The Council of Elrond

From Tolkien Gateway
Revision as of 14:53, 8 January 2023 by GondolinFan (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
The name The Council of Elrond refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see The Council of Elrond (disambiguation).
Peter Xavier Price - The Lord of Rivendell.jpg
The Council of Elrond
Chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring
EventThe Council of Elrond is held; Frodo volunteers to take the Ring to Mordor.
Date25 October 3018
PerspectiveFrodo Baggins
<  Many Meetings
The Ring Goes South  >

The Council of Elrond is the second chapter of the second book in The Fellowship of the Ring.


The day after the feasting to celebrate the victory at the Ford of Bruinen, Frodo joined his uncle Bilbo and Gandalf in the gardens of Rivendell, hoping to explore the area. He was instead told by Gandalf that a great Council was about to begin, and that they were all expected to be present. At that moment, a bell rang out to summon all to the meeting.

Representatives from all of the Free Peoples living in Middle-earth had all made their way to Rivendell, each apparently making the trip on their own separate matters of business. Elrond had called them to this council to speak for their people concerning the Ring of Power and the threat of imminent invasion by the Dark Lord Sauron. Frodo was introduced to several Elves, Dwarves, and Men, almost none of whom he knew personally.

Glóin, a Dwarf from Erebor, informed the Council that a messenger from Sauron had entreated with Dáin II Ironfoot, King under the Mountain, asking for news about Bilbo and the ring that he had possessed, which had apparently once belonged to the Dark Lord of Mordor. For its return, Sauron promised to return to Dáin three of the Seven Rings given to the Dwarves long ago. Dáin, however, mistrusted the messenger's words, and had sent Glóin, with his son Gimli, to seek Elrond's advice. Elrond responded that the time had come to tell the full tale of the Ring which Sauron sought above all else, so that all present could understand the danger it represented.

After Glóin's account, Boromir, representing his father, the Steward of Gondor, told of a dream he and his brother had each experienced, months before. In this dream, the eastern sky had grown dark, but out of the west a light had shone forth, and from that light a voice had called out, saying: "Seek for the Sword that was broken;/In Imladris it dwells./There shall be taken counsels/Stronger than Morgul-spells./There shall be shown a token/That Doom is near at hand./For Isildur's Bane shall waken,/And the Halfling forth shall stand."

At Boromir's words, the Ranger called Strider produced the broken sword: the sword Narsil, heirloom of the heirs of Isildur. He revealed himself to be Aragorn son of Arathorn, the last surviving blood heir to the ancient kings of Gondor and Arnor. Frodo, the Halfling of the rhyme, then produced the Ring, and Boromir expressed amazement, wondering how such a powerful thing had come to such an unlikely possessor.

Bilbo then told everyone how he took the Ring from Gollum. Gandalf subsequently explained how Gollum himself came to possess the Ring and how it had both lengthened his lifespan and driven him to great evil. Gandalf also revealed that his search for knowledge about the true nature of Bilbo's "magic ring" had led him to both search for Gollum so as to interview him, and also to discover a scroll written by Isildur himself that described the Ring and how to recognize it by its "fiery letters" (as told previously in "The Shadow of the Past"). By this information, Gandalf had been able to positively identify the Ring as the Ruling Ring, and learn that if Sauron regained it, all the westlands of Middle-earth would be covered in a Second Darkness.

At a question from Boromir, Aragorn told how he captured Gollum and brought him to the Elves of Mirkwood for safekeeping. But an Elf named Legolas, son of Thranduil, King of the Woodland Realm, announced that Gollum had escaped, seemingly with the aid of Orcs. Serious as this development was, however, it paled beside the worse news Gandalf was relating: the treason of Isengard.

He went on to tell how he himself had been held captive by Saruman, the head of the White Council and head of the order of wizards. Unfortunately, Saruman's long study of the Rings of Power had corrupted him, and he had been seduced by the lust for power. Having finally deduced that the One Ring has been found, Saruman intended to gain it for himself and thus supplant Sauron as master of Middle-earth. For this purpose, while Frodo was preparing to leave The Shire for Rivendell, Saruman had lured Gandalf to his fortress of Orthanc in the vale of Isengard, hoping to learn from him the Ring's precise whereabouts. When Gandalf refused to tell Saruman, he was imprisoned atop the pinnacle of Orthanc. But eventually, Gwaihir, a Great Eagle, rescued him and took him to Rohan, where he befriended and tamed the great horse Shadowfax who speedily took him north again, this time in pursuit of the Black Riders heading for The Shire. That is how Gandalf, in time, had come to be at Rivendell with Frodo and his companions.

The Council finally discussed many ways of dealing with the Ring, but none seemed satisfactory. Boromir suggested using the Ring against Sauron to defeat him, but the corruptive power of the Ring would only create a new Dark Lord to enslave Middle-earth. Those who dwelt beyond the Sundering Seas would not receive the Ring either, nor could it be hidden away forever against the might of Sauron's armies. With no other hope of victory, Elrond declared, and the others present agreed (some reluctantly), that the only course left was to destroy the Ring in the only way possible: by carrying it into the very heart of Mordor and dropping it into the fires of Mount Doom where it had been forged. But who was to carry the ring was another point of decision. Bilbo, despite his advanced age, valiantly volunteered to finish what he had begun, but Gandalf declared that it was a task beyond the old hobbit's strength. Bilbo could not take back the Ring. It was then Frodo who, almost against his will, finally volunteered to continue his quest and destroy the Ring.

At this point, Samwise Gamgee, Frodo's gardener and faithful companion, who had sat in on the whole Council in secret, burst out in protest, asking Elrond whether Frodo would be sent out alone. Elrond replied that no, Samwise at least would go as well, saying wryly, "It is hardly possible to separate you from him, even when he has been summoned to a secret council, and you have not!" Sam then sat down rather grumpily, saying to Frodo, "A nice pickle we've landed ourselves in...."


Early drafts of the chapter probably were completed near the end of 1939); in that version, the original Fellowship consisted of Gandalf, Boromir, and five Hobbits including "Peregrin Boffin".[1]

Later drafts of the chapter were reworked around 1940-1941, with at least three new versions. New material included Aragorn as the Heir of Elendil and related additions; but since narration was too long, background information was removed to the Appendices and to another text called Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age.[2]