J. R. R. Tolkien (John Ronald Reuel) was the writer, poet, philologist, and academic, who is best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. He wrote The Hobbit and the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings in the 1940s, but only writing on his spare time working as a Merton Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford, it took him a decade to complete The Lord of the Rings in 1948.

The first two books in the trilogy were published in 1954 ( The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers) with last one (The Return of the King) in 1956. Tolkien’s 1937 fantasy novel The Hobbit was released in 1937 but developed into a much larger work with the trilogy that followed.

Tolkien created a whole other self-contained universe with history and setting that is on as large a scale as our own, with the addition of mystical and magical elements which are not plot elements but a part of a whole. The extent to which Tolkien developed his universe remains awesome; everything from at least 5 different languages, the histories of the different races through four ages, their cultures, songs, legends, and lives.

You cannot but be awestruck at the extent to which Tolkien developed his universe. Everything from at least 5 different languages, the histories of the different races through four ages, their cultures, songs, legends, and lives. The Lord of the Rings truly is one of the great works of fantasy literature, which in turn spawned one of the great works of modern cinema.

The Balrog

Balrogs, also known as the Valaraukar, were Maiar that were seduced and corrupted by Melkor into his service. According to the works of Tolkien, Balrogs and dragons both originated in the First Age as servants of Morgoth, the first and greatest Dark Lord. Of the Maiar spirits, Morgoth seduced to his service, “Dreadful … were the Valaraukar, the scourges of fire that in Middle-earth were called the Balrogs, demons of terror.”

As Legolas later says of the Balrog in Moria, Balrogs are “of all elf-banes the most deadly, save the One who sits in the Dark Tower.” And indeed, in The Silmarillion, the Balrogs rank above all Morgoth’s servants, aside from Sauron himself.

The Balrogs were fiery Maiar that were persuaded by Melkor’s might and splendor to join his cause. Their first dwelling was in Utumno, but after their master’s defeat during the War for Sake of the Elves, the Balrogs and other creatures in Melkor’s service escaped and went to Angband.

“Balrogs generally took the form of tall, menacing beings roughly in the shape of a Man, though seeming to consist or be surrounded by shadow. They used both a flaming sword, and a many thronged whip; and, were constantly burning, with all their weapons having appeared to be made of lava. Gothmog, the Lord of Balrogs in the First Age, used a black axe as well. Balrogs induced great terror in friend and foe alike; many who faced Balrogs referred to them as monsters consisting purely of shadow and flame.”

Lord of the Rings Fandom Wiki

In TA 1980 of the Third Age, a Balrog awoke in Moria when the Dwarves had mined too deep for Mithril. It drove the Dwarves out of their home and slew King Durin VI, and the Balrog was thereafter called “Durin’s Bane”. During the War of the Ring, the Fellowship of the Ring passed through Moria and encountered Durin’s Bane, which pursued them to the Bridge of Khazad-dûm.

The Mines of Moria and Gandalf’s battle with the Balrog

This is one of the greatest scenes in the 2001 epic fantasy adventure film directed by Peter Jackson and based on the first volume of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The fantastic backdrop of the Mines themselves, an eerie, desolate subterranean world, the dramatic confrontation, the tense build-up as the fiery demon marches through immense caverns and cathedrals seeking its prey.

“A Balrog — a demon of the ancient world.”

“This foe is beyond any of you… Run!”

– Gandalf

As Gandalf hurries them onward before finally turning to confront the unstoppable, intimidating and immensly powerful Balrog, himself, in one of cinema’s most epic standoffs. Gandalf’s descent into the smoldering underworld recalls Christ’s sacrificial death and descent into Hell.

“I am the servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor…”

“The dark fire will not avail you! Flame of Udûn!

“Go back to the Shadow!”

“You — shall not — pass!”

– Gandalf