Template:The Fellowship of the Ring/Plot summary

PrologueEdit

The prologue explains that the work is "largely concerned with hobbits", telling of their origins in a migration from the east, their habits such as smoking "pipe-weed", and of how their homeland the Shire is organised. It explains how the narrative follows on from The Hobbit, in which the hobbit Bilbo Baggins finds the One Ring, which had been in the possession of Gollum.

Book I: The Ring Sets OutEdit

Gandalf proves that Frodo's Ring is the One Ring by throwing it into Frodo's fireplace, revealing the hidden text of the Rhyme of the Rings.

Bilbo celebrates his eleventy-first birthday and leaves the Shire suddenly, leaving the Ring to Frodo Baggins, his cousin[a] and heir. Neither hobbit is aware of the Ring's origin, but the wizard Gandalf suspects it is a Ring of Power. Seventeen years later, Gandalf tells Frodo that he has confirmed that the Ring is the one lost by the Dark Lord Sauron long ago and counsels him to take it away from the Shire. Gandalf leaves, promising to return by Frodo's birthday and accompany him on his journey, but fails to do so.

Frodo sets out on foot, offering a cover story of moving to Crickhollow, accompanied by his gardener Sam Gamgee, and his cousin Pippin Took. They are pursued by mysterious Black Riders, but meet a passing group of Elves led by Gildor Inglorion, whose chants to Elbereth ward off the Riders. The hobbits spend the night with them, then take an evasive short cut the next day, and arrive at the farm of Farmer Maggot, who takes them to Bucklebury Ferry, where they meet their friend Merry Brandybuck. When they reach the house at Crickhollow, Merry and Pippin reveal they know about the Ring and insist on travelling with Frodo and Sam.

They decide to try to shake off the Black Riders by cutting through the Old Forest. Merry and Pippin are trapped by Old Man Willow, an ancient tree who controls much of the forest, but are rescued by Tom Bombadil. Leaving the refuge of Tom's house, they get lost in a fog and are caught by a barrow-wight in a barrow on the downs, but Frodo, awakening from the barrow-wight's spell, calls Tom Bombadil, who frees them, and equips them with ancient swords from the barrow-wight's hoard.

The hobbits reach the village of Bree, where they encounter a Ranger named Strider. The innkeeper gives Frodo a letter from Gandalf written three months before which identifies Strider as a friend. Strider leads the hobbits through the wilderness toward the Elven sanctuary of Rivendell. On the hill of Weathertop, they are again attacked by five of the nine Black Riders, whom Strider identifies as the Nazgûl, men of ancient times enslaved by lesser Rings of Power to serve Sauron. The Lord of the Nazgûl wounds Frodo with a cursed blade. After fighting off the Nazgûl, Strider treats Frodo with the herb athelas, and leads the hobbits towards Rivendell, but Frodo falls more and more deathly ill. The Nazgûl nearly capture Frodo at the Ford of Bruinen, but Strider and the Elf-lord Glorfindel drive the Nazgûl into the water, where flood waters summoned by Elrond, master of Rivendell, rise up and overwhelm them.

Book II: The Ring Goes SouthEdit

Frodo recovers in Rivendell under Elrond's care. The Council of Elrond discusses the history of Sauron and the Ring. Strider is revealed to be Aragorn, the heir of Isildur. Isildur had cut the One Ring from Sauron's hand in the battle ending the Second Age, but refused to destroy it, claiming it for himself. The Ring had been lost when Isildur was killed, finally ending up in Bilbo's possession, after his meeting with Gollum, described in The Hobbit. Gandalf reports that the chief wizard, Saruman, has betrayed them and is now working to become a power in his own right. Gandalf was captured by Saruman, but escaped, explaining why he had failed to return to meet Frodo as he had promised.

The Council decides that the Ring must be destroyed, but that can only be done by sending it to the fire of Mount Doom in Mordor, where it was forged. Frodo takes this task upon himself. Elrond, with the advice of Gandalf, chooses companions for him. The Fellowship of the Ring consists of nine walkers to oppose the nine Black Riders: Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Gandalf, Gimli the Dwarf, Legolas the Elf, and Boromir, son of Denethor, the Steward of Gondor.

After a failed attempt to cross the Misty Mountains over the Redhorn Pass, the Fellowship take the perilous path through the Mines of Moria. They learn that Balin, one of the Dwarves who accompanied Bilbo in The Hobbit, and his colony of Dwarves were killed by Orcs. After surviving an attack, they are pursued by Orcs and a Balrog, an ancient fire demon from a prior Age, created by Sauron's old master, Morgoth. Gandalf confronts the Balrog, and both of them fall into the shadow. The others escape and find refuge in the timeless Elven forest of Lothlórien, where they are counselled by the Lady Galadriel. Before they leave, Galadriel tests their loyalty, and gives them individual, magical gifts to help them on their quest. (Gimli asked for a piece of hair.) She allows Frodo and Sam to look into her fountain, the Mirror of Galadriel, to see visions of the past, the present, and perhaps the future, and she refuses to take the Ring Frodo offers her, knowing that it would master her.

Galadriel's husband Celeborn gives the Fellowship boats, elven cloaks, and waybread (Lembas), and they travel down the River Anduin to the hill of Amon Hen. There, Boromir tries to take the Ring from Frodo, but immediately regrets it after Frodo puts on the Ring and disappears. Frodo chooses to go alone to Mordor, but Sam, guessing what he intends, intercepts him as he tries to take a boat across the river, and goes with him.

  1. ^ Although Frodo refers to Bilbo as his "uncle", the character is introduced in "A Long-expected Party" as one of Bilbo's younger cousins. The two were in fact first and second cousins, once removed either way (his paternal great-great-uncle's son's son and his maternal great-aunt's son).