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Revision as of 23:41, 21 March 2012 by (Talk)
Biographical Information
Other namesLord of Moria
Physical Description
GalleryImages of Balin

Balin was a Dwarven leader, the son of Fundin and elder brother of Dwalin. He was one of the Dwarves that travelled with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf to reclaim Erebor.



Early Life

Balin was born in T.A. 2763, the son of Fundin. When he was seven years old, Smaug came to the Lonely Mountain. After the Dwarves were driven out at great loss in T.A. 2770, Balin and his father Fundin lived with their king Thrór in Dunland. His brother Dwalin was born two years later.[1]

Fundin fought in the War of the Dwarves and Orcs, and fell in the Battle of Azanulbizar. His body was burned.[1][note 1] After the war, the Dwarves returned to their homes. The war was won, but dearly bought. The Longbeards under Thráin II at first returned to their forges in Dunland, but they moved into Eriador shortly after, and colonized the Blue Mountains.

Thráin longed to return to Erebor, and with Balin and Dwalin and a few others he went on an expedition to their ancient hall. Sauron had them in his sights, eager to take the Ring of Thrór from the exiled king. Wolves, orcs and evil birds harassed the small company as they came east. One night, as they had crossed the Anduin, an evil rain forced them into the eaves of Mirkwood, and the company was split. Thráin was never seen again, and Balin and Dwalin returned to the Blue Mountains to report the news to Thorin, the new king of Durin's line.[1]

Quest of Erebor

Thorin was eager to retake Erebor, and Balin joined him. The second eldest of the group, Balin often stood look-out.[2] Originally not very fond of Bilbo, he grew to appreciate him over time,[3] especially after Bilbo managed to elude his watch and pop up right under his nose after the group escaped the Misty Mountains.[4]

At Erebor, Balin accompanied Bilbo down the secret passage, and later showed him the Ravenhill.[5] Balin fought valiantly in the Battle of Five Armies, and survived to great glory. Some years later, Balin accompanied Gandalf to visit Bilbo and informed him of the prosperity of Erebor and Dale.[6]

Expedition to Moria and His Death

Though the riches of Erebor made the Dwarves prosperous again, there were many who longed to return to Moria. Dain Ironfoot counseled against it, but Balin mounted an expedition in T.A. 2989. [7] They hoped to regain the treasures, and Balin had also hoped to find the Ring of Thrór, which was assumed to be lost when Thrór entered the Gates years before.[8]

Together with Flói, Óin, Ori, Frár, Lóni, Náli and many other Dwarves, Balin entered Dimrill Dale. After a short battle in which Flói and several others were killed, the group entered the Great Gate. They stayed in the Twenty-First Hall, and Balin set up his throne in the Chamber of Mazarbul. He proclaimed himself Lord of Moria.[9]

For five years the colony thrived. They managed to find many old treasures, mithril, and armories. But on 10 November T.A. 2994, Balin was caught unawares outside the gates. As he went to look in Mirrormere, an orc archer fatally shot him. Balin's body was placed in a tomb in the Chamber of Mazarbul.[9]

But the archer was just the van of the orcs. An onslaught of orcs came up the Silverlode, and the surviving Dwarves had to bar themselves in. Óin led a group west, hoping to escape through the Doors of Durin, but the Watcher in the Water killed him. The Dwarves were locked in. After a fierce battle in the halls, the orcs were victorious; the colony was completely wiped out.[9]

Glóin and his son Gimli were sent to Rivendell to seek news about the colony. Gimli eventually learned of their fate when he crossed the dwarven realm with the Company of the Ring. He would report it to Dain later.[9]


Though most names from the Dwarves in The Hobbit come from the Völuspá, Balin is not one of them. The name rhymes with Dwalin, but has no apparent meaning.[10]

Jim Allan has suggested that Balin may be derived from Old Norse bál ("fire"), thus meaning "Burning-one". Allan also links the name to Le Morte d'Arthur, which includes a character named Balyn (spelled Balin in some editions) and to a Beli of The Mabinogion.[11][note 2]

Other versions of the Legendarium

In the earliest drafts of The Lord of the Rings, Balin had a son named Burin (or Frár). Burin accompanied Glóin to the Council of Elrond, and became part of the Fellowship of the Ring. The character was changed to Gimli, son of Glóin in the final version.[12]



Portrayal in Adaptations

1966: The Hobbit (1966 film):

Balin is omitted. Thorin Oakenshield only travels with an unnamed guard and the princess of Dale.[13]

1968: The Hobbit (1968 radio series):

Balin is played by Peter Pratt.[14]

1977: The Hobbit (1977 film):

Balin's voice is provided by Don Messick. It is unknown if he survived the Battle of Five Armies, as only six of the original survive (with Thorin and Bombur among the casualties and Óin and Glóin amongst the survivors).[15]

1979: The Hobbit (1979 radio series):

Balin is played an uncredited actor.

1982: The Hobbit (1982 video game):

Balin is omitted; Thorin is the only companion of the player, Bilbo Baggins.[16]

1989: The Hobbit (comic book):

Balin is portrayed white-haired and quite old; he looks distinctly older than his brother Dwalin, whose hair is still a very dark grey. His role is unchanged from the book; he is the lookout, and visits Bilbo in the epilogue.

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

Balin is mentioned by Gimli as the King of Moria, and his tomb is seen in Moria.[17] No mention is made about the past of Moria and his expedition, and Gimli seems confident he is still alive.[18]

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game):

Balin's Tomb is visited between the levels "2nd Hall" and "Abyss Fight". It is a block of stone, raised from the ground by four ornamental legs.

2003: The Hobbit (2003 video game):

No actor is credited for the role of Balin. He is one of the older dwarves, and has a long white beard. He is the team's lookout.[19]

2004: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth:

Balin's Tomb is one of the objectives of the first act in the Good Campaign. Several groups of orcs, as well as three trolls, have to be fought off before a break in the wall allows access to the next hall and the Bridge.[20]

2011: The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest:

Balin's Tomb is featured in Moria.

2012-3: The Hobbit films:

Balin will be played by Ken Stott.[21]

See also

House of Durin
Born: T.A. 2763 Died: T.A. 2995
Last held by:
Náin I, 1008 years earlier
King of Khazad-dûm
T.A. 2989 - 2995
Durin VII, in the Fourth Age


  1. No information is given about Balin's involvement in the war. In a note considered for inclusion in Appendix A published in The Peoples of Middle-earth, Tolkien stated that Dwarves would be of fighting age around thirty. Balin was 30 at the start and 36 at the end of the war, so it is conceivable that he participated.
  2. It is known that Tolkien worked on editions of both Le Morte d'Arthur and The Mabinogion; cf. The Fall of Arthur and Pwyll Prince of Dyved, respectively.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Durin's Folk"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Roast Mutton"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Barrels Out of Bond"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Flies and Spiders"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Inside Information"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Return Journey"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Many Meetings"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien; Douglas A. Anderson, (ed.), (2002) The Annotated Hobbit: Revised and Expanded Edition, "Roast Mutton", note 20
  11. Jim Allan, "Giving of Names", in An Introduction to Elvish, p. 223
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "The Story Continued: XXIII. In the House of Elrond"
  13. "The Hobbit.mp4" dated 5 January 2012, YouTube (accessed 10 January 2012)
  14. Radio Times, Volume 180, No. 1968, September 26, 1968
  15. The Hobbit (1977 film), "Farewell, Thorin"
  16. ZX Computing, 8304 (April/May 1983), p. 76 (accessed 24 March 2011)
  17. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Edition) , "Balin's Tomb"
  18. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Edition) , "Moria"
  19. The Hobbit (2003 video game), "Roast Mutton"
  20. The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth, "Moria"
  21. Peter Jackson, "Production begins in New Zealand on The Hobbit" dated 20 March 2011, Facebook (accessed 23 December 2011)
Members of Thorin and Company
Thorin · Balin · Dwalin · Fíli · Kíli · Dori · Nori · Ori · Óin · Glóin · Bifur · Bofur · Bombur · Gandalf · Bilbo Baggins