Smaug the Golden


Time period

Smaug the Golden was the most cunning and infamous of the Grey Mountain Dragons, considered the last great Fire-Drake. Content with amassing what wealth he could, he gave no indication of other malevolent intents, though some of the Wise feared him being attracted by the returned Shadow.

A notably arrogant individual, Smaug knew only sloth and greed to be his true masters. He was slow to anger but exceptionally pitiless, spiteful, wrathful, and vain. Although red, his scales had a golden undertone which reflected light like metal. In the sunlight or bright moonlight, Smaug appeared to be gold in color; thus his name. He was 90 feet long and had a wingspan of 150 feet, which was unusually large for a Fire-drake of the Third Age.

Smaug's Tale

Smaug was most likely born (or rather hatched) about TA 2570, a few historians speculating that he was a child of Ruingurth, and thus a descendant of the dreaded Ancalagon the Black. Smaug originally resided in the Barl Syrnac, but he moved to Anvilmount in the Grey Mountains, northwest of the Withered Heath, when he discovered that Dwarves had uncovered mineral wealth in region. There he found a vast delving which had once been (ca. First Age) an Adan holy place. In keeping with his nature, Smaug defiled the tombs and took the modest treasure for his hoard. He was upset with the lack of wealth and decimated much of the surrounding countryside in a fit of rage.

The tales of the wealth maintained by Dwarves of Erebor (S. "Lonely Mountain") in their mountain halls soon reached Smaug's sharp ears. In T.A. 2770, the gold-lusting Dragon decided that the great treasure should be his by right. He flew southward across the Withered Heath and over the grasslands of northern Rhovanion. When he came to Erebor, he surprised his prey, and those that were caught within the mount were slaughtered. The rest of the Dwarves, who were led by King Thrór, fled eastward to the Iron Hills. Circling the isolated mountain, the pitiless Drake then swept down on Dale and burned the town that stood near the base of the peak. Only a few of the Northman residents survived. They escaped southward to Esgaroth (Lake-town) on the Long Lake. Around this time, Sauron took an interest in Smaug, but refrained from sending emissaries to him, to evade the ceaseless watch of the Wise, not until he was ready to leave his fortress Dol Guldur.

Smaug ruled under the Mount for two centuries, occasionally stirring to destroy the surrounding countryside. He extended his wasteland domain, known as the Desolation of Smaug, as far as the Long Lake and the Long Marshes. The Dragon gathered his treasure — which included the entire wealth of Thrór's people — into an immense pile, upon which he rested. By this time, the return of Sauron came to the notice of Smaug. Unlike others Dragons of the Grey Mountains, he chose not to be ignorant of the Dark Lord's growing power, rather he patiently awaited his return, certain that serving Sauron would at the same time sate his covetous nature.

Gandalf the Grey came to suspect that Sauron would command Smaug against Lothlorien and Rivendell as part of his war in the North. Certain of the damage the Dragon would do, he convinced Thorin Oakenshield to act and reclaim his homeland of Erebor. In T.A. 2941, the prince brought his company of Dwarves (and a Hobbit and the Wizard) out of the West to challenge the great Drake. Thorin's compatriot, Bilbo Baggins, disturbed the seemingly sleeping Dragon, who played a game of cat and mouse with the halfling, trying to discern his intentions, plant the seeds of distrust towards Thorin, and give subtle hints to his wish to see Sauron's dominion. In the process of his ploy, the proud beast revealed his birthspot, the one flaw in his seemingly impregnable armor. His arrogance and his indifference proved to be his undoing. When he subsequently arose to kill Thorin's Dwarves and destroy the town of Esgaroth that had harbored and helped them, one of the townsmen was ready to exploit Smaug's secret. As he flew vengefully over the Long Lake and began burning the settlement. Bard the Bowman (the rightful heir to the throne of the then-ruined town of Dale) shot and killed the boasting Dragon. Thus, Bard avenged the destruction of Dale, ending the reign of the mightiest Dragon in the North and ridding Sauron of the potential of a powerful servant.


The ICE Canon made Smaug a child of Ancalagon and one of the few Dragons that actually survived the War of Wrath. This seems unlikely as when Smaug invaded Erebor in 2770 he was still considered a relatively young drake. As Glaurung needed about 200 years to grow to full strength after his first appearance it seems unlikely that Smaug was actually much more than four hundred years old. Also Tolkien stated that only two dragons (seemingly one Cold Drake and one Fire Drake) had survived the War of Wrath and became the ancestors of all later Dragons. More likely Smaug and his brother Throkmaw were grand- or even great-grandchildren of Ancalagon.


  • MERP: Creatures of Middle-earth
  • MERP: The Grey Mountains
  • MERP: Middle-earth Adventure Guidebook II
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