The Five Sides of "The Hobbit: Battle of the 5 Armies"
The final act of the novel "The Hobbit," by J. R. R. Tolkie involves a huge battle with five major groups divided into two sides, called the Battle of the Five Armies. This complex, intricate battle is an important point in the history of Middle Earth and serves as a shining example of differing races coming together for a common good. The third film of the "The Hobbit" trilogy, "The Hobbit: Battle of the 5 Armies," focuses on this exciting battle. Understanding some basic information about the five sects involved in the fighting is essential to following the intense action on-screen. While the elves, men and dwarves initially battle each other, when the orcs and wargs join the fray, the three initial races team up to fight evil and change the balance of power on Middle Earth.
The orcs are referred to as goblins throughout "The Hobbit." They are a dastardly race that lives underground in total darkness. Early in "The Hobbit," their leader, the Goblin King, is killed by Gandalf during a ferocious battle the Misty Mountains. After the death of the dragon Smaug, who had been protecting vast amounts of treasure under the Lonely Mountain, the orcs decide to take action to the unguarded treasure for themselves. The orcs also want to extract revenge for the death of the Goblin King.
The wargs team up with the orcs against the elves, dwarves and men. Wargs are a race of large, evil wolves possessed by dark spirits. Though the true origin of their race is uncertain, the wargs are frequently aligned on the side of evil and wreak throughout Middle Earth. During the Battle of the Five Armies, the wargs act as mounts for their orc companions, providing mobility and extra strength that makes the two groups a dangerous foe.
The men fighting in the battle come from a specific village up the river from the Lonely Mountain. After the dwarves and Bilbo Baggins waken Smaug, the dragon leaves his mountain and attacks the men's village. Though the great dragon destroys the village, one man, Bard the Bowman, manages to single-handedly kill the beast with a precision arrow strike. Because of this, Bard believes he has a stake in the treasure that was once guarded by Smaug, and he gathers a group of his fellow men to march on the Lonely Mountain to take a share of the wealth.
A large group of wood elves, the Elves of Mirkwood, travels from the great woodlands between the Misty Mountains and the Lonely Mountain in hopes of claiming what they believe to be their rightful treasure. The treasure previously guarded by Smaug consists not only dwarven gold, but also gems and jewels that once belonged to the elves. The elves initially partner with the men, who they regularly trade with, to take the treasure from the seemingly unguarded mountain. However, much to their surprise, they find the main companion group of "The Hobbit" holed up in the mountain protecting the treasure.
The dwarves of this significant battle are divided up into two separate groups. The first group is the thirteen dwarves who, along with Bilbo Baggins, have traveled from the Shire across the land to reclaim the Lonely Mountain. Among this group is Thorin, the rightful heir to the Lonely Mountain; he boldly refuses to share the reclaimed wealth with any of the other groups who march on the mountain and sends out a request for backup troops to keep the treasure in dwarven hands.
In response, 500 dwarves led by Dain Ironfoot march to the battlefield. This new group of dwarves is comprised of relatives of Thorin who support him in his claims to the Lonely Mountain. Fighting between the dwarves and the combined forces of the men and elves is only stopped with the help of Gandalf, who appears and works as a mediator of sorts between the groups. These three groups become allies when the orcs and wargs make their move.
There are other important figures involved in this complicated battle. Gandalf and the shapeshifter Beorn play key roles in the battle and help turn the tide in favor of the elves, men and dwarves. The giant eagles fight on the side of the elves, men and dwarves, helping them by providing essential air support that is made even more necessary by the inclusion of bats on the opposing side along with orcs and wargs.
The epic battle between the five armies is the result of centuries of fighting, treaties, broken promises and perceived slights between the elves, men, dwarves and orcs. The discord between these groups highlights how important Bilbo Baggins, a simple hobbit, is to the eventual treaties and agreements. All of the action plays out on the big screen when "The Hobbit: Battle of the 5 Armies" hits theaters.