Study Guide

The Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring Summary

(For background on Hobbits and their habits, check out our learning guide of The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings prequel.) Bilbo Baggins, hero of The Hobbit, is feeling restless and irritable. At his own birthday party, he arranges an elaborate practical joke with the magic ring he picked up on his travels, which can make him invisible. In the middle of his scheme, Bilbo slips away, preparing to leave the Shire for good. He leaves his home and his Ring to his heir, Frodo Baggins, before taking off into the night.

After many years, Gandalf arrives in the Shire with urgent news for Frodo. This pretty golden Ring? It's actually the One Ring of the Dark Lord Sauron, which contains a portion of Sauron's power. The Ring will corrupt anyone who wears it. Look at Gollum, the owner of the Ring before Bilbo found it: he is now a twisted, desperate little creature. The Ring is inherently evil: all it wants is to make its way back to its Master, and so it will betray anyone who carries it. Gandalf tells Frodo he has to get out of the Shire ASAP because forces from Sauron will be coming to look for it.

(Click the infographic to download.)

Gandalf leaves the Shire, and Frodo waits and waits to hear from him. Finally, when Gandalf does not appear, Frodo sets out as planned with his trusty gardener Sam and his cousins, Merry and Pippin. Frodo & Co. plan to head to Rivendell, the dwelling place of the Elves in the North; but as they set out in the direction of the town of Bree, they hear rumors of some rather terrifying Black Riders who are asking with great interest after Mr. Frodo Baggins. Frodo wants to stay out of sight, so he leads his three companions into the Old Forest, as a shortcut to Bree. But Frodo's shortcut is a disaster: only with the help of a man named Tom Bombadil do they survive their run-ins with an evil willow tree and some scary Barrow-downs.

At Bree, the four Hobbits hang out at the inn, The Prancing Pony. After an accidental (and frankly, quite stupid) disappearing act by Frodo, they meet Strider (also known as Aragorn). He is a friend of Gandalf and says he'll help the Hobbits. Strider and the four Hobbits head to Rivendell, but the Black Riders track them down. Turns out that these Riders are Ringwraiths, nine great kings of men who have been corrupted by the power of Sauron. Frodo puts on the Ring in a moment of weakness and is stabbed by the leader of the Black Riders; his wound has the power to make Frodo into a wraith himself, so his companions must get him help (and quickly!). After a speedy trip to Rivendell, dodging Black Riders and relying on an Elf-lord, Glorfindel, for assistance, an unconscious Frodo and company make it to Rivendell.

When Frodo wakes up in Rivendell (thanks to Elrond, the lord of Rivendell, who has saved Frodo's life with his healing power) he is overjoyed to see that Gandalf and Bilbo are both there. Now that Frodo (and the Ring) have arrived in Rivendell, it is time for all of the wise people gathered there to have a Council to decide what to do with the thing. The people at the Council speak of many things: the history of the One Ring, its danger to all mortals, and the necessity of its destruction. To destroy the Ring, some unlucky person has to go to Mount Doom, in the land of Mordor, to throw it back into the lava that Sauron used to make the Ring in the first place. If the Ring is destroyed, Sauron's power in Middle-earth will be broken forever. Frodo finally volunteers. Sam, of course, insists on going with him.

Elrond sets up a Fellowship of nine to accompany the Ring in secrecy: Frodo (of course), Sam, Gandalf, Aragorn, Boromir (at least as far as the road to Minas Tirith, when he will go back to his home country), Legolas (an Elf), Gimli (a Dwarf), and Frodo's cousins, Merry and Pippin.

The Fellowship sets out from Rivendell, traveling across the treacherous passes of the mountain Caradhras and almost freezing to death. New plan: they will go through the ancient Dwarf diggings in the Mines of Moria. Things don't go so well there: they encounter the Balrog of Morgoth, an ancient evil from the Elder Days of Middle-earth. Gandalf sends the Balrog falling into a pit, but the Balrog catches Gandalf as it goes down. So the Fellowship has now lost its leader and adviser. Aragorn takes a leadership role, but he's not too confident about it.

After a stopover in Lothlórien, where Frodo sees the Eye of Sauron in a magic mirror, they head down the River Anduin. But now what? Boromir really, really wants to go to Gondor. (And actually, he's been acting weird lately, Frodo notices.) Frodo must go to Mordor. But where will the rest of the Fellowship go? As Frodo considers this alone, Boromir is suddenly overwhelmed by the temptation to take the Ring for himself, so that he can protect Gondor and defeat Sauron. Frodo runs away from him, and Boromir repents of his actions and tries to call Frodo back. But it's too late, now: Frodo knows that the Ring will possess and destroy each of his companions as they travel. He must go into Mordor alone with his burden if he is going to have any chance of success.

Frodo starts stealthily preparing to leave his friends behind. Meanwhile, the only one who figures out where Frodo is going is Sam; he plunges into the river after Frodo and insists that Frodo needs at least one companion to go to Mordor with him: Sam himself. Frodo agrees gladly. So Frodo and Sam cross the River Anduin and start looking for a path through the rocky lands of Emyn Muil to get to Mordor.

  • Prologue 1

    Concerning Hobbits

    • Warning: the prologues to this masterpiece are a little, well, dry. Don't be scared away. Keep reading – we promise you'll be happy you did.
    • The Lord of Rings cycle is largely about Hobbits.
    • The narrator points us to The Hobbit (which is supposed to be part of the "Red Book of Westmarch," written by famous Hobbit Bilbo Baggins) for more information.
    • (Really, The Hobbit is J.R.R. Tolkien's 1937 precursor to The Lord of the Rings. Check out our Shmoop learning guide for more on this delightful prequel.)
    • The narrator continues: Hobbits are small people who "love peace and quiet and good tilled earth" (prologue.1.3). Don't we all?
    • They are skillful with their fingers, like bright colors, and enjoy living in peace. They also have really hairy feet with thick, leathery soles, so they don't have to wear shoes. Kind of gross.

    (Click the infographic to download.)

    • By the time of the events in The Fellowship of the Ring, Hobbits have lost track of where they came from originally, as a people.
    • They're clearly closer to humankind than they are to Elves or Dwarves, though.
    • There are three kinds of Hobbits: the Harfoots, who live near the mountains and enjoy holes in the ground and the company of Dwarves; the Stoors, who like riverbanks and are "less shy of Men" (prologue.1.10); and the Fallohides, who are a bit taller than other Hobbits and hang out with Elves.
    • The Harfoots are the most common kind of Hobbit: they still live underground, and they like to settle in one place. Close to humankind, eh? We'll see about that.
    • Hobbits count time starting with the year they crossed the River Brandywine (a.k.a. Baranduin) into the Shire.
    • The Shire is a large square of land which is also the center of Hobbit life and culture in the Third Age (the age in which the events of The Lord of the Rings take place).
    • Relative to the other lands of Lord of the Rings (Gondor, Rohan, Mordor, etc.), the Shire is in the northwest, in the region of Eriador. (Check out a map to figure out where all of these places are.)
    • The Shire has been peaceful for centuries; in fact, the narrator assures us that "At no time had Hobbits of any kind been warlike, and they had never fought among themselves" (prologue.1.17). Impressive.
    • Underneath the Shire are a ton of Hobbit holes (called smials), many of which house huge Hobbit families (like the Tooks or the Brandybucks). Pretty cool digs.
  • Prologue 2

    Concerning Pipe-weed

    • According to Meriadoc Brandybuck (a.k.a. Merry), Hobbits are the ones who invented smoking.
    • They smoke a "variety probably of Nicotiana" (Nicotiana being the Latin name of the plant family to which tobacco belongs).
    • The best home-grown pipe-weed comes from Southfarthing, and the best-known varieties are Longbottom Leaf, Old Toby, and Southern Star.
    • Merry concludes that pipe-weed must have originally come from Gondor in the South, but "Hobbits first put it into pipes. Not even the Wizards first thought of that before we did" (prologue.2.4). That's more information than we ever needed to know about Hobbit pipe-weed.

    (Click the infographic to download.)

  • Prologue 3

    Of the Ordering of the Shire

    • Some more 4-1-1 on the Shire: it is divided into four parts (North, South, West, and East), with later additions of Buckland and the Westmarch.
    • There has been no king in the Shire for over a thousand years, although they do have a leader, the Thain. In general, the Thain of the Shire has come from the prominent Took family.
    • Supposedly, the Thain runs the Shire militia, but it's mainly a ceremonial title at this point, since it's been so long since the Shire needed armed protection. That's good news.
    • As of this age, the only real official in the Shire is the Mayor of Michel Delving (or of the Shire), who is elected every seven years.
    • The closest thing the Shire has to a police force are its Shirriffs. (Not to be confused with sheriffs.)
    • They also employ a number of Bounders to keep an eye on the boundaries of the Shire and make sure that no weird Outsiders are trying to get in. Outsiders... spooky.
    • By the time the The Fellowship of the Ring starts, the number of Bounders has been increasing. No one has figured out what this rising need for patrolling the boundaries might mean (not even the Shire's one adventurer, Bilbo Baggins).
    • It's been sixty years since Bilbo came back from his quest. (Again, see our learning guide on The Hobbit for more.) He's still rich, and he has still kept his magic ring a secret.
    • In the meantime, he has also grown close to a favorite nephew of his, Frodo (Baggins).
  • Prologue 4

    Of the Finding of the Ring

    • Here, the narrator rapidly summarizes the events of The Hobbit. We'll leave you to check out our Shmoop guide on the subject if you want to know more.
    • The point of repeating all of this is to show how Bilbo Baggins came across a powerful magic ring while racing through a goblin tunnel under the Misty Mountains sixty years before.
    • He found it by chance in the dark and then played a riddle game with its former master, a weird, slimy creature named Gollum, to decide who would keep it. Bilbo won, clearly.
    • Bilbo has always told his friends that Gollum promised to give the ring to Bilbo as "a present" (prologue.4.8) if he won the riddle game; then Gollum changed his tune, Bilbo claims.
    • But Gandalf the Wizard, a great friend of Bilbo's, has gotten Bilbo to admit that Bilbo actually found the ring and just took it.
    • Why did Bilbo bother to lie? We shall find out!
  • Prologue 5

    Note on the Shire Records

    • The Shire has a lot of written records kept by the different great Hobbit families.
    • In particular, the records that deal with the particular adventures in this book begin with the Red Book of Westmarch, a four-volume set bound in leather and written by Bilbo Baggins; Bilbo then gave these books to Frodo.
    • To these four volumes, other Hobbit members of the Fellowship have added commentaries and genealogies. (Not the most thrilling stuff.)
    • These volumes were copied for the descendants of Samwise Gamgee. The most important copy of the Red Book was done by a scribe in Gondor; it became known as the "Thain's Book."
    • It is an exact copy of the book Peregrin Took – a.k.a. Pippin – brought with him to Gondor when he retired during the Fourth Age.
    • This book contains "much that was later omitted or lost. In Minas Tirith [the capital city of Gondor] it received much annotation, and many corrections, especially of names, words, and quotations in the Elvish languages; and there was added to it an abbreviated version of those parts of The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen which lie outside the account of the War" (prologue.4.4). Translation: it's pretty comprehensive.
    • Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took (remember them, they'll be back) each became heads of their great families.
    • Thus, they maintained huge libraries connecting the Hobbits to the lands of Rohan and Gondor.
    • Meriadoc has tried to keep records of the Elder Days, the first days of the Elves in Middle-earth.
    • But when Celeborn, the consort of Galadrial, passed to the Gray Havens, there with him "went the last living memory of the Elder Days in Middle-earth" (prologue.4.6).
  • Book 1, Chapter 1

    The Long-Expected Party

    • (The title of this chapter, "The Long-Expected Party," refers back to the first chapter of The Hobbit, "The Unexpected Party.")
    • Bilbo Baggins, a not-so-respectable but very rich Hobbit living in the Shire, has been settled in his house at Bag End for quite a while.
    • Sixty years before, Bilbo went on an adventure and came back with a great deal of gold. (For details, see our Shmoop learning guide on The Hobbit.)
    • Ever since then, his fellow Hobbits have thought him "very rich and very peculiar" (1.1.2).
    • Bilbo is also unusually well-preserved (translation: he looks good for an old dude.) Even though he is now over a hundred years old, he has looked mostly unchanged since his fifties.
    • The local people comment wisely, "It will have to be paid for [...] It isn't natural, and trouble will come of it!" (1.1.3)
    • When Bilbo is ninety-nine years old, he adopts his favorite younger relative, Frodo, to be his heir. Frodo comes to live with Bilbo at Bag End.
    • Twelve years later (yeah, we know), Bilbo and Frodo are planning a combined birthday party. They both have the same birthday: September 22. (First day of fall!)
    • Bilbo is turning "eleventy-one" (1.1.6) – one hundred and eleven – and Frodo is turning thirty-three, the year of a Hobbit's coming-of-age. There's going to be a huge party, and the whole Shire is talking about it.
    • One of the major sources of information on this party is Ham Gamgee, the gardener at Bag End, also known as the Gaffer. (A gaffer is British slang for an old man.)
    • The Gaffer likes to hang out at a local inn and gossip about Bilbo. He's extremely loyal to Bilbo, but he's still happy to tell his friends everything he knows about Bilbo, Frodo, and Frodo's family connections.
    • Frodo's mother was a Brandybuck (a Hobbit from near the Brandywine River); her name was Primula. She married Drogo Baggins, Bilbo's second cousin.
    • Sad alert: Primula and Drogo drowned while boating on the Brandywine River during a visit to Primula's father, Gorbadoc Brandybuck.
    • Frodo lived for a while at Brandy Hall with his hundreds of extended relatives, but finally, Bilbo came along and brought him to Bag End.
    • The Gaffer thinks that this adoption was "a nasty shock for those Sackville-Bagginses. They thought they were going to get Bag End, that time when he went off and was thought dead. And then he comes back and orders them off [...] And suddenly he produces an heir and has all the papers made out proper" (1.1.18). Man, he's got a lot of opinions.
    • The Gaffer mentions that his son, Samwise Gamgee, also works at Bag End.
    • Bilbo has taught Sam how to read and has filled his head with "stories of the old days" (1.1.20).
    • The Gaffer praises Bilbo for doing things "proper at Bag End" (1.1.24).
    • Bilbo is generous with his money, and the whole Shire has been invited to his birthday party.
    • In the second week of September, an old man arrives with a large cart; it's Gandalf the Wizard, with a cargo of special fireworks.
    • He asks Bilbo if he "mean[s] to go on with [his] plan then?" (1.1.33).
    • Bilbo agrees; after all, he needs a holiday. (What this plan is, we still don't know.)
    • Carts keep rolling up to Bag End for the rest of September, loaded up with party supplies.
    • Finally, the day comes and the whole Shire is at a fever pitch of excitement. Party time!
    • It's Hobbit tradition to give presents at your own birthday party (kind of like party favors), and the presents at Bilbo's party are unusually nice.
    • Everyone eats a lot, enjoys the fireworks, and generally has a grand old time.
    • After the feast, Bilbo stands up for a speech.
    • He addresses the crowd: "My dear Bagginses and Boffins [...] and my dear Tooks and Brandybucks, and Grubbs, and Chubbs, and Burrowses, and Hornblowers, and Bolgers, Bracegirdles, Goodbodies, Brockhouses and Proudfoots" (1.1.55). (Just to give you an idea of the hilarious names you'll encounter...)
    • They all cheer and clap, but then Bilbo starts to lose them. He says, "I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve" (1.1.60).
    • The Hobbits are having some trouble working out what this means, but it doesn't sound complimentary. What do you think?
    • Bilbo thanks them all for coming and then announces: "this is the END. I am going. I am leaving NOW. GOOD-BYE!" (1.1.64). And Bilbo disappears into thin air with a flash of light.
    • The guests are all stunned and rather upset.
    • Bilbo sneaks off, using his magic ring of invisibility. He then arrives at Bag End and starts preparing for his departure.
    • Gandalf turns up to see Bilbo off.
    • Bilbo tells Gandalf he doesn't intend to come back to the Shire. He's feeling old – "all thin, sort of stretched" (1.1.78).
    • Gandalf reminds Bilbo that he also promised to leave Frodo the magic ring. Bilbo agrees, but he has a lot of trouble actually letting the thing go.
    • Bilbo tells Gandalf the Ring is his own: "My own. My precious. Yes, my precious" (1.1.94).
    • Gandalf looks worried at these words and reminds Bilbo of Gollum, the Ring's previous owner.
    • Bilbo finally agrees: "it goes to Frodo with all the rest" (1.1.109).
    • And with that, Bilbo sets out on his journey.
    • Frodo comes in soon after and asks Gandalf if Bilbo has gone. Gandalf confirms that he has, and gives the Ring to Frodo in an envelope.
    • He warns Frodo not to use it and to keep it a secret. (This is putting it lightly, don't you think?)
    • Just like that, Frodo becomes the master of Bag End.
    • He spends most of the next day trying to keep busybodies and snoops off the property.
    • The Sackville-Baggins family (Lobelia and Otho) are particularly insistent on inspecting Bag End; they would have inherited Bilbo's home and possessions if he hadn't adopted Frodo, so they hate Frodo's guts and do their best to insult him.
    • Otho Sackville-Baggins storms off after shouting that they've waited sixty years to inherit Bag End. Sounds kind of bratty to us.
    • Lobelia stays around the place for a bit; Frodo actually has to shoo her out after removing "several small (but rather valuable) articles that had somehow fallen inside her umbrella" (1.1.153). Sneaky girl.
    • Later on, Gandalf arrives to ask Frodo what he knows about the Ring.
    • Frodo knows the true story of how Bilbo came upon the Ring by chance, but like Gandalf, he doesn't understand why Bilbo would lie and say the Ring was a present from Gollum.
    • Gandalf cautions: "I have merely begun to wonder about the Ring, especially since last night. No need to worry. But if you take my advice you will use it very seldom, or not at all [...] I say again: keep it safe, and keep it secret!" (1.1.175).
    • Gandalf wishes Frodo farewell and leaves the Shire.
  • Book 1, Chapter 2

    The Shadow of the Past

    • The Shire's gossip about Bilbo's disappearance lasts for months.
    • Most people think that Bilbo finally went crazy, ran off into the wild, and "[fell] into a pool or a river and [came] to a tragic, but hardly untimely, end" (1.2.2).
    • They all agree that it's probably Gandalf's fault, and they hope Frodo will settle down and grow some Hobbit sense.
    • Frodo lives by himself but he has lots of friends: his best friends are Peregrin Took (Pippin) and Meriadoc Brandybuck (Merry). Remember them?
    • Frodo enjoys going on long walks by himself (he's a Virgo), and Merry and Pippin suspect that he sometimes visits with the Elves.
    • Time flies, and as Frodo approaches fifty, the rest of the neighborhood notices that he (like Bilbo) doesn't seem to be aging much. Very curious.
    • As time goes on, Frodo finds increasing numbers of Dwarves using the ancient East-West Road to seek refuge in the West; they carry news of an enemy who has been building up the old strongholds to the South in the evil land of Mordor.
    • On top of all this, Orcs are also growing more and more numerous, and they are carrying new, terrible weapons.
    • Bottom line: things are starting to go sour in the world outside the Shire.
    • Nine years after Gandalf's last visit to the Shire, at The Green Dragon inn, Samwise Gamgee is arguing with Ted Sandyman: Sam thinks that Bilbo really did fight a dragon, and that the Elves "are going to the harbors, out away beyond the White Towers" (1.2.25).
    • Ted replies, "If [Bilbo and Frodo]'s where you get your news from, you'll never want for moonshine" (1.2.29). (Translation: don't believe a word they say.)
    • Gandalf reappears in the Shire quite suddenly and is welcomed by Frodo to Bag End.
    • Gandalf tells Frodo that the Ring he inherited from Bilbo "is far more powerful than [Gandalf] ever dared to think at first" (1.2.41). Yikes.
    • Here's the deal: a mortal who carries one of the Great Rings will never dies. He will start to fade, until he becomes permanently invisible to the rest of the world, but he will always be visible to "the eye of the dark power that rules the Rings" (1.2.43).
    • It doesn't matter how good or well-meaning you are: if you carry a Ring of Power, you'll eventually be possessed by it.
    • Gandalf tells Frodo that Bilbo knew nothing of the significance of his ring, but Gandalf suspected something was wrong when Bilbo said he felt "[t]hin and stretched" (1.2.48). Turns out his restlessness was a sign that the Ring was starting to get control of Bilbo.
    • Gandalf reassures Frodo that the Ring didn't do Bilbo any permanent damage. After all, Hobbits are tougher than they look!
    • But this doesn't solve the problem of what to do with the Ring now that Frodo has it, especially because the power who created the Ring has just become aware of Hobbits and the Shire.
    • Frodo doesn't understand any of this. Neither do we, really.
    • Gandalf demands that Frodo give him the ring and just like that, he throws it into Frodo's fireplace.
    • Frodo is not psyched about this, so he quickly yanks the Ring out of the fire.
    • The Ring is quite cool, but it has fiery letters along the band: "One Ring to rule them all, One ring to find them,/One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them" (1.2.74). Eek.
    • These two lines come from a poem about the Great Rings.
    • And get this: the Ring in Frodo's hand is the Master-Ring, the One Ring that contains a huge portion of the power of Sauron the Great, the Dark Lord.
    • Sauron is rising again, and he needs his Ring of Power to make his triumph complete.
    • There are actually twenty Great Rings:
    • (1) Three belong to the Elves. These rings were not made by Sauron and are not in his power.
    • (2) Seven belong to the Dwarves. Sauron has found three of these, and four have been eaten by dragons. Check and check.
    • (3) Nine of the rings were given by Sauron to selected kings of men. These nine kings "fell under the dominion of the One [Ring], and they became Ringwraiths, shadows under his great Shadow, his most terrible servants" (1.2.82).
    • (4) And of course, the last ring is the One Ring that Sauron made himself, into which "he let a great part of his own former power pass [...] so that he could rule all the others" (1.2.84).
    • Sauron lost this Ring a long time ago in a war against the Men of Westernesse and the Elves.
    • Here's how it all went down: Gil-galad, Elven-King, and Elendil of Westernesse overthrew Sauron when he rose the first time.
    • Elendil's son Isildur physically cut the Ring from Sauron's hand and put it on himself.
    • As he marched north across the Gladden Fields with his army, a party of Orcs ambushed them, and almost all of his men were killed.
    • Isildur jumped into the nearby River Anduin to try to escape, but the Ring slipped from his hand, he became visible, and just like that, he was Orc lunch.
    • Many ages later, a small group of Hobbit-like people settled on the banks of the Anduin. One of them was named Sméagol, and he had a dear friend, Déagol.
    • The two of them went fishing in the Anduin one day, and Déagol found something on the riverbed: a beautiful golden ring.
    • Sméagol insisted that it was his birthday, so Déagol should give him the Ring as a present.
    • Déagol refuses.
    • Sméagol strangles Déagol and takes the Ring. Kind of harsh, don't you think?
    • Quickly, Sméagol discovers that the Ring makes him invisible, and he uses this power to spy on his relatives and find out their secrets. He also starts thieving.
    • His relations are so disgusted by Sméagol's behavior that they finally kick him out of their hole.
    • Sméagol retreats to tunnels under the Misty Mountains and vanishes out of history.
    • If you haven't put it together yet, Sméagol is the same Gollum whom Bilbo met in The Hobbit.
    • The Ring was willing to stay with Gollum while Sauron was dormant.
    • But once Sauron started rising to power, the Ring slipped off Gollum's finger at just the right time to be picked up by the next passerby.
    • That next traveler was Bilbo Baggins, of the Shire: surely the least likely person in all of creation to find the One Ring!
    • The very unlikeliness of this chance makes Gandalf decide that the Ring coming to Frodo must be fate. Destiny. Kismet.
    • Frodo resists the whole idea that his Ring could be that Ring. No way, man. No. Way.
    • Gandalf tells Frodo that he finally managed to track down Gollum, who said that he feels mistreated by Bilbo.
    • He really, genuinely believes that the Ring was a birthday present, that it was rightfully his.
    • Gollum also says worrisome things about good friends who will help Gollum get his revenge against Bilbo.
    • Gandalf believes that Gollum has found his way into Mordor. There, Gollum told "the new Shadow in the South" (1.2.140) all about Bilbo and his home in the Shire.
    • So Sauron has learned that the One Ring has been found, and he has discovered the Hobbits.
    • Even now, Sauron is looking for the Shire to track down his treasure. Uh oh. This can't be good.
    • Frodo freaks out and wonders why Bilbo didn't kill Gollum when he had the chance.
    • Gandalf scolds Frodo for his lack of mercy: Gollum is pathetic, and it's good that Bilbo didn't murder him just because he could.
    • Frodo complains about having inherited such a dangerous Ring. We would, too.
    • He wants to destroy it. Smart guy.
    • Gandalf tells Frodo to give it his best shot, but Frodo can't even bring himself to let the Ring go.
    • Gandalf laughs bitterly: the Ring has already grown dear to Frodo.
    • But it doesn't matter anyway: nothing in the Shire will destroy the Ring.
    • To get rid of the Ring, he'll have "to find the Cracks of Doom in the Depths of the Orodruin, the Fire-mountain, and cast the Ring in there" (1.2.160). Doesn't sound too tough, right?
    • Frodo offers the Ring to Gandalf, since he is wise and will know what to do, but Gandalf tells Frodo not to tempt him.
    • Enough of this back-and-forth: they have to do something, and soon.
    • Frodo offers to leave the Shire. He doesn't want to bring the danger of Sauron down on his friends and neighbors.
    • Gandalf is impressed by Frodo's courage, and agrees that he must leave. He suggests that Frodo travel under a false name, Underhill.
    • Suddenly Gandalf stops, goes to the window, and pulls a young Hobbit up into the room.
    • It's Sam Gamgee, the gardener. Sneaky little guy has been eavesdropping.
    • Gandalf threatens to punish Sam for listening in on such a secret conversation, but then he decides, "You shall go away with Mr. Frodo!" (1.2.189).
  • Book 1, Chapter 3

    Three is Company

    • Gandalf warns Frodo that he has to leave the Shire soon. Frodo decides to leave on September 22nd, his fiftieth birthday.
    • (Bilbo was also fifty years old when he set out on his adventure sixty years before, when he first discovered the Ring.)
    • Gandalf warns Frodo that it can't be any later.
    • Frodo's first stop should be the Elf stronghold of Rivendell, and he's happy about this: "I will take Sam to visit the Elves; he will be delighted" (1.3.13).
    • The news soon passes around the Shire: Frodo Baggins has sold Bag End to the Sackville-Bagginses.
    • No one can figure out why he would leave his lovely Hobbit hole.
    • He is supposed to be moving back to Buckland (his pre-adoption-by-Bilbo home) in the autumn.
    • Frodo even has his cousin Merry buy him a house in Buckland to make this story look believable. They really thought this one out.
    • At the end of June, Gandalf leaves the Shire to get news; he says he won't be gone long, but Frodo starts to worry when Gandalf doesn't turn up as autumn arrives.
    • Frodo's friends arrive at Bag End to help him pack, and still, Gandalf doesn't return to the Shire.
    • On Frodo's birthday, he holds his usual feast for his four helpers (Folco Boffin, Fatty Bolger, Merry, and Pippin).
    • He doesn't know how to tell his cousins that he is about to leave.
    • The next day, Merry and Fatty Bolger drive a cart with Frodo's luggage to his new house.
    • Lobelia Sackville-Baggins and her son, Lotho, arrive to take the keys of Bag End.
    • Frodo, Pippin, and Sam have a last cup of tea before leaving bag End behind.
    • As Frodo is taking a last walk around his home, he hears voices: Sam's father, the Gaffer, and an odd voice asking after "Mr. Baggins" (1.3.36).
    • The Gaffer tells the owner of the odd voice that Frodo has moved away.
    • Frodo calls for Sam and Pippin and they set off at last.
    • When Frodo passes the border of Hobbiton, he turns and waves goodbye to it. He thinks fondly, "I wonder if I shall ever look down into that valley again" (1.3.52). We hope he will. We're kind of attached to him at this point.
    • Frodo, Sam, and Pippin camp out that night.
    • The next morning, as they find themselves back on the road, Frodo suddenly bursts into song: "The Road goes ever on and on/ Down from the door where it began ..." (1.3.72).
    • He doesn't remember where he has heard it before, but it seems appropriate to their present travels.
    • (As readers, we know this is the same song that Bilbo sang when he set out to Rivendell years before, after his eleventy-first birthday).
    • The sun is setting when Sam suddenly says, "I can hear a pony or a horse coming along the road behind" (1.3.77).
    • Frodo doesn't want to be seen, so he asks Sam and Pippin to get out of sight. They lie flat and wait for the rider to pass.
    • Around the corner comes a black horse, much too big for any Hobbit to ride. The rider is wearing a long cloak; they cannot see his face.
    • Frodo feels a strong desire to put on the Ring, but he remembers Gandalf's warning not to use it. He leaves the Ring in his pocket. Now that's willpower.
    • The rider passes on, and Frodo, Sam, and Pippin emerge from hiding.
    • Frodo admits that he thinks that rider was looking for him.
    • Pippin doesn't understand – what would the Big People want with a Hobbit like Frodo?
    • Sam tells Frodo what the Gaffer told him: "There's been a strange customer asking for Mr. Baggins of Bag End, and he's only just gone [...] Hissed at me, he did [...] He was tall and black-like, and he stooped over me. I reckon it was one of the Big Folk from foreign parts. He spoke funny" (1.3.91).
    • Frodo worries that the rider seems to be able to smell him somehow. He wants them to keep moving, but not on the road – it's not safe.
    • The sun sets and the three Hobbits sit down for dinner.
    • Frodo recites a little poem about adventure: "Home is behind, the world ahead,/ And there are many paths to tread/ Through shadows to the edge of night,/ Until the stars are all alight" (1.3.104).
    • The fun doesn't last long; they hear more hoofbeats and have to hide again.
    • Frodo hears the sound of snuffling and sees a black shadow.
    • He wants desperately to put on the Ring.
    • Frodo almost does it, but then he hears clear voices: Elves! Sam is thrilled: he has never seen Elves before.
    • The Elves are singing about an Elven star (and/or lady): "Gilthoniel! O Elbereth!/ Clear are thy eyes and bright thy breath" (1.3.117).
    • Frodo is amazed. These are High Elves, who rarely come to the Shire.
    • Frodo, Pippin, and Sam come out of the shadows.
    • One of the Elves greets Frodo, commenting, "You are abroad late. Or are you perhaps lost?" (1.3.120).
    • Frodo won't tell the Elves his business.
    • The head Elf, Gildor Inglorion of the House of Finrod, tells the Hobbits that they are a group of Elves wandering for a time before they follow their people across the Sea. They have kin in Rivendell.
    • Pippin interrupts, "O Wise People! [...] Tell us about the Black Riders!" (1.3.128).
    • Troubled, Gildor invites Frodo, Pippin, and Sam to walk with his company.
    • They go to Woodhall, where the Hobbits eat and drink. Sam is happy as a clam surrounded by Elves.
    • And Frodo does his best to speak to them in their own language, which impresses Gildor and his friends. Elvish isn't the easiest language on the planet.
    • After Sam and Pippin fall asleep, Frodo talks to Gildor about the Black Riders, but he refuses to tell Frodo more about what they are, since Gandalf hasn't.
    • Gildor worries that it is a bad sign that Gandalf hasn't arrived yet when he promised he would. He warns Frodo that the Shire is no longer safe, and that he must hurry to Rivendell.
    • Although Gildor is reluctant to advise Frodo, he finally says that, if Gandalf doesn't arrive, Frodo should set out at once with "such friends as are trusty and willing" (1.3.167).
    • Gildor also calls Frodo Elf-Friend: "Seldom have we had such delight in strangers, and it is fair to hear words of the Ancient Speech from the lips of other wanderers in the world" (1.3.171).
    • Frodo goes to sleep. It's been a long day.
  • Book 1, Chapter 4

    A Short Cut to Mushrooms

    • The next morning, Pippin quizzes Frodo about his discussion with Gildor, but Frodo won't reveal anything.
    • He doesn't want to get Pippin involved in this dangerous business; he doesn't even want to take Sam.
    • Frodo warns Sam again: "Most likely neither of us come back" (1.4.21).
    • Sam absolutely refuses to desert Frodo, no matter what. Also, he's thrilled that he has seen Elves at last. He remarks that they are "so old and young, and so gay and sad, as it were" (1.4.26).
    • Frodo is surprised at how much Sam has changed even in this short time.
    • Now that Sam has seen the Elves, he understands a little bit more about what's to come.
    • Sam knows the road will be long and dark, but he also knows that his fate no longer lies in the Shire.
    • So Frodo and Sam call Pippin and set out once more.
    • They decide to cut across the forest to make more directly for Bucklebury Ferry, which will bring them across the Brandywine River.
    • They see a Black Rider nosing around behind them on a high ridge, so they know they have to keep going forward as quickly as possible. Being followed is creepy.
    • Eventually, they stop for lunch.
    • They have a nice sing-a-long (!), interrupted by "a long-drawn wail" and then "another cry, fainter and further off" (1.4.54).
    • They shoulder their packs and continue on quietly, finally reaching a plowed field. Pippin recognizes the field: this farm belongs to Farmer Maggot.
    • Frodo is a little nervous: when he was a little Hobbit, Farmer Maggot chased Frodo off his land with his dogs for trying to steal the farmer's mushrooms.
    • But Pippin encourages Frodo to go to Farmer Maggot's house. As they open the gate, three giant dogs come pelting out, but the farmer calls them back.
    • He recognizes Pippin, and when Frodo introduces himself, Farmer Maggot looks at him keenly.
    • In fact, he recognizes Frodo's name because he has had a visitor: "a funny customer asking funny questions" (1.4.74).
    • Farmer Maggot invites the three Hobbits inside.
    • It turns out that he does recognize Frodo, but he also remembers the name because he just had this big fellow come and ask about Bagginses.
    • The fellow had offered Farmer Maggot gold for information about Frodo.
    • Farmer Maggot refused, and sent the Black Rider off his land. He thinks that the man was after Bilbo's treasure, that there is something in Bilbo's inheritance that is drawing the Big Folk to Hobbiton.
    • Frodo thanks Farmer Maggot for the warning but says he has to be on his way.
    • Farmer Maggot offers to drive the three Hobbits to Bucklebury Ferry in his wagon.
    • A thick fog falls over this wagon ride, and a stranger appears out of the fog and shouts, "I want Mr. Baggins. Have you seen him?" (1.4.114).
    • Luckily, it's Merry Brandybuck. Frodo, Sam, and Pippin greet him gladly.
    • Farmer Maggot sends them off with a parting gift: a basket of mushrooms to Frodo, with the farmer's wife's compliments. Cute.
  • Book 1, Chapter 5

    A Conspiracy Unmasked

    • Merry leads his pony to the Ferry and they all cross the river.
    • On the eastern side of the Brandywine River lies Brandy Hall, the ancient home of the Brandybuck family. Brandy Hall is a giant network of tunnels, and the people who live in it (the Bucklanders) practically form their own country under the authority of the Master of the Hall (the head of the Brandybuck family).
    • In some ways, the Bucklanders are quite different from the people of the old Shire: they like swimming in the Brandywine River, and they also keep their doors locked after dark, since their home is less naturally protected from the rest of the world.
    • As Merry ties up the ferry-boat, Sam points to something on the Hobbiton side of the river: it's a dark shape crawling along the bank.
    • Frodo pulls the other Hobbits away, glad that there are no boats kept on that side of the river.
    • They go to Frodo's new house in Crickhollow, somewhat far from Brandy Hall.
    • Fatty Bolger opens the door, and Frodo is impressed at how homelike it seems: Fatty and Merry have already settled much of Frodo's furniture.
    • Frodo knows he has to tell his cousins that he's not planning on staying.
    • But first things first, they all have a hot bath and some supper.
    • Over dinner, Sam and Pippin start telling Merry about the Black Riders.
    • Frodo doesn't want to say anything too definite, but he does admit that the Black Riders are looking for him, and that it's not safe for him to stay in the Shire.
    • Merry sees how miserable Frodo looks and finally tells him that they all know he's leaving the Shire: he's been totally obvious about it. Subtlety is not his strong suit.
    • In fact, ever since Bilbo left, Merry has been waiting for Frodo to follow him.
    • What's more, Merry, Pippin, and Fatty all know about the Ring.
    • Merry found out when Bilbo was still in the Shire: one day, a year before Bilbo's disappearance, he watched Bilbo disappear into thin air to avoid the Sackville-Bagginses.
    • Merry had been hiding behind a hedge, and he was looking right at Bilbo when he suddenly reappeared, catching "a glint of gold as he put something back in his trouser-pocket" (1.5.62).
    • Merry didn't say a word to anyone until he discovered that the Ring was a danger.
    • Most of Merry's information has come from none other than Sam Gamgee, who has been spying on behalf of Frodo's friends.
    • Frodo is shocked, but he has to admit that he's relieved: Gildor told him to find companions, and now here they are, all ready to volunteer.
    • Merry assures Frodo that they are ready to leave whenever he likes, so Frodo decides to set out at dawn the next day.
    • He also doesn't want to take the main road; he wants to cut across the Old Forest.
    • Fatty Bolger points out that no one goes into the Old Forest, but Merry protests: Bucklanders do, sometimes, and they have their own private entrance.
    • Fatty admits that he has no part in this decision; Fatty will stay at Crickhollow impersonating Frodo to try to keep Frodo's departure from the Shire hidden for as long as he can.
  • Book 1, Chapter 6

    The Old Forest

    • They set out in the chill, foggy early morning.
    • Frodo tells Fatty to let Gandalf know where they have gone, if he arrives at Crickhollow looking for Frodo. A guy can hope.
    • Merry leads Sam, Frodo, and Pippin to the edge of the Old Forest. They are finally leaving the Shire. (Seems like it took them a while...)
    • Merry confirms that the Old Forest is a strange place: the trees appear to watch you, and at night, dark things come out.
    • As they walk through the Forest with their ponies, the four Hobbits start to feel more and more as though they are "being watched with disapproval, deepening to dislike and even enmity" (1.6.17).
    • The trees don't seem to like the Hobbits much.
    • In fact, Merry finally confirms that the trees are shifting to hide the paths through the Forest.
    • Finally, they find a glade, which is a relief after the claustrophobic Forest.
    • Frodo tries to strike up a song, but it appears to piss off the trees even more, somehow.
    • Frodo is just about to suggest going back (if that's possible) when they stumble on a straight path leading up to a hill. The Hobbits rush up to the clearing on top of the hill.
    • Merry shows them the line of the Withywindle River; that direction is the most dangerous of all, so they won't turn that way.
    • But as they push on the path down the other side of the hill, they suddenly realize with some horror that it's leading them right towards the Withywindle valley. How did that happen?
    • They choose to leave the path and go north, but everywhere they turn, the trees "seemed deeper and darker" (1.6.36). Creepy.
    • They keep getting forced southeast, towards the Withywindle, and after an hour, the Hobbits have gotten completely lost.
    • Finally, they emerge into the sunlight: they are at the banks of the River Withywindle.
    • The weather gets hot and the flies are merciless, so Merry demands that they stop and nap.
    • Frodo shouts that they have to get out of the Forest first, but then he starts to feel tremendously sleepy. He collapses onto the grass.
    • He sees that they are at the roots of an ancient willow tree, and Merry and Pippin lie down with their backs to the tree's trunk.
    • The trunk opens large cracks and starts to swallow them. We weren't kidding about the trees not liking them.
    • Sam can hear the willow singing and starts to suspect that this sudden sleepiness isn't natural.
    • Sam finds Frodo half-soaked in the Withywindle, held down by a tree root but not struggling.
    • He wakes Frodo, and they go to look for Merry and Pippin; they find them half swallowed by the cracks in the tree's trunk. 911!
    • They try to free them by burning the tree, but Merry suddenly wakes up and shouts, "Put it out! [...] They'll squeeze me in two, if you don't. He says so!" (1.6.67).
    • Frodo and Sam stop burning the tree, but now they really don't know what to do. This is nuts.
    • Frodo shouts out for help without even knowing who he's calling for.
    • But, against all odds, someone answers: a man in a blue coat with a long brown beard. His face is creased with laughter, and he's singing loudly. He introduces himself as Tom Bombadil.
    • He begins to sing to the willow tree – Old Man Willow – and the tree opens up and lets Merry and Pippin go. Who knew: after all of Frodo's songs, this was the time he should have used one.
    • Tom Bombadil leads the Hobbits through the forest. As he goes, he sings a song promising them that they will not be hurt, as long as they travel with him.
    • They arrive at a glade where Tom Bombadil's house lies; the house is right at the edge of the Barrow-downs.
    • As Tom Bombadil arrives, a voice from inside the house sings a greeting: "Now let the song begin! Let us sing together [...] Old Tom Bombadil and the River-daughter!" (1.6.87).
    • And the Hobbits walk into the house. The adventure continues...
  • Book 1, Chapter 7

    In the House of Tom Bombadil

    • There is a woman sitting in a chair facing the door; she is surrounded by water lilies and flag lilies, and her dress is "green, green as young reeds, shot with silver like beads of dew" (1.7.2).
    • She welcomes them and introduces herself as Goldberry, daughter of the River.
    • Frodo asks Goldberry who Tom Bombadil is, exactly.
    • She answers that he is the Master of wood, water, and hill – not the owner, but the Master.
    • Tom Bombadil comes in, having fed the Hobbits' ponies.
    • And he and Goldberry give the Hobbits food and water and a place to rest.
    • He tells them they were lucky: he was only walking past Old Man Willow on a special errand to gather water-lilies for Goldberry, and he would not otherwise have found them.
    • Frodo asks Tom Bombadil who Old Man Willow is, but Merry and Pippin don't want to hear that story just before they go to sleep. They would just be asking for a nightmare.
    • At night, Frodo dreams of a high white tower and Black Riders galloping out on the wind.
    • Pippin dreams of the "horrible dry creaking" voice inside the willow (1.7.29).
    • Merry dreams of drowning.
    • And Sam sleeps like a log. Naturally.
    • They wake up the next morning feeling refreshed.
    • The forest is hidden under a thick fog.
    • Both Tom and Goldberry set out of the house, but they leave the Hobbits a plentiful breakfast.
    • The day is rainy, so the Hobbits stay inside. They can hear the sound of Goldberry singing above the rain, and Frodo blesses the weather "because it delayed them from departing" (1.7.37).
    • Tom Bombadil returns and entertains the Hobbits with stories of the Old Forest.
    • He also tells the Hobbits about the Barrow-downs, which are burial mounds for ancient warriors.
    • They are said to be haunted by Barrow-wights – ghosts.
    • Tom Bombadil tells Frodo that he is the Eldest – he was there before Sauron, before the Elves, before the First Age. Top dog.
    • Goldberry returns, and they have dinner.
    • Tom asks Frodo a series of pressing questions. It turns out that he knew of Frodo from Gildor and the Elves, and so Frodo winds up spilling his guts about the Ring. That didn't take much convincing...
    • Tom Bombadil asks to see the Ring and for some reason, Frodo willingly takes the Ring out and hands it to Tom Bombadil.
    • Tom slips it on but doesn't turn invisible. Hmm. He gives it back to Frodo who puts it on, as though testing whether or not it is still his Ring.
    • Sure enough, it works. He becomes invisible.
    • Tom laughs at Frodo: "Old Tom Bombadil's not as blind as that yet" (1.7.61). Tom can see Frodo, despite the Ring. Interesting.
    • Tom teaches the Hobbits a special song to sing if they get into trouble again in the Old Forest.
    • Then he sends them all off to bed.
  • Book 1, Chapter 8

    Fog on the Barrow Downs

    • After breakfast, Frodo and the Hobbits say goodbye to Tom Bombadil.
    • Frodo calls out a farewell to Goldberry, who appears when Frodo speaks her name. She tells them to keep traveling swiftly; to Frodo, she says, "Farewell, Elf-friend, it was a merry meeting" (1.8.8).
    • Frodo, Merry, Sam, and Pippin make good progress. In the distance, they can see a line of trees marking the road.
    • They decide to stop for lunch at a hollow circle with a single stone in the center, "standing tall under the sun above, and at this hour casting no shadow" (1.6.13).
    • The Hobbits fall asleep (they never learn, do they?).
    • When they wake up, they find the fog rolling in quickly. They plunge into the mist, going north down the hill, and hope that they are going to hit the road eventually.
    • As Frodo continues, he calls for Sam, Merry, and Pippin to follow him, but he soon realizes that no one is answering his calls. Not good.
    • He can occasionally hear thin voices in the mist, shouting, "Frodo! Hoy!" (1.8.22) and even "help! help!" (1.8.22).
    • Finally, it grows completely dark, and Frodo can find no sound of his friends.
    • Frodo tries to feel his way in the direction of the calls he heard. He cries out, "Where are you?" (1.8.27), and a deep voice answers, "Here! [...] I am waiting for you!" (1.8.28).
    • Frodo sees a tall, dark figure leaning over him.
    • An icy grip seizes him, and Frodo falls unconscious. Cut to commercial.
    • When he wakes up, he finds himself on a slab of rock, laid out with his hands folded on his chest.
    • He genuinely believes that he is going to die, but that thought gives him surprising courage to look around and see what's happening.
    • Frodo finds Sam, Merry, and Pippin laid out on stones, richly decked out in jewels and gold.
    • But across their necks lies a long sword.
    • A song begins: "Cold be hand and heart and bone,/ and cold be sleep under stone:/ never more to wake on stony bed" (1.8.33).
    • Frodo sees a white arm in the corner, groping toward the handle of the sword.
    • For a split second, Frodo considers running away. But he can't leave his friends behind.
    • He picks up his short sword and starts hacking at the arm.
    • The light suddenly goes out and Frodo falls forward.
    • He remembers that Tom Bombadil taught them all a rhyme to sing if they ran into trouble again.
    • He calls out, and in answer, he hears a voice singing from far away.
    • A low opening appears in the wall and Tom Bombadil's head comes poking in.
    • Merry, Pippin, and Sam don't wake up, but they look healthier.
    • As Tom sings, there are loud crashes and a shriek that recedes into the distance.
    • Tom asks Frodo to help him get the Hobbits outside, and he sings a song that wakes them.
    • Merry remembers, "The men of Carn Dûm came on us at night, and we were worsted. Ah! The spear in my heart!" (1.8.46). But this is just a fading memory of the ghosts of the Barrow-downs.
    • Soon, he, Pippin, and Sam are back to normal. Phew.
    • Tom tells them that their ponies were smart enough to smell the danger of the Barrow-wights.
    • They went back to find Tom's pony friend, a fat pony the Hobbits call Fatty Lumpkin.
    • This means that all of the Hobbits' supplies and clothes are still intact. Phew again. That was lucky.
    • Tom Bombadil looks through the Barrow to find an ornament for Goldberry and a dagger for each of the Hobbits.
    • These daggers were made by the Men of Westernesse in their first battle against the Dark Lord.
    • Tom guides the Hobbits back to the road himself (since they can't seem to stay out of trouble).
    • Once they get back on the road, Pippin begins to worry about Black Riders. Tom can't predict whether the Riders will come, but he does direct the Hobbits to go to The Prancing Pony inn at Bree.
    • Sam wonders if The Prancing Pony will be anything like The Green Dragon in the Shire.
    • Merry thinks it'll be like home – there are both Hobbits and Big Folk in Bree.
    • Frodo doesn't want to publicize his name, so he insists that they call him Mr. Underhill in Bree.
    • The Hobbits hurry on, ready for what's next.
  • Book 1, Chapter 9

    At the Sign of the Prancing Pony

    • Bree is the main village of Bree-land (which also contains the villages of Straddle, Combe, and Archet).
    • It's a place with an unusual (yet peaceful and content) mix of Big and Little Folk – i.e., men and Hobbits.
    • The men of Bree say that they're the oldest settlement of men in Middle-earth.
    • The Hobbits of Bree also agree that they're the oldest settlement of Hobbits in Middle-earth; it's from Bree-land that Hobbits moved west across the Brandywine River to settle the Shire at the beginning of the Third Age.
    • The Bree Folk are also proud to be the last human village this far west.
    • There are other western men, whom the Bree Folk call Rangers. They have strange tales and stranger manners, and they come through Bree-land every now and again.
    • Frodo and the Hobbits eventually reach the gate of the village of Bree.
    • The gatekeeper wants to know why they're here – it's not often that they get Shire-folk in Bree. Maybe there's a juicy story.
    • Merry gets touchy: "I am Mr. Brandybuck. Is that enough for you? The Bree-folk used to be fair-spoken to travellers, or so I heard" (1.9.16).
    • The gatekeeper lets them in, but he's grumpy about it.
    • Barliman Butterbur, the innkeeper, welcomes them to <em>The Prancing Pony</em>.
    • Seeing Hobbits from the Shire – especially one named Underhill – reminds Butterbur of something, but he can't remember what it is.
    • Butterbur and Nob, his Hobbit servant, show Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin to their rooms.
    • Butterbur suggests that the Hobbits come down to the inn's public house after they've eaten. They don't get people from the Shire often, and the guests would love to talk to them.
    • Frodo, Pippin, and Sam go down, and Merry sets out for a walk in the fresh air.
    • There is a big common-room filled with people: "men of Bree, a collection of local Hobbits (sitting chattering together), a few more Dwarves, and other vague figures difficult to make out away in the shadows and corners" (1.9.44).
    • Frodo has to make up a story for why he's traveling from the Shire: he says he's researching a book on the Hobbits of the eastern lands. Quick thinking.
    • The men and Dwarves in the room are discussing recent world events: they know that there is trouble in the South.
    • A "squint-eyed ill-favoured fellow" (1.9.48) predicts that there will be a lot of refugees coming from the South to the North, and they'll need to find space for them.
    • Frodo notices a travel-stained, weather-beaten man in a hood watching the Hobbits closely. He asks Butterbur who this is.
    • Butterbur doesn't know his name. The man is a Ranger, and he is known in Bree as Strider.
    • Strider notices that Frodo has seen him, so he waves Frodo over.
    • He says that he is pleased to meet "Master – Underhill, if old Butterbur got your name right" (1.9.54).
    • As Strider and Frodo talk, Frodo notices that Pippin is telling the story of Bilbo's disappearance at the end of his birthday party.
    • Frodo worries that this story will bring to mind the Baggins name.
    • He also realizes that Pippin has gotten carried away with the attention and has forgotten the danger they're in.
    • Strider whispers, "You had better do something quick!" (1.9.60).
    • Frodo stands up and awkwardly announces that he wants to encourage ties between the Shire and Bree; then, surprise surprise, he bursts into song.
    • Frodo's voice is good, and the song he chooses is about a merry inn; the whole crowd enjoys it hugely.
    • They give Frodo more alcohol and demand an encore.
    • He performs happily, but when he attempts to mimic the jump of the cow over the moon in the song, he hits a table full of mugs and then <em>disappears</em>.
    • The whole crowd is totally astonished and starts shouting for Butterbur.
    • The "squinty-eyed southerner" (1.9.67) and a "swarthy Bree-lander" (1.9.67) start talking together and walk out of the inn. Harry, the Bree gatekeeper, walks out after them.
    • Frodo is so shaken by this accident that he crawls under the tables to Strider.
    • Strider asks Frodo what he was thinking – disappearing like that was worse than anything his friends could have said.
    • A local Hobbit (Mr. Mugwort) complains to Butterbur that Frodo just disappeared into thin air.
    • Frodo walks over and claims that there's no big mystery: he was just having a word with Strider in the corner.
    • No one seems too satisfied with Frodo's explanation.
    • Butterbur doesn't seem too upset, but he tells Frodo he should keep his magic tricks to himself.
    • Strider asks Frodo for a quick word. Frodo agrees, but he's feeling apprehensive.
  • Book 1, Chapter 10

    Strider

    • Frodo, Pippin, and Sam make their way to their room.
    • Merry isn't there, and the fire has burned down.
    • In the light of the new fire, they suddenly realize that Strider is sitting among them.
    • Strider asks for only one thing: he wants to come with Frodo and the Hobbits.
    • Frodo wants to know a lot more about Strider before he'll agree to that.
    • Strider tells Frodo he overheard four Hobbits talking to each other just outside of Bree. He knows that Mr. Baggins wants to be known as Mr. Underhill. He's in on the cover-up.
    • He also knows that Black Riders have been passing through Bree in search of Frodo.
    • Frodo's position has become dangerous after his display in the common-room at The Prancing Pony.
    • There are more Riders on the way, Strider is sure of it.
    • Also, not all Bree-folk are to be trusted – Strider names Bill Ferny, who was present when Frodo disappeared.
    • Strider promises that he knows the land they will be traveling well, and he "might prove useful" (1.10.26).
    • He also knows more about the Black Riders than the Hobbits do.
    • So will Frodo let him accompany them?
    • Sam pipes up: "With your leave, Mr. Frodo, I'd say no!" (1.10.30).
    • Sam doesn't believe that Strider is telling them the truth, and he doesn't want Strider to lead them off to some dark place, far from help. He's learned to be modest with his trust.
    • Frodo disagrees: he thinks Strider isn't being honest with them about who he is, but he still seems trustworthy.
    • At this tense moment, Butterbur comes knocking at the door.
    • He has remembered what he had forgotten earlier: someone had told Butterbur to watch out for a Hobbit going by the name of Underhill, whose real name is Baggins, and who might pass through Bree.
    • The person who gave Butterbur this instruction is none other than the Wizard Gandalf.
    • What's more, three months ago, Gandalf also left Butterbur a letter for Frodo, which Butterbur was supposed to send to Hobbiton.
    • Butterbur forgot – he didn't mean to, but hey, what can you do.
    • The instruction Gandalf gave Butterbur was to help Frodo in any way that he can.
    • So Butterbur tells Frodo that, just that Monday, two creepy fellows all in black asked after Baggins at the inn.
    • Butterbur told them nothing, but he knows that they have been asking after him as far away as the village of Archet.
    • When Butterbur finds out that Strider has found Frodo, he warns Frodo not to go off with a Ranger. He thinks Frodo should just hang out at The Prancing Pony for a while.
    • Of course, Frodo can't do this, nor can he explain what all this business is with the Black Riders.
    • Strider finally tells him, "They come from Mordor [...] From Mordor, Barliman, if that means anything to you" (1.10.59).
    • The mere mention of the name Mordor terrifies Butterbur, but he agrees to help Frodo as best he can.
    • Butterbur won't tell anyone about Frodo's real identity; though he does say once more that it's a shame Frodo had to draw attention to himself, especially after Pippin's tale of Bilbo's disappearance.
    • People are starting to put two and two together, unfortunately.
    • Butterbur asks where Merry has gone off to. Frodo is worried: it's getting late, and Merry still hasn't turned up.
    • Butterbur wishes them good night.
    • Frodo opens his letter from Gandalf: in it, Gandalf tells Frodo to leave the Shire by the end of July at the latest (oops – he left in late September).
    • He also warns Frodo not to use the Ring at all, ever (double oops).
    • He wants Frodo to travel with Strider, whose real name is Aragorn.
    • Frodo wants to know why Strider (sorry, Aragorn) didn't tell him right away that he is Gandalf's friend.
    • Aragorn replies that they would never have believed him. He also kind of wanted them to trust him on his own merits. It's a matter of pride!
    • Sam is still suspicious: how do they know this is the same Strider Gandalf mentions in his letter?
    • Aragorn answers that Sam can't know; he can only trust that if Aragorn had wanted to take the Ring, he could have done it by now.
    • He swears, "I am the real Strider, fortunately [...] I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will" (1.10.84).
    • Then he quotes a line from a poem that appeared in Gandalf's letter about him: "All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost" (1.10.86).
    • The poem also mentions a sword that was broken.
    • Aragorn draws the sword from its scabbard to show them that it is, indeed, broken about a foot below the hilt.
    • Aragorn wants them to make for Weathertop, which is a hill about halfway between Bree and Rivendell.
    • He's also worried about Gandalf, since this is the first time since he's known him that Gandalf has gone missing.
    • Frodo wonders if the Black Riders have stopped Gandalf from coming.
    • Aragorn tells Frodo not to give up hope – Gandalf is a great Wizard, after all.
    • The door slams, and Merry comes running in, followed by Nob.
    • Merry has seen the Black Riders in Bree. He saw one disappear near a row of houses, and he overheard two voices, one muttering and one hissing.
    • Then Merry lost consciousness.
    • Nob is the one who found him, lying just near Bill Ferny's house.
    • When Nob woke him, Merry rushed back to The Prancing Pony as quickly as he could.
    • Aragorn tells Merry that he fainted before the Black Breath. He also breaks the news that the Black Riders will know all about Frodo now, since Bill Ferny has surely sold Frodo out.
    • The Hobbits should not to go back to their bedrooms.
    • Aragorn takes Nob and goes to gather their luggage.
    • Nob stuffs their beds with pillows and musses up the blankets, and the Hobbits decide to spend the night on the parlor floor.
    • They talk for a while, and the other Hobbits bring Merry back up to speed before they fall asleep.
  • Book 1, Chapter 11

    A Knife in the Dark

    • Back at the house at Crickhollow, Fatty Bolger peers out the front door: he sees strange shadows creeping about the garden.
    • He quickly shuts the door and locks it; he's been feeling a strange sense of fear all day.
    • Fatty runs out the back door to the nearest house, where he collapses on the doorstep. He keeps raving, "No, not me! I haven't got it!" (1.11.7).
    • The people of Buckland think there's some kind of invasion from the Old Forest and start sounding the alarm.
    • The Black Riders run out of the house at Crickhollow, dropping a Hobbit-cloak on the doorstep.
    • They know that Frodo has left the Shire, so they ride quickly toward the north gate of Buckland.
    • Meanwhile, back at Bree, Aragorn wakes the Hobbits in the early morning.
    • They go to their bedrooms and find that the windows have been broken open and the beds have been tossed around.
    • The Hobbits are even more distressed when they find out that every pony in Butterbur's stables has bolted.
    • Aragorn worries that they won't be able to carry as many provisions as they will need for a two-week journey to Rivendell.
    • Frodo asks Butterbur to try to find a pony for sale in the village.
    • Aragorn agrees that they should find a pony, but now they won't exactly be able to slip out of Bree unnoticed.
    • In the end, it takes them an additional three hours to get out of town. Not a great start.
    • And worst of all, they have to buy their pony from deceitful Bill Ferny.
    • The animal is not very healthy, and Bill Ferny horribly overcharges for it, but they have no choice.
    • (It turns out that the story has a happy ending for the Hobbits' horses. When they bolted, they made their way back to Tom Bombadil's pony, Fatty Lumpkin. Tom Bombadil continues to look after them until he hears of what happened at The Prancing Pony; then he sends the ponies to Butterbur, where they live happily ever after.)
    • Butterbur is also in a tough spot: a number of the guests at the inn raise a fuss about the missing horses.
    • But it turns out that one of the guests ("Bill Ferny's squint-eyed companion" [1.11.31]) has gone missing as well.
    • The whole inn begins to suspect that he is the horse thief.
    • The Hobbits leave Bree at last at 10:00AM.
    • It's the talk of the town, what with Frodo's disappearing trick, the Black Riders, the empty stables, and the appearance of Strider.
    • Because half the residents of Bree-land seem to be watching them now, the party doesn't even try to leave Bree quietly; they just march off, feeling downhearted.
    • As they walk past Bill Ferny's house, Frodo catches sight of the southerner in the window.
    • Bill Ferny shouts after them: "Morning, my little friends! [...] I suppose you know who you've taken up with? That's Stick-at-naught Strider, that is! [...] And you, Sammie, don't go ill-treating my poor old pony!" (1.11.41).
    • In response to Ferny's jeers, Sam throws an apple at his nose.
    • Finally, the party leaves Bree, Staddle, Combe, and Archet behind them.
    • The sun is shining, the land is wholesome, and the walk is quite pleasant.
    • Still, Aragorn can't help but worry what Ferny will tell their enemies about their path.
    • The party reaches the Midgewater Marshes.
    • The Hobbits are soon horribly uncomfortable: "The flies began to torment them, and the air was full of clouds of tiny midges that crept up their sleeves and breeches and into their hair" (1.11.50).
    • As they camp out that night, Frodo sees a light flashing in the eastern sky; neither he nor Aragorn can figure out what this light is.
    • On the fifth day, they finally leave the marshes, and they can see Weathertop in the distance.
    • Aragorn worries what they'll find at Weathertop. It's close to the Old Road, and since the Riders haven't been able to find them in the wilderness, they may try to catch up with Frodo on the road.
    • On the sixth night of their march to Rivendell (October 5th) they reach the base of Weathertop.
    • The path up reminds Merry uncomfortably of the Barrow-downs.
    • Aragorn explains that these hills were defended by the Men of the West against "the evil that came out of Angmar" (1.11.76) long ago.
    • Even before those battles, the Men of the West built a watchtower on Weathertop called Amon Sûl. The tower was burned, and all that remains is a ring of stone. But the story goes that once, it was tall and fair.
    • The watchtower of Amon Sûl is supposed to be where Elendil (the King of Westernesse) stood watching for his ally, Gil-galad, in the days of the last Alliance.
    • When the Hobbits reach the top of the hill, they find "a wide ring of ancient stonework, now crumbling or covered in age-long grass" (1.11.87). The grass is scorched, as if it had recently been burned.
    • But there is no sign of any living thing: the hill is exposed, gray, and uninviting.
    • Aragorn finds a stone at the top of the cairn in the middle of the ring.
    • It bears a runic mark, and they speculate that Gandalf might have left it to show he was there.
    • Aragorn thinks that Gandalf was at Weathertop recently, and that the scorch marks are from some battle he fought there.
    • Frodo sees two black specks moving west and three more creeping east; Aragorn confirms that the enemy is here.
    • They go to the north side of the hill to find Sam, Merry, and Pippin.
    • Sam and Pippin have found footprints only a day or two old, and Aragorn finds signs of "many booted feet" (1.11.111).
    • Each of the Hobbits remember "the cloaked and booted Riders" (1.11.112, our italics).
    • Aragorn worries that they have already waited too long at the top of the hill, yet he knows that the road will also be patrolled by the Riders.
    • What should they do?
    • Aragorn decides that they should set a fire, since the Black Riders don't love fire.
    • They shelter as best they can, but as the light falls, it grows colder and colder.
    • To pass the time, Aragorn sings of Lúthien Tinúviel, an Elf maiden dancing in a glade.
    • Beren, an exhausted, sorrowing man coming down from the mountains, comes across Tinúviel dancing, and he suddenly feels refreshed. He tries to chase her, and she "lightly [flees] on dancing feet" (1.11.130).
    • He seeks her everywhere, throughout the winter, and then she reappears in the spring.
    • Again, Beren pursues her: he calls her by her Elvish name (Lúthien), and she stops for a moment to listen. Beren seizes the opportunity to grab Tinúviel.
    • The two are separated for many years, but eventually they reunite "In the forest singing sorrowless" (1.11.130).
    • After singing this song, Aragorn then explains that Tinúviel is the daughter of an early king of the Elves, Thingol.
    • Beren, son of Barahir, is involved with a war against the Great Enemy, of whom Sauron is only a servant.
    • This enemy killed Beren's father Barahir, and Beren had to flee across the Mountains of Terror to the hidden kingdom of Thingol in the forest of Neldoreth.
    • There, he caught sight of Tinúviel dancing in a glade and fell in love with her.
    • But many troubles befell them: Beren was captured by Sauron, and Tinúviel had to rescue him.
    • At last, though, the two overcame the Great Enemy and stole one of the three Silmarils (Elf-cut jewels) from his crown.
    • Beren used this jewel as a bride-price to Thingol for Tinúviel's hand in marriage.
    • But then, Beren was killed by a wolf that came from the gates of Angband (the Great Enemy's stronghold).
    • Tinúviel chose a mortal life so that she could die with him (kind of the opposite of the Twilight series, no?)
    • The story goes that the two of them lived briefly beyond the Sundering Seas before passing away from Middle-earth for ever.
    • But their descendants live on: Elrond of Rivendell is one of them.
    • This is where that brief story ends.
    • The Moon is rising now: Merry notices that it is getting late.
    • Frodo feels a cold dread creeping into his heart.
    • Aragorn instructs the Hobbits to take up longer sticks to burn if the Black Riders come near.
    • Three or four black creatures then come gliding up the slope.
    • Pippin and Merry throw themselves to the ground in fear and Sam shrinks back against Frodo.
    • Frodo is terrified, but he also has an overwhelming wish to put on the Ring. Frodo fights this compulsion momentarily, but at last he pushes the Ring on.
    • Everything looks the same except that the dark figures are clear: there are five of them, and in "their white faces burned keen and merciless eyes" (1.11.145).
    • They rush toward Frodo.
    • The tallest of the five, who wears a crown on his helmet, leaps at Frodo with drawn knife and long sword.
    • Frodo throws himself to the ground shouting "O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!" (1.11.146).
    • He strikes at the Lord of the Nazgûl's feet. The creature shrieks, and Frodo feels a sharp pain in his shoulder.
    • Frodo sees Aragorn jumping forward with two flaming brands.
    • Frodo drops his sword and slips the ring off before losing consciousness. Another cliffhanger!
  • Book 1, Chapter 12

    Flight to the Ford

    • Frodo wakes up lying by the fire.
    • He asks, "What has happened? Where is the pale king?" (1.12.2)
    • Sam, Merry, and Pippin are all bending over Frodo.
    • They tell him that they couldn't see his body until they stumbled over it, lying face down on the ground on top of his sword.
    • Aragorn appears just then, having gone to scout after the Black Riders; he can't find any trace of them.
    • When Aragorn hears Frodo's story, he sighs; he believes that the Riders have withdrawn.
    • The Ringwraiths they think they've given Frodo a fatal wound, and that he'll soon be under the their power.
    • Aragorn does his best to treat Frodo, but his wound is growing more painful.
    • Aragorn finds the Ringwraith's cloak and dagger.
    • The only injury Frodo did to the Ringwraith with his sword was cut a hole in its cloak.
    • What actually hurt the Ringwraith was the name of Elbereth – the Elvish queen of the stars – which Frodo called just before he collapsed.
    • Aragorn holds up the Ringwraith's knife, and the blade dissolves as the Hobbits watch.
    • It turns out the knife is a cursed kind that leaves wounds that don't heal easily.
    • Aragorn goes to find athelas, an herb that the Men of the West brought to Middle-earth. The athelas warms the sense of frozen cold in Frodo's side, but he still can't use his hand.
    • It is clear that they will have to leave Weathertop immediately.
    • They begin the trek, but progress is slow because Frodo can't walk; they have to divide their luggage among them and let Frodo ride Bill Ferny's former pony.
    • They don't see the Riders, but they hear shrill cries that send them into a panic; they travel as fast as they can across the trackless land.
    • Frodo does his best to bear the pain without speaking of it; he doesn't want to be a burden.
    • For four days, they keep marching like this. Yikes.
    • At the end of the fifth day, the land starts rising again toward the River Hoarwell (a.k.a. Mitheithel in the Elvish language).
    • The Hoarwell runs into the Loudwater (also known as the Bruinen) just north of Rivendell; the Bruinen then flows into the Greywater.
    • The only place to cross the River Hoarwell is at the Last Bridge on the Road, and Aragorn still hasn't figured out how they are going to cross the Ford of Bruinen.
    • Aragorn worries that the Last Bridge will be held against them, but he can't find any sign of the Black Riders.
    • He does find something strange, though: a single green jewel.
    • Aragorn feels hopeful because he identifies it as a beryl, an Elf-jewel. Perhaps it's a good sign.
    • They cross the Bridge safely, and the Hobbits are glad to leave this unfriendly land behind them. They find themselves now in a land with "ancient walls of stone, and the ruins of towers" (1.12.28).
    • No one lives here now, explains Aragorn; men once lived here, but they fell under the power of the evil king of Angmar, and they were all destroyed in the war that ended the North Kingdom.
    • Aragorn learned these histories in Rivendell. He seems to know everything...
    • Frodo asks if Aragorn has spent a lot of time in Rivendell. He says he once lived there, and he goes back often because "there [his] heart is" (1.12.34).
    • The Hobbits are tiring as the journey continues; their provisions are running low, and the rain leaves Frodo cold and restless and achy.
    • When Frodo wakes up on the eleventh day out of Weathertop, the wind changes and the rain stops.
    • Aragorn goes to scout, and he finds that they have come too far north; they'll have to turn south again toward the Ford of Bruinen.
    • They struggle up a hill so steep that Frodo has to dismount the pony and climb.
    • After getting to the other side, "Frodo [throws] himself down and [lies] on the ground shivering. His left arm [is] lifeless, and his side and shoulder [feel] as if icy claws were laid upon them" (1.12.41).
    • They have to stop for the night; this trip has almost been too much for Frodo.
    • The next morning, they follow a track down the hill, and find a door hanging off one hinge under a low-hanging cliff.
    • Aragorn thinks it's an abandoned troll hole. They keep going on carefully, looking out for trolls.
    • Pippin and Merry go ahead for a bit, but soon Pippin comes running back saying, "There are trolls! [...] Down in a clearing in the woods not far below" (1.12.57).
    • They go to investigate, but Aragorn doesn't look too worried.
    • In a clearing, there are three large trolls. Aragorn shouts at them and then breaks his walking stick on them.
    • Frodo realizes that this must be the exact place where, almost eighty years before, Bilbo and his thirteen Dwarf companions met Bert, Tom, and William the trolls.
    • (For more on this adventure, check out our Shmoop learning guide on The Hobbit.)
    • Aragorn also points out that it is broad daylight, and trolls can't come out in the sun.
    • They all have a good laugh, and Frodo feels a bit better.
    • Sam sings them all a comic song about a face-off between a fool named Tom and a troll (Tom survives, but he's got a limp). Frodo is impressed that Sam made up the song himself. (Although he did learn from the master, after all.)
    • They all walk past the marker that the Dwarves put down to show where the trolls' gold was buried.
    • Frodo tells Merry that Bilbo gave all that gold away; he didn't feel comfortable using it, since it was stolen.
    • That night, as they look for a place to camp, they hear the noise of hooves behind them.
    • They hide off the road, but as Frodo listens, he thinks that these don't sound like the hooves of a Black Rider.
    • Indeed, they're not: the rider has golden hair, and to Frodo, "it appeared that a white light was shining through the form and raiment of the rider, as if through a thin veil" (1.12.79).
    • It's Glorfindel, an Elf who lives in Rivendell.
    • Glorfindel is one of several Elves who has been sent out by Elrond to find the Ring-bearer, Frodo, and to help him if he is in trouble.
    • He warns Frodo that there are five riders behind them, and that the Ford of Bruinen may hold more Riders.
    • Frodo feels "a shadow [...] coming between him and the faces of his friends" (1.12.86).
    • He falls to the ground and Glorfindel catches him.
    • Glorfindel puts Frodo on the back of his horse, who will not drop anyone that Glorfindel orders him to carry.
    • They push on throughout day and night, heading for the river.
    • Finally, they hear a rushing noise through the pines. Unluckily, the Black Riders have finally caught up.
    • Glorfindel shouts to Frodo, "Ride forward! Ride!" (1.12.105), but Frodo feels weirdly reluctant to go forward.
    • Finally, Glorfindel tells his horse, "noro lim, noro lim, Asfaloth!" (1.12.107).
    • Unfortunately, the rest of the Black Riders show up: the full nine are ranged against Frodo.
    • They cut Frodo off at the Ford of Bruinen, and Frodo feels cold and fearful; he hears evil voices in the wind.
    • The Elf-horse speeds along, passing "right before the face of the foremost Rider" (1.12.110).
    • But the mighty horse makes it to the other side of the river. Whew.
    • Frodo turns to the Ringwraiths from the far bank and shouts, "Go back to the Land of Mordor and follow me no more!" (1.12.114).
    • He has no power to follow up these words, sadly.
    • The Ringwraiths laugh at him and reply, "Come back! Come back! [...] To Mordor we will take you!" (1.12.114).
    • The Ringwraiths start crossing the river. With the last of his strength, Frodo tells them, "By Elbereth and Lúthien the Fair [...] you shall have neither the Ring nor me" (1.12.117).
    • The leader of the Ringwraiths raises his hand, and Frodo's sword breaks.
    • But just then, a sudden flood comes rushing down the River Bruinen; it looks to Frodo as if it is made up of riders on white horses.
    • And on the other side of the bank, Frodo can see "a shining figure of white light" (1.12.120) and smaller people waving flames.
    • The black horses rush into the flood, and the Ringwraiths are scattered.
    • Frodo feels himself falling.
  • Book 2, Chapter 1

    Many Meetings

    • Frodo wakes up in a bed.
    • He asks, "Where am I, and what is the time?" (2.1.2)
    • The voice of Gandalf answers: "In the House of Elrond, and it is ten o'clock in the morning" (2.1.3).
    • Gandalf!
    • It is October 24th.
    • Frodo asks if all the others are all right – they are.
    • Gandalf explains that Frodo was beginning to fade at the Ford of Bruinen.
    • He reached Rivendell just in time for Elrond's medicine to save him.
    • Gandalf scolds Frodo a bit for some of his choices on the road.
    • But on the whole, he thinks Frodo did very well "to have come so far, and through such dangers, still bearing the Ring" (2.1.12).
    • Gandalf promises that Frodo will hear all the news of Gandalf's delay, but not until he is a bit better.
    • Frodo admits that, without Aragorn, they never would have made it to Rivendell.
    • Gandalf confirms that Aragorn is something special – in fact, he's one of the few who still has the blood of the old Kings from over the Sea.
    • Frodo is amazed that Strider is a descendant of the Men of Westernesse, but Gandalf confirms that that is what the Rangers are: "the last remnant in the North of the great people, the Men of the West" (2.1.28).
    • Gandalf also tells Frodo that he has been sleeping for four days; he arrived at Rivendell on October 20th.
    • Frodo wonders why they can see the Ringwraiths' horses when the Ringwraiths themselves only become visible when he is wearing the Ring.
    • Gandalf answers that the horses are real animals, bred and raised in Sauron's service. He has all kinds of servants – it's not just Ringwraiths and Orcs.
    • Frodo also mentions a white figure he saw across the river; Gandalf confirms that it was Glorfindel as he appears in the other world.
    • After all, Glorfindel is a prince among Elves.
    • To Gandalf's eyes, Frodo is quickly recovering.
    • But Gandalf also sees that Frodo has changed, with "just a hint as it were of transparency" (2.1.51).
    • Gandalf explains to Frodo that Glorfindel knew the River Bruinen would flood when the Ringwraiths tried to cross, so he lit a fire and prepared for battle on that side of the river.
    • Faced with Aragorn and an Elf-lord, the Ringwraiths lost courage and their horses went crazy with fear.
    • So three Ringwraiths were carried away in the first river flood and the rest followed when their horses plunged into the river out of madness.
    • Their horses drowned, but the Ringwraiths will be back as soon as they can find new steeds.
    • Sam, Pippin, Merry, Aragorn, and Glorfindel crossed the Bruinen after the Ringwraiths were swept away.
    • They found Frodo lying pale and cold on his face with a broken sword under him, so they brought him to Rivendell and Elrond's healing.
    • The plan is to have a feast tonight to celebrate the events of the Ford of Bruinen.
    • Frodo falls asleep content.
    • He wakes up in the evening and dresses for the feast.
    • Sam comes in and takes his left hand; he is relieved to feel that it is warm.
    • He leads Frodo to Elrond's garden, where the other Hobbits and Gandalf are waiting.
    • Merry and Pippin are delighted to see Frodo up and about.
    • They go to the hall of Elrond's house: there are lots of Elves, of course, but also other guests.
    • Frodo sees Arwen, Elrond's lovely daughter, for the first time.
    • A Dwarf of great importance sits next to Frodo: Glóin, one of the original thirteen Dwarves who hired Bilbo to help them fight the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit.
    • He tells Frodo all about what has become of Bilbo's original companions.
    • Most of them – Dwalin, Dori, Nori, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, and Glóin himself – are fine, living with Dáin, the King Under the Mountain.
    • But three of them have met an unknown fate: Balin, Ori, and Óin. It's because of those three that Glóin has come to the Council of Elrond.
    • Frodo exclaims, "How surprised Bilbo would have been to see all the changes in the Desolation of Smaug" (2.1.105).
    • Glóin sees how fond Frodo is of Bilbo.
    • The feast ends, and Frodo walks a bit with Gandalf. They go to the Hall of Fire, where there will be singing late into the night.
    • There is a small dark figure leaning against a pillar; Elrond goes to him and wakes this figure and then beckons Frodo. The figure is Bilbo! Bilbo!
    • Frodo is amazed and delighted that Bilbo is in Rivendell.
    • Bilbo tells Frodo that he had been watching over him while he was unconscious.
    • Bilbo has thinking up a song, but he wants his friend "the Dúnadan" to help him with it. Frodo and Bilbo sit together, and Sam soon joins them.
    • It turns out that Bilbo never got much further than Rivendell once he left the Shire.
    • It's peaceful and happy in Rivendell: "Time doesn't seem to pass here: it just is. A remarkable place altogether" (2.1.121).
    • Bilbo has heard about the Ring, and is surprised that an old bauble of his has been such trouble. He asks if Frodo has the Ring here.
    • Frodo brings the Ring out reluctantly; it's hanging on a chain around his neck.
    • Bilbo puts out his hand to touch it, but Frodo pulls it away.
    • He sees Bilbo as "a little wrinkled creature with a hungry face and bony groping hands" (2.1.127).
    • Bilbo tells Frodo, "I understand now [...] Put it away! I am sorry: sorry you have come in for this burden: sorry about everything" (2.1.128).
    • While catching Bilbo up on all of the news of the Shire, Frodo is interrupted by the appearance of Aragorn.
    • Aragorn is the Dúnadan (from the Elvish dún-adan, Man of the West, Númenorean).
    • Bilbo wants Aragorn to help him polish the song he's working on for performance that night.
    • Frodo begins to doze as he listens to the music and Bilbo's verses.
    • Bilbo sings of Eärendil, the ancestor of the Men of Westernesse, who became the Morning and Evening Stars.
    • Frodo wakes up and sees that Bilbo is surrounded by a ring of listeners.
    • They ask Bilbo to sing the song a second time so they can answer his question: he had asked which verses were Bilbo's and which were Aragorn's.
    • Bilbo pretends to be offended that they can't tell the difference.
    • The Elves tease him: "To sheep other sheep no doubt appear different [...] But Mortals have not been our study" (2.1.149).
    • Bilbo is pleased; the verses were all Bilbo's, and he doesn't often get asked for an encore.
    • In fact, Aragorn seemed to think it was a bit cheeky of Bilbo to be singing about Eärendil at all.
    • Frodo is getting tired, and Bilbo says it's fine if they slip off to bed.
    • As they leave the Hall of Fire, Frodo hears the Elves singing, "A Elbereth Golthoniel,/ silivren penna miriel" (2.1.154).
    • Frodo looks over and sees Elrond and Arwen sitting near one another, with Aragorn standing next to Arwen.
    • The light of Arwen's eyes "[fall] on [Frodo] from afar and [pierce] his heart" (2.1.158).
    • But Bilbo pulls Frodo away; they will go on singing late into the night.
    • They chat more about "the small news of the Shire far away" (2.1.160).
    • Sam knocks on the door and asks if Frodo needs anything. What Sam really means is that it is time for Frodo to go to bed; there will be a Council early the next morning, and Frodo needs his rest.
  • Book 2, Chapter 2

    The Council of Elrond

    • Frodo wakes up feeling refreshed and rested.
    • He goes to meet Gandalf and Bilbo, who are ready for the Council.
    • Bilbo and Frodo have been invited; sadly, Sam is not.
    • At the Council, Frodo sees Elrond, Glorfindel, Glóin, and Aragorn.
    • Elrond introduces Frodo to the company. Then he goes around the room and introduces Erestor (Elrond's chief counselor), Galdor (an Elf from the Grey Havens), Legolas (a messenger and son of King Thranduil of Northern Mirkwood), and Boromir (a man from the South). Enough strange names for you?
    • Glóin tells the Council that, after reestablishing themselves in the Lonely Mountain after the death of Smaug the dragon, the Dwarves began to talk about going back down to the Mines of Moria.
    • Moria (called Khazad-dûm in the Dwarf tongue) has been haunted by a "nameless fear" (2.2.14), woken when the Dwarves dug too deep into the earth.
    • It has been empty since the children of Durin died; Durin is the first great ancestor of the Dwarves, so that's a long time.
    • Thirty years before the Council of Elrond, Balin, Ori, and Óin went on an expedition to Moria to try to reopen the mines.
    • All seemed to be going well in Moria for a time, but the messages had stopped coming several years earlier.
    • Then Dáin (King Under the Mountain) received a messenger from Mordor a year before the Council; he came from "the Lord Sauron the Great" (2.2.17), asking after Hobbits.
    • Sauron had heard that a Hobbit was once known to the Dwarves (that would be Bilbo).
    • This messenger promises that, if the Dwarves help Sauron recover the Hobbit's "little ring, the least of rings, that once he stole" (2.2.18), Sauron would return to the Dwarves their three rings of power that he currently possessed.
    • Dáin did not say outright that he wouldn't help, but he and his chieftains knew they couldn't make any deals with Sauron.
    • They stalled the messenger as long as they could.
    • Dáin sent Glóin to Rivendell to warn Bilbo that Sauron was looking for him. Dáin also wanted to know why Sauron wanted Bilbo's ring so badly.
    • Back at the Council, Elrond promises that Dáin and the Dwarves do not stand alone.
    • Elrond confirms that he has called them all there to discuss what to do with the Ring.
    • He then tells the tale of the Ring, beginning with the part that he experienced himself:
    • The Rings of Power were forged in the Second Age (Middle-earth is now in the Third Age).
    • Sauron, who was not obviously evil at that point, struck up a friendship with the Elven-smiths of Eregion.
    • He learned their craft and forged in secret a single Ring to be the Master of all of the Rings of Power.
    • The Elven-smith Celebrimbor knew of Sauron's plans and hid away the three Elven Rings of Power before Sauron could corrupt them.
    • Elrond continues his tale to the days of the Númenorean exiles, when the Men of the West were Kings of Men in Middle-earth.
    • The descendants of Númenor in Middle-earth had two Kingdoms: Arnor to the north and Gondor to the south.
    • Elendil, High King of these lands, formed the Last Alliance of Elves and Men with the Elven-king, Gil-galad. Neither survived the war.
    • Elrond was herald to Gil-galad (a herald is a royal messenger or representative) during the first war against Sauron.
    • He was there on the slopes of Orodruin when Elendil fell and Isildur cut the Ring from Sauron's hand.
    • Boromir breaks in: "Isildur took [the Ring]! That is tidings indeed" (2.2.35).
    • Elrond answers with regret that he and Círdan, the only remnants of Gil-galad's forces, both counseled Isildur to throw the Ring into Mount Doom.
    • But Isildur refused; as a result, he was killed by Orcs in the Gladden Fields.
    • The broken shards of Elendil's sword were passed to Valandil, Isildur's son.
    • The Last Alliance left Sauron weakened but not broken, and the Ring was lost but not destroyed.
    • Meanwhile, the lines of the Men of Westernesse dwindled; Meneldil son of Anárion's line died out.
    • But what about the lords of Minas Tirith in Gondor, the descendants of Isildur?
    • Boromir jumps in to bring news of Gondor, which is where he comes from.
    • He denies that the blood of Númenor has died out in Gondor. Gondor has stood firmly against "the Nameless Enemy" (2.2.46) and kept the world safe for many years.
    • But now, things are growing dire. There has been a sudden invasion of Gondor from Mordor, and the guards of Minas Tirith are outnumbered.
    • Boromir adds that there has been "much praise but little help" (2.2.48) for the men of Gondor, and that the only allies who have actually come to stand by them have been the Riders of Rohan.
    • So Boromir has come to Elrond to request help.
    • He doesn't expect soldiers; instead, he wants counsel.
    • Boromir's brother has long been seeing a curious dream, and the dream came once to Boromir as well. In it, there is thunder and a light coming out of the West. A voice cries, "Seek for the Sword that was broken,/ In Imladris it dwells [...]/ For Isildur's Bane shall waken,/ And the Halfling forth shall stand." (Imladris is another name for Rivendell.)
    • Boromir's brother was eager to come and find out what this poem meant.
    • But Boromir, knowing that the "way was full of doubt and danger" (2.2.56), decided to come to Rivendell himself.
    • Aragorn stands up and shows Boromir the Sword that was Broken: Narsil.
    • Boromir demands to know what Aragorn has to do with Gondor.
    • Elrond introduces Aragorn, son of Arathorn – descendant of Isildur and Chief of the Dúnedain in the North.
    • Frodo jumps up and says the Ring belongs to Aragorn and not to Frodo.
    • Aragorn denies this: "It does not belong to either of us [...] but it has been ordained that you should hold it for a while" (2.2.56).
    • Gandalf tells Frodo it's time to bring out the Ring.
    • Boromir wants the Sword of Elendil to return to Gondor for morale's sake, but he clearly doubts that Aragorn is a descendant of the kings of old.
    • Aragorn agrees that he doesn't look much like the statues of Isildur and Elendil in Minas Tirith. But Aragorn has been fighting all his life as a Ranger, a hunter of evil.
    • Boromir wants to know more: how has Isildur's Bane been found?
    • Bilbo stands up and tells the story of his run-in with Gollum and his discovery of the Ring.
    • Frodo gives an account of everything that has happened to him between the Shire and Rivendell. He mentions in an aside to Bilbo that he wants to hear what Gandalf has been up to.
    • Galdor seconds this; what's more, why isn't Saruman here to give them his valuable knowledge on the Rings of Power?
    • Galdor asks how we know that this is the One Ring.
    • Gandalf gives his story:
    • Many years ago, Gandalf infiltrated the Necromancer's fortress at Dol Guldur in southern Mirkwood and confirmed that it was Sauron taking shape and power again.
    • (In fact, it's this adventure that brought Gandalf to leave Bilbo and the Dwarves behind in The Hobbit.)
    • Gandalf's Council attacked the Necromancer and drove him out of Mirkwood.
    • But it turns out to have been a trick: Sauron pretended to be defeated, but really, he just relocated to the Dark Tower, Barad-dûr, in Mordor.
    • Then, Sauron declared himself openly and started looking actively for the One Ring.
    • Saruman the Wise, a major figure on the Council, gave his opinion that the Ring would never be found.
    • Saruman claimed that he had studied the fate of the Ring and that he truly believed that it had been lost at the bottom of the Anduin River.
    • Gandalf admits that he was taken in by Saruman and consented to let the matter lie.
    • Finally, seventeen years ago (when Bilbo handed the Ring over to Frodo), Gandalf couldn't quiet his suspicions any further.
    • He asked for help from the Rangers and from Aragorn.
    • They began searching for Gollum to see what further information they could find.
    • Gandalf remembered that Saruman had once told him that the One Ring had special markings.
    • To find out what those markings were, Gandalf traveled to Minas Tirith to look at the manuscripts of Gondor.
    • Gandalf found a long-forgotten scroll, in which Isildur wrote that the Ring shows fiery letters if heated.
    • Gandalf left Gondor, but he heard news from Aragorn that Gollum had been found.
    • Gandalf got the story of Gollum's discovery of the Ring out of him, which confirms Bilbo's own story.
    • If all that isn't enough proof for Galdor, Gandalf also tells him that Frodo's Ring bears these words in fiery Elvenscript:
    • Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbaatul, ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum ishi krimpatul. (2.2.107)
    • Translation: One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the Darkness bind them (2.2.110).
    • Gandalf also discovered that Gollum has told their enemy about Bilbo and the Shire.
    • Legolas jumps in: Gollum has escaped from his prison in Mirkwood.
    • The Mirkwood Elves have been guarding Gollum closely, but they also took seriously Gandalf's hope that Gollum could be rehabilitated.
    • On nice days, the Mirkwood Elves let Gollum walk in the woods and climb trees.
    • One day, Gollum refused to come down. The guards sat at the base of his tree and waited for him, but then, a company of Orcs attacked.
    • The Elves were able to fight them back, but Gollum's guards had all been killed and he was gone.
    • Legolas thinks the timing of the Orc attack cannot be an accident.
    • Gandalf believes that Gollum will come back into the story of the Ring before it is all over.
    • Gandalf continues his story:
    • At the end of June, Gandalf was in the Shire.
    • He heard news of Gondor's attack by Mordor and rode east to gather news.
    • On his way, he bumped into an unexpected traveler: Radagast the Brown, a member of his order.
    • Radagast had a message from Saruman the White, the head of Gandalf's order: Saruman was now willing to help Gandalf on his quest for the Ring. But if he wants his help, Gandalf would have to go see Saruman immediately.
    • Radagast also told Gandalf that the Nine Ringwraiths the (Nazgûl) were abroad.
    • Gandalf agreed to travel to Orthanc, in Isengard, to consult Saruman.
    • He also asked Radagast to use his bird and beast friends to gather as much news as they could find about the Ring and bring this information to Saruman and Gandalf.
    • Gandalf wrote a letter to Frodo and gave it to Barliman Butterbur to deliver (as we know, it never reached Frodo).
    • Then he went far south, to Isengard, near Gondor in the White Mountains.
    • There, there was a stone tower called Orthanc, which was built by the men of Númenor; that is where Saruman lives.
    • Saruman met Gandalf at the gate of Orthanc and asked him mockingly, "What brings you now from your lurking-place in the Shire?"
    • Gandalf answered that the Nazgûl were abroad, and the time had come for everyone to unite their powers.
    • Saruman said that the Elder Days were gone and that it was time for the wise to use their power to rule the world. He offered Gandalf the opportunity to turn against the Elves and Men of Númenor to seek "the high and ultimate purpose: Knowledge, Rule, Order" (2.2.156).
    • Gandalf replied that Saruman sounded like a messenger of Sauron.
    • Saruman suggested that he and Gandalf could take the One Ring together, since Gandalf must know where it is.
    • Together, they could control its power.
    • Gandalf scoffed: of course he wouldn't hand over the One Ring to Saruman.
    • Saruman promised to imprison Gandalf until he told Saruman what he wanted to know, and he did just that.
    • At first, Gandalf worried that Radagast had also turned bad, but in reality, he he had stayed faithful.
    • What's more, Radagast obeyed Gandalf's request to speak to his beast and bird friends on Gandalf's behalf.
    • Thanks to Radagast, an eagle came to find Gandalf. Gwaihir the Windlord then carried Gandalf from Isengard east to Edoras, in Rohan.
    • (Rohan is famous for its horses; Boromir comments that, "They love their horses next to their kin. And not without reason, for the horses of the Riddermark [...] [are] descended from the free days of old" [2.2.184].)
    • There, Gandalf chose a horse: Shadowfax, who was "tireless, swift as the flowing wind" (2.2.184).
    • He rode to the Shire and spoke to the Gaffer, who told him that Frodo had left Hobbiton less than a week before, and that there had been Black Riders in the Shire.
    • Gandalf traced Frodo to the house at Crickhollow, where he found one of Frodo's cloaks on the doorstep.
    • The house was otherwise dark and empty.
    • Gandalf arrived at The Prancing Pony, where Butterbur confirmed that Frodo had taken up with Strider.
    • He was absolutely delighted at this information, of course, though Butterbur thought it was bad news.
    • Gandalf rode quickly to Weathertop, where he had a showdown with several of the Riders before Frodo and company got there.
    • He knew that he would not be able to find Frodo in the wilderness, so he tried to act as a diversion for the Riders.
    • It only worked for a while; the Nine reunited to attack Frodo at the Ford of Bruinen.
    • Gandalf arrived at Rivendell only three days before Frodo did.
    • Elrond was disappointed to hear about Saruman, but intrigued by Tom Bombadil.
    • Erestor, one of Elrond's counselors, wondered if perhaps Tom Bombadil could hang on to the Ring, since it doesn't affect him.
    • Gandalf said no: first of all, Tom would not understand the importance of the task; second, who is to say he could stand against the whole of Sauron's power?
    • Finally, after Gandalf has finished his story, Glorfindel sums up: "two things only remain for us to attempt: to send it over the Sea, or to destroy it" (2.2.212).
    • Galdor adds that the Sea is no safe place; in fact, travel to the Sea has also become "fraught with gravest peril" (2.2.216), since Sauron may expect that course of action.
    • Elrond declares that they have to send the Ring to Mordor, to Mount Doom, to destroy it.
    • Boromir cuts in: actually, this super weapon seems like it could be useful. Why not use the Ring to achieve victory over Sauron?
    • Elrond answers that the Ring is too strong for any one person to use, since the "very desire of it corrupts the heart" (2.2.225).
    • Glóin wonders if they could combine the power of the other rings – the Elvish rings, for example.
    • Elrond informs Glóin that the Three Rings were not made for war. If the owners of the Three Rings used them against Sauron, he would gain access to their minds if he found the One Ring. It is too risky.
    • Elrond believes that, if Sauron is defeated and the One Ring destroyed, then the things made with the Three Rings will also fade away.
    • Glorfindel confirms that the Elves are willing to accept this price if Sauron falls. Worth it.
    • Erestor thinks that taking the Ring to Mordor is a bad idea: it will bring despair.
    • Gandalf points out that Sauron is a pretty smart guy; perhaps doing something really stupid is the only way to trick him. Interesting strategy, Gandalf.
    • Bilbo speaks up: he found the Ring, so it must be up to him to get rid of it.
    • Gandalf tells Bilbo that the Ring has passed on; Glóin smiles at the old Hobbit's daring.
    • Frodo wants nothing more than to stay in Rivendell with Bilbo, but at last he offers: "I will take the Ring [...] though I do not know the way" (2.2.247).
    • Elrond confirms that he thinks this task is meant for Frodo.
    • Sam cannot stay silent: "But you won't send him off alone surely, Master?" (2.2.252)
    • Elrond agrees that he should have companions, including Sam – since Sam can't even stay out of a secret meeting to which he wasn't invited.
    • Sam blushes and sits down.
  • Book 2, Chapter 3

    The Ring Goes South

    • Later that day, the Hobbits hold their own meeting.
    • Pippin complains that Sam gets to come along and he and Merry don't.
    • Frodo is amazed: why would anyone want to come? Frodo doesn't even want to go!
    • Merry gets this, but thinks that if Frodo has to go anyway, then his friends should be allowed to go, too.
    • Gandalf arrives and tells Pippin not to worry: nothing is decided yet.
    • There's a lot to do before they leave, anyway – they'll be contacting King Thranduil and consulting with the Rangers.
    • Basically, they'll probably have a long stay in Rivendell before they hit the Road.
    • Sam mutters that it will be just in time for winter.
    • The days slip by, but no one can miss that fall is passing quickly.
    • December is half over when the scouts begin to return, reporting that they have seen no sign of the Black Riders or of Gollum anywhere.
    • They do find the bodies of eight of the nine Riders' horses, meaning it will take some time for the Black Riders to regroup.
    • Elrond calls the Hobbits to him to tell them that Frodo must set out soon.
    • He has decided that there will be Nine Walkers to match the Nine Riders: Frodo will have eight companions.
    • The Fellowship will have representatives from the Free Peoples of the World.
    • Legolas will represent the Elves, and Gimli, son of Glóin, will stand for the Dwarves.
    • Aragorn will also come as a representative of men.
    • Frodo is surprised: he thought that Aragorn would go to Gondor with Boromir.
    • Aragorn and Boromir are going to Gondor, but the way to Gondor and the way to Mordor are the same for many hundreds of miles, so Boromir will also be part of the Fellowship.
    • But Elrond points out that they are missing two: perhaps members of his own household?
    • Pippin jumps in: "But that will leave no place for us! [...] We don't want to be left behind" (2.3.41).
    • Gandalf counsels, "I think, Elrond, that in this matter it would be well to trust rather to their friendship than to great wisdom" (2.3.43).
    • After all, they are never going to be able to win over Sauron with pure strength of arms, so why would an extra Elf-lord or two in the company make a difference?
    • Elrond agrees that Pippin and Merry shall go.
    • So the Fellowship is filled: Legolas, Gimli, Aragorn, Boromir, Merry, Pippin, Sam, and of course, Frodo and Gandalf.
    • Before setting out, the Elven-smiths of Rivendell reforge Elendil's sword Narsil, the Sword that was Broken.
    • Aragorn renames his newly-forged sword Andúril, Flame of the West.
    • On the morning of the last day, Frodo is sitting with Bilbo.
    • Bilbo brings out a wooden box. In it is Sting, Bilbo's old sword (which glows when Orcs are near, as we learn in The Hobbit).

    (Click the infographic to download.)

    • Bilbo also brings out a small shirt of mail, which shines "like moonlit silver, and was studded with white gems" (2.3.55).
    • Frodo thinks he'll look foolish in this Dwarf-mail.
    • Bilbo shushes him: Frodo can wear the mail shirt under his clothes. In fact, Bilbo makes Frodo promise not to tell anyone he has it – this will be their little secret.
    • In return, Bilbo wants Frodo to keep track of everything he sees.
    • Bilbo hopes to write a second book with all of these adventures, after he finishes his first.
    • The Company sets out the next day, on a cold gray morning.
    • They aren't carrying much in the way of weapons, since their main goal is to creep quietly into Mordor.
    • They have one beast of burden with them: Bill the pony, whom Frodo and Sam bought from Bill Ferny all the way back in Bree.
    • Sam is very attached to Bill, and insists that he come along.
    • Elrond's last word to the Company is this: the Ring-bearer is the only member of the Company who has actually taken an oath to go on this road. Any of the rest of them can leave if they need or want to.
    • At the Ford of Bruinen, the Company turns south.
    • Gandalf walks in front with Aragorn.
    • They keep pressing southward, until the Hobbits are stumbling with weariness.
    • After about two weeks, the weather suddenly changes: the sun comes out and they can see a distant mountain range.
    • The nearest mountain "[stands] up like a tooth tipped with snow; its great, bare, northern precipice [is] still largely in shadow, but where the sunlight slant[s] upon it, it glow[s] red" (2.3.87).
    • They are now in the country of Hollin, called Eregion by the Elves.
    • Gandalf confirms that they are now making for Azanulbizar, a.k.a. the Dimrill Dale, a.k.a. Nanduhirion, a valley in the Misty Mountains.
    • Gandalf wants to climb to the Redhorn Gate, a pass on the far side of the mountain of Caradhras, which will take them to "the deep vale of the Dwarves. There lies the Mirrowmere, and there the River Silverlode rises in its icy springs" (2.3.98).
    • Gimli is delighted to be able to see these lands of his forefathers.
    • That night, Aragorn is silent and watchful. He knows the land of Hollin well, and something has changed. The land has grown silent and fearful – but why?
    • As Sam and Aragorn take the first watch, Sam catches sight of a fast-moving shape in the sky. Aragorn pulls Sam flat.
    • After the shapes pass overhead, and they see that it is a flock of crows, Aragorn wakes Gandalf.
    • These birds are not from Hollin; they are crebain from Fangorn and Dunland. They are spying on the land.
    • Both Hollin and the Redhorn Gate are being watched.
    • The Company has to stay in hiding and stop using fires, for fear of attracting too much notice.
    • On the third morning, they see Caradhras before them looking grim and cold.
    • Gandalf and Aragorn have a quick conference.
    • Gandalf is concerned that they will be waylaid at Redhorn Gate by enemies.
    • Aragorn is even grimmer: what if the horse-lords of Rohan have gone over to Sauron?
    • Gandalf mentions another way, "a dark and secret way" (2.3.133), but the two agree not to discuss this way unless it becomes absolutely necessary.
    • As they plan to climb Caradhras, Boromir points out (reasonably) that it won't matter if the enemy can't see them if they all freeze to death.
    • Even if they should avoid fire, they should bring as much wood with them as they can in case of dire winter storms on the mountain.
    • As the Company starts climbing, the snow starts to fall.
    • They climb through a day, and the Hobbits really begin to struggle.
    • What's more, they can't find decent shelter for the night. They do the best they can against a cliff-wall.
    • As they continue the next day, Frodo starts to feel terribly sleepy.
    • Boromir lifts him off the ground out of the snow. He points out that the snow will be the death of the Hobbits: they are soon going to be entirely buried.
    • They try to light a fire, but the weather is too wet and windy.
    • Finally, Gandalf gives in and uses his magic to light a campfire.
    • But now, Gandalf worries that he has "written Gandalf is here in signs that all can read from Rivendell to the mouths of Anduin" (2.3.172).
    • They use the last of their wood, but luckily, the wind dies down and the snow seems to stop.
    • Gimli points out that Caradhras the Cruel has more snow to throw at them; they must go back down now, while they can.
    • But even going down the mountain is going to be tough with all of this snow.
    • Aragorn and Boromir cut a path through the snow and the Hobbits walk behind them.
    • When they stop for a rest, Legolas jumps to the top of the snow bank and runs ahead to scout.
    • Legolas comes back to say that they are caught in the biggest snow drift, but if they can just cut through it, the snow diminishes fast.
    • Boromir and Aragorn carry the Hobbits through the great drift.
    • They race down the mountain, defeated by Caradhras.
  • Book 2, Chapter 4

    A Journey in the Dark

    • Once they get down the mountain, the Company holds a council: either they have to go on or go back to Rivendell.
    • Frodo decides that they can't go back to Rivendell; that would be shameful.
    • Gandalf suggests one way forward – they could go through the Mines of Moria – but it's not a good way, and Aragorn is against it.
    • Boromir offers an alternative: they could go far to the south, through the Gap of Rohan and into Gondor.
    • Gandalf objects that this would bring them too close to Isengard and Saruman. Also, they can't afford to lose too much time.
    • Now that they have failed on Caradhras, they need to get out of sight for a while.
    • Moria is not Orc-heavy right now: most of the Orcs of the Misty Mountains were destroyed in the Battle of the Five Armies.
    • Gimli agrees to go through Moria. He wants to see the halls of Durin.
    • Aragorn has been through Moria once, but he doesn't want to repeat the experience. Still, he will follow Gandalf's lead.
    • Boromir says that he won't go through Moria unless the entire Company votes against him.
    • Legolas does not want to go either.
    • Frodo decides, "I do not wish to go [...] but neither do I wish to refuse the advice of Gandalf" (2.4.30).
    • He votes to wait until morning to decide.
    • Aragorn suddenly realizes that the howl of the wind is actually the howl of wolves. They have no choice now: they have to go to Moria.
    • They agree to set out for the door on Caradhras' south-west face the next morning.
    • They climb to the top of a hill as a defense for the night; there, they find a ring of stones.
    • Bill the pony trembles and sweats as he listens to the wolves growing closer.
    • There is a "great dark wolf-shape" that appears at a gap in the ring of stones.
    • Gandalf shouts, "Listen, Hound of Sauron! [...] Gandalf is here. Fly, if you value your foul skin! I will shrivel you from tail to snout, if you come within this ring" (2.4.42).
    • The wolf leaps forward, but Legolas shoots it with his arrow.
    • The wolves pull back and the darkness grows silent.
    • Suddenly, a huge pack of Wargs – evil wolves – attacks them from all sides.
    • Gandalf fights the Wargs back with fire, and by dawn, they have all been beaten back.
    • But in the morning, the Company discovers that there are no wolf bodies left; Gandalf is sure that these are no ordinary wolves.
    • They must race to the doors of Moria before sunset.
    • At last, they reach Sirannon, the Gate-stream, and the dry remains of the Stair Falls.
    • Gandalf mutters to Frodo that they cannot take Bill the pony into the mines; even though it will sadden Sam, they will have to set Bill free.
    • The sun is setting as they reach the end of the Elvish road from Hollin to Moria.
    • Near the doors, there is a green and stagnant lake.
    • Gandalf breaks the news to Sam that they cannot take Bill with them; Sam bursts into tears and unloads the pony.
    • Gandalf goes to the rock face and mutters a few words.
    • In the light of the moon, a door shines out from the wall.
    • The door says: "The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria [...] Speak, friend, and enter" (2.4.98).
    • Gandalf decides that there must be a password, so he tries many words and incantations to try to get inside.
    • The doors remain stubbornly shut.
    • Boromir picks up a stone and throws it into the scummy pool near the doors.
    • Frodo scolds Boromir for disturbing the water.
    • Finally, Gandalf gets it: say "friend" and enter. He says the Elvish word for friend, mellon, and the doors crack open.
    • As the door opens, Frodo feels something wind around his ankle and pull him down.
    • Bill the pony bolts.
    • Huge tentacles are whipping out of the water, and one of them is dragging Frodo down into the pond.
    • Sam slashes at the tentacle holding Frodo and pulls him to safety.
    • Gandalf shouts at them to get inside.
    • The Company makes it through the doors just in time to see "many coiling arms [seizing] the doors on either side, and with horrible strength, [swinging] them round" (2.4.130).
    • The door is shut and blocked behind them.
    • Gandalf leads them down into Moria; it will be at least forty miles to the eastern gate and Dimrill Dale.
    • The Company does not dare use their torches, so they have to trust to Gandalf's memory to avoid deep crevasses and rock falls.
    • The journey is quite miserable.
    • Frodo in particular feels on red alert: ever since his injury with the Morgul-blade, his senses have been unusually acute, and he feels hyper-aware of danger ahead.
    • Frodo hears something padding behind them, something on soft feet.
    • Finally, they reach a crossroads that Gandalf does not remember.
    • They settle down to wait for a bit in a nearby guardroom; there is a deep well that seems to fascinate Pippin particularly.
    • Pippin throws a stone in the well and listens for it to land with an echoing plunk (2.4.160). Gandalf once again scolds him for making a nuisance of himself.
    • But then, deep in the mines, there comes a tapping sound, like some sort of signal; Gimli identifies it as the sound of a hammer.
    • The Company sets watch and goes to sleep.
    • Gandalf sits smoking for six hours until he decides what to do. In the end, he decides to take the right-hand passage, and the Company climbs up and up for eight hours.
    • Finally, the Hobbits are too tired to go on, and they decide to rest for the night.
    • Gandalf guesses that they are now actually a ways above the Dimrill Gate.
    • He risks enough light to see where they are.
    • They find themselves in a huge empty hall: "its black walls, polished and smooth as glass, [flash] and glitter. Three other entrances they see, dark black arches, one straight before them eastwards, and one on either side" (2.4.176).
    • Gandalf puts out the light, but Gimli is moved to sing a song of Moria in Durin's day. Naturally.
    • Sam asks why the Dwarves came back to Moria.
    • Gandalf answers: mithril. Mithril is a spectacular metal that is light and yet harder than steel.
    • He mentions that Bilbo had a coat of mithril mail, which would have been worth more than the Shire.

    (Click the infographic to download.)

    • Frodo feels a bit alarmed that he is currently wearing the worth of the Shire hidden under his clothes.
    • The Company goes to sleep, and when they wake, it is morning – really morning, because there is light coming in from somewhere.
    • Gandalf predicts that they will come to the Great Gates and the lake of Mirrowmere by the end of that day.
    • Gimli is glad: he is happy to have seen Moria, but it has become a dark and dreadful place.
    • They go toward the light beyond the northern archway and find a dimly lit square chamber. In it is a slab of stone that reads, "Balin Son of Fundin, Lord of Moria" (2.4.201).
    • Balin is dead.
  • Book 2, Chapter 5

    The Bridge of Khazad-dûm

    • The Company searches the room for more clues to Balin's fate.
    • Gandalf finds a chronicle of Balin's expedition, but it's tattered and difficult to make out.
    • It definitely contains the nasty news that Balin, Óin, and Ori died in battle in the mines.
    • Worst of all are the last words of Ori: "We cannot get out. We cannot get out [...] The end comes [...] drums, drums in the deep [...] they are coming" (2.5.11).
    • Once Gandalf has finished his reading, they hear a loud booming noise echoing through the Mines.
    • It is the drums in the deep: the Enemy is coming.
    • Gandalf insists that they not block the eastern door – they cannot risk getting trapped like Ori and his friends.
    • Coming toward the Company, Gandalf sees huge numbers of Orcs, including some Uruks from Mordor, and at least one cave troll.
    • Boromir tries to barricade the door shut, but it opens slowly under the force of a "great, flat, toeless foot" (2.5.31).
    • To everyone's surprise, Frodo leaps forward and stabs the foot.
    • It jerks back, and Boromir gets the door shut.
    • Still, the Orcs outside break it down, and the battle begins.

    (Click the infographic to download.)

    • A "huge Orc-chieftain, almost man-high" (2.5.38) stabs at Frodo with a spear that leaves him pinned to the wall.
    • Aragorn picks Frodo up and they run for the eastern door.
    • Frodo tells Aragorn to put him down; he can walk. Aragorn is stunned: he thought Frodo was dead.
    • They find a dark passage where they crouch in wait for Gandalf.
    • Gandalf stays behind to guard the door; they can hear him muttering something.
    • Soon, Gandalf rejoins them to say that he has done all he can, but he has met his match.
    • They have to run as fast as they can, seven flights of stairs down into the Mines.
    • Gandalf thinks they have reached the level of the Gates. Now, they must head east.
    • Still confused, Gandalf asks how Frodo survived the spear stabbing.
    • Frodo says he's fine – just bruised.
    • They press on.
    • But Gandalf notices something wrong: there is a mysterious glow ahead, and it's not daylight. It's fire.
    • Fortunately for the Company, they are on the right side of the fire: they are facing the way out, and the Orcs trying to kill them are on the other side of whatever is burning.
    • They reach a narrow bridge across a fifty-foot-wide chasm. They begin to cross.
    • Legolas turns back to fire his arrows at the Orcs when he sees something that frightens him: a Balrog.
    • Gandalf sends the Company ahead and stands in the middle of the Bridge of Khazad-dûm to face the Balrog.
    • He breaks the bridge with a sheet of flame, sending the Balrog into a deep pit, but the Balrog catches Gandalf's foot with his whip and Gandalf falls, too.
    • His last words are: "Fly, you fools!" (2.5.95). And just like that, he's gone.
    • Aragorn shouts, "I will lead you now! [...] We must obey his last command" (2.5.96).
    • The Company follows Aragorn in a daze. They emerge under the sky, looking out over Dimrill Dale. It is 1:00 in the afternoon, and the sun is high.
    • The drum-beats fade and the Company falls into grief.
  • Book 2, Chapter 6

    Lothlórien

    • At last, Aragorn tells them they have to press on.
    • They walk down the Dimrill Stair to the Mirrowmere, a dark, clear lake that reflects the sky rather than the people peering into it.
    • The Company follows the River Silverlode toward the woods of Lothlórien; it is "the fairest of all the dwellings" (2.6.19) of the Elves.
    • As the Company hurries to Lothlórien, Frodo and Sam start to fall behind.
    • Frodo is finding it hard to breathe.
    • Aragorn apologizes to Frodo and Sam for not tending to them earlier.
    • Sam has a shallow cut on his forehead that is beginning to get infected.
    • When Aragorn treats Frodo's injury, he finds the mithril coat that Bilbo gave him; Gimli is pretty impressed at the mail coat's quality.

    (Click the infographic to download.)

    • Underneath the mail is a deep bruise, which Aragorn soothes with some athelas.
    • Then Aragorn tells Frodo to put the mail back on – it's the best protection he can have.
    • That night, there is no sign that Orcs are pursuing them, but Frodo can still hear the padding of footsteps, as he heard in Moria.
    • They arrive at the edge of the Golden Wood, Lothlórien.
    • Legolas says that there "is a secret power here that holds evil from the land. Nevertheless its folk are seldom seen, and maybe they dwell now deep in the woods and far from the northern border" (2.6.48).
    • Aragorn agrees, and they decide to make camp.
    • Boromir does not want to go to Lothlórien. He wants a straightforward road.
    • Aragorn assures Boromir that the only evil in Lothlórien is what people bring with them.
    • About a mile into the forest, they find another stream: the Nimrodel.
    • The stream seems to wash Frodo's aches and pains away from him. Nice.
    • They ford the Nimrodel, sit down for a bite to eat, and for something completely different, Legolas sings a song. This time, it's about Nimrodel, the elven maid.
    • They decide to spend the night in the tree-tops for safety.
    • Legolas climbs up, but a voice suddenly stops him: "Daro!" (2.6.72). The voices are coming from the trees.
    • They speak to Legolas in an Elven language that Frodo cannot understand. They ask Legolas to climb up with Frodo, since they have some news of his journey.
    • Frodo climbs up to a platform in the trees, where an Elf, Haldir, greets him.
    • Legolas says there are eight in the Company (besides Frodo), one of whom is a Dwarf.
    • After a consultation, the Elves agree to allow Gimli into Lothlórien as long as he consents to wear a blindfold.
    • As the Company sleeps in their trees, a gray-hooded Elf suddenly appears and says, "Yrch!" (2.6.100) – Orcs!
    • They are searching around the trees for the Company.
    • The Orcs eventually move away, but Frodo is still aware of something out there sniffing at the tree.
    • He sees something, which suddenly darts away, and then Haldir comes climbing up the tree. He notes that there is something nearby, and it's Orc.
    • The Orcs will be killed by his people in the forest, he asserts. They can proceed with their journey the next morning.
    • The next day, Frodo and Company leave the Nimrodel behind and begin walking along the fast-rushing River Celebrant.
    • They must cross the river on a thin rope bridge.
    • Haldir tells them that no strangers are allowed to see the secrets of the Naith (or Gore) of Lórien.
    • (A "gore" in this case is a triangular piece of land; Haldir means the triangle made between the Silverlode and Anduin rivers.)
    • Haldir demands that Gimli go forward blindfolded from now on, and that the others must be blindfolded once they reach the Angle of the Gore, Eglandil.
    • Gimli stubbornly insists that he won't be treated any differently than the others.
    • Haldir tells him he can't go back, either: now that he's come this far, he has to see the Lord and the Lady.
    • Aragorn decides that they will all be blindfolded, even Legolas, to show solidarity.
    • As Frodo walks through the Naith, even though he can't see anything, he feels that he has entered the lost world of the Elder Days.
    • They march all day until they meet a company of Elves, who reassure them that the Orcs from the Mines of Moria who made it to the forest have been destroyed.
    • Even better, the Lady of Lothlórien has decided that they can all walk without their blindfolds, even Gimli.
    • Haldir removes the Company's blindfolds, and they look in wonder around the forest of Lothlórien. They have reached Cerin Amroth, the heart of Lothlórien.
    • Frodo sees that there is no blemish or darkness in this land.
    • Together, they all climb upwards to look out over the realm.
    • Haldir shows them distant Dol Guldur, in Southern Mirkwood, where the dark power has taken hold again.
    • When Frodo and Sam descend, they find Aragorn holding a yellow elanor flower and smiling.
    • He is thinking of Arwen.
    • Aragorn says that the heart of Elvendom in Middle-earth is here.
    • He takes Frodo's hand, and together they walk away from the hill of Cerin Amroth.
  • Book 2, Chapter 7

    The Mirror of Galadriel

    • The sun is setting as the Company reaches a wide, treeless space.
    • There is a row of enormous mallorn trees wreathed with lights; this is the city of Caras Galadhorn, the city of the Galadhrim. It is also the home of Lord Celeborn and Galadriel, the Lady of Lórien.

    (Click the infographic to download.)

    • The Company travels over a white road to a large gate. The doors open soundlessly, with no visible guards.
    • They see no people in the City of the Trees.
    • A fountain is lit with silver lights, and on the far side of the lawn is the largest of all of the trees they have seen.
    • Three Elves are sitting at the base of a broad white ladder. They rise and blow a small horn. A horn then sounds from above, in the trees.
    • Haldir goes up first, followed by Frodo and Legolas.
    • They reach a talan, a platform, on which an enormous house is built.
    • In it sits Celeborn and Galadriel side by side.
    • Celeborn wonders why there only eight companions, but Galadriel already knows that Gandalf the Grey fell in Moria.
    • Aragorn tells the whole story.
    • Celeborn's immediate response to the news of the Balrog is to blame the Dwarves, who have "stirred up this evil in Moria again" (2.7.26).
    • But Galadriel reproves Celeborn for thinking that Gandalf didn't know what he was doing.
    • Also, Galadriel sympathizes with Gimli for wanting to get a glimpse of the great halls of Khazad-dûm.
    • Gimli is immediately smitten with Galadriel.
    • Celeborn apologizes for being so hasty in judgment.
    • Galadriel warns that their quest is in a precarious position, and they have to be very careful.
    • She says emphatically that "hope remains while all the Company is true" (2.7.33).
    • Here, she looks very closely at each of the Company's members.
    • Only Aragorn and Legolas can hold her eyes for long.
    • She then sends the Company off to bed.
    • That night, the Company talks about the things they saw when Galadriel looked at them.
    • Each of them had seen a choice between the danger that lies ahead and something they really wanted.
    • Frodo won't tell what he saw. Secrets don't make friends, Frodo.
    • But Boromir continues to think that Galadriel is working some evil on the Company.
    • The Company spends several days in Lothlórien, mostly on their own.
    • They hear the Elves lamenting for Gandalf, who they call Mithrandir, and Frodo makes up a song about Gandalf's death to mourn him.
    • One night, Galadriel comes to speak to Frodo and Sam.
    • She beckons them to a fountain. There is a basin nearby, with a pitcher for water; Galadriel calls it the Mirror of Galadriel.
    • She asks Frodo and Sam to look at it, if they want to.
    • Sam sees a vision of the Shire being torn up, Ted Sandyman cutting down trees, and the Gaffer left homeless.
    • He leaps up and resolves to go right back to the Shire.
    • Galadriel counsels him: "Remember that the Mirror shows many things, and not all have yet come to pass. Some never come to be, unless those that behold the visions turn aside from their paths to prevent them" (2.7.82).
    • Sam is deeply unsettled.
    • Frodo looks into the Mirror and sees someone approaching all in white; it looks like Gandalf, but how can it be?
    • Frodo also sees Bilbo walking restlessly.
    • He sees a dark ship and a white fortress with seven towers.
    • And then he sees a single Eye that fills almost the whole Mirror.
    • The Eye is looking everywhere for Frodo. It is the Eye of Sauron.
    • Galadriel stops him before the weight of the Ring around his neck pulls him into the water. She knows that he sees Sauron, because she sees him, too.
    • Sauron would like to gain access to Galadriel's mind because she carries an Elvish Ring of Power, Nenya, the Ring of Adamant.
    • Galadriel tells Frodo that his coming puts the Elves in a dilemma.
    • If Frodo fails in his quest, Sauron will take over the world and destroy everything, even Lothlórien.
    • But if he succeeds, the power of the Three Rings of the Elves will fade, and Lothlórien will die; the Elves will pass into the West, and her people will be forgotten in Middle-earth.
    • But the Elves are willing to accept that fate if it means that they will be free of Sauron.
    • Frodo offers Galadriel the Ring, since she is wise and fearless and "[i]t is too great a matter for [him]" (2.7.98).
    • Galadriel admits that she has often thought what she would do with the Ruling Ring, but she refuses. She would start out trying to do good, but the power would corrupt her ultimately.
  • Book 2, Chapter 8

    Farewell to Lórien

    • The night before the Company leaves Lothlórien, they are summoned by the Lord and Lady.
    • Celeborn tells them that now is the time to leave, if they want to continue on their quest. For those who do not want to go on, they can stay in Lothlórien for a time.
    • Boromir says he has to continue to Gondor in any case, and Aragorn adds that they have not yet decided their forward route.
    • Celeborn offers them boats to travel down the Silverlode to the Great River Anduin. Aragorn thanks Celeborn: that will save them some time and effort.
    • After wishing the Lord and Lady good night, the Company gets together for a planning session.
    • Most of them want to go to Minas Tirith, in Gondor, first, before deciding their ultimate route to Mordor.
    • Aragorn's mind is still divided.
    • Boromir tells them he will go to Gondor alone if he has to. He adds that it is folly to go into Mordor without armed forces, and "folly to throw away [...] folly to throw lives away, I mean" (2.8.19). Notice the slip-up?
    • Frodo is becoming suspicious of Boromir's intentions.
    • In the morning, the people of Lórien give them food and clothing. The food is a very thin cake called lembas, a light, strengthening food for travel, which can keep you on your feet for many days.
    • They also receive gray cloaks that look like twilight under the trees, hiding the wearer from sight. Each cloak clasps with a brooch "like a green leaf veined with silver" (2.8.28).
    • At the bank of the Silverlode, the Company finds three small gray boats loaded with their luggage and many extra coils of light, strong rope (which makes Sam happy).
    • Haldir escorts them to their boats and bids them farewell.
    • Aragorn, Frodo, and Sam ride in one boat; Boromir, Merry, and Pippin in the second; and Legolas and Gimli in the third.
    • As they drift down the river, they hear singing.
    • There is a boat coming toward them holding two Elves with paddles, Celeborn, and Galadriel.
    • Galadriel sings of Lothlórien and travel across the Sea.
    • They have come to say farewell and eat a final meal with the Company.
    • To Frodo, Galadriel no longer looks terrifying or filled with hidden power.
    • She seems both present and far away, as though she has been left behind by Time.
    • After they have eaten, Celeborn talks to them about their trip. He suggests that they go as far down as the cataracts of Rauros.
    • There, they will find a wide marsh and the Forest of Fangorn.
    • On the western side of the Anduin lies Rohan.
    • On the eastern side, there are the Dead Marshes to Cirith Gorgor and the black gates of Mordor.
    • For Boromir and those who want to go to Gondor, they should leave their boats above the Rauros.
    • The Company should avoid the Forest of Fangorn, since it is a strange place.
    • Galadriel offers white mead for a farewell drink. She tells Celeborn, "let not your heart be sad, though night must follow noon, and already our evening draweth nigh" (2.8.54).
    • She offers each of the members of the Company a gift.

    (Click the infographic to download.)

    • Aragorn gets a jeweled sheath for his sword, Andúril.
    • Galadriel also gives him a silver brooch, shaped like a flying eagle, with a green stone. The stone was left for Aragorn if he should pass through Lothlórien. Galadriel gave it to her daughter, Celebrían, who passed it to her daughter, Arwen. And now Arwen wants to pass it to Aragorn.
    • The green stone recognizes another of Aragorn's names: Elessar, the Elfstone.
    • Aragorn is (understandably) very happy.
    • To Boromir, Galadriel gives a golden belt; Merry and Pippin get silver belts.
    • To Legolas, she gives a bow in the style of the Galadhrim and a quiver of arrows.
    • Sam gets a box filled with earth from Galadriel's garden with a little silver nut inside. If Sam carries this box back with him to the Shire and sprinkles this soil on his garden, his flowers will bloom like few in Middle-earth.
    • Galadriel asks what Gimli would like. He replies that it has been enough to have seen her and heard her speak.
    • Galadriel announces, "Hear all ye Elves! [...] Let none none say again that Dwarves are grasping and ungracious!" (2.8.67).
    • But Galadriel insists on giving Gimli a present; he says he wants a single strand of Galadriel's hair.
    • If Gimli ever returns to his home, he will place the hair in crystal and keep it as "a pledge of good will between the Mountain and the Wood until the end of days" (2.8.70).
    • Galadriel unbraids her hair and grants his wish.
    • To Frodo, Galadriel offers a small crystal that glitters with the light of Eärendil. She wishes, "[m]ay it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out" (2.8.72).
    • With this gift, Frodo sees Galadriel again, "standing like a queen, great and beautiful, but no longer terrible" (2.8.83).
    • They continue down the Silverlode to the Great River Anduin, and they see the figure of Galadriel receding in the distance.
    • As they sail out of sight, she sings a song in Elvish that Frodo cannot understand. Still, it makes him feel sad.
    • The river takes a turn, and they can no longer see Lothlórien.
    • Gimli weeps openly, knowing that he may well never see Lothlórien again. He and Legolas mourn together.
    • So the Company travels southwards through bare, empty, cheerless country.
  • Book 2, Chapter 9

    The Great River

    • The Company drifts downriver for several days, saving their strength for the trials to come.
    • They see no sign of the Enemy on these treeless, cheerless banks.
    • Frodo can see the Misty Mountains in the distance, and soon, the Anduin broadens into shallower, marshier land.
    • Merry and Pippin, sitting in Boromir's boat, start to get a little nervous.
    • Boromir seems distracted, sometimes muttering to himself, and when he looks at Frodo, a strange light sometimes comes into his eyes.
    • One day, Sam tells Frodo that he has been dreaming: he has seen a log with eyes floating in the river. They both agree that this vision is probably Gollum. He has been tailing them since Moria, to Frodo's knowledge.
    • Sam and Frodo agree to keep an eye out: Sam takes the first watch and then wakes Frodo.
    • During Frodo's watch, he hears a hiss close by, followed by a splash. On guard, he draws Sting.
    • Aragorn stirs in his sleep, sits up, and asks Frodo what is wrong.
    • Frodo tells Aragorn his suspicions about Gollum, and Aragorn shows no surprise: "Ah! [...] So you know about our little footpad, do you?" (2.9.30).
    • Aragorn suggests that they try traveling faster the next day.
    • Finally, the Company reaches an area of low cliffs and brambles: they have found Emyn Muil, the southern border of Wilderland.
    • As the sun is setting, Legolas spots a black eagle flying low overhead, and Aragorn worries that the birds are spreading news about the Company. You know, as birds are known to do.
    • They reach the Rapids of Sarn Gebir in the night and almost run aground on rocks. Oops.
    • Aragorn is surprised by how far along they are on their route.
    • But as they try to paddle to the banks of the river, arrows start flying overhead. Dun dun dun. Orcs!
    • Sam suspects that this is Gollum's doing. Big shock.
    • The Company has to keep their heads and keep working to row to shore.
    • Thanks to the gray of their Lothlórien cloaks, they are somewhat protected from the Orcs' sight, and eventually, they make it to the bushes on the banks of the river.
    • There are noises of Orcs on the opposite bank, and a great, dark winged creature suddenly appears out of the clouds overhead.
    • Legolas calls the name, "Elbereth Gilthoniel!" (2.9.55), aims an arrow, and shoots the thing out of the sky.
    • The Orcs across the river wail and curse and disappear. Nice!
    • The Company decides to wait until morning to go on.
    • No one quite knows what Legolas shot; well, Frodo has a suspicion, but he won't share with the group.
    • The next day, the river is covered in thick fog. (Pretty much the norm, right?) Sam is happy to be cloaked from the Orcs, but Aragorn is concerned about losing their way.
    • Boromir suggests that they abandon the boats entirely and start cutting across the country to Minas Tirith.
    • Aragorn doesn't like this idea; he wants to hold on to the boats as long as they can, since the country of Entwash is hard to cross. He wants to go at least to the foot of the Rauros falls, past Amon Hen ("the high seat [...] that [was] made in the days of the great kings" [2.9.78]).
    • Legolas and Aragorn head off to explore the coast. When they come back, they report that the Company is close to the head of the Rapids.
    • There is a portage-way for transporting boats past the Rapids; so they all get out of their boats, take their luggage, and struggle past Sarn Gebir on foot.
    • They decide to rest for the night and make for the Gates of Argonath (which lead to the Rauros Falls) in the morning.
    • The next day, as the Company races down the narrow river channel, Frodo sees two great pillars. Aragorn announces that these are the Argonath, the Pillars of the King, dating back to the height of Gondor.
    • Enormous gray figures are carved into the stone, each with the left arm outstretched in warning.
    • As Aragorn looks at them, he undergoes a change: "the weatherworn Ranger [is] no longer there. In stern sat Aragorn son of Arathorn [...] a king returning from exile to his own land" (2.9.102).
    • It is the tenth day of their trip from Lothlórien, and they have passed successfully through Wilderland. So far so good.
  • Book 2, Chapter 10

    The Breaking of the Fellowship

    • The Anduin splits around an island, Tol Brandir, at the top of the Rauros Falls; Aragorn leads them down the right-hand arm of the river.
    • They moor their boats beneath the hill, Amon Hen. The hill on the opposite bank is called Amon Lhaw. (Keep these straight – there will be a quiz later.)
    • Aragorn guides them to a grassy lawn, Parth Galen, at the foot of Amon Hen, where they can rest for the night.
    • While Frodo is on watch, Aragorn wakes up and draws his sword; for some reason, he feels tense and nervous.
    • Frodo follows suit and draws Sting. He knows that Orcs are close, but not too close; either way, they must be careful.
    • The next day, Aragorn calls the Company for a conference. It's seriously time to decide where they're going to go: west to Gondor, east to Mordor, or split up the Fellowship? Decisions, decisions.
    • No one says anything for a long time. Awkward silence...
    • Aragorn finally tells Frodo the decision rests with him.
    • Frodo wants an hour alone to make his choice; Aragorn agrees, and Frodo wanders off to the trees at the base of Amon Hen.
    • He listens to the rushing sound of the falls, and suddenly feels as though something is coming up behind him.
    • He's right: it's Boromir, asking if he can speak to him. He wants to tell Frodo that he doesn't need to suffer like this.
    • But Frodo is afraid of taking the way that seems easier, only to discover that it is the wrong way.
    • Boromir wants to see the Ring. Hmmm.
    • Frodo refuses. (Smart move.)
    • Boromir speaks plainly: "Minas Tirith will fall, if the Ring lasts. But why? Certainly, if the Ring were with the Enemy. But why, if it were with us?" (2.10.34).
    • Boromir starts ranting about what he would do with the Ring: he sees a string of glorious victories, where he himself would be at the head of Gondor's armies.
    • Frodo replies that he sees now – his mind is clearer.
    • Boromir misunderstands; he thinks that Frodo has agreed to come to Minas Tirith. These two are definitely not on the same page. Something's up.
    • Frodo backs away.
    • Boromir demands that Frodo lend him the Ring: it should have been his anyway.
    • Suddenly, Boromir springs at Frodo; Frodo backs away and slips on the Ring. Uh oh.
    • Boromir immediately regrets his actions: "What have I done? Frodo, Frodo! [...] Come back! A madness took me, but it has passed" (2.10.58).
    • Frodo climbs to the top of Amon Hen, the Hill of the Eye of the Men of Númenor; he sees Rohan and Isengard and the Misty Mountains.
    • Everywhere that Frodo turns, there are signs of war: Orcs are pouring out of the mountains, and none of these lands are safe.
    • Suddenly, Frodo sees the Eye of Sauron. The Eye looks back at him, catching a glimpse of Amon Lhaw and Tol Brandir.
    • Frodo finally yanks the Ring off, before the Eye can get a clear look at him in his Lothlórien cloak.
    • He makes his decision: he knows that the Ring is too evil to carry with so many people. He must take it alone to Mordor.
    • Frodo puts the Ring back on to sneak off to Mordor.
    • Meanwhile, the rest of the Company is wondering what Frodo's decision will be.
    • They know that taking the Ring to Gondor will only delay the evil day of confrontation with Sauron, but Aragorn worries that having too many people go east to Mordor will actually be counterproductive.
    • Sam looks around and sees that Boromir has gone; he tells the rest of the Company that Frodo knows he should go to Mordor. He's just working up the courage to do it.
    • Sam is also certain that Frodo will want to go alone, and he's definitely not okay with that.
    • Boromir comes back: he admits that Frodo vanished after Boromir talked to him about Minas Tirith.
    • Now the Company really panics. Where is Frodo?
    • Legolas, Gimli, Merry, Pippin, and Sam all dash off to find him.
    • Aragorn groans, "Now we shall all be scattered and lost" (2.10.92).
    • Aragorn tells Boromir that he has to help now, even if he did have a part in Frodo's disappearance, and he sends Boromir after Merry and Pippin.
    • Sam reasons that Frodo would have gone to the boats; he dashes back to the river bank and sees a boat sliding into the river.
    • He rushes straight into the Anduin after Frodo, and Frodo pulls him up into the boat.
    • Frodo curses Sam as a nuisance. Poor Sam, he always gets the short end of the stick.
    • Sam protests that he couldn't stand it if Frodo were "[a]ll alone and without [Sam] to help [him]" (2.10.108). He knows that Frodo is going to Mordor, and he is totally going with him.
    • Frodo thanks Sam; in reality, he's glad to have the company.
    • Sam and Frodo cross the Anduin to the southern slopes of Amon Lhaw, on the east side of the river. There, they look for a path through Emyn Muil into Mordor...
    • And...that's it (for now)!
    • Check out the The Two Towers to see what befalls Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Legolas, Aragorn, Gimli, and, of course, poor Boromir.