If there’s one place that Gandalf was utterly terrified about over the course of the books and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ movies, it was Moria. Judging by the state of the Dwarves remains in the place, and the amount of time that passed between the two events, a lot of fans are wondering how is it possible that Gimli had no idea what happened in Moria & how his kin really fell. So, let’s clear that up!
Gimli was aware that Moria was an extremely dangerous place, but he was unaware that Balin’s expedition met such a horrifying end. This is because the expedition to Moria took place 30 years prior, and little was known about the true fate of the expedition since there were no survivors to get the word out.
Now that we’ve cleared up most of the confusion regarding Gimli’s and, to an extent, Gandalf’s ignorance about Moria, it’s time to analyze the details. If you’re interested in history of the place, and what really happened to Balin & his men, keep reading!
What happened to Balin’s expedition to Moria?
In the fictional history of J.R.R. Tolkien, Moria is the name given by the Eldars for the magnificent underground of intertwining tunnels, chambers, mines and huge halls in the northwest of Middle-earth, passing under the Blue Mountains (Ered Luin). For thousands of years, there lived a clan of Dwarves known as the Durin’s Folk or Longbeards.
Throughout its long history, this underground city and former center of the Dwarf industry has also been referred to by other brighter names such as Hadhodrond (Sindarin name), Casarrondo (Noldor name) and Phurunargian name in a common language, which all meant the Dwarfs’ residence – Dwarrowdelf. In its later days of darkness, in over a thousand years of the Third Age, it became commonly known as Moria, meaning ‘Black Abyss’ or ‘Black Cave.’
Balin was a Dwarf and one of the companions of Thorin Oakenshield during the events of ‘The Hobbit.’ After the events of ‘The Hobbit,’ Balin and a group of Dwarves, along with a few other individuals, decided to reclaim the ancient dwarven kingdom of Khazad-dûm, also known as Moria.
However, the expedition did not end well. In ‘The Fellowship of the Ring,’ it is revealed that Balin’s colony in Moria was eventually overrun by Orcs, and Balin himself was killed. The exact details of what transpired during their time in Moria are not fully explored in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, but it is assumed that the colony fell to a combination of Orc attacks and internal strife.
When did Gimli learn about Moria?
We have jumped over two ages of Middle-earth, but this is where Gimli and the rest of the Fellowship return to long-lost Moria and discover its horrible destiny. The Fellowship reluctantly moved through Moria in 3019, and although the Great Gate was then broken, they passed through Narvi’s Gate in the west with difficulty and in great danger.
Many of the long-abandoned Lower Depths were flooded and inaccessible, and the Fellowship hoped that most Orcs had been killed in the Battle of the Five Armies a few decades earlier.
When they reached Odea Mazarbul towards the end of their journey, the Fellowship was attacked by a troll and many Orcs, before Durin’s Bane (known as Balrog) approached them.
Gandalf clashed with the demon at Khazad-dum Bridge, near the remnants of the East Gate, where the duo fought briefly before being thrown into the abyss under the bridge, allowing the rest of the Fellowship to escape. Gandalf and Balrog survived the fall and continued their epic duel from the primeval depths of Moria to the summit of Zirakzigil, finally destroying both the Tower and the staircase.
Gimli was aware that Moria was a dangerous place, but he was unaware of the details
Gimli was well aware that Moria was rumored to be a dangerous place inhabited by “demons.” However, he had no idea about the circumstances under which Balin’s expedition failed, as the exact details couldn’t be known since there were no survivors. He only had legends and myths to go on.
The Fellowship discovered Balin’s tomb in the Chamber of Mazarbul. Gandalf finds the Dwarves’ book of records and discovers from it that Balin was killed by Orcs. So, as shown here, Gandalf and Gimli were well aware that Moria is a dangerous place.
It’s also important to mention the differences between the books and the movies in that regard.
In the movies, Gimli is not aware of his kin’s destiny and the fall of Moria, even though nobody has heard from them in the last 25 years. However, we don’t know what Gimli was doing during those 25 years. So, from the movie’s perspective, it is acceptable that he wanted to go inside and find out what happened to them, regardless of the danger.
He had heard that Balin was able to enter and establish a colony there, but after that, he didn’t receive any further updates about his people. It’s possible that he just couldn’t find the right messenger, or maybe they were somehow trapped. Who knows what was going through his mind, but he certainly wanted to find out for himself. While Gandalf was aware and apprehensive, Gimli was eager to enter Moria.
But in the books, he was well aware of the danger that lay inside Moria, as was Gandalf, and they both didn’t really want to go inside, but they had no other choice. Or better to say about Gimli, he wanted to find out what happened to his kin no matter what the dangers were, and no matter how afraid he was.
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