Thorin's father and grandfather leading the battle of Azalnubizar so I don't think that they're treated as commoners.

So why just 13 dwarfs? I think there are several things to consider here. First, there's no mention of the company's occupations in the book. For all we know, they could all be Thorin's best warriors. The toymaker, miner, cook, etc. were something PJ added to make distinctions between the dwarves but they're not actually in the book. I think Thorin selected those 12 because, with the exception of Fili and Kili, they're experienced and skillful warriors. Second, there's Gandalf. In the book, the dwarves begged him to stay. I think it's clear that they thought of him as a very important part of the journey. I think in AUJ Kili voiced the dwarves' thought in the book (whether deliberately or not on the screenwriters' side, I'm not sure). They're confident about the quest because they had a wizard with them. Meanwhile, Gandalf in the book apparently never planned to go with them all the way to the Lonely Mountain but neglected to mention this. So, Thorin, thinking that they had a powerful wizard to help them kill a dragon, just brought 12 of his best warriors. It's not a stupid move, he just had blind faith in Gandalf and was simply fooled (or maybe he ignored it when Gandalf told him this). I think this works with Thorin's characterization in the book which was far less heroic and cool than Armitage's portrayal.

So how did this affect the Durins? Well, first of all, Thorin was considered a king still, but a king in exile. He still had his status because these things don't just go away. Middle Earth doesn't strike me as something like our world. I can't imagine an uprising where people demand democracy to replace old royal families (although it would be interesting to see the Durin's facing the equivalent of French Revolution!). The Durins started out poor after leaving Erebor, but they're still very well respected in their community. Maybe other races weren't aware of this, but among their own people they're still considered kings and princes. Once they established Ered Luin, they finally had things to prove their status. It's no longer just words or understanding among dwarves, but something to distinguish them that even other races could see clearly.

Fili and Kili were raised as princes. But, they're still princes in exile. The power that Erebor once had had declined with Smaug's attack and them moving to Ered Luin probably had some political, economic and social impacts as well. Their political position in Middle Earth wasn't as strong as before. They're still respected for their history, but things had changed. Fili, though he's the heir and was more responsible than Kili, probably had different roles than when Thorin was in Erebor. Thorin had been groomed to be a king of this great kingdom with huge territory, a mountain full of gold, great influence in Middle Earth, etc. Fili had been raised with just a fraction of that. He still had his duties and expectations but I think it's not as much as what Thorin had had. He's probably raised to realize the dream of restoring their family's former glory but didn't grew up in that glory (and privileges and obligations) himself. Kili had even less expectations than that and was thus more relaxed in life. Their carefree attitude wasn't due to living as private citizens, but due to living in less power and wealth as Thorin and Dis had had. In my opinion, the line "We grew up on tales of the Mountain..." doesn't mean that they're raised as private citizens. I think it means that they're raised only hearing about the glory of Erebor but never experiencing it themselves. It's more than just the Lonely Mountain that they're talking about, but also the affluence and political power that they didn't have in Ered Luin but everyone kept telling them about.

For illustration, there used to be one huge empire in Indonesia. When we're occupied by the Dutch, this empire was split into 4 smaller kingdoms. Two of these kingdoms were located in my hometown while the other two are in a nearby province. They had palaces, rituals, parades, servants, and everything. However, the kingdoms in my hometown have no political power. They're just cultural symbols and tourist attractions, though they still have some loyal followers who work for them for very small pay at just around $1 per week (or is it month? I can't remember). The wage isn't an issue. They do that out of loyalty to the kings. Meanwhile, the other two kingdoms in another province have some political influence. The kings were governors and vice governors of that province, at least until a couple of years ago when they decided that people should vote to elect their governors and vice governors, and that decision was met with huge protest from their people. Their people love them and their decisions and policies are/were taken seriously in their region. They're seen as great and just leaders in the province they lead.

I think that's pretty much the story of the Durins. They started out as a huge dwarf nation/empire then were forced to leave Erebor. They started out like the kingdoms in my hometown, respected but had no political power whatsoever except among their loyal followers. But once they had Ered Luin, they're like the kingdom in the other province, they were royalties again, except that their power was only a fraction of what they once had (in Indonesia, from an empire ruling an entire country to two kingdoms ruling a small province).

So, what I'm trying to say is that Thorin, Fili and Kili were royalties and were viewed, raised and treated as such. They similarly dreamed of regaining their former glory, but while Thorin knew exactly what they should regain, Fili and Kili only heard stories about it. They probably thought that what they had in Ered Luin was already very good because that's all they ever knew in their lives, but Thorin knew they could be more. They HAD been more. The quest wasn't a desperate bid to realize that dream and the company wasn't selected randomly or as a last resort thing. It's planned quite well (or at least that might be the case in the book. I think in this case the book could explain the mystery of the small company better than the films). Unfortunately they made the mistake of relying too much on Gandalf and paid that dearly with their lives.


Mar. 8th, 2015 06:59 am (UTC)
I have so many questions about what happened in Ered Luin. I really wish PJ had shown a bit of it even if it's not canon.

I think film!Thorin was less likely to grab whoever and whatever was available for him for this quest. He's an experienced warrior so I think some planning must've have gone into this but then I can't think of a reason why he brought 12 random dwarves with him, some of whom aren't even warriors at all. This decision makes more sense for book!Thorin who was a far less charismatic leader (and rather whiny, if I may add) and seems to be more relaxed than film!Thorin during the quest.

I don't know. I'd like to think that no matter how desperate the situation, Thorin (whether book!Thorin or film!Thorin) wouldn't randomly choose a small number of dwarves, but I can't think of a good reason why he selected his company. I actually stopped writing a fic because I couldn't explain it at all.