Halls of Thranduil
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> Halls of Thranduil
Quotes are in italics.
Gates of the King
The King in court
Hobbit, we learn of the Halls of Thranduil, the Elf-king.
company was captured by the elves of
Mirkwood after repeatedly interrupting the night feasting of the elves
in the forest. As the Elven-king put it,
"It is a crime to wander in my realm
without leave. Do you forget that you were in my kingdom, using the
road that my people made? Did you not three times pursue and trouble my
people in the forest and rouse the spiders with your riot and clamor?
After all the disturbance you have made I have a right to know what
brings you here, and if you will not tell me now, I will keep you all
in prison until you have learned sense and manners!"
The dwarves were taken into the underground part of
Autumn feast was held in both the forest and halls,
and occured during the time of the captivity of Thorin's Company.
"The subjects of
the king mostly lived and hunted in the open woods, and had houses or
huts on the ground and in the branches. The beeches were their favorite
The king's cave was his palace, treasury, and
fortress against enemies. It also acted as dungeon.
"They dwelt most
by the edges of the woods, from which they could escape at times to
hunt, or to ride and run over the open lands by moonlight or starlight;
and after the coming of Men they took ever more and more to the
gloaming and the dusk."
(Hobbit: "Flies and
The cave was some miles from the eastern edge of
Mirkwood forest. The great cave had many smaller ones opening out on
To reach the halls of Thranduil,
the company was taken from the forest across a bridge over a swift,
strong river. It came from the heights of the forest flowing out into
the marshes at the feet of the high wooded lands.
of the King:
In "Barrels out of Bond", the
great gates of the king stood at the far end of the bridge, and closed
with a clang, suggesting metal. In "Flies and Spiders", the doors are
said to be "huge doors of stone", so the doors were probably of stone
with metal parts. The gates stood "before
the mouth of a huge cave that ran into the side of a steep slope
covered with trees. There the great beeches came right down to the
bank, till their feet were in the stream".
Magic shut the gates, but
sometimes Bilbo could slip out with those passing through if he was
quick. The doors clashed together as soon as the last elf passed. The
Wood-elves left in companies, sometimes with their king at the head to
hunt, or other business in the woods, or business in the lands in the
to the hall:
The passages twisted, crossed, and
echoed, lit by red torch-light. The elf-guards sang as they marched.
The passages were unlike those of goblins, for these "were smaller, less deep underground, and
filled with a cleaner air."
There were "many
passages and wide halls, lighter and more wholesome than any
goblin-dwelling, and neither so deep nor dangerous." (Hobbit: "Flies and Spiders")
"In a great hall with pillars hewn out
of the living stone sat the Elvenking on a chair of carven wood."
The king had the ropes taken off the
prisoners, for they were ragged and weary. King Thranduil said: "Besides they need no ropes in here...There is no escape from my magic doors for
those who are once brought inside". ("Barrels out of Bond")
in court, if hastily:
his head was a crown of berries and red leaves for the autumn was come
again. In the spring he wore a crown of woodland flowers. In his hand
he held a carven staff of oak." ("Barrels out of Bond")
"If the elf-king
had a weakness it was for treasure, especially for silver and white gems".
He had great riches, yet not as great as that of elf-kings of old, for
his people did not mine, nor work metal or jewels, and bothered little
with trade or farming. ("Flies and Spiders")
Bilbo managed to steal food from store
and table when they were unattended. So Wood-elves used tables and had
storage areas. ("Barrels out of Bond")
The prisons were small rooms in
different parts of the palace where each dwarf was kept singly. They
were not in a special place all together as would be true of what is
generally considered a dungeon. One wonders what those rooms were used
for normally. Storage? The wall of the room was stone and the door wood.
Thorin's cell was in an
especially deep, dark place. The "elves
put thongs on him and shut him in one of the inmost caves with strong
wooden doors, and left him." This is referred to as being in the
king's dungeon. Thorin's door had a keyhole through which Bilbo spoke
The chief guard carried the keys in a bunch. Bilbo
described him: "He wasn't a bad fellow, and quite decent to the
prisoners." He was well-liked by the butler of the wine cellar who
invited him to enjoy the Dorwinion wine with him once off duty during
the autumn feast. Other wood-elves called the chief guard the captain.
The prisoners were given food and
drink. Thorin's is described as bread, meat, and water, plenty of it,
if not fine. For Wood-elves "were
reasonably well-behaved even to their worst enemies, when they captured
them. The giant spiders were the only living things that they had no
Beneath the caves flowed an underground stream of water. In
autumn, it was cold according to Bilbo. Where the stream left the caves
was a water-gate. The stream flowed out to join the Forest River
further east. This joining was "beyond
the steep slope out of which the main mouth opened".
At the opening from the cave, the rock of the roof
came low, and there the portcullis
was placed, and could be opened and lowered by ropes in the cellar
generally with the accompaniment of elf-song. The portcullis could be
dropped down as far as the bed of the river to prevent entry or exit.
Usually it stood open for the large amount of traffic, as wine and
other goods were traded from their kinsfolk in the South and from Men.
The stream ran underground through "a dark, rough tunnel leading deep into the heart
of the hill". At one point above the underground river, "the roof had been cut away and covered
with great oaken trapdoors".
The trapdoors opened into the cellar where a great many barrels
were stored. A butler called old Galion was in charge of the
cellar. No grape-vines grew in those parts so the Wood-elves traded for
the wine. Other barrels held apples, butter, and many other things.
Straw was in the area or near enough for Bilbo to find for packing the
inside of barrels for the dwarves.
of the wine was a heady vintage from Dorwinion only intended for the
king's feasts served in small bowls rather than great flagons. It takes
a very potent wine and a lot of it to make a Wood-elf drowsy, and
Dorwinion was one of those, bringing deep and pleasant dreams.
Full barrels when tied together like rafts had to be
poled or rowed up the stream to the caves. Other times they were loaded
into flat boats to make the trip. However, the empty barrels went with
the current and were tossed into the river to be stopped by a jut of
the bank at the eastern edge of Mirkwood. There, raft-elves had a village of huts and
gathered the barrels, tied them together, pushed them with poles out to
the current taking them around the outjutting of rock, and steered them
afloat to Lake-town. This was
a town of Men close to the point where the Forest River flowed into the
Long Lake. Ropes were cast and oars were pulled. The barrel raft was
towed out of the current into the bay of Lake-town and moored near the
shoreward head of the great bridge to float, waiting for the men from
the South to pick them up for re-fill, taking some back with them. After
completing the mooring, the raft-elves
and human boatmen went together into Lake-town to feast. Lake-town was
mostly on pillars out in the lake, although some huts were on shore. On
the shoreward side of the bridge, guards were stationed but not very
watchful as they were little-needed. They sometimes had squabbles with
the Wood-elves over river-tolls, but were otherwise friends. Other folk
lived far away and the younger folk doubted the existence of a dragon
in the mountain.
The river had become the main method of trade travel
as roads out of the East to Mirkwood fell into disuse and vanished;
simple paths vanished. Lake-men and Wood-elves bickered over the upkeep
of the Forest River and the care of the banks. The area had changed
since Smaug had come. Great floods and rains had swollen the river, and
earthquakes had changed the land. Marshes and bogs spread ever wider,
in which horsemen sometimes were lost and even died. Only the river
offered safe passage from Mirkwood to the plains south of there, and
the river was guarded by the Wood-elves' king.
Even the elf-road followed by Thorin's Company on
Beorn's advice continued to the eastern edge of the forest of Mirkwood,
then came to a doubtful and little-used end. The map in The Hobbit
shows it no further than the bridge to the ElvenKing's Halls.
"Flies and Spiders" (mostly the end part of chapter), "Barrels out of
Bond" (for most of this article), "A Warm Welcome" (mostly for the
Painting by JRRT called the Huts of the Raft-elves,
no longer allowed to be viewed.
"'Well, here is Mirkwood!' said Gandalf." From The Hobbit. Artist Alan
Lee. Rolozo Tolkien page.
"Mirkwood". Artist Alexandra Koskinen. Rolozo Tolkien page
"Mirkwood: View of the Main Hall of Thranduil". Artist Henning Janssen.
Rolozo Tolkien page
"Mirkwood: Concept for the Halls of Thranduil". Artist Henning Janssen.
Rolozo Tolkien page
"Laketown". Artist Damien Farrell. Rolozo Tolkien page
"Laketown Overview". Map. Artist Henning Janssen. Rolozo Tolkien page
"Laketown Market water". Artist Henning Janssen. Rolozo Tolkien page
"Laketown Canal". Artist Henning Janssen. Rolozo Tolkien page