|Aliases Lord of Moria|
|Movies The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Hobbit|
Books The Hobbit, Unfinished Tales
Played by Ken Stott, Don Messick, Aleksey Kozhevnikov
Similar Dwalin, Gloin, Bofur, Bombur, Bifur
Balin is the only Dwarf of Thorin's company whose name does not come directly from the Old Norse poem "Völuspá", part of the Poetic Edda. The name was invented by Tolkien. It was probably chosen, because it rimed with the names of other dwarfs, but the inspiration may have come from the Sanskrit term "Balin" that is derived from the Sanskrit word Balina, which means "Immensely Powerful" or "Mighty".
Balin was born in Erebor in T.A. 2763 the son of Fundin. In 2770, the year Balin turned 7, Erebor was sacked by Smaug, and the Dwarves went into exile. During that period his younger brother Dwalin was born. Their father Fundin was killed in 2799 in the Battle of Azanulbizar, and in 2802 they settled in the Blue Mountains with their surviving family. In 2841, Balin and Dwalin were among those who set out with Thráin II, but they lost Thráin and returned to the Blue Mountains.
The second dwarf to arrive at Bilbo's house at the beginning of The Hobbit, preceded by his brother Dwalin, Balin is part of the company assembled by Thorin to kill the dragon Smaug and retake the mountain kingdom of Erebor. Like his brother Dwalin, he played a viol. Other than Thorin, he is the only one explicitly said to have been at the Mountain prior to the coming of the dragon. According to Appendix A in The Return of the King he was 7 years old while Thorin was 24 on that day. Among the company of dwarves, Balin is the second-eldest after Thorin.
Balin is described as "their look-out man": he spots Bilbo approaching the Green Dragon Inn at Bywater, spots the trolls' fire in the Trollshaws, and is the first to spot the elves in Mirkwood. Naturally Balin could not notice Bilbo (made invisible by wearing the One Ring) as look-out for the company after escaping the goblins in the Misty Mountains, and after this incident he came to respect Bilbo's abilities as a burglar. He becomes de facto spokesman for the party when the dwarves are captured by the Elvenking, as they were unaware Thorin was imprisoned there as well. Balin is the only dwarf who volunteers to accompany Bilbo down the secret passage to Smaug. Some years after the Quest, he and Gandalf visit Bilbo in Bag End, where Balin tells of the mountain's glory restored in the years after the Battle of the Five Armies.
The Lord of the Rings
In T.A. 2989 Balin left Erebor and ventured to reclaim Moria with a company of dwarves including Flói, Óin, Ori, Frár, Lóni, and Náli. Balin discovered Durin's Axe, and established a small colony, but the dwarves were overrun by orcs soon afterward and Balin was killed by an orc archer in the Dimrill Dale in 2994.
In The Fellowship of the Ring, Gloin mentions that the fate of Balin's company was uncertain, as no word had come from Moria in many a year. The Fellowship later comes upon Balin's tomb in the Chamber of Mazarbul, and learn of his fate from the dwarves' book of records. Balin's tomb is inscribed "Balin Fundinul Uzbad Khazad-Dûmu", with smaller runes beneath giving the translation into English (as the representation of Westron): "Balin, son of Fundin, Lord of Moria".
Portrayal in adaptations
Don Messick voiced Balin in the 1977 animated version of The Hobbit. In the 2003 video game adaptation Balin is voiced by James Arnold Taylor. In The Lord of the Rings Online (2007) Balin makes a brief appearance in the prologue for the Dwarven characters, set shortly before The Quest of Erebor. In the Mines of Moria expansion (2008) the fate of Balin's company is elaborated upon, as the players can revisit Balin's old campsite and witness signs of the dwarves' accomplishments in Khazad-dum before their demise.
In Peter Jackson's film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings Gimli refers to Balin as his cousin but seems unaware that the dwarves who returned to Moria were in danger. When the Fellowship discover the Chamber of Mazarbul, Gimli takes up Balin's axe in addition to those he already carries.
In Jackson's adaptation of The Hobbit, Balin is portrayed by Ken Stott. He is shown witnessing at first hand the arrival of Smaug in Erebor, and together with Thorin and Dwalin he fights in the Battle of Azanulbizar. In the aftermath of that battle, as king Thror is dead and Thráin missing, Balin accepts Thorin as the new king, and acts throughout the films as his most trusted advisor. Balin is initially skeptical of Bilbo's competence as a burglar. He attempts to talk Thorin out of pursuing the Quest of Erebor, but follows him without question when Thorin makes his decision clear. Balin signs Bilbo's contract as a witness and later tells him the story of Azog and how Thorin acquired the epithet "Oakenshield", and later explains to Bilbo the significance of the Arkenstone. When the company arrive at the hidden door of Erebor, Balin fears that Thorin might succumb to the same dragon-sickness as his grandfather, and he is seen weeping openly when his fears come true. When Bilbo departs after the Battle of the Five Armies, Balin personally bids him farewell.