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Balin is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He is an important supporting character in The Hobbit, and is mentioned in The Fellowship of the Ring.
He was a Dwarf leader, the son of Fundin and elder brother of Dwalin. Balin was among the dwarves who travelled with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf in the Quest of Erebor, on which the plot of The Hobbit centers.
Balin was part of the company assembled by Thorin Oakenshield to kill the dragon Smaug and retake the mountain kingdom of Erebor. He is the only one explicitly said to have been at the Mountain prior to the coming of the dragon. Curiously, The Hobbit states he was companions with Thorin on the day the dragon came, but according to Appendix A in The Return of the King he was only 7 years old while Thorin was 24.
He was the second dwarf to arrive at Bilbo's house at the beginning of The Hobbit, preceded by his brother Dwalin. Like Dwalin, he played a viol.
An artist's rendition of Balin's tomb. The inscription as devised by Tolkien translates to "Balin Son of Fundin, Lord of Moria".1
Among the dwarves in The Hobbit, Balin was the second-eldest dwarf (after Thorin), and so he spoke for the party when they were captured by the Elvenking, as Thorin wasn't present.
He is described as "always their look-out man": He spots Bilbo approaching the Green Dragon Inn at Bywater, he spots the trolls' fire, and he is the first to spot the elves in Mirkwood. Naturally he could not notice Bilbo (hidden by wearing the One Ring) as look-out for the company after escaping the goblins in the Misty Mountains, and after this incident he came to respect Bilbo's abilities. He was the only dwarf who volunteered to accompany Bilbo down the secret passage to Smaug. Of all the dwarves in the quest, he was the only one Tolkien describes as visiting Bilbo afterwards at Bag End.
The Lord of the Rings
In T.A. 2989 Balin left Erebor and entered Moria with a company of dwarves including Flói, Óin, Ori, Frár, Lóni, and Náli. He discovered Durin's Axe. Balin's colony was overrun by orcs soon afterward, and Balin was killed by an orc archer in the Dimrill Dale in 2994.
In The Fellowship of the Ring, the title characters discover Balin's tomb in the Chamber of Mazarbul. Gandalf finds the dwarves' book of records, and discovers from it that Balin was killed by orcs.
Upon Balin's tomb is written in Dwarven Runes: "Balin Fundinul Uzbad Khazad-Dûmu". An inscription in smaller runes below this gives the translation into English: "Balin, son of Fundin, Lord of Moria".
Portrayal in adaptations
Don Messick voiced Balin in the 1977 animated version of The Hobbit.
In Peter Jackson's film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, Gimli calls Balin his cousin, though their kinship is technically "first cousin once removed". After openly grieving for Balin when the Fellowship discover the Chamber of Mazarbul, Gimli takes up Balin's axe. As opposed to Gimli's previous axe, the axe of Balin is larger and double-bladed with a shorter handle. In the book there is no mention of Balin's axe.
In Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Hobbit, Balin is played by Ken Stott.
|Ancestors of Balin (Middle-earth)
- ^ "Balin". The Encyclopedia of Arda. Mark Fisher. 1 March 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2012.