The Fellowship of the Ring
The Fellowship of the Ring is the first of three volumes of the epic novel The Lord of the Rings. It is divided into two books, Book I and II. It was originally released on July 29, 1954 in the United Kingdom.
The first sets the stage for the adventure and follows Frodo Baggins as he flees from his home in the Shire to escape the minions of the Dark Lord Sauron. Sauron seeks the One Ring that will allow him to control the Bearers of the nineteen Lower Rings and control the three major races of Middle Earth, The Elves, The Men and The Dwarves. The One Ring has been inherited by Frodo who finds himself unwittingly in the midst of a struggle for world domination.
The beginning of the first chapter in the book begins quite lightly, following on from The Hobbit which is more of a childrens story than Lord of the Rings. It begins with Bilbo celebrating his 111th (or eleventy first, as it is called) birthday, on the same day that Frodo celebrates his 33rd birthday. (His 'coming of age') At the birthday party, Bilbo disappears after his speech, to the suprise of all. Frodo later learns about the ring which he had used to make himself invisible, and also to some of its darker powers.
Heeding the advice of the wizard Gandalf, Frodo leaves his home, taking the Ring with him. He hopes to reach Rivendell, where he will be safe from Sauron, and where those wiser than he can decide what to do about the Ring.
In his journey he is accompanied by three hobbit friends, Pippin, Merry, and Sam. From the start they are pursued by Black Riders, the Ringwraiths who serve Sauron. Narrowly escaping these and other dangers and meeting other interesting characters en route (e.g, Tom Bombadil) they eventually come to Bree, where they meet Strider, another friend of Gandalf who leads them the rest of the way to Rivendell, through further hardships. Frodo is stabbed upon the mountain of Weathertop by the chief of the Nazgul, with a 'morgul blade' - as part of the knife stays inside him, he gets sicker on the rest of the journey. They also pass the trolls which had been turned to stone in the previous book, The Hobbit.
- I - A Long-expected Party - details Bilbo and Frodo's birthday party, chapter ends with Bilbo leaving the Shire
- II - The Shadow of the Past - Gandalf tells Frodo the true nature of the ring, and how it must be taken to Mordor and destroyed. Sam who has been listening at the window, is told to accompany Frodo.
- III - Three is Company - Frodo sells Bag End, and officially is going to move to a house at Crickhollow in the area beyond Bucklebury in Buckland, while he actually plans to disappear without causing too much of a fuss. Frodo, Sam and Pippin set out through the South Farthing of the Shire towards Buckland, and encounter a black rider. They also meet Gildor the elf, with other elves.
- IV - A Short Cut to Mushrooms - They meet Farmer Maggot from taking a short cut, and he gives them some of his prized mushrooms. Merry joins them at the end.
- V - A Conspiracy Unmasked - Takes place at Frodo's new house at Crickhollow. The title refers to Frodo about to tell Merry and Pippin about his quest, who he had previously believed not to know about it, and they tell him that they had known much of it all along. They also meet Fatty Bolger. Frodo decides to leave the next day through the old forest, as it is an unexpected direction, rather than travelling on the roads.
- VI - The Old Forest - Although trying to avoid it, the hobbits get lost and travel to the River Withywindle, the "queerest part of the whole wood". Merry and Pippin are trapped inside Old Man Willow, and are freed only when Tom Bombadil arrives.
- VII - In the House of Tom Bombadil - Tom knows much about the hobbits, and even tries on the Ring, yet it does not have any effect on him - it does not make him invisible. Frodo tries on the ring then to see if it 'works', and Tom Bombadil is also able to see Frodo while he has the ring on.
- VIII - Fog on the Barrow-downs - Travelling through the Barrow-downs, the hobbits are imprisoned by Barrow-wights, where they are rescued again by Tom Bombadil. The hobbits are given daggers from the treasure in one of the downs.
- IX - At the Sign of the Prancing Pony - The hobbits reach the Prancing Pony inn at Bree, where Frodo uses a false name, Underhill. Later, after singing a song on a table, he trips and accidentally puts the ring on his finger, disappearing, which causes a commotion.
- X - Strider - Strider who had at first seemed menacing, turns out to be friendly. The innkeeper, Butterbur, gives Frodo a letter from Gandalf, which tells him that Strider is a friend of Gandalf's whose real name is Aragorn.
- XI - A Knife in the Dark - The hobbits with Strider set out from Bree on foot after their horses had bolted when Black Riders arrived at the inn at night, who had also attacked the beds which they were supposed to be staying in, though Strider had them stay in another room. They buy a pony from Bill Ferny. They pass through the Midgewater Marshes, and reach Weathertop. There they are attacked by five black riders, Frodo puts on the ring to escape them, and is stabbed in the arm by one of them.
- XII - Flight to the Ford - They pass the stone trolls, turned to stone in The Hobbit. Eventually, they meet the elf Glorfindel from Rivendell, who takes Frodo with him back to Rivendell on his white horse. The riders are washed away in a flood over the Ford.
Book II chronicles Frodo's stay at Rivendell, where a plan is hatched to destroy the Ring in Mordor. At first Frodo meets his uncle Bilbo who he had not seen since he left Hobbiton much earlier. Frodo sets forth from Rivendell with eight companions: two Men, Aragorn and Boromir, son of the Steward of the land of Gondor; an Elven prince, Legolas; Frodo's old friend and powerful wizard, Gandalf; Gimli the Dwarf; and Frodo's original three hobbit companions. These Nine Walkers were chosen to represent all the free races of Middle-earth and as a balance to the Nine Riders. They were also accompanied by Bill the Pony, whom Strider and the Hobbits acquired in Bree as a pack horse. Their attempt to cross the Misty Mountains is foiled by heavy snow, so they are forced to take a path under the mountains via Moria, an ancient Dwarf kingdom, now full of Orcs and other evil creatures, where Gandalf falls into the abyss after battling a Balrog.
The remaining eight members of the Fellowship then spend some time in the elf-haven of Lothlórien, where they receive gifts from the elf queen Galadriel that in many cases prove useful later in the quest. They leave Lórien by river, but Frodo begins to realize the Ring is having a malevolent effect on some members of the party, especially Boromir, who tries to take the ring from Frodo. In the process, Frodo puts on the ring to escape him. Later Boromir is attacked by orcs while trying to defend Merry and Pippin. This book ends when Frodo and Sam depart secretly for Mordor and the Fellowship of the Ring dissolves.
- I - Many Meetings - After awakening from a sleep for four days, Frodo meets Gandalf and Bilbo again, as well as Gloin the dwarf from The Hobbit, Elrond and others.
- II - The Council of Elrond - A council attended by many people; Gandalf tells the story of his escape from Saruman; they decide that the ring must be destroyed and Frodo offers to take it to Mordor.
- III - The Ring goes South - The nine members of the fellowship travel south through Hollin; they try to take the road over the mountain Caradhras but are forced to turn back.
- IV - A Journey in the Dark - They travel to the gates of Moria, where they have to deal with a sea creature in the lake in front of it. Gandalf eventually opens the doors using a magic word. They reach the tomb of Balin.
- V - The Bridge of Khazad-dum - Attacked by orcs, trolls and a balrog, they make their way to the bridge over Khazad-dum, where Gandalf and the balrog fall into.
- VI - Lothlorien - The company meets the elves of Lorien. The elves reluctantly agree to let Gimli the dwarf pass. Aragorn takes Frodo to the hill of Cerin Amroth.
- VII - The Mirror of Galadriel - The company meets Celeborn and Galadriel. Frodo is shown the mirror of Galadriel.
- VIII - Farewell to Lorien - The elves give them cloaks, elf bread and other gifts; they leave Lorien on boats down the Great River.
- IX - The Great River - they notice Gollum following them down the river on a log; they reach the falls of Rauros, where they must choose between travelling on the east or west bank of the river to pass the falls.
- X - The Breaking of the Fellowship - They arrive at the lawn of Parth Galen; they still face the choice of whether to go east or west; Boromir tries to take the Ring from Frodo, who puts it on to escape him; Other members of the company split up trying to find Frodo. Frodo and Sam go across the river and head east.
Behind the events that befall the Ring-Bearer and the Fellowship, the reader begins to sense, there lurks always a sense of Destiny, and in the end, it will be a concatenation of the effects spawned by the nature of Good itself, that undoes Evil. Frodo says of the ring's slave, Gollum, "What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!" and Gandalf's response is
- "Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity."
See also: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (film) for information about the film.