Book of Mazarbul
History & Contents
The Book of Mazarbul was begun in T.A. 2989, upon Balin's return to Moria. The book recounted a battle with the Orcs that inhabited the old halls of Khazad-dûm, in which Balin's Dwarves were victorious. They settled in the Twenty-first Hall, above the East-gate, and Balin himself ruled his new domain from the old Chamber of Records, also called the Chamber of Mazarbul. Over the next five years, the Dwarves seem to have settled quite successfully into their new home, exploring under the Mountains as far as the West-gate of Moria, and recovering Durin's Axe and apparently other priceless items made of mithril.
The Lordship of Balin was short-lived. Ori, who was with him in Moria, recorded in the last pages of the Book how an army of Orcs came unexpectedly out of the east, slaying Balin outside the East-gate. The Dwarves defended themselves, but they were beleaguered from the the east by the Orcs, and from the west by the mysterious Watcher in the Water. Their last stand was in the Chamber of Mazarbul, where the Orcs eventually overcame and destroyed them.
The victorious Orcs seem not to have understood the significance of the Book, so that rather than carrying it off or destroying it, they left it to rot in the Chamber. There it was found twenty-four years later by the Company of the Ring, burned, slashed and blood-stained, and missing a number of pages, but still readable in some parts. Gandalf passed it to Gimli to return to King Dáin, after which nothing more is heard about it. If Gimli was able to keep it through the battles that followed, and didn't discard it with his gear at Parth Galen, it is possible that he carried it throughout his travels in Middle-earth, returning it at last to Dáin's heir Thorin III in Erebor.
The Book of Mazarbul was written by many different authors, using the runes of both Moria and Dale, as well as Elvish letters. The pages of the book were marked with numbers referring to the years after Balin's arrival in Moria. Tolkien created three sample pages from the book (the three read aloud by Gandalf in the Chamber of Mazarbul). In the actual Book of Mazarbul, these pages were separated by numerous other leaves.
The first page Tolkien created was the first page read aloud by Gandalf in the Book of Mazarbul. It was written using Angerthas Erebor. Tolkien justifies its use as likely in a diary, written quickly without attempt at calligraphy or meticulous consistency of spelling, by Dwarves from Dale. In writing the Common Speech, the Dwarves tended to blend its usual spelling with certain idiosyncratic phonetic usages. The Dwarves did not like to use any letter or rune in more than one value, nor to express a simple sound by combinations of letters. For a fuller discussion of the Book of Mazarbul runes and sample pages, see Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Treason of Isengard and J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator. This page is numbered at the top with the runic numeral "three".
Following is a translation of what is readable on this page, as transcribed by Christopher Tolkien:
- “We drove out the orcs from the Great Gate and guardroom and took the First Hall. We slew many in the bright sun in the dale. Flói was killed by an arrow. He slew the great chieftain…Floi under grass near Mirrormere…came…ken we repaired…We have taken the Twenty-first Hall of North End to dwell in. There is good air…that can easily be watched…the shaft is clear…Balin has set up his seat in the Chamber of Mazarbul…gathered…gold…wonderful lay Durin’s Axe…silver helm. Balin has taken them for his own. Balin is now lord of Moria:…today we found truesilver…well-forged helm…n…coat made all of purest mithril…Óin to seek for the upper armories of the Third Deep…go westwards to s…to Hollin gate.”
Gandalf was able to make out a little less of the page in the dim light of the Chamber of Mazarbul than what is presented above, but he noted that "the top page is marked one-three, so at least two [pages] are missing from the beginning". Following is what Gandalf read:
- “We drove out orcs from the Great Gate and guardroom. We slew many in the bright sun in the dale. Flói was killed by an arrow. He slew the great….Flói under grass near Mirrormere…We have taken the Twenty-first Hall of North End to dwell in. There is…shaft…Balin has set up his seat in the Chamber of Mazarbul…gold…Durin’s Axe…helm…Balin is now lord of Moria. [Gandalf assumes this is the end of a chapter]…we found truesilver…well-forged…mithril….Óin to seek for the upper armories of the Third Deep…go westwards…to Hollin gate.”
This second page created by Tolkien was written using Tengwar of the later Westron convention. Gandalf described the text as written by "a large bold hand using an Elvish script", which Gimli describes as Ori's hand. The runic figure at the bottom of the page is the numeral "five".
Following is Christopher Tolkien's transcription of the page:
- “r…(ye)ars since…ready sorrow…yesterday being the tenth of November Balin, lord of Moria, fell in Dimrill Dale. He went alone to look in Mirrormere. An orc shot him from behind a stone. We slew the orc, but many more ca(me)…(u)p from east up the Silverlode…we rescued Balin’s body…re a sharp battle…we have barred the gates but doubt if…can hold them long. If there is…no escape it will be a horrible fate to suffer, but I shall hold.”
Gandalf notes that the pages begin to be numbered "five", meaning the fifth year of the colony. Following is what Gandalf was able to make out:
- “…sorrow…yesterday being the tenth of November Balin, lord of Moria, fell in Dimrill Dale. He went alone to look in Mirrormere. An Orc shot him from behind a stone. We slew the orc, but many more…up from east up the Silverlode…we have barred the gates…can hold them long if…horrible…suffer…”
Tolkien's third and final sample page was the last page of the Book of Mazarbul read aloud by Gandalf. It is written in Angerthas Erebor, similar to that of the first page, but with a different hand and different details in the runes, except for the last line ("a trailing scrawl of elf-letters"), written in Tengwar. The page seems to be numbered at the top.
Christopher Tolkien's transcription of the page follows:
- “We cannot get out. We cannot get out. They have taken the bridge and Second Hall. Frár and Lóni and Náli fell there bravely while the rest retr…Mazarbul. We still ho…g...but hope u…n…Óin’s party went five days ago but today only four returned. The pool is up to the wall at West-gate. The Watcher in the Water took Óin--we cannot get out. The end comes soon. We hear drums, drums in the deep. They are coming.”
Gandalf makes out this much:
- “We cannot get out. We cannot get out. They have taken the bridge and Second Hall. Frár and Lóni and Náli fell there…went five days…the pool is up to the wall at West-gate. The Watcher in the Water took Óin. We cannot get out. The end comes...drums, drums in the deep. They are coming.”
The use of English to represent the Common Speech in primary sources such as the pages of the Book of Mazarbul was a result of Tolkien's vision of completely translating all Westron into modern English, even in authentic documentation, although upon reflection Tolkien said that this translation was "an erroneous extension of the general linguistic treatment" (The Peoples of Middle-Earth, pp. 298-9: "Of Dwarves and Men").
Tolkien comments on his general treatment of the Book of Mazarbul pages: "...the text was cast into English spelt as at present, but modified as it might be by writers in haste whose familiarity with the written form was imperfect, and who were also (on the first and third pages) transliterating the English into a different alphabet."; "...since documents of this kind nearly always show uses of letters or shapes that are peculiar and rarely or never found elsewhere, a few such features are also introduced..." (same reference as above, pp. 298-9). Thus, the Book of Mazarbul showcases some slightly different distributions of certain English sounds.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Book II: Chapter 5: The Bridge of Khazad-dûm
- The Lord of the Rings: Appendix E
- Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien: "Leaves from the Book of Mazarbul"
- The Treason of Isengard: Appendix on Runes
- J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator
- The Peoples of Middle-earth: "Of Dwarves and Men"
The Book of Mazarbul appears on screen nearly identical to its description in the book. The outer cover decoration is of typical Dwarven design and the inside pages are written in a variety of different styles, using Angerthas Erebor (and, presumably, Angerthas Moria), as well as Tengwar.
Cover and Interior Runes
The outside cover of the Book of Mazarbul in the films reads:
- "Records (of the) Longbeards of Khazad-dûm".
The first page of the book read by Gandalf in the movie is written using Cirth (Angerthas Erebor) and Tengwar (full mode), perhaps written by Ori. A number of leaves before this page fall out when Gandalf opens the book. This apparently is the second to the last page. The translation is as follows:
- Cirth: "And so we come to our final hope. Óin is going to the West-gate to see if we can escape that way."
- Tengwar: "The orcs have taken all the lower levels and the upper halls to the fifth level. Our stores of food are running low and we have no water to drink. Unless Oin can find a way out at the West-gate, we are doomed whether the orcs get us or not."
The last page of the book is written using Cirth (Angerthas Erebor) and Tengwar (full-vowel mode). The translation is as follows:
- Cirth: "We cannot get out. We cannot get out. They have taken the bridge and Second Hall. Frár and Lóni and Náli fell there bravely whil the rest retreated to Mazarbul. We still hold the chamber but hope is fading now. Óin's party went five days ago but today only four returned. The pool is up to the wall at West-gate. The Watcher in the Water took Óin----we cannot get out. The end comes soon. We hear drums, drums in the deep."
- Tengwar: "They are coming."
What Gandalf Reads
In Scene 35 (Balin's Tomb) of Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf reads a portion of the Book of Mazarbul. The results of his translation of the runes are as follows (with lines not found on the last two pages in italics):
- While looking at the second to last page: "They have taken the bridge and the second hall. (last page) We have barred the gates but cannot hold them for long. The ground shakes, drums...drums in the deep. (last page)"
- While looking at the last page: "We cannot get out. (last page) A shadow moves in the dark. We cannot get out.... (last page) They are coming. (last page)"
What Gandalf is reading seemingly does not always correspond with the page he is viewing when doing so. He also "reads" a few lines not seen in the viewable pages. It has been suggested that Gandalf was glancing simultaneously at three pages of text, reading and translating them in his mind and then uttering the results of his thought process all the while to the Fellowship. In other words, he was composing a translation quickly from three separate pages, perhaps including one of the pages that fell out of the book when he opened it. "We have barred the gates but cannot hold them for long" is a phrase from Tolkien's second sample page of the Book of Mazarbul, so this is likely from one the pages that initially fell out of the book.
Behind the Scenes
The outside cover of the Book of Mazarbul was probably designed by Alan Lee in typical Dwarven fashion. The interior pages were penned by Daniel Reeve. Tolkien's third sample page was copied almost exactly to create the last page of the book, with a few additions to fill in the missing pieces. The page before this was written in as close a manner as possible to Tolkien's original samples.
- Fellowship of the Word-smiths: Other Movie Inscriptions - A web page discussing many inscriptions from the movies, including those found within the Book of Mazarbul.
- Alan Lee's The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook: "Moria"