Quest of Erebor

From Tolkien Gateway
This article is about the actual quest. For the chapter in Unfinished Tales, see The Quest of Erebor.
Sketch of Thrór's Map

The Quest of Erebor was the quest taken by Thorin and Company, accompanied by Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf, to reclaim the Dwarven kingdom of Erebor in the Lonely Mountain from the Dragon Smaug in T.A. 2941. It makes up the central story of The Hobbit, and also inadvertently led to the War of the Ring.

History[edit | edit source]

Plans for the quest were first conceived when the Dwarf lord Thorin Oakenshield, heading westward to the Blue Mountains, had a chance encounter with Gandalf the Grey at the Prancing Pony in the village of Bree on the 15 March T.A. 2941. Gandalf had long been concerned about the weak state of the North; ever since Smaug the Dragon had destroyed both the Kingdom under the Mountain and the neighboring city of Dale in T.A. 2770, he feared that Sauron might use the desolation around the Lonely Mountain to regain the northern passes in the mountains and the old lands of Angmar. He feared that Sauron may gain the allegiance of Smaug and use him to terrible effect. Gandalf had also become aware of Thorin's desire to mount a battle against the fire-drake Smaug, but knew it would not be enough. Thorin wanted advice, and Gandalf in turn wanted to discuss the Dragon with the Dwarf. Ultimately, the Wizard concocted a plan wherein Thorin could destroy Smaug and recover his family fortune, albeit with a "burglar" of Gandalf's own choosing. Gandalf had a feeling that a Hobbit should be involved, and he remembered Bilbo Baggins from his past visits to the Shire.[1]

When Gandalf first approached Bilbo regarding this proposition on 26 April T.A. 2941, the Hobbit wanted nothing to do with such sort of "adventure". However, Gandalf left a mark on the door of Bag End to direct the rest of the Dwarves willing to embark on the quest for meeting there the following day. It soon becomes clear that Gandalf has volunteered Bilbo to be a "burglar" for the Dwarves on their adventure. The Hobbit protested, and the Dwarves grumbled that the soft little Hobbit does not seem suited to their adventure. Glóin remarked that he looked "more like a grocer than a burglar". Gandalf, however, was certain that Bilbo was useful, and insisted that there was more to Bilbo than met the eye. Despite his strong objections to going on the journey, Gandalf coerced Bilbo out the door the next morning as the Company begins their quest.[2]

The party traveled through the Lone-lands and was saved by Gandalf from three Trolls (in a place known as Trollshaws) before stopping for a two-week respite in Rivendell. On their journey eastward through the Misty Mountains, the Company inadvertently ended up in Goblin-town and escaped after Gandalf killed the Great Goblin; Bilbo, having been separated from the Dwarves, ended up finding a magic ring by Gollum's lake. After staying with Beorn for a couple of days, the Company continues through the Wilderland and into Mirkwood (at which point Gandalf leaves them to participate in the Attack on Dol Guldur), where they were captured by Elves of the Woodland Realm after escaping from spiders. Bilbo smuggled the Company into Lake-town via barrels where the Lake-men ultimately agreed to give them supplies for the last stage of their quest.[3]

When the Company finally reached the Lonely Mountain, they entered through the secret Back Door once the last light of Durin's Day revealed its keyhole. Having been designated the "burglar" for the group, Bilbo was assigned to go inside and "burgle" something for the Dwarves. The Hobbit came across the great Dragon lying atop the Dwarves' great treasure hoard, and stole a golden cup from the hoard. Having wrongly surmised during their conversation that Bilbo was affiliated with the Lake-men, Smaug flew off in a rage to lay waste Lake-town as revenge for Bilbo's intrusion. The fire-drake almost completely destroyed the town, but was slain with a Black Arrow by one of its residents, whose name was Bard. With the Dragon now dead, the Dwarves could once again regain domain over the Mountain and their quest was complete.[4]

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

Once the death of Smaug had reached lands beyond the immediate region, Bard, who had been anointed leader of the Lake-men, came to the Lonely Mountain to demand compensation in gold from Thorin in order for his people to rebuild their lives. Thranduil, king of the Woodland Realm, also came seeking a share of the treasure. When Thorin refused to part with any of the hoard, it led to the Battle of Five Armies, which was not only further complicated by the arrival of both a Goblin and Warg army seeking revenge for the death of the Great Goblin at the Company's hands, but also cost Thorin his own life (as well as his nephews and most immediate heirs to the throne, Fíli and Kíli). In their place, Dáin Ironfoot became the new King under the Mountain.

Years later, it would be revealed that the ring Bilbo had taken from Gollum in the Misty Mountains would in fact turn out to be the One Ring which had once belonged to Sauron, for which he now had his servants scouring all over Middle-earth. It would lead to not only the Quest of the Ring but also the War of the Ring and, ultimately, the end of the Third Age.

Portrayal in adaptations[edit | edit source]

2012-2014: The Hobbit film series:

In the prologue of the second Hobbit film, it is said that the entire Quest was to retrieve the Arkenstone, as possessing it would give Thorin the authority to unite all the Dwarven clans to march on the Erebor, and reclaim it from the Dragon Smaug.


Preceded by:
Fell Winter
Major events of Middle-earth
T.A. 2941
Followed by:
War of the Ring

Route of Thorin and Company
Bag End · Green Dragon · The Shire · Lone-lands · Last Bridge · Trollshaws · Trolls' cave · Rivendell · High Pass · Front Porch · Goblin-town · Goblin-gate · Eagle's Eyrie · Carrock · Beorn's Hall · Wilderland · Forest Gate · Elf-path · Mirkwood · Elvenking's Halls · Forest River · Lake-town · Long Lake · River Running · Desolation of the Dragon · Ravenhill · Back Door · Lonely Mountain · Great Hall of Thráin