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Orcrist

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Orcrist by Audrey Corman.

Orcrist was the sword of the leader of Durin's folk, Thorin. It had a fancy scabbard and a jeweled hilt. Thorin obtained the weapon when he and his company searched the trolls' cave early in the quest of Erebor.[1]

Goblins called the blade Biter.[2] It had been crafted by the Elves, who not only made it a valuable weapon, but also a feared one, particularly among traditional enemies of the Elves: Orcs and other evil creatures of Middle-earth.[3] Like Glamdring and Sting, the blade could detect the presence of Orcs and warn its bearer by glowing blue.

Thorin was mortally wounded at the Battle of Five Armies. After his death Orcrist was placed upon Thorin's tomb and it "gleamed ever in the dark if foes approached".[4]

Possession

As the "mate" to King Turgon's sword Glamdring, Orcrist was likely borne by a high ranking lord in the King's entourage.

Since Maeglin presumably still had his father's sword, Anguirel, it was not his. Duilin bore a bow, while Galdor carried a club and Rog a mace. Tuor seems to have come to Gondolin after Glamdring had been forged, and if this was the mate it should have been forged before his arrival as well. In any case, Tuor bore an axe, not a sword.Glorfindel died outside of the city; Egalmoth wielded a curved-blade, most likely a falchion; in any case, Orcist was not curved. Salgant was a lesser lord and was feeble and subservient to Maeglin. Ecthelion of the Fountain perished in Gondolin as he slew Gothmog, even though he fell into the bottom of the Fountain of the King, his hands were greatly wounded and sword dropped, so Orcrist might be left in the city and picked up by one of the enemies possibly by a dragon. Another possibility is Penlod, however, who's house (House of the Tower of Snow) was lesser in status than Ecthelion's (House of the Fountain).

As discribed in the Hobbit, Orcrist "had killed hundreds of goblins in its time, when the fair elves of Gondolin hunted them in the hills or did battle before their walls". Only Rog, Duilin, Egalmoth, Tuor and Ecthelion's houses defended at the gates before the walls, and none of them except Ecthelion had boren a sword. Thus, the most probable assumption is that Orcrist belonged to Ecthelion, but this is never stated explicitly in any of Tolkien's writings. It is interesting that if Orcrist did belong to Ecthelion, the two swords were both used to fight the two most famous balrogs, Orcrist to fight Gothmog and Glamdring to fight Durin's Bane.

Etymology

In Sindarin Orcrist means "Goblin-cleaver" (Orch + rist).

Weapons of Middle-earth
Aeglos · Andúril · Anglachel · Anguirel · Angrist · Aranrúth · Belthronding · Black Arrow · Bow of Bregor · Daggers of Westernesse · Dagmor · Dailir · Dramborleg · Durin's Axe · Glamdring · Grond · Gúthwinë · Gurthang · Herugrim · Morgul blades · Narsil · Orcrist · Red Arrow · Ringil · Sting

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Roast Mutton"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Over Hill and Under Hill"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Short Rest"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Return Journey"