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The Fellowship of the Ring
by J.R.R. Tolkien
Gandalf the Grey Timeline and Summary
Gandalf arrives at the Shire to help Bilbo finish off his lavish birthday party. When Bilbo prepares to leave the Shire without giving the Ring to Frodo, Gandalf strongly encourages Bilbo to let the Ring go. Once Gandalf sees how strangely Bilbo is behaving around the Ring, he starts to suspect that something is off. Gandalf travels to Gondor to find out what he can about the Ring. He finds a manuscript from the hand of Isildur himself, in which Isildur describes the fiery letters that appear on the band of the One Ring if it is heated. Gandalf rushes back to the Shire to find Frodo and test the Ring. The Ring does show the fiery letters. Gandalf recognizes the Ring and warns Frodo never to use it. Gandalf tells Frodo he must leave the Shire, and that he should bring a companion: Sam, Frodo's gardener. As Frodo is making preparations to take off, Gandalf rides to Isengard to consult with the leader of the Council of the Wise, Saruman the White. This turns out to be a bad idea: Saruman has betrayed the Council and Gandalf, and has gone over to Sauron's side. Saruman is certain that Gandalf knows something about where the One Ring is. Saruman imprisons Gandalf at the top of his tower, Orthanc, to force him to confess. If Gandalf does not speak to Saruman, he will have to talk to Sauron himself, Saruman warns. But Gandalf gets rescued by Gwaihir the Windlord, the eagle. Gwaihir takes Gandalf to Rohan, where Gandalf takes Shadowfax, the horse, and rides as quickly as possible to the Shire. He wants to see if he can catch up with Frodo. At Bree, Gandalf finds out that Butterbur the innkeeper did not send the letter Gandalf had left for Frodo, telling Frodo to hurry up and leave the Shire. Butterbur informs Gandalf that the Hobbits have fallen in with Strider. Gandalf is delighted to hear it. Gandalf travels to Rivendell, where he arrives only a day before Frodo himself does. At the Council of Elrond, Gandalf recounts everything he knows about Saruman's betrayal and the history of the Ring. He advises that they must destroy it. Gandalf leads the Fellowship to the mountain of Caradhras. But when the weather proves too dire to cross the mountain, Gandalf takes the Fellowship down into the Mines of Moria. There, Gandalf battles the Balrog of Morgoth, a demon of the Elder Days. Gandalf throws the Balrog off the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, but the Balrog's whip snakes up as the Balrog falls. The whip catches Gandalf and brings him down into the pit with the Balrog. Gandalf is gone.