Battle of the Chamber of Mazarbul

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Battle of the Bridge of Khazad-dûm
John Howe - Under His Blow.jpg
Conflict: War of the Ring
Date: 15 January, T.A. 3019
Place: Chamber of Mazarbul and the Bridge of Khazad-dûm in Moria
Outcome: Victory for the Fellowship

Fellowship of the Ring

Orcs of the Mountains
Durin's Bane



Unknown †


Frodo Baggins
Samwise Gamgee
Meriadoc Brandybuck
Peregrin Took

Unknown, except for at least one cave-troll and a Balrog


Samwise Gamgee, Boromir, and Frodo lightly wounded

14 Orcs killed

The Battle of the Bridge of Khazad-dûm[1] was a skirmish between the Fellowship of the Ring and the Orcs of the Misty Mountains which took place on 15 January T.A. 3019. It was a significant event in the Quest of the Ring, resulting in the separation of Gandalf and the rest of the Fellowship.

History[edit | edit source]

Prelude[edit | edit source]

After being turned back by a snowstorm at the Redhorn Pass and unwilling to risk the Gap of Rohan for fear of capture by Isengard, the Fellowship attempted to cross the Misty Mountains through the abandoned dwarven city of Moria. Gimli hoped to encounter, or at least discover the fate of, Balin's expedition to re-establish Khazad-dûm with which the Dwarves had lost contact.[2] At the end of their third day in Moria the Fellowship took refuge in the Chamber of Mazarbul—the site of Balin's Tomb—and learnt of his failure from the Book of Mazarbul. Immediately afterwards they heard the sounds of drums and horn blasts. Gandalf was able to ascertain that a band of Orcs, including several black Uruks of Mordor, and at least one Cave-troll were approaching one of the chamber's two doors.[3]

Battle[edit | edit source]

Deep war drums reverberated throughout the chamber and shook the walls as the orcs approached. Gandalf attempted to frighten them, but was met with laughter in the dark. Shining a light outside the door, he briefly glimpsed them in the corridor, narrowly avoiding a volley of arrows in kind and deducing it impossible to escape via the western passage. Gandalf blamed himself aloud for the company falling into the orcs' trap.

The Fellowship intended to make an escape through the east door, which was to their knowledge clear of enemies; however, since the other door opened inwards and could not be locked or barred they were forced to hold their ground until they could put off pursuit. Boromir attempted to wedge the door with broken swords before the orcs arrived; however, a large cave-troll was able to break through with its foot. Boromir swung with all his might at the troll's arm, but his sword rang and glanced off, clattering to the ground with a notch in the blade. Frodo Baggins managed to force the troll to withdraw temporarily by stabbing its foot with Sting, but the orcs were able to breach what remained of the doors and flooded in.

In the ensuing melee Gimli and Samwise Gamgee killed one orc each, Legolas two with his bow, while Aragorn and Boromir slew "many". Though the attack was vicious and the fighting sharp, the orcs had not been prepared for such fierce defence; thirteen orcs were slain in all, and Samwise suffered a cut to his scalp. The orcs briefly retreated, and Gandalf judged the time right to make an escape. However before the Fellowship could reach the door, a huge orc chieftain, nearly man-high and clad in black mail, leapt into the chamber alone. He bashed Boromir aside and threw him to the ground, swept past Aragorn with the speed of a snake, and stabbed at Frodo with a great spear, pinning him to the wall. Sam cut the shaft of the spear, and as the chieftain drew a scimitar, Aragorn struck him from behind and cleaved his skull, slaying him and routing the rest of the orcs.

As Aragorn picked up Frodo's body, Gandalf stayed behind to hold the door while the rest of the Fellowship fled down a dark and narrow stairway. As they reached its foot they saw a bright white light from the doorway and Gandalf swiftly descended the stairs to join them; he told them he had "met my match, and nearly been destroyed" and then urged the company forward.[3]

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

While they were running, Frodo was discovered to be alive to the astonishment of his companions, as Aragorn had thought him to be dead.[3] As they would discover later outside Moria, his mithril shirt had saved him from serious injury, though he was left bruised.[4] After a brief rest, where Gandalf discussed his encounter with what the Fellowship would later discover to be a balrog, they continued their retreat towards the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, along the way being occasionally fired upon by orc archers.

Upon reaching the bridge, the Fellowship turned to see the pursuing orcs behind them being blocked by a flaming fissure in the floor, as the Fellowship had entered the hall that led to the bridge through another direction. Trolls brought large slabs of stone to cross the flames, but before the orcs could surge forward, the balrog stepped forth and the orcs drew back as if they feared it themselves. The balrog leapt over the fissure and the orcs poured across the makeshift gangways. As the balrog closed in on them and they realised its nature, Legolas, Gimli and Gandalf were all physically distraught at the realisation. Boromir blew his horn in challenge, echoing so loudly in the cavern that the orcs briefly quailed and the balrog halted; yet the echoes died suddenly as a flame blown out by a cold wind, and the enemy advanced again. Gandalf regained his composure and ordered the rest of the Fellowship to cross the bridge while he held the rear.

In order to secure the Fellowship's retreat, Gandalf confronted the balrog, breaking its flaming sword with his own Elven sword Glamdring. Aragorn and Boromir ran back onto the bridge to aid him, but at that moment Gandalf cried aloud and struck the bridge with his staff, sending up a sheet of white flame. The staff broke and fell from his hand, and the stone in front of him cracked and broke as well, sending the balrog falling into the chasm beneath. He too fell, however, as the balrog's whip caught his legs. The remaining members of the Fellowship assumed he perished in the fall and upon escaping Moria appointed Aragorn their new leader.[3] In actuality both Gandalf and the Balrog survived the fall and continued their duel amongst the many caverns and tunnels underneath the mountain, eventually culminating in the Battle of the Peak.[5]

Portrayal in adaptations[edit | edit source]

1978: The Lord of the Rings (1978 film):

Like the book, the cave-troll is only glimpsed when it tries to open the door, and Frodo drives it away when he stabs its foot. Then a large group of orcs break through the Chamber door. The fighting is short but sharp, though the orc-chieftain's attack on Frodo is in slow-motion.
Following the victory, the Fellowship retreats towards the bridge with the orcs in pursuit. At the bridge the orcs halt, and Aragorn tells them to come no closer but then the Balrog appears. There is no flaming fissure and no other trolls.
The Battle of the Bridge of Khazad-dûm as depicted in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

The battle begins when a large group of orcs break through the Chamber door. The cave-troll enters early on, breaking into the Chamber and nearly killing Sam. The fighting continues, with Legolas, Aragorn, Boromir and Gimli killing many orcs. At one point during the fight, Legolas climbs up onto the Cave-troll's shoulders and shoots its head with an arrow, but to no avail. While swinging madly around the chamber, the Cave-troll smashes Balin's Tomb. Despite Aragorn's attempt to protect the hobbit, the Cave-troll (rather than an orc-chieftain) hits Frodo with a spear.
Following the victory, when most of the orcs have been killed or fled the Chamber, the Fellowship hears the sound of more orcs approaching and flees through a break in the eastern wall of the chamber, running back through the Twenty-first Hall. The action is extended further in the film, as the Fellowship are soon surrounded by hundreds of Moria orcs, before the Balrog enters the hall. There is no flaming fissure and no other trolls.

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game):

The beginning of the battle is shown in a cutscene, but is abruptly skipped just as the Orcs are seen swarming into the chamber.

See also[edit | edit source]