(Click the infographic to download.)
Anárion was Isildur's brother, Elendil's son, and also a Númenorean King: he ruled over Arnor in the North. He was killed in battle against Sauron as part of the Last Alliance. He left behind a son, Meneldil, but his line of Kings of Númenor dwindled and disappeared. The Kingdom of Arnor has long been lost, unlike its twin kingdom to the South, Gondor. Elrond describes the former capital of Arnor, Fornost: "Men call it Deadmen's Dike, and they fear to tread there. For the folk of Arnor dwindled, and their foes devoured them, and their lordship passed, leaving only green mounds in the grassy hills" (2.2.40). The last king to rule at Fornost was Eärnur, a thousand years before the events of The Fellowship of the Ring (see The Return of the King Appendix B: "The Tale of Years").
Father of Beren, killed by the Great Enemy at Angand in the North.
Beren son of Barahir was a mortal man, and beloved of Elf-maid Lúthien Tinúviel. His father was killed in a battle against the Great Enemy (of whom Sauron is a servant), and Beren was driven across the Mountains of Terror to the secret Kingdom of Thingol in the forest of Neldoreth. There, he saw the Elf-maid Lúthien Tinúviel, whose loveliness was like "the stars above the mists of the Northern lands" (1.11.131). He fell in love with her immediately. The two fought side by side against the Enemy, and Tinúviel rescued Beren from Sauron's dungeons when he was captured. At last, Beren was killed by the Wolf that came from the gates of Angband (the Great Enemy's fortress). He died in Tinúviel's arms.
Glóin informs Frodo that there are no men as friendly with the Dwarves as the men of Dale, near the Lonely Mountain. When Bilbo left Dale almost eighty years before (in The Hobbit), the lord of Dale was Bard the Bowman, the man who fired the fatal arrow that brought down the dragon Smaug. Now, his grandson Brand (son of Bain son of Bard) is king of Dale, and "his realm now reaches far south and east of Esgaroth" (2.1.98). The Bardings, like the Beornings, are good people.
Like Dáin, King Brand has received messengers from Sauron attempting to track down Bilbo and his Ring. At the Council of Elrond, Glóin admits that he knows that King Brand is afraid, and even though he is a decent man, the Dwarves worry that he will yield to the persuasion of Sauron. After all, "already, war is gathering on his eastern borders" (2.2.24).
Círdan the Shipwright
A member of Gil-galad's host of Beleriand, who fought alongside Gil-galad and Elrond on the slopes of Orodruin at the end of the first war against Sauron in the Second Age. Círdan and Elrond both counseled Isildur, King of Gondor, to destroy the Ring that he cut from Sauron's hand, but Isildur refused. At the start of The Fellowship of the Ring, we know that Círdan lives at the Grey Havens, the last sailing point in the West for Elves seeking their timeless home across the Sea. Círdan sends a representative, Galdor, to Elrond's Council in Rivendell.
Denethor is the Steward of Gondor and current lord of that kingdom. He is the father of Boromir and Faramir. We don't get much sense of what he is like in The Fellowship of the Ring; all we know is that he doesn't want to let Boromir go to seek out Rivendell, and that he doesn't welcome Gandalf with open arms to Minas Tirith (remember when Gandalf goes to comb through Isildur's manuscripts looking for information about the Ring?). So Denethor does not think much of Gandalf – could that be a plot point we spot? More on this in the The Return of the King.
Elendil is a man of the line of Númenor, who leads his troops against Sauron during Sauron's first rise, in cooperation with the Elven-King Gil-galad. Elrond tells his Council that "none could withstand" (2.2.34) the might of Narsil, the Sword of Elendil. Elendil died in this final battle (the Battle of Dagorlad) on the slopes of Orodruin (Mount Doom), with the pieces of Narsil broken under him.
Elendil is Aragorn's remote ancestor and High King of the realms of Arnor (in the north) and Gondor (in the south); his two sons, Isildur and Anárion, ruled the twin kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor, respectively. Aragorn tells the Hobbits that legend has it that Elendil watched for the arrival of Gil-galad from the top of the watchtower Amon Sûl, the ruins of which still stand on Weathertop.
Eärendil is the ancestor of the Kings of Númenor (and thus, the two kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor). This means that Eärendil was a forebear of Elendil, Isildur, and even Aragorn. Eärendil married the granddaughter of Lúthien Tinúviel, Elwing the White, which means that Tinúviel's blood runs in both the Men of Westernesse and in Elrond of Rivendell. Elrond is Eärendil's son, while the Kings of Westernesse trace their line of descent from Eärendil to Elros, Elrond's brother, and to the Kings of Númenor. Again, what's with all the genealogy? We need a family tree!
After the feast celebrating the safe arrival of the Ring to Rivendell, Bilbo chants a song of Eärendil. He was a mariner who outfitted his men "[i]n panoply of ancient kings" (2.1.141) and sailed on his silver ship to the Night of Naught, where there was complete darkness. Elwing the White came to him there, and gave him the crown with the Silmaril ("the living light" [2.1.141]) that guided his way through the darkness.
With the power of the Silmaril leading his way, Eärendil passed through the Evernight to the land of Valinor, where lay Elvenhome ("the green and fair/ where keen the air, where pale as glass [...] the lamplit towers of Tirion/ are mirrored on the Shadowmere" [2.1.141]). In Elvenhome, Eärendil learned brave deeds and songs and tales of old. The Elves built a boat for him, lit with the Silmaril as a lantern light and bearing a banner of Elbereth, Queen of the Stars. He sailed back from the World's End and returned to Middle-earth. But he also had to bear a mighty curse: he could never rest on any shore, but had to keep sailing, bearing the light of the Silmaril as the Flammifer of Westernesse. In other words – it seems that Eärendil had become the Evening Star.
When Bilbo sings his song to Aragorn, Aragorn insists that Bilbo include "a green stone" (2.1.152). Bilbo has no idea why, but he does stick in a line about an emerald on Eärendil's breastplate. This odd detail shows us two things. First, Aragorn obviously has some personal investment in the story of Eärendil, that he would insist on such a minor detail. And second, could "the green stone" be a reference to one of his own Elvish names, Elessar – the Elfstone of the House of Elendil? After all, we learn in Book 1, Chapter Chapter 12 that an Elf-stone is a pale green jewel. We cannot say, but it is an odd detail. Aragorn scolds Bilbo for singing a song of Eärendil in Elrond's own house, and we can see why it appears a bit disrespectful: after all, Eärendil is Elrond's father.
Faramir is Boromir's brother. He dreams about Isildur's Bane and Imladris many times, but it is Boromir who insists on going north to seek out Rivendell. We don't see anything more of Faramir in this book, but don't worry – he certainly comes back in The Two Towers and The Return of the King.
Grimbeorn the Old
Grimbeorn is the son of Beorn, the mighty goblin-hating warrior from The Hobbit who can shift his shape into a bear. Glóin tells Frodo that Grimbeorn is a lord of men, and that he and his men, the Beornings, keep the Ford of Carrock and the High Pass through the Misty Mountains open and free of Orc and wolf mischief. The Beornings, "like Beorn of old [...] are not over fond of Dwarves" (2.1.98), but they are trustworthy and willing to endure high death rates in their battles against the Orcs.
Isildur is the son of Elendil and King of Gondor, the southern stronghold of men on the border of Mordor. At the end of Sauron's first rise to power, at the Battle of Dagorlad, using the hilt and broken blade of his father's famous sword Narsil, Isildur cut the Ring from Sauron's hand and kept it.
As Isildur marched north along the River Anduin, he and his men fell into battle with Orcs. Almost all of his men died. To escape, Isildur slipped on the ring and turned invisible. He jumped into the Anduin to swim away, but the ring suddenly slipped off his finger. When he became visible, the Orcs killed him. Thus, the Ring is known in Gondor as Isildur's Bane. In a scroll Isildur wrote before his death, he describes the Great Ring fresh off Sauron's finger as hot enough to burn his hand. In the heat, the Ring shines with fiery letters in Elvenscript. With this clue, Gandalf is able to identify Frodo's ring as the Ring.
Son of Anárion and grandson of Elendil; his line has faded and fallen. Boromir mentions that, before marching to war in Mordor, Isildur spent some time in Minas Anor to train his nephew Meneldil in the rule of the South Kingdom, Gondor.
Isildur's squire, who saw him fall in the Gladden Fields after the battle with Sauron. It is Ohtar who brought the broken shards of Elendil's sword Narsil to Isildur's son and heir, Valandil.
Son of Isildur and grandson of Elendil; the first bearer of Narsil after it was broken. Valandil was a child when his father was murdered; he was living in Rivendell when he received the shards of Narsil. After the war, with the death of Isildur and the slaughter of his men at Gladden Fields, their city of Annúminas beside Lake Evendim fell into ruin. Valandil's heirs moved to Fornost on the high North Downs, in Arnor, but even Arnor has now been destroyed.