Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Oaken's Twelve coda: Dain Nainsson

With the Company of Thorin Oakenshield done, there's now only one remaining Dwarf from The Hobbit to cover.

Well, there is Thrain, Thorin's father, but Dain is the last Dwarf to make a personal appearance in the story, and despite its fleeting nature, he is kind of a big deal. John Rateliff calls Dain son of Nain the sine qua non of Dwarves, and identifies in his personality and actions everything that Thorin ought to have been but fails to be either through his own rashness or the growing dragon-sickness once Smaug's treasure is recovered. Dain proves himself patient, diplomatic and well-resourced. As later King Under the Mountain he is a generous ruler, dispensing treasure to those promised and forging new alliances with his neighbours. All of this important to recognise because, as mentioned above, Dain's role in The Hobbit is not too obvious compared to Thorin's, and it's not hard to see his late appearance and triumph as usury if not also something of a cheat on top of Thorin's sacrifice.

Dain is therefore a complicated character, but for all that is easier to read if face value can be relied on - his influence lies beyond the story of The Hobbit as well, with Gandalf recalling his part in the War of the Ring alongside Bard's descendant Brand of Dale, and we can infer that he refuses Balin's request to attempt to re-take Moria - once again proving that he is a Dwarf of some wisdom. 

All of which gives me some pause when I anticipate Peter Jackson's version of Dain, to be portrayed by Billy Connolly.Seriously, he comes into the story riding a giant boar with a mohawk (Dain I mean, not the boar, mind you...)? This is going to be distracting, I can tell. And it's not as if Jackson has been the first to cast Dain as a Dwarven 'Hard-Ass' (even if the aforementioned vision sounds the most GW-inspired of all the Hobbit trilogy's visualisations). Here's GW's War of the Ring-era Dain, squeezed into their licence by virtue of the LotR Appendices:

I painted that five or six years ago, based on GW's own catalogue picture; but I've no desire to commit to this figure being Dain - he just doesn't feel like Dain to me. He's just a well 'ard Dwarf with a big axe.

This is my Dain, comprising nearly as much green stuff as the Bombur conversion, including chain mail, cloak, braids, hands and his base - which I'm really quietly proud of as it used up a heck of a lot of old rolled up green stuff scraps.yes, I know. I'm stingy with my supplies!

Here's the original Dwarf Warrior from GW's 'Khazad Dum' expansion of their Rings movie licensed line:

Note the beard tucked into the belt? That was a big factor in picking this pose. But add to that Tolkien's own description of the Iron Hill Dwarves (knee-length chain hauberks, braided beards tucked into belts, round shields, and a picture builds as much as a worksheet.

As for the the finished product, the axe, I must point out, is not the figure's original and it was only in seeking a picture of the original model that I realised I could have saved myself a few evenings of work and plastic filing. Oh well. A few colour changes occurred along the way as well - my dain was originally grey-haired with less brass highlighting and more chestnut (I was using his Dain Ironfoot epithet as a design template, basing the palette on metal and rust colours), but decided I wanted more warmth in the figure. He is an old, humane character, and setting him up in such steely colours didn't convey that. Also, it tied in nicely with the other colour clue offered by Tolkien's appendices, his 'red axe' he uses as a very very young warrior avenging his father's death in the Battle of Azanulbizar.

Of course it might not literally be a red axe, more an axe red with the blood of orcs, but it's Tolkien - you take what you can get!

That's it for the upright Dwarves of The Hobbit! There's one last visit I'll make to the members f the Company - well, two at least, and then I'm on to pastures new.

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