Beorn is a fictional character created by J. R. R. Tolkien. He appears in The Hobbit as a shape-shifter (or, in the actual text, a "skin-changer"), a man who could assume the appearance of a great black bear.
He lived with his animal retinue (horses, dogs, and ponies among others) in a wooden house between the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood, to the east of the Anduin.
Beorn was of immense size and strength for a man, and retained his size and strength in bear-form. He had black hair (in either form) and a thick black beard and broad shoulders (in human form).
Beorn often left his home, for hours or days at a time, for purposes not completely known. It is possible he could have left to drive out or eliminate enemies and other threats from the surrounding lands, or to find edible vegetation from further away. Beorn could be nocturnal as well, as he seemed to leave at night in bear-form. Beorn named the Carrock and created the steps that led from its base to the flat top.
His origins lay in the distant past, and Gandalf suspected he and his people had originally come from the mountains. Gandalf speculated that Beorn belonged to an entire race of men who used to dwell in the mountains, all of whom possessed the ability the shapeshift into animals. However, when the Orcs infiltrated the Misty Mountains they gradually killed off all of the skin-changers through sheer weight of numbers, until only Beorn remained alive and ultimately had to flee the mountains and across to the eastern side of the Anduin river. Gandalf believes this theory about Beorn is correct, because one night from a distance he saw Beorn in his bear-form sitting on the Carrock, watching the Moon as it set behind the Misty Mountains to the west, and heard Beorn angrily growling in the language of the bears: "The day will come when they will perish and I shall go back!" Beorn built a new homestead for himself in an oak wood east of the Anduin River and west of Mirkwood, though he never attempted to cross to the west of the Anduin again because there were too many Orcs. Embittered against the goblins and the last survivor of his race, Beorn did not trust outsiders, did not answer many questions about himself, and was quick to anger, although Gandalf insisted that he was kind enough if humoured.
In The Hobbit, Beorn received Gandalf, Bilbo Baggins, and the 13 Dwarves and aided them in their quest to reclaim the Dwarves' kingdom beneath Erebor, the Lonely Mountain. He was convinced of their trustworthiness after confirming their tale of encountering the Goblins of the Misty Mountains, and Gandalf's slaying of their leader, the Great Goblin.
Later, hearing of a vast host of Goblins on the move, Beorn arrived at the Lonely Mountain in time to strike the decisive blow in the Battle of Five Armies, in his bear form, slaying the new Goblin leader, Bolg, and his bodyguards; without direction, the Goblin army scattered and were easy pickings for the other armies of Men, Elves, Dwarves, and Eagles.
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