The Secret Origin of Gimli’s Ax (and the Hobbit Connection)

Aragorn’s sword, Andúril, carries the most narrative weight in terms of ancient and powerful weapons in Peter Jackson. The Lord of the Ringsbut Gimli’s battle ax has its own secret origin story that goes back generations, even when it comes to the characters in The Hobbit and beyond. Gimli is seen using this double-bladed ax throughout the trilogy after a subtle weapon switch during The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, even if his initial grasp of the ax doesn’t have its own narrative rhythm like Galadriel’s Gifts do. Although this ax only appears in the the Lord of the Rings films, its importance to Gimli and his family cannot be overstated, nor the cost of its acquisition to him and his ancestors.

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The stories of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings the trilogies intertwine over the decades and both follow a band of Third Age adventurers from Middle-earth. The Hobbit chronicles the journey of a group of dwarves under Thorin II Oakenshield, the ousted dwarf prince of the Lonely Mountain, in their quest to reclaim their home from the dragon Smaug. Among their company are both Gimli’s father, Glóin, and Gimli’s second cousin, Balin, whose wisdom and strength help the dwarves reclaim the kingdom of Erebor. The Lord of the Ringsmeanwhile, details the quest to destroy the One Ring and prevent the Dark Lord Sauron’s return to power, the first stage of which Gimli undertakes 60 years after the events of The Hobbit.


Related: Why LOTR Gimli’s Biggest Change Solved A Book Problem

But the connection between these two quests lies not only in the family relationships of the dwarves who participate in them, but in the weapons they carry or will carry. Moria, also known as Khazad-dûm, is a place steeped in and steeped in the tradition of The Lord of the Rings. The events that unfold there are both tragic and unforgettable, and for none other than Gimli. It is there, in The Fellowship of the Ringthat Gimli learns all about Balin’s death and originally retrieves the secret ax from Balin’s heirloom which he uses for the rest of the trilogy.


Balin retrieves this weapon when he first leads an expedition to recover the lost city of Moria after the events of The Hobbit. The axe, believed to be the Ax of Durin, is a heritage treasure of Durin I, the eldest of the original seven dwarves and the founder of the dwarves of Durin’s people. Unfortunately, Balin’s expedition and the lordship of Moria ends a few years after it began, as the mines are reclaimed by orcs and goblins and all the dwarves are killed.

Gimli does not learn the fate of his cousin’s expedition, however, until the Fellowship travels to Khazad-dûm hoping for safe passage on their journey. While exploring the deserted halls of the Durin dwarves of Moria, the Fellowship comes across Balin’s tomb, along with a book describing the end of Balin’s expedition. After the community is overrun by the orcs who caused the disappearance of his family, Gimli recovers Durin’s ax during a fight against a cave troll. Since then, he has seen him carry it on his back and use it to good effect against orcs and Uruk-hai.


that of Peter Jackson The Lord of the Rings movies, however immersive and detailed, lack the ability to portray the full depth and breadth of knowledge that books offer them. As such, some of the major supporting characters aren’t given the full narrative weight they have. However, the films always pay homage to these characters’ independent goals and legacies, such as the scenes from the secret origin of Gimli’s axe, and it’s details like these that help make these films so complete and inspiring as they are.

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