Tolkien Gateway

Black Arrow

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Latest revision as of 14:43, 5 October 2021

The Black Arrow
Arrow
Anke Eißmann - Bard the Bowman.jpg
"Bard the Bowman" by Anke Eißmann
LocationLonely Mountain, Lake-town
OwnerGirion, Bard
CreatorDwarves of Erebor
Lonely Mountain
Notable forkilling Smaug
GalleryImages of the Black Arrow
"Arrow!" said the bowman. "Black arrow! I have saved you to the last. You have never failed me and always I have recovered you. I had you from my father and he from of old. If ever you came from the forges of the true king under the Mountain, go now and speed well!"
Bard, Fire and Water

According to Bard the Bowman, the Black Arrow had originated in the Lonely Mountain and had been passed down to him from his father and grandfather of the line of Girion. It was magical for him and whenever he shot it, he always recovered it.

When in T.A. 2941[1] the dragon Smaug attacked Lake-town, after being disturbed by Thorin and Company in the Lonely Mountain, the Black Arrow was the last arrow left in Bard's quiver.

Bard fired the arrow through a bare patch in the armour on Smaug's underbelly, described to him by the Thrush. The arrow penetrated Smaug's heart, killing the dragon immediately.[2]

[edit] Inspiration

J.R.R. Tolkien may have found inspiration for the weapon that achieves its goal and then perishes in Beowulf. In that story Beowulf's sword cannot kill Grendel's mother but another sword, an ancient blade found in her lair, can destroy her and slice off Grendel's head. However, the sword then melted down to the hilt.[3]

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

1977 The Hobbit (1977 film)

The Black Arrow plays a very similar role to that in the book. Bard uses the arrow to kill Smaug after the thrush informs him of Smaug's weak point.

2012-2014 The Hobbit (film series)

Unlike the book, there are multiple black arrows. They first appear in a flashback showing Girion trying to shoot down Smaug during his attack on Dale. They next appear in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, in the house of Bard, where he has several arrows hidden away. Their final appearance is in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies where Bard uses them to kill Smaug.
In a further departure from the book, the arrows are designed to be used with a crossbow like device instead of a simple bow. This device is broken during Smaug's final attack, forcing Bard to use his bow instead.

2018: The Lord of the Rings Online:

The Black Arrows are said to have been a gift to each Lord of Dale from King Thrór in gratitude for saving the first dwarf king's life. The eighth Lord of Dale, later known as Girion, wasted all the arrows while attempting to kill Smaug, except for the one which his son "Brandjarn" rescued and was passed down to Bard.
After the restoration of the Kingdom under the Mountain, Dáin Ironfoot gifted the Kings of Dale with newly-forged Black Arrows. Shortly after the Battle of Dale, young King Bard II wounded the great Cold-drake "Vethúg Wintermind" with a Black Arrow, thwarting the drake's attack on Erebor.

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Fire and Water"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Return to Bag-End, The Second Phase, "The Death of Smaug", (ii) The Black Arrow, p. 558


Weapons of Middle-earth
Aeglos · Andúril · Anglachel · Angrist · Anguirel · Aranrúth · Belthronding · Black Arrow · Bow of Bregor · Bow of the Galadhrim · Daggers of Westernesse · Dagmor · Dailir · Dramborleg · Durin's Axe · Glamdring · Grond · Gúthwinë · Gurthang · Herugrim · Morgul-knife · Narsil · Orcrist · Red Arrow · Ringil · Sting