The Lord of the Rings‘ Hobbits trilogy was a Hollywood adaptation of the JRR Tolkien novels. It’s no secret that the movies made plenty of changes to the source material. For one, it added an unnecessary rivalry between Thorin and Thranduil. But more importantly, it resurrected Azog the Defiler to be a personal nemesis for Thorin Oakenshield. Years earlier, Thorin had badly wounded Azog in battle, but the Pale Orc returned in the films to hunt Thorin in an insatiable quest for revenge.
Azog the Defiler pursued Thorin throughout the trilogy, and his hunt culminated in The Battle of the Five Armies. Thorin and Azog did battle on Ravenhill, and it ended with both their deaths. Thorin allowed himself to be stabbed so that he could put an end to his nemesis’ reign of terror. However, that’s not what happened in The Hobbits book. Azog had long been dead, so he wasn’t the one who killed Thorin. It was actually a whole slew of some of the deadliest orcs in Middle-earth: the Orc Berserkers.
Who Killed Thorin in Tolkien’s The Hobbit?
Minus some of the flashy effects, the book’s version of the Battle of the Five Armies was pretty similar to the film version. Thorin and his Dwarves were holed up in Erebor and burst out when hope was nearly lost. When Thorin emerged, Dain’s Dwarves and Thranduil’s Elves rallied to him and charged the endless ranks of Orcs. The tide of the battle turned for a time, but they were still sorely outnumbered. It wasn’t long before they were completely surrounded.
It was during that time that Thorin was mortally wounded. The Orcs were being led by Bolg (who was Azog’s son), and his bodyguard was legendary. According to the book, they were “goblins of huge size.” Thorin and his Dwarves attacked the bodyguard, but it was to no avail. They could not break the Orcs’ ranks, and Thorin was wounded multiple times in the process. Things started to look bleach, but the Eagles and the skin-changer Beorn arrived just in time to win the day. When he arrived, Beorn broke the ranks of the bodyguards, crushed Bolg and took Thorin to safety.
What Were Orc Berserkers?
Saruman was pretty conceited in The Lord of the Rings. He made his Uruk-hai by breeding Men and Orcs, and he thought that he had invented the idea. Sauron, however, had done the same thing. Either way, the Uruk-hai were bigger, faster and stronger than regular Orcs. But, Peter Jackson wanted to take them to the next level. So, he invented the idea of the Orc Berserker. The Berserkers were massive warriors, who didn’t wear armor into battle. They only wore a helmet, and it was filled with blood before the battle, giving them an awful bloodlust. It was an Orc Berserker who carried the blasting powder that destroyed the wall below Helm’s Deep.
The Orc Berserkers were not a Tolkien invention, but the name has been retroactively (if unofficially) added to the Bodyguard of Bolg. That should give some context to just how deadly Bolg’s warriors were. The Berserkers were even worse than Saruman’s Uruk-Hai, and if Bolg’s Bodyguard were at their level, they must have been pretty special. And they didn’t have any of Saruman’s magic to make them bigger and stronger. They were completely natural, deadly Orcs. That’s why Thorin died at their hands, and that’s why Bolg’s Bodyguard were the deadliest Orcs in Middle-earth.