The Master of Lake-town or "The Master" was the original leader of Lake-town when Bilbo Baggins and his companions arrived. He is described as being greedy, but not undeserving of his position in terms of intelligence and charisma. He was an acquaintance of Bard the Bowman, and the captain of the town archers, allowing him to remain in Lake-town while the Lake-men recovered from their ordeal with Smaug.
His actual name is unknown.
The Master of Lake-town ruled from 2920 to 2941 of the Third Age, drawing to a close at the time of the Battle of Five Armies. The Master's rule in Lake-town was rather amicable, and therefore under his dominion the Men of the Long Lake traded peaceably with the Elves of Mirkwood, creating a steady trade that was kept until 2941, when Thorin and his friends came to wrest dominion of the Lonely Mountain and its riches from Smaug, who had arrived 120 years before the Master's rule, in the year TA 2770.
When the Dwarves arrived, the Master of Lake-town greeted them generously, but only to keep public spirits up. After the destruction of Lake-town and the slaying of the dragon by Bard, the townspeople denounced the Master as a coward and called for Bard's ascension as King. The Master, who was an adroit politician, shifted blame for Lake-town's destruction to Thorin and the Dwarves, who had roused the dragon in the first place. This succeeded in turning the townspeople's ire towards the Dwarves. Bard took the lead in rebuilding the remains of the town and gathering supplies for the coming winter, but was careful to act in the Master's name, so as not to usurp the latter's authority.
After the Battle of Five Armies, Bard became King of Dale, but gave a generous portion of his share of the Lonely Mountain's treasure (received from Dáin II Ironfoot) to the Master, for the re-building of Lake-town. Unfortunately, the Master succumbed to greed and fled Lake-town with most of the gold, and later died of starvation in the wastes, after being deserted by his companions. A new more honest Master was then elected.
Portrayal in adaptations
The Hobbit film trilogy
In Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Hobbit, the Master is played by English actor Stephen Fry. In the films, he takes on a more directly antagonistic role, presented as a greedy and corrupt public official, whose primary concern rests with retaining his own power and position. He shows little interest in Lake-town’s destitute state, instead turning his attention to the acquisition of tolls and taxes.
In TA 2941, when the growing civil unrest that concerned his leadership, and threatened for an election, the Master used a network of informants throughout the city to spy on Bard, as he was jealous of the bargeman and was suspicious that he was responsible for the growing threat to his authority.
When Thorin and Company are arrested for stealing weapons from the Lake-town armory, the Master is quick to label them as enemies of the state. However, the revelation of Thorin’s royal linage and his promise of a share in the riches of the Lonely Mountain, persuades the Master to welcome the Dwarves, seeing the situation as a chance not only to restore his ailing popularity, but also as a way of increasing his own wealth. Providing the Dwarves with weapons and equipment the Master bids them farewell, trusting to their gratitude upon the successful completion of their quest.
Later, as Bard attempts to reach the windlance ballista atop the Lake-town Town Hall, guards sent by the Master arrest him under fabricated charges. Bard manages to escape, only to be knocked unconscious by the Master himself, who subsequently has him incarcerated. His every whim is attended to by his personal assistant and councilor Alfrid Lickspittle, who performs tasks that the Master deems beneath himself, such as emptying his chamber pot.
After Bard is arrested under fabricated charges, the dragon Smaug attacks Lake-town. The Master tries to escape on a boat with all of the town's gold as an act of cowardice, along with Alfrid, the captain of the guards Braga, and a few guards. But when Smaug is killed by the Black Arrow shot by Bard, the Master, his boat, and everyone on it (except Alfrid, who was abandoned shortly before that) are crushed to death under the weight of the dragon's dead body.
Taking great pride in his power and position, the Master cared only for his own prosperity and gain. His pompous attire manifests as an outward expression of his greed, displaying his wealth for all to see. Harboring a powerful sense of his own self-importance, the Master dresses his guards in regalia every bit as pretentious as his own. Despite his democratically held position, the Master suppressed all challenges to his authority.
In line with the book, the Master is shown to have a good head for business, a talent expressed in the films through the toll gates he has constructed, and the taxes he has levied. He also displays a keen political mind befitting someone of his position, recognizing the arrival of the Dwarves as a way of bolstering his own failing popularity.
- John Bryning voiced the character in the 1968 BBC Radio radio adaptation of The Hobbit.
- Heinz Theo Branding voiced the character in the 1980 German radio serial adaptation of The Hobbit.
The Master is given a number of names in adaptations or spin-off material, which is not canonical.
In the play adaptation of The Hobbit by Edward Mast, the Master is named "Maxwell".
In The Lord of the Rings Online, he is given the name "Othur".
- The Master’s affliction with the medical condition Gout as seen in the films is likely a reference to the condition’s historic name – “rich man’s disease”, a reference to the Master’s own financial position.
- In the Rankin/Bass adaptation of The Hobbit, the Master does not appear, and Bard runs the town instead.
Voice Dubbing actors
|Foreign Language||Voice dubbing artist|
|Portuguese (Brazil) (Television/DVD)||Alfredo Martins|
|Spanish (Latin America)||Alejandro Mayén|
|Spanish (Spain)||Jordi Royo|
|Italian (Italy)||Massimo Lopez|
|French (France)||Michel Papineschi|
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Afrikaans||Meester van Meerdorp|
|Albanian||Mjeshtër i Liqenit-qytet|
|Arabic||ماجستير في بحيرة بلدة|
|Azerbaijani||Göl şəhər Usta|
|Belarusian Cyrillic||Майстар-Лэйк горада|
|Bengali||লেক শহরের মাস্টার|
|Bulgarian Cyrillic||Майстор на Езерния град|
|Catalan||Mestre de la Ciutat del Llac|
|Cebuano||Agalon sa Lanaw-lungsod|
|Chichewa||Mbuye wa nyanja mzinda|
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||長湖鎮鎮長|
|Danish||Mestre af Søen-by|
|Dutch||Meester van Meerstad (Master of Lake-town)
Meester van Esgaroth (Master of Esgaroth)
|Esperanto||Mastro de Lago-urbeto|
|French||Le Bourgmestre de LacVille|
|Frisian||Master fan Mar-stêd|
|Galician||Mestre da Cidade do Lago|
|Georgian||ოსტატი ტბის ქალაქი|
|German||Bürgermeister von Seestadt (Master of Lake-town)
Meister von Esgaroth (Master of Esgaroth)
|Greek||Άρχοντας της πόλης-Λίμνης|
|Gujarati||તળાવ નગર માસ્ટર ઓફ|
|Haitian Creole||Mèt nan Lak-vil|
|Hebrew||ריבונו של עיר האגם|
|Hindi||झील-टाउन के मास्टर|
|Hmong||Tswv ntawm lub pas dej-lub zos|
|Icelandic||Skipstjóri af Stöðuvatn-bærinn|
|Irish Gaelic||Máistir Loch-bhaile|
|Italian||Governatore di Pontelagolungo (Master of Lake-town)
Governatore di Esgaroth (Master of Esgaroth)
|Kannada||ಮಾಸ್ಟರ್ ಲೇಕ್ ಪಟ್ಟಣದ|
|Kazakh||Көл-қала шебері (Cyrillic) Köl-qala şeberi (Latin)|
|Korean||호수 마을의 주인|
|Kyrgyz Cyrillic||Лейк-шаардын кожоюну|
|Luxembourgish||Meeschtesch vum Séi-Stad|
|Macedonian Cyrillic||Господар на езерото град|
|Maori||Te Kaiwhakaako o Roto-pa|
|Marathi||लेक नगर मास्टर|
|Mongolian Cyrillic||Нуур-хотын мастер|
|Norwegian||Mester av Langsjøby|
|Pashto||د جهيل د ښار د ماستر|
|Persian||استاد دریاچه شهر|
|Polish||Rządca Jezioro-miasto (Master of Lake-town)
Rządca Esgaroth (Master of Esgaroth)
|Portuguese (Brazil)||Senhor da Cidade do Lago (book)|
Mestre da Cidade do Lago (films)
|Punjabi||ਝੀਲ-ਕਸਬੇ ਦੇ ਮਾਲਕ ਦੇ|
|Romanian||Maestru de Lac oraș|
|Samoan||Matai o Leki-taulaga|
|Scottish Gaelic||Mhaighstir de Loch-bhaile|
|Serbian||Мастер Језерград (Cyrillic) Gospodar od Jezer-grad (Latin)|
|Sindhi||ڍنڍ-ڳوٺ جي ماسٽر|
|Somalian||Sayidkiisa oo Badda-magaalada|
|Spanish (Spain and Latin America)||Gobernador de Ciudad del lago (Master of Lake-town)
Gobernador de Esgaroth (Master of Esgaroth)
|Sundanese||Ngawasaan ti Danau-kota|
|Swedish||Mästare på Sjöstaden|
|Tajik Cyrillic||Магистри Лейк-шаҳр|
|Telugu||లేక్ పట్టణం మాస్టర్|
|Turkish||Göl kasabası Efendisi|
|Ukrainian Cyrillic||Майстер-Лейк міста|
|Urdu||جھیل ٹاؤن کا مالک|
|Uzbek||Кўл-шаҳар устаси (Cyrillic) Ko'l-shahar ustasi (Latin)|
|Vietnamese||Thạc sĩ thị trấn Hồ|
|Welsh||Meistr o Llyn-dref|
|Yiddish||האר פון לייק-שטאָט|
|Master of Lake-town|
|Bard I • Bain • Brand • Bard II|