|Chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring
|Frodo meets Strider.
|29 September 3018
|The Prancing Pony
|< At the Sign of the Prancing Pony
|A Knife in the Dark >
Strider is the tenth chapter of the first book in The Fellowship of the Ring.
In this chapter, Frodo has a private conversation with Strider, and receives Gandalf's letter from Barliman Butterbur. Strider promises to protect the Hobbits. Merry alerts the others that he had spotted a Black Rider in Bree.
Summary[edit | edit source]
Strider offers Frodo information and advice. In return, he asks that the Hobbits allow him to accompany them until such time that he decides to leave. Frodo asks to know more about Strider before he makes his decision. Strider is pleased with the demand, finding it very prudent.
Strider checks the door to make sure no one is listening in. He reveals that he had seen the Hobbits with Tom Bombadil, and observed them entering Bree. He'd also heard Frodo warning the others to call him "Underhill" instead of "Baggins", which piqued Strider's curiosity since he had been specifically waiting for a "Frodo Baggins" coming from The Shire. Frodo attempts to make excuses, but Strider seems to know a great deal about Frodo's "secret", claiming that he has a strong interest in ensuring that the secret doesn't get out. Strider adds that he had spotted two Black Riders passing through Bree earlier.
Frodo laments having left the Hobbits' room at all that evening, and casts aspersions on Barliman Butterbur for convincing him to go to the common-room. Strider vouches for Barliman's credibility, and acknowledges that he, himself, must look very suspicious as well.
Strider again chides Frodo for putting on The One Ring earlier, hinting that it would draw more Black Riders to Bree. He warns Frodo about Bill Ferny, the local who'd slipped out of the common-room together with the suspicious southern visitor after Frodo's accident with the Ring.
Strider explains that he would be a great asset for navigating out of Bree, since the Hobbits would have to avoid the road at all costs. Sam advises against this, warning that Strider may be planning to lead the Hobbits into a trap. Frodo considers this and finally rejects Strider's offer, but presses Strider to reveal more about himself. Strider once again seems pleased that Frodo is erring on the side of caution.
The conversation is cut short when Barliman Butterbur enters, and Strider retreats into the shadows. Barliman says that he now remembers what he had previously forgotten: He was supposed to expect a hobbit named "Baggins" going under the pseudonym "Underhill". He gives a description of Frodo as told to him by Gandalf, whom he claims is his friend. Butterbur apologizes deeply, saying that Gandalf had instructed him to send a letter to Hobbiton, which he forgot to do; only the Hobbits' arrival that night suddenly jogged his memory. He adds that Gandalf asked him to assist "Baggins" if he ever turned up, and to ask no questions of him.
Barliman mentions that Frodo may be in trouble, on account of dark men asking questions about him around Bree. He says that two of these dark men arrived the previous Monday and terrified his assistant. Butterbur turned them away, but they continued snooping around Bree-land for answers.
Barliman warns Frodo that Strider has also been asking questions about him. Strider steps out of the shadows, alarming Butterbur, who still insists that Frodo shouldn't trust the Ranger. Barliman implores Frodo to stay in Bree, but Strider advises strongly against this. He reveals that the Black Riders come from a land called "Mordor", a name which Butterbur recognizes with great alarm.
Strider asks Barliman to forget the name "Baggins". Barliman agrees, but warns that the rumor will get out quickly either way. He promises that he and his assistants will guard the inn that night, and will not let any Black Riders in.
After Barliman leaves, Frodo opens the letter from Gandalf and reads it to himself. In the letter, Gandalf instructs Frodo to leave The Shire before July T.A. 3018, and make for Rivendell. He asks Frodo to leave a message for him with Barliman Butterbur in case they haven't regrouped first. He vouches for both Barliman and for Strider; however he bids Frodo make sure that he encounters the real Strider, whose true name is Aragorn, adding a riddle that might help:
- "All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king."
- ― The Riddle of Strider
The letter is signed with Gandalf's Angerthas rune for "G".
Frodo passes the letter to Sam and Pippin. He chides Strider about not revealing that he was Gandalf's friend to begin with. Strider answers that Frodo wouldn't have believed him. He also says he wanted to make sure Frodo was who he claimed to be, first. Finally he confides that he'd secretly hoped Frodo would trust him even without knowing he was Gandalf's friend.
Sam is still suspicious of Strider, suggesting he could've killed the real one and taken his place. Strider replies that if he'd wanted to take The One Ring at all, he could've done so immediately. With that, he springs to his feet and puts a hand on the hilt of his sword, appearing suddenly as a great danger to the Hobbits. However he quickly relaxes, revealing his full name as Aragorn son of Arathorn, and pledging his life to Frodo's protection.
Finally, Frodo accepts Strider's offer to serve as their guide.
This prompts Strider to quote the Riddle of Strider, which Frodo recognizes from the letter. Strider says that the riddle is connected to his real name. He pulls out his sword, showing that it is indeed broken. He claims it will soon be time to reforge the sword, as the Riddle foretells.
Strider says he will lead the Hobbits to Weathertop, halfway between Bree and Rivendell. When Frodo asks about Gandalf's whereabouts, Strider replies that he does not know. He tells of how he'd come with Gandalf to the area in the previous spring, and last seen him on 1 May, T.A. 3018, at the Sarn Ford. At the time, Gandalf was still expecting Frodo to leave The Shire in September. Thinking that Frodo was safe with Gandalf, Strider went off to take care of another errand. Strider later met Gildor Inglorion, who told him that Frodo had left the Shire. Frodo worries that Gandalf might have been hurt by the Black Riders. Strider reassures him that Gandalf is much more powerful than the Hobbits know him to be.
Pippin is worried about Merry's absence. Just then, Merry returns together with Barliman's assistant Nob. He warns the others that he had seen a Black Rider here in Bree. Feeling an unexplained urge, he tried following it as it scampered away, but lost it near the south gate. He heard fell voices whispering in the dark, and turned quickly to run back to the inn, but was suddenly knocked out from behind. Nob then explains that he was sent out by Barliman to scout the area, and found Merry with two dark figures looming over him. Nob shouted at the figures, but they disappeared before he could identify them. Nob adds that the event occurred very near Bill Ferny's house.
Strider speculates that Merry had been struck with the "Black Breath", confirming that the Riders are indeed here, and that Bill Ferny and the southerner must have tipped them off. He also suspects Harry the gatekeeper's involvement. He doesn't believe the Riders would attack the inn just yet, and would instead gather their forces first, preferring to attack once the Hobbits leave Bree.
Strider advises the Hobbits not to return to their rooms. Instead, Nob ruffles up their clothes and places them in the Hobbits' beds, under the blankets, to simulate their sleeping bodies. Nob returns to his guard duties while Strider and the Hobbits bar themselves inside the parlour, shuttering the windows. They set up mattresses around the hearth and go to sleep, with Strider propped up in a chair against the door.