Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix A: III. Durin's Folk

And on to the dwarves!

Dwarves, beyond Gimli, are almost an afterthought in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Maybe it's a balance to their primary role in The Hobbit, and by extension, the role they've played in the destruction of the One Ring.  For whatever reason, perhaps because they're less "pretty" or ethereal than the elves, dwarves are often the red-headed stepchildren of LotR fandom and mainstream lore.  Not to say they don't have their fans, but even when they are they key members of the cast they barely have personalities as we see in The Hobbit.

So, we get some filling in the lines here of dwarven history and lore.  Some of it we're already familiar with, about the delving deep in search of mithril and finding the Balrog.  This section repeatedly cites The Hobbit while expanding the story beyond that known (or shared) by Thorin Oakenshield.

I have to assume that Thorin was not aware of the Great Ring his father held.  His obsession on family treasures fixated too strongly on the Arkenstone, and he was not nearly suspicious enough of Gandalf's acquiring precious belongings from Thrain before he died.

We also get from this section the conflict between Thorin and Azog, which truly is the thing great lays are made of, but which was atrociously reworked in Jackson's version of The Hobbit.  My best guess is Jackson wanted to make sure Thorin had a heroic death, falling to a named character.  Why this couldn't be handled with Bolg, Azog's son, who was at the Battle of the Five Armies, I don't know.  I wish they had kept this bit to the sharing of stories and left it as deeds that shaped Thorin into the leader and warrior he became.

One really small detail stands out starkly for me.  The fact that perhaps a a quarter of all dwarves marry and have families.  Now, I'm assuming that within intended cannon, Middle Earth is pretty heterosexual, and while relationships between the different humanoid races exist, we know they're rare.  With about one third of dwarves female, they still have the freedom to say no to marriage and family.  It kind of makes me feel, as possibly a pure accident, we have a race then that is possibly largely asexual, and that'd kind of cool to me.

Of course, perhaps the most incredible part of this section is that of Gimli.  His work in the Glittering Caves alone stand out, but that he accompanied Legolas to the Gray Havens is beyond incredible.  The friendship between Gimli and Legolas I think surpasses the bond between Frodo and Samwise.  The two of them are equals and opposites in a way that Frodo and Sam lack, meeting each other as equals rather than master and servant.  We see them introduce the other to the parts of the world that they individually and culturally find beautiful, Legolas showing Gimli the beauty of the forests, and Gimli showing Legolas the beauty of stone and caves.  And dwarves are of Middle Earth in a way that elves honestly never are, with their stay an exile and an ultimate return to the Gray Havens.  All of this is without even addressing the disdain between the two races.

We will get more into the dwarves and their shared (and conflicted) history with the elves, but I'm saving that until The Silmarillion so I don't misstate details.

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