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Orcs of the Misty Mountains

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John Howe - The Great Goblin

The Orcs of the Misty Mountains were a tribe of Orcs settled in the tunnels of the mountains. They harassed the regions around them and eventually occupied Moria.


Their origin, and when they settled those tunnels is not known. Sauron must have taken at least some control over them when he settled in Mordor. By the end of the Second Age they must have done the First Sacking of Gundabad and drove out the Dwarves[source?]. Orcs of Mordor had come among them[source?], and under their command they ambushed and killed Isildur at the Battle of the Gladden Fields in early Third Age.[1]

After the fall of Moria in T.A. 1981, Orcs of the Misty Mountains entered and occupied its ruins.[2] Around 2480 they Orcs begun to make secret strongholds in the Mountains so as to bar all the passes into Eriador[3]. In 2509, on a trip to Lórien to visit her parents, Celebrian was waylaid by Orcs in the Redhorn Pass. She was captured and tormented, receiving a poisoned wound until her sons rescued her.[3]

Around 2740 the Orcs became more bold, daring to invade Eriador. The Rangers of the North fought many battles trying to hold them back, but one party managed to reach the Shire in 2747. They were fought off by a party of brave Hobbits under Bandobras Took, who killed their leader Golfimbul in the Battle of Greenfields.[4]

Mikel Janin - The Battle of Azanulbizar

Long afterwards, Moria became the seat of an Orc-chieftain named Azog who slew King Thrór of the Longbeards, beginning the War of the Dwarves and Orcs. In 2793 the Dwarves sought revenge, assailing and sacking one by one all the Orc-holds they could from sacking Mount Gundabad in the north, to the Gladden Fields in the south. Most of the war was fought underground, in the mines, halls, and other dwellings the Orcs had occupied or created. The war ended with the Battle of Azanulbizar where Azog himself was slain.[2] Causing thousands of Orcs to flee south through Rohan, who found refuge in the White Mountains, troubling the Rohirrim for two generations.

The Orcs of the Misty Mountains virtually disappeared as a threat for Eriador and Wilderland but the Dwarves were unable to reclaim Moria.

Capucine Mazille - The Battle of Five Armies

After that, the Orcs lurked among the Misty Mountains, and in 2941, a group of them under the leadership of the Great Goblin, captured Thorin and Company in the High Pass. They escaped with Gandalf's help, killing the Great Goblin in the process.[5] Soon after, Azog's son, Bolg united the Orcs of the Misty Mountains and led them east to fight in the Battle of Five Armies. It ended in defeat for the Orcs (three fourths of their entire population killed), and left the Misty Mountains free of them for many years afterwards.[6]

In 2989 Balin left the Lonely Mountain and entered Moria with other Dwarves to start a colony and restore Khazad-dûm. The Orcs later counter-attacked, and in 2994, the entire expeditionary force was besieged and destroyed.[3][7]

By the time of the War of the Ring, the Orcs of the Mountains though permanently depleted, reclaimed Moria but fell under the command of Sauron and Saruman. They were, for instance, amongst the party of Orcs that captured Merry and Pippin at Parth Galen.[8]

The Longbeards eventually succeeded in recapturing Moria, which suggests that the Orcs of the Misty Mountains diminished.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, An Unexpected Party
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, Over Hill and Under Hill
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, The Clouds Burst
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Bridge of Khazad-dûm
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, The Uruk-hai