Great Eagles


J.R.R. Tolkien



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Unlike Elves and Men, the Dwarves were not the direct creation of Ilúvatar. Aulë, the Vala Smith, in his impatience for the coming of the Children of Ilúvatar, and yearning for beings other than himself that he could love and teach, made the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves secretly, under the mountains of Middle-earth. Ilúvatar forgave Aulë for his presumptuous imitation, seeing his sincerity and true desire, and He gave the Dwarves spirits of their own and blessed them. Thus they became the Third Children of Ilúvatar, the Children of His Adoption. Ilúvatar prophesied, however, that there would be strife between the Children of His Choice and the Children of His Adoption. Aulë set the Seven Fathers to rest underneath the mountains of Middle-earth, in far-sundered places, so they might not awaken before the Elves.

Aulë was well aware of the threat Melkor posed to his creation. He made them, therefore, extremely strong, short (four and a half to five feet tall) and stocky, resistant to fire, and hardier than any other race. Unswerving and proud, Dwarves can not be dominated by another will, and never forget a wrong or a debt. As the children of Aulë, Dwarves are naturally attracted to substances, to the depths of the earth, and to crafts; they are great miners and craftsmen and work wonders with stone, metal, and jewels. Their greatest flaws are a tendency toward wrath, possessiveness, and gold-lust.

Dwarves live about 250 years and marry around the age of 100. Few females are born among them, and these look to non-Dwarves just like male Dwarves. All Dwarves wear beards, even from birth. Dwarven society is male dominated, and rarely do Dwarven women go to war or wander far abroad, for they are few and the continuation of the race depends on their safety. Although like mortal Men the Dwarves do die of old age, like the immortal Elves they do not leave this sphere, and are gathered into the Halls of Mandos. The Elves, however, claim that the Dwarves have no life beyond Arda and the death of their bodies.

In battle the Dwarven hero has a definite advantage. Tolkien says that Dwarves are "the finest warriors to pit against the Orcs," and "the most redoubtable warriors of all the Speaking Peoples" (Elves, Men). Their disadvantage chiefly lies when facing foes greater than Elves or Men: Ents, Dragons, Balrogs, and such. Against such foes Men and Elves are generally more successful. Dwarves exhibit no magical powers save in their crafts. They are known to have crafted magical weapons and items, as well as magical doors and other subtle mechanisms.

The Dwarves call themselves Khazâd. The Sindarin equivalent is Hadhod, though by far their most common name is Naugrim (singular: Naug), or related forms. Another Elvish form is Gonnhirrim, meaning Masters of Stone. The language of the Dwarves is Khuzdul, Dwarvish, which was taught to the Fathers by Aulë himself, whom the Dwarves name Mahal.

The Dwarven Fathers awoke not long after the Elves. Dwálin, Father of the Broadbeams, and Thrár, Father of the Firebeards, awoke beneath Mount Dolmed in the Blue Mountains (the Ered Luin), which serves as the eastern border of the land called Beleriand. To the north of Dolmed the Broadbeams founded Belegost, or Gabilgathol in their tongue, the Mickleburg, the Mighty Fortress. To the south, the Firebeards built Nogrod (Novrod), Tumunzahar in their tongue, the Hollowbold or Hollow Delving.

The remaining Fathers awoke far to the east and south of Beleriand, and come little into the tales of these days. Durin, the Eldest, and Father of the Longbeards, awoke alone at Mount Gundabad in the north of the Misty Mountains (the Hithaeglir, east from Beleriand). Gundabad still serves as the worldwide capital for the Dwarves, who all remain in communication with each other, but by our time the chief mansion of the Longbeards is south of Gundabad beneath Zirak-Zigil, and the city is called Hadhodrond, or Khazad-dûm, the Dwarf-mansion.

Both the folks of Belegost and Nogrod have pretty good relations with the Noldor, as they share with them the reverence for Aulë, teacher of the Noldor. In particular, the Dwarves of Belegost are staunch friends of all the Elves, especially with Thingol of Doriath, for whom they built Menegroth his stronghold (for pay). The Broadbeams are also of great help to the Elves in battle against Angband, great allies of Maedhros and trustworthy. Azaghâl is their mighty king.

The Dwarves of Nogrod, however, are less friendly with the Elves than are the Dwarves of Belegost. The Firebeards have among them the greatest smiths in Middle-earth, including the great Telchar. And while they aided the Elves in many great works, including the building of Nargothrond, and often have dealings with them, it is only when they themselves can get profit out of the dealing. In them may more clearly be seen the prophecy of Ilúvatar concerning this race, though at our time period there have been no serious quarrels with the Elves.

The Dwarves of the two great mansions of the Blue Mountains are called the Great Dwarves, as a comparison to the other sub-race of Dwarves in Beleriand: the Petty-dwarves. Their tale is a sorrowful one. Exiled from Nogrod or Belegost in the far past, perhaps for some dark crimes none can remember, they were the first to wander Beleriand. Their dissimilarity with the Great Dwarves became greater over the years, for they became smaller, and hunched, and wild-haired little creatures. So it is that, when the Elves came into Beleriand, they hunted these unknown beasts, for long not recognizing their relation to the Great Dwarves of the Mountains. But then they left the "Nibin-noeg" alone.

The Moors of the Petty-dwarves, between the vales of Narog and Sirion, was the area they particularly settled. There, in the crown of the hill Sharbhund (later called Amon Rûdh by the Elves), they delved Bar-en-Nibin-noeg. Yet their chief mansions were at Nulukkhizdîn, the Caverns of Narog. But the Elves, wishing to inhabit that place, drove them away, and built Nargothrond there. At our time there are not more than a few dozen Petty-Dwarves left, taking refuge at Sharbhund. Now, while less great than the Great Dwarves, the Petty-dwarves are still very proud and possess their own dignity. They too have had their Dwarf-lords. They hate Elves and Orcs alike, and feel very little kinship with other Dwarves.

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