The Great Goblin
“There in the shadows on a large flat stone sat a tremendous goblin with a huge head,
and armed goblins were standing round him carrying the axes and the bent swords that they use.”
The Hobbit: Chapter 4
The Orcs of the Misty Mountains were often called Goblins or Hob-goblins by those who lived west of the Mountains in the Third Age of Middle-earth. Though their bloodline was definitely that of the common orc, they were said to have been a smaller breed, that thrived in the dark tunnels beneath the mountains. They were scavengers and thieves who prayed upon the unwary travelers along the mountainous passes. They took the stolen booty back to Goblin Town and made slaves out of those they took prisoner, eventually feeding upon the ones who perished in the darkness, for they wasted nothing.
Often a large and powerful Orc would emerge out the rank and file, to become a leader and draw the many clans of Goblins together. Such was the case in the years before the Battle of the Five Armies when one such orc, the Great Goblin a creature of immense size, who gathered the Orcs of the Misty Mountain into a formidable force in Goblin Town beneath the mountains.
Whence he came from, none now can tell, but he grew larger then all the rest and he was clever, shrewd and cruel. He gathered together the Goblins of the Misty Mountains, who survived the War of the Dwarves and Orcs and founded Goblin Town beneath the High and Lower Pass over the Misty Mountains.
When the Great Goblin was slain by Gandalf in the year 2941 of the Third Age, it set in motion a series of events that led to the Battle of the Five Armies and the death of the majority of Orcs in the Misty Mountains. The Goblins had set out to avenge their fallen chieftain, but had been thwarted by the Eagles. So they called upon the Orcs of Mount Gundabad after hearing of Smaug’s death, to seek vengeance and plunder the treasure hoard of the Dwarves. For many years after this deadly battle, the Goblins who survived lay hidden in the mountains until Sauron once more declared himself in the land of Mordor.
There in the shadows on a large flat stone sat a tremendous goblin with a huge head, and armed goblins were standing round him carrying the axes and the bent swords that they use. Now goblins are cruel, wicked, and badhearted. They make no beautiful things, but they make many clever ones. They can tunnel and mine as well as any but the most skilled dwarves, when they take the trouble, though they are usually untidy and dirty.
Hammers, axes, swords, daggers, pickaxes, tongs, and also instruments of torture, they make very well, or get other people to make to their design, prisoners and slaves that have to work till they die for want of air and light. It is not unlikely that they invented some of the machines that have since troubled the world, especially the ingenious devices for killing large numbers of people at once, for wheels and engines and explosions always delighted them, and also not working with their own hands more than they could help; but in those days and those wild parts they had not advanced (as it is called) so far.
They did not hate dwarves especially, no more than they hated everybody and everything, and particularly the orderly and prosperous; in some parts wicked dwarves had even made alliances with them. But they had a special grudge against Thorin’s people, because of the war which you have heard mentioned, but which does not come into this tale; and anyway goblins don’t care who they catch, as long as it is done smart and secret, and the prisoners are not able to defend themselves.
“Who are these miserable persons?” said the Great Goblin.
“Dwarves, and this!” said one of the drivers pulling at Bilbo’s chain so that he fell forward onto his knees. “We found them sheltering in our Front Porch.”
“What do you mean by it?” said the Great Goblin turning to Thorin. “Up to no good, I’ll warrant! Spying on the private business of my people, I guess! Thieves, I shouldn’t be surprised to learn! Murderers and friends of Elves, not unlikely! Come! What have you got to say?”
“Thorin the dwarf at your service!” he replied—it was merely a polite nothing. “Of the things which you suspect and imagine we had no idea at all. We sheltered from a storm in what seemed a convenient cave and unused; nothing was further from our thoughts than inconveniencing goblins in any way whatever.” That was true enough!
“Um!” said the Great Goblin. “So you say!Might I ask what you were doing up in the mountains at all, and where you were coming from, and where you were going to? In fact I should like to know all about you. Not that it will do you much good, Thorin Oakenshield, I know too much about your folk already; but let’s have the truth, or I will prepare something particularly uncomfortable for you!”
“We were on a journey to visit our relatives,our nephews and nieces, and first, second, and third cousins, and the other descendants of our grandfathers, who live on the East side of these truly hospitable mountains,” said Thorin, not quite knowing what to say all at once in a moment, when obviously the exact truth would not do at all.
“He is a liar, O truly tremendous one!” said one of the drivers. “Several of our people were struck by lightning in the cave, when we invited these creatures to come below; and they are as dead as stones. Also he has not explained this!” He held out the sword which Thorin had worn, the sword which came from the Trolls’ lair.
The Great Goblin gave a truly awful howl of rage when he looked at it, and all his soldiers gnashed their teeth, clashed their shields, and stamped. They knew the sword at once. It had killed hundreds of goblins in its time, when the fair elves of Gondolin hunted them in the hills or did battle before their walls. They had called it Orcrist, Goblin-cleaver, but the goblins called it simply Biter. They hated it and hated worse any one that carried it.
“Murderers and elf-friends!” the Great Goblin shouted. “Slash them! Beat them! Bite them! Gnash them! Take them away to dark holes full of snakes, and never let them see the light again!” He was in such a rage that he jumped off his seat and himself rushed at Thorin with his mouth open.
Just at that moment all the lights in the cavern went out, and the great fire went off poof! into a tower of blue glowing smoke, right up to the roof, that scattered piercing white sparks all among the goblins.
The yells and yammering, croaking, jibbering and jabbering; howls, growls and curses; shrieking and skriking, that followed were beyond description. Several hundred wild cats and wolves being roasted slowly alive together would not have compared with it. The sparks were burning holes in the goblins, and the smoke that now fell from the roof made the air too thick for even their eyes to see through.
Soon they were falling over one another and rolling in heaps on the floor, biting and kicking and fighting as if they had all gone mad. Suddenly a sword flashed in its own light. Bilbo saw it go right through the Great Goblin as he stood dumbfounded in the middle of his rage. He fell dead, and the goblin soldiers fled before the sword shrieking into the darkness.
From The Hobbit in the chapter ‘Over Hill and Under Hill‘
“Slash them! Beat them! Bite them! Gnash them!
Take them away to dark holes full of snakes, and never let them see the light again!”
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