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Headscratchers / The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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    White Council business 
  • Why doesn't Gandalf explain the blade was found at Dol Guldur? Saruman seems to think the two events are unrelated.
    • To me it seems that Gandalf did make it pretty clear. Saruman just doesn't trust the reliability of the eyewitness, Radagast, who in his words "uses too much mushrooms". The finding place is also not nearly as important as the question of whether the dagger actually is a genuine Morgul blade or not.
    • Saruman might also be intentionally acting as an Obstructive Bureaucrat to disguise his true thoughts and intentions.
    • In the books, Saruman is well aware at this time that Sauron is the Necromancer and is searching for the One Ring. He objects to the White Council taking action because he's hoping for the Ring to show itself so that he can claim it for himself.
    • In the books the rest of the White Council also know about the Necromancer's true identity, at this point. There really isn't evidence about what Saruman knows either way in the movie, and it's likely to stay that way; the most likely way that Peter Jackson is going to take the Saruman-angle is to have moments where Saruman seems to be obstructing the Council for no good reason, but does nothing that could directly be interpreted as a sign of treachery.
    • Remember as well that, as a prequel, the movie must be coherent with the Lord of the Rings. That means, for example, that Gandalf will not realize the nature of Bilbo's ring yet, and that Saruman will not show any visible interest in getting the Ring for himself or allying with Sauron: if he did, Gandalf would have never gone by his own will to seek Saruman's help at the begining of that movie.
    • Don't Morgul blades disintegrate in the sunlight? The sun was rising during that scene, yet the blade remained intact.
    • In the books, yes. But in the movies a Morgul blade dissolved in the dark of the night when Aragorn touched it. Radagast, Gandalf, and Elrond are all powerful magic users. They may presumably know how to touch a morgul blade without causing it to disintegrate. Aragorn not so much.
    • Radagast didn't touch it when he disarmed the Witch-King, and both he and Gandalf kept it wrapped up. Presumably the touch of the living on their hilts destroys such ghost-wielded weapons.
    • In the Fellowship movie, the tip of the blade that Aragorn picks up has already broken off in Frodo. The blade that Radagast recovers is intact. That might explain why one crumbled and the other did not; the one that stabbed Frodo had already done its dirty work.
    • It's said that the blades break apart and disintergate after they've been used to pierce flesh. Since Radagast stopped his attack the Blade wasn't able to break apart.
  • Another thing: so is Saruman evil yet or not?
    • If you go by book canon, yes. As discussed above, he's trying to find the Ring for himself (in the Histories somewhere, it says he has all Isildur's jewellery and personal effects taken away to Orthanc; but by then Gollum had the ring). However, there's no suggestion he's planning (or even pretending) to cooperate with Sauron instead of trying to usurp the evil empire.
    • There's no actual hint in the movie that he's turned evil yet rather than just being a disagreeable dick, but they played up the disagreeable dick so much that it sure looks like standard Hollywood "evil guy necessarily acts like an asshole to make it obvious to the audience that he's evil", but I'm really not sure if that was the intent or not.
    • For what it's worth in the interviews on the extras Christopher Lee seemed to believe he was still basically on the side of the good guys at this point, though already heading down a bad road.

    Sauron gone 
  • Saruman claims in the film that Sauron is gone for good. Weren't the Istari specifically sent in the Third Age to combat Sauron? So, why didn't Gandalf just subtly point out during their council that, if they really were as safe as Saruman was claiming, they would have received word that it was time to depart for home by now?
    • This is, a little simplied, what Saruman was saying in the books. It's wishful thinking in their part, and they all would want to be right. Though notably Saruman's declaration contains a caveat that he was actively speaking against in the books: that if the One Ring is found, Sauron will be a threat again. In the books he did his best to convince the Council that Andúin had taken the Ring all the way to the Sea, and that it lies unreachable for everybody until the lands and seas shift.
    • Ah, so he isn't saying "Sauron is dead and we're safe forever (so our job is technically done)", he's saying "Sauron couldn't possibly be growing in power and influence again without his Ring, which all evidence points to him not having yet, so the trouble you see must be unrelated to him"?
    • I believe it's closer to "Sauron can't truly revive without the One Ring, and if he had the One Ring he would already be openly displaying himself".

    Youngest Dwarf 
  • Why did they show Ori's face after the Goblin King ordered the youngest killed? We can assume that he is one of the youngest, or that he's just plain horrified, but why him in particular? Unless Fíli and Kíli's ages were changed for the movie (which doesn't seem to be the case) they would be the ones to show the strongest reaction.
    • The dwarves ages were changed around for the film. It is explicitly stated in film materials that Ori is the youngest, followed by Kíli and Fíli. Other age changes can also be assumed by physical appearance and behavior (i.e. Balin seems to be cast as 'oldest' and mentor to Thorin, who's actually the oldest) and appearance in flashback scenes (Thorin and Balin were youths/children during Smaug's attack; some other dwarves appear in Azanulbizar despite having been too young).
      • Indeed, and all of this is in service to something the books tend to be a bit wanting on... characterization. Having Thorin be an adult during Smaug's assault means he's losing a way of life that he's known for years rather than being a dimly-held childhood memory. (It also helps with the idea of the assault on Moria being relatively soon after and Thorin being an adult to take part.) Balin being older than him allows him to have that mentor role so that Thorin can have a surrogate father figure who's showing concern for him personally, as family, rather than merely respect as their king.

    Eagle drop-off 
  • Why did the Eagles leave the party at the top of a tall, difficult-to-get-down-from rock formation?
    • Because they are eagles and think like eagles. If you rescue a dog in the street and want to protect him, you would take him home, even when your home is not what the street dog is used to. Same for the eagles: they rescued the dwarfs, and took them home for the moment. Then Gandalf will be more precise on where do they want to go.
    • Because the eagles want to give the dwarves and Bilbo and Gandalf protection from the bloodthirsty, revenge-seeking goblins and wargs on the ground below while they fetch dinner.
    • It's not difficult to climb down, the Carrock has steps going down and they are even visible in the film.
    • Better yet, why didn't the Eagles take them to the Lonely Mountain? It seemed that at most it would be a two hour flight for them.
    • The books give a few reasons: The Hobbit tells that the Eagles fear woodsmen and other people who would shoot them down to defend their sheep, while The Lord of the Rings gives an even more pragmatic reason, that for all their size and strength, the Eagles are still flesh and blood, and carrying large burdens like people is a serious strain, and they physically can't carry them for more than a few miles without exhausting themselves.
    • Did you miss the part about the Dragon that lives in the Lonely Mountain? The eagles have an ample. fire-breathing reason to avoid the place like the plague.
    • Plus, the eagles aren't necessarily at liberty to travel that far from the mountain range where they live. They probably have nestlings to care for and territories to defend.
    • The company was on the eastern side of the Misty Mountains when the eagles picked them up. Assuming Peter Jackson is still going to have them meet Beorn, the eagles dropped them off prior to the western edge of Mirkwood. The distance from there to Erebor is about twice the distance the eagles had already carried them, which had already taken them several hours judging by the passage of the sun in the sky.

    Bombur in Goblin Town 
  • During the escape from the Goblin Kingdom, Bombur (the overweight dwarf) falls down and lands several levels below the rest of the party. How does he catch up with the rest of the party? The other dwarves are running the whole time, so it doesn't seem like Bombur would have the time get back to the upper level and join them, but later on he's with the group again, with no explanation.
    • He didn't run up to join them—they were steadily going down the whole time. They caught up to him.

    Bilbo and Goblin Town 
  • When Bilbo, while invisible, sees the rest of the team running by, he just stands there and watches them with anguish. Why doesn't he just run towards them? Sure, Gollum was in the way, but how much of an obstacle could he've been? Later Bilbo just vaults over him, so why not do it earlier?
    • Because he's internally torn. The last time he saw them, they had a falling-out and he decided to leave them and return home. He didn't really have any reason to journey with them outside of a simple "because because" and Thorin kept on telling him he doesn't fit. Sure, he could have just vaulted over Gollum and joined them, but ... should he? That he didn't know then and that was why he hesitated.
    • Plus he just barely makes it when he jumps. It's doubtful he was sure of his ability there.

    Thranduil and Erebor 
  • Why did Thranduil personally lead an army of Elves in full battle array to Erebor, stay long enough to catch Thorin's attention, and then deliberately abandon the Dwarves? He already knew that Smaug was in the Lonely Mountain, and that Smaug was too powerful for his Elves to deal with (otherwise, why lead his army away?). Why come to the battle at all and why allow his army to be seen? It's almost like Thranduil rode out on his elk to say, "Hey, just wanted to make sure you know that we're intentionally not coming to your aid! Hope this doesn't foster any lifelong estrangement between our peoples! Alright, bye!"
    • Most likely they had heard or received messengers of Smaug attacking Erebor and they went to go to their aid but by the time they got there it was a lost cause as it shows on his face that he's loathing what he's about to do. Perhaps there was an alliance or treaty of friendship between the Mirkwood and Erebor before but when they got to it and saw the destruction he knows that it was hopeless and if they engaged Smaug they would most likely die as well and two kingdoms would've been destroyed in the span of a day.
    • He might have been tracking Smaug, hoping he had not yet conquered the mountain where Elves and the Dwarves could engage the dragon in the open, where the Sylvan archers would have an easier time fighting the Dragon. After seeing Smaug had already made his way inside Erebor and torn the dwarf defender asunder, he stopped, considered, then turned back, deciding the battle was not winnable.
    • Or the elves didn't know which dragon (there are others) had attacked Dale and Erebor, and were hoping to face a less formidable foe. When Thranduil realized it was freakin' Smaug, he realized his army didn't have a prayer of doing anything except getting roasted if they confronted the creature.
    • My question is why they just flatly turned and retreated. There was a lot they could have done short of engaging Smaug directly: helping to evacuate the wounded and non-combatants for one. But they just leave.
    • According to the book, Thorin and some friends were outside when Smaug attacked. The only survivors from Erebor itself were a few dwarves who escaped through a secret side door that nobody but the king knew about. Smaug attacked the main entrance and killed every dwarf that tried to escape. There simply weren't any wounded and non-combatants to rescue. Cue Fridge Horror.
    • Or, less charitably, he was there in case Smaug decided he wasn't finished with Erebor and was going to keep rampaging on towards Mirkwood and points beyond. When Smaug seemed content to settle down in the Lonely Mountain, he thought "Not my problem, then" and left. Any of the explanations is as likely as the next, without a statement from the film to make it clear.
    • The scene is so ambiguous that it could be assumed that Thranduil might've been planning to invade Erebor and backed off when he saw the dragon. He did marshall an army and make the trip to Erebor pretty quickly...
    • Or to explain the ambiguity: Bilbo presents the scene the way that Thorin told it to him. Thorin is an Unreliable Narrator, and saw whatever help the Elves offered to Men and possibly Dwarves as an insult, when the actual source of problems was curling up happily on a hoard of gold.
      • This one doesn't make sense. If Thorin was being an unreliable narrator and covering for his own pride in not accepting offered help, he wouldn't have described himself as shouting pleas for help to the elves.
    • Another partial reason could be that when he saw Erebor Burning, he had flashbacks to when the dwarves sacked and burned Menegroth. The fact that Thranduil actually lived in Menegroth when it was razed has probably made him a bit bitter towards the dwarves, so when they rode up and found Smaug burning Erebor, he may have just decided the dwarves were geting thier just deserts. He certainly does seem to be the kind to hold a grudge.

    Dwarf King's greed 
  • Why did the film try to push the dwarf king's greed as if that was the cause of Smaug's attack? Even if he was a bit obsessed, he was still a king of a prosperous nation that was literally sitting on a gold mine. Their treasury would still contain mounds of gold no matter what the king's attitude was. Did Smaug just spawn in when they hit a gold cap?
    • I got the impression that Thrór's greed had somehow attracted Smaug, as if he could sense it or something. Alternatively, there's a line in Fellowship about how 'The Dwarves delved too deep and too greedily'; maybe the same thing applies here. Had they not been so greedy, Smaug might have gone somewhere else.
    • It may have been that Thrór's strange behaviour attracted attention until word of the vast fortune reached Smaug. It could also have been that one of the the dwarf rings of power which was part of the treasure caused it (it did make dwarves more greedy) and had a lasting effect on Thrór, Smaug and later Thorin. Although the book implies that it was Smaug that left the "Dragon sickness" on the gold and Thrór was never struck with it as he had it before Smaug.
    • Smaug sensed or heard of a large pile of gold in one place and wanted to have it. It's not much more complicated than that. If Thrór hadn't been so greedy, he wouldn't have gathered all the gold they dug up to a single hoard. He would have invested it and used it for trade with other nations and if the gold was spread out more far that way, Smaug wouldn't have bothered with it, or would at least have been forced to pick out of several smaller targets, instead of one big one.
    • My instict is it occurred that way for the same reason as Thranduil showing up with an army - the practicalities of adaptation. In this case it's foreshadowing the film's reason for Thorin's fall from grace, which it appears by the stressing of 'dragon-sickness' as an actual 'mental' condition which Thrór and his bloodline are prone to. It has less to do with Smaug (who as you rightly point out would attack such a prosperous kingdom as Erebor regardless of it's King's attitudes) than it does about illuminating a weakness In the Blood of a main character. Personally I felt the portrayal of Thrór was rather flanderized, making him seem more of a doddery riches-obsessed fool than a wise king who refounded a kingdom and ruled in such a way as to instigate a golden age of prosperity, but it's not a film about Thrór so his purpose is to illustrate points that impact on the wider story and key characters.
    • Another possibility is, of course, the rings made by Sauron. Seven were given to the dwarves, remember? Thror, and then Thrain, had the ring bestowed to Durin's line by Sauron. Dwarves are naturally immune to the more negative effects of the rings, so all the seven could do was increase the greed of the dwarves and eventually bring their ruin by dragons. Four of the seven rings were actually lost to dragon fire and the Durin ring was the last retrieved of the seven when Thrain went 'missing'. With this theory though there does come the hiccup of explaining away Thorin's own episode of gold greed. My guess is long-time influence of the ring on his forefathers and dragon's curse on the gold.
  • Watching this film for the first time in a long time, it occurred to me that the wealth of the dwarves was described visually by showing people of various races trading, eating, wearing fine clothing etc. until the appearance of the Arkenstone, at which point the Dwarf King was shown standing in and enjoying a big pile of gold for the first time. I figured that, before the Arkenstone, the wealth that flowed from Erebor, well, flowed... the riches were spread out into the economy, which is really the best way for riches to make people wealthy. The Arkenstone seems to have been the key in the movie, causing him to start actually hoarding gold for the first time, leading to a, well, hoard that Smaug would be interested in.
  • It may also be that Thror's greed caused him to accumulate far more gold and treasure at once than would be normal for any kingdom. Smaug is described as able to smell it... normally, digging up gold and crafting treasures would be so that they could sell them and trade them, thus spreading them around. Thror is clearly loathe to part with anything, he's letting all those crafts and treasures and gold just pile up in Erebor instead of engaging in commerce with it, and it consolidated so much gold in one place that Smaug was drawn by the smell of giant piles of gold and jewels.

    Radagast and the Misty Mountains 
  • How does Radagast get past the Misty Mountains on his bunny sled? He comes all the way from Mirkwood to the other side and is talking about the events of Dol Guldur as if they happened five minutes ago. It kind of takes away from the whole "epic journey" part of The Hobbit if a side character can just flit through most of the journey in a few minutes.
    • Why do you imagine that it happened five minutes ago? It's clearly a flashback that can have taken place anywhere from several days to several weeks ago. Gandalf even implies later in his speech with the White Council that it's been awhile since the Necromancer's manifestation, if the people of the forest have had time to change the name of the place, already. Also, the Misty Mountains aren't impassable. Radagast could have taken the southern route and gone through the Gap of Rohan, guarded by the fortress of his faithful colleague, Saruman the White. Since Dol Guldur lies in the southern Mirkwood it wouldn't have been nearly as great a detour for Radagast as it would be for Gandalf and the Company.
    • Or Radagast could have traveled through the Pass of Caradhras like the Fellowship tried in LOTR before they got snowed out and went to Moria.
    • The Pass of Caradhras is a last-resort path in by itself, extremely dangerous and occasionally haunted by a malevolent Genius Loci. There are many passes going over the Misty Mountains in the north, but the Gap of Rohan would make most sense for Radagast, considering his method of transport; that sled would be a serious hindrance on narrow mountain paths and rabbits need to eat.
    • Time of year matters in mountains. Gandalf is worried about the Pass in LOTR because it's January (even though the Pass would normally stay clear year round, he's worried about freak weather), and they're carrying the biggest evil magnet in the world. In the Hobbit, it's summer: avalanche season and the spring melt/floods should be well over, so the mountains are as safe as they'll get. Of course, anything with "Stair" in its name is still going to be a problem for a sled.
    • He probably passed through the High Pass, the place nearest to Rivendell. It's a long distance, but not as longest as having to reach Rohan. He only would have to go north, cross the Anduin near the Carrock and easily take the pass for enter Rhudaur. This pass was Thorin and co. initial option to cross the mountains.

  • In the book version, Gandalf keeps the trolls arguing about how to cook the dwarves for what was presumably several hours. Bilbo tries to do this in the film, but only manages to buy a couple extra minutes. This turns out to be enough as the sun rises and the trolls turn to stone. But Fridge Logic dictates that, for this to have worked, sunrise must have already been very close. Even if Bilbo and Gandalf hadn't done anything, the trolls still would have been killed halfway through their meal. Stupid though they might have been, they've presumably managed to avoid the sun all of their lives and should have known it was time to take shelter.
    • And also, they discover the ponies are gone when Bilbo goes to take supper to Kili and Fili, which is presumably not long after they made camp, when it wasn't even dark. Time Skip?
    • They DID have a cave very nearby; they may have been intending to cook them quickly and then finish their supper inside before going to bed for the day.
    • It's also considerably easier to just write "The trolls were kept arguing for hours" than it is to show it in a movie in a non-tiresome fashion. Just take the medium into account and assume there's some time compression going on.
    • The trolls themselves note they should hurry less they want to be turned to stone mid-meal. It's what gives Frodo the idea to stall for time.
    • You mean Bilbo, right?
  • You're overlooking that in the movie, Gandalf splits a boulder that was obstructing the sun letting it shine freely onto the trolls. So rather than stalling the trolls for hours for the sun to hit them on it's own, they're stalled for minutes, long enough for Gandalf to come in and shine the sun himself.
    • Indeed. Likely they camped there specifically 'cos that rock would shield them in the event that the sun came up before they noticed; they could huddle up against it for the day and avoid the direct light hitting them.
  • Why are Tom, Bert, and William able to speak when none of the other trolls have the same ability? Furthermore, if the Olog-Hai were only created towards the end of the War of the Ring, then how are the trolls able to be in the sunlight during the Battle of the Five Armies?
    • Tom, Bert and William are leftovers from when Tolkien initially conceived of The Hobbit as a children's fairy tale, and only rewrote it later to fit in with The Lord of the Rings. They don't fit into the larger legendarium of Middle-Earth because they're not really meant to, plot or character-wise.
      • Alternatively, other trolls can talk, but just have nothing to say, as we never see any of them in situations where they'd feel particularly conversational. In fact, they're mostly seen in battles. Also, Tom, Bert and William are explicitly mountain trolls, not cave trolls like the one(s) we see in The Fellowship of the Ring. It's possible different kinds of trolls have differing levels of intelligence and/or speech abilities. In other words, there's lots of reasons why those trolls would speak and others would just growl, yell and roar.
    • Look at the trolls across all six movies; they come in a number of different shapes and sizes. Since trolls come in various different breeds anyway it's not that big of a stretch to assume they also have varying intelligence and reaction to sunlight.

    Fellowship prologue discrepancies 
  • In the prologue in the Fellowship of the Ring film, the Ring is seen bouncing off a cliff in its abandonment of Gollum, Bilbo picks the Ring up, and then Gollum is shrieking about losing his precious. In The Hobbit film, the Ring falls out of Gollum's pocket, Bilbo finds it a few seconds later, and Gollum doesn't figure out that the Ring is lost/taken by Bilbo until Bilbo's "what I have got in my pocket?" question during the riddle game. Are we supposed to see the inconsistencies as Retcons, or is the prologue meant to be a representation of the events and the events in the film are what "really" happened?
    • Clearly a representation. After all, Bilbo is no longer being played by Ian Holm in it either, and Gollum looks different.
    • The prologue was narrated by Galadriel, who probably never saw Bilbo until he was old, and also didn't entirely know the circumstances, so that was the way she pictured it in her head.

    Frodo and Gandalf 
  • At the start of the film, Frodo tells Bilbo that he hopes to see Gandalf there, to which Bilbo says that he's pretty sure. Next, Frodo says that he's going to the Eastfarthing Woods to surprise Gandalf. Now at the start of The Fellowship of the Ring, Bilbo asks for Frodo to answer the door and exclaims "Where is that boy?!" and appears genuinely surprised to see Gandalf appear at his front door ("You didn't think I'd miss your uncle Bilbo's birthday?"). As cute as the references were, they directly contradict the Fellowship scenes. The only explanation I can think of is that Bilbo is just plain forgetful, which is pretty much what happens when he's surprised that that day was his birthday ("Is it today?!").
    • Does Gandalf shows up at Bilbo's house each year? He is an Istari, one of the wizards watching for the safety of all Middle-Earth, always wandering from here to there. He won't always have some free time to make smoke tricks at the hobbit's parties. So, if he shows up after who knows how many years, it must surely be an unexpected surprise.
    • Also if you notice, Bilbo is heavily distracted in that scene... his mind is on his old adventures and structuring them for writing down. Frodo is clearly annoying him with his presence at that point, so he probably wasn't paying much more attention to what he was saying other than to get the boy out of his hair.
    • Also this scene, which is in the Theatrical Cut of An Unexpected Journey, doesn't contradict the Theatrical Cut of Fellowship of the Ring. The first scene of the Theatrical Cut of FOTR (after the Prologue) is the scene of Frodo sitting under the tree reading his book and waiting for Gandalf. When we got Bilbo's introduction later, he didn't mention anything about Frodo or knowing that Gandalf was coming. He just yells at the door for the person to go away. So if you match up the Theatrical Cuts of both films, the scenes actually fit and flow perfectly together. (And there are people out there who do prefer the Theatrical Cuts over the Extended ones). For all we know, (at the moment at least) things could be changed a bit with this scene in the Extended Cut of AUJ and be made to match up a bit more with the Extended Cut of FOTR.

    Troll taste 
  • If everything the Trolls eat taste like chicken expect the chicken which tastes like fish, how do they know what chicken tastes like? For that matter, if the fish tastes like chicken, how do they know that chicken tastes like fish?
    • They meant that the chicken Bert cooked tasted like fish, so maybe they ate chicken that someone else had cooked.
    • Alternative explanation: the trolls are morons and have no idea what they're talking about.
    • It's bickering between a group of friends. They're not actually making a scholarly analysis of their taste buds here.

    Stone giants 
  • So what was the deal with the rock monsters? They show up randomly, smash each other, and disappear from the plot forever.
    • It's a scene extrapolated from a few lines in the book. While travelling through the Misty Mountains at night, Thorin & co. spot several stone-giants hurling boulders at each other, and decide to hole up in a cave to avoid them.
    • In the context of the story, the Stone Giants are most likely one of the many Genius Loci that haunt various isolated regions of Middle-Earth, like Old Man Willow in the Old Forest or Caradhras elsewhere in the Misty Mountains.
    • I always thought of the Old Man Willow as just a particularly twisted tree, like the ones Treebeard and company tend, but the theory fits. The giants clearly exist (I have never understood why so many people keep thinking they are a personalization of a storm, as even Gandalf mentions he will look for a giant to help him obstruct the goblin caves) but don't seem to be "alive" in a classic sense like trolls. They grow from the mountains and fuse with the mountains, so they must be some kind of spirit. In fact, I though of them as part of the "Nermir and the Tavari, Nandini and Orossi" or the "great host who are the sprites of trees and woods, of dale and forest and mountain-side". Yep, they are in the legendarium.

    Troll bags 
  • So when the trolls truss up the dwarves to eat... did they just happen to have 14 dwarf/hobbit-sized bags with them, or what?
    • Maybe they were used for carrying seasonings?
    • In the book it was stated that they had a lot of sacks for carrying plunder. Presumably, the explanation is the same for the movie.
    • There was a lot of treasure just dumped on the floor of their cave.

    Female Dwarves 
  • The film gives us our first look at female dwarves. Why don't any of them have beards as stated in The Two Towers?
    • They do, actually. Remarkably feminine beardstyles, too.
    • Yup, take a closer look. They have sort of fine tufts of it along their jaws for the most part, but they definitely have beards. Any female dwarves without them can be assumed to be some combination of young or the rare dwarf that shaves, like several of the members of Thorin's company.

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