Battle of Azanulbizar

From Tolkien Gateway
Battle of Azanulbizar
Conflict: War of the Dwarves and Orcs
Date: T.A. 2799
Place: The valley of Azanulbizar beneath the East-gate of Moria
Outcome: Victory for the Dwarves

Dwarves of other Houses

Orcs of the Misty Mountains


Thráin II
Thorin II
Dáin Ironfoot



Unknown; bolstered by an army of the Dwarves of the Iron Hills

Unknown; "a multitude of Orcs"[1]


"Beyond the count of grief"; half dead or dying[1]

10,000 Orcs[2]

The Battle of Azanulbizar was the final climatic battle in the War of the Dwarves and Orcs. It was fought beneath the East-gate of Moria in the valley of Azanulbizar, called Nanduhirion in Sindarin. Therefore the event is also known as the Battle of Nanduhirion and sometimes the Battle of the Mines of Moria.


The War of the Dwarves and Orcs began when Azog the Orc-chieftain of Moria captured and mutilated Thrór, King of Durin's Folk. Azog branded his own name in runes onto Thrór's severed head, then let Thrór's companion Nár escape so that all Dwarves would know that an Orc now ruled Moria. Full of righteous fury, Thrór's son Thráin II summoned a great army of Dwarves, including those not of Durin's Folk (Firebeards and Broadbeams from the Blue Mountains, and others from the far East of Middle-earth). For six years they systematically sacked the Orc strongholds of the Misty Mountains, until only Moria was left. There the Orcs that had survived the destruction had gathered to Azog.


Náin at Azanulbizar by Jacek Kopalski

The battle began on a dark winter day, and no sun was said to have shined through the clouds. The Dwarves had marched into the Dimrill Dale where they found the East-Gate and sent up a great noise. They discovered that on the western slopes above thousands of Orcs had gathered, while more still came pouring out of the gate. The Dwarves there stood outnumbered and on the lower end of a sloping hill.

The first Vanguard led by King Thráin, assaulted the slopes only to be driven back with casualties. In a woods near the Mirrormere, the dwarves noted that Frerin, youngest son of Thráin was slain along with Fundin, father of Balin; and many others. Thraín himself was wounded, as was his eldest son Thorin II Oakenshield, whose shield was broken during the battle, forcing him to resort to using an oak branch that he cut off a tree to defend himself.

Elsewhere, the battle swayed back and forth until Náin from the Iron Hills arrived with a contingent of fresh troops. Náin and his Dwarves cut through the Orc lines with their mattocks shouting, "AZOG! AZOG! AZOG!" until they had reached the steps of the gate, at which Naín called Azog to come out and fight. When Azog emerged from the inner gate with his guards, Náin was exhausted and half blind with rage. He tried to swing as hard as he could, but Azog darted aside and Náin missed, splintering his mattocks on the ground. The orc kicked him in the leg when he dodged the Dwarf's blow, making him stumble, at which point Azog attempted to thrust and behead him, succeeding only in breaking Náin's neck because of the strong mail he was wearing. Náin died instantly.

Even as Azog gloated over his duel, he looked out over the valley which the east gate overlooks, and came to the realization that his entire force was routed. Those that could were fleeing southwards, and all his guard was dead. With that he fled back to the gate. Náin's son, Dáin, leaped up the steps after him with his red axe, and there before the gate he decapitated the Orc chieftain, thus ending the battle. The slaying of Azog was considered a great feat, as Dáin was only 32 years of age (very young for a Dwarf). Dáin would later become King under the Mountain as Dáin II Ironfoot.[1]

Azog's head was then impaled on a pike, and bag of coins he had thrown at Nàr years before was stuffed in his mouth.


Vengeance by Steamey

The Dwarves were victorious, but half of their forces were dead or mortally wounded. The Orcs suffered even worse casualties, with ten thousand dead. After the battle, Thráin wanted to enter and reclaim Moria, the ancestral home of Durin's folk. However, due to their losses, the other Houses not willing to participate, and since Dáin had seen Durin's Bane beyond the East-gate, Thráin refrained from entering.[1]

The Dwarves stripped their dead so the Orcs could not plunder them, and cut down all the trees in the valley, which was to remain bare ever after. They made many pyres on which to burn their dead. They could not bury them all in tombs of stone, as was their custom, because it would take too long. From then on those that died in Dimrill Dale were remembered proudly as burned Dwarves.[3]

The Houses parted ways, returning to their homes to the North, East, and West. Thráin, with what was left of the Longbeard contingent, went back to Dunland and wandered in Eriador, eventually settling in the Southern Blue Mountains. There Durin's folk repopulated slowly, waiting for the day when they could take back the halls of Erebor and Khazad-dum.[1]

Portrayal in adaptations

2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

Referred to as the Battle of Moria in this film trilogy (and portrayed more as an isolated battle rather than the final conflict for an entire war), the battle is presented in a flashback sequence as Balin recounts Thorin's past to Bilbo Baggins. The narrative of the battle has been heavily condensed. In the film version, rather than recounting Thrór's death at the hands of Azog and the resulting war of many years, Balin simply says that after Smaug drove the Dwarves from Erebor, Thrór attempted to lead all of his people back to their ancestral realm in Moria, only to find that the Orcs had gotten there first. Azog does decapitate Thrór, but the deed takes place during the battle itself, and the head is thrown at Thorin's feet rather than Nár's. Balin similarly condenses Thráin's story, stating that he went mad with grief and wandered away, and his people never knew if he was dead or captured. Dáin Ironfoot is completely absent from the story, and it is Thorin who rallies the dwarves by facing Azog in single combat and hacking off his left arm at the elbow. The wounded Azog is dragged back into Moria by his subordinates, and the Dwarves assume he has died of his injuries, but he survives to appear in a present-time sub-plot in which he is hunting Thorin and Company for revenge. No mention is made of the burning of the Dwarves' dead, but Balin, Dwalin, Bifur, and Thorin are seen in the aftermath of the battle walking amidst heaps of their slain kin, and Balin recalls the battle as a pyrrhic victory, and the number of dead as beyond the count of grief, echoing closely the wording of the account from Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings.

2021: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Azanulbizar during and immediately after the battle is featured as a flashback-style location. The story of the region is framed as reading the written recollections of the veteran "Hermáth Stormhammer", a close friend of Dáin Ironfoot, to relive the battle from his point of view.
King Thráin instructs the kings of the other six Houses to secure the borders of the Dale, including the slopes of Zirakzigil and Bundushathûr, to deny Azog's forces the high ground and slay any Orcs that attempt to flee. The Dwarves of the Iron Hills are present from the beginning, but held in reserve until, as in the books, they enter the battle to assist Thráin's vanguard.