At Rivendell

From Tolkien Gateway
The Return of the Shadow chapters
The First Phase
  1. A Long-expected Party
  2. From Hobbiton to the Woody End
  3. Of Gollum and the Ring
  4. To Maggot's Farm and Buckland
  5. The Old Forest and the Withywindle
  6. Tom Bombadil
  7. The Barrow-wight
  8. Arrival at Bree
  9. Trotter and the Journey to Weathertop
  10. The Attack on Weathertop
  11. From Weathertop to the Ford
  12. At Rivendell
  13. 'Queries and Alterations'
The Second Phase
  1. Return to Hobbiton
  2. Ancient History
  3. Delays Are Dangerous
  4. A Short Cut to Mushrooms
  5. Again from Buckland to the Withywindle
The Third Phase
  1. The Journey to Bree
  2. At the Sign of the Prancing Pony
  3. To Weathertop and Rivendell
  4. New Uncertainties and New Projections
The Story Continued
  1. In the House of Elrond
  2. The Ring Goes South
  3. The Mines of Moria

"At Rivendell" is the title of the twelfth chapter of The Return of the Shadow, the sixth book of The History of Middle-earth series by Christopher Tolkien.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Bingo[note 1] awakes in a bed feeling better. He wonders aloud where he is and what time it is, and he is answered by Gandalf. The wizard tells Bingo that it is 24 October and that he is in the house of Elrond. Bingo recalls his journey and asks what happened at the Ford since that part seems dim. Gandalf says he was beginning to fade and that he would have soon become a wraith.

They discuss Bingo's wound and Elrond's treatment. Bingo then asks about the others. Gandalf explains that Trotter[note 2] and Glorfindel led the others in making a fire and rushing at the Black Riders with flaming brands. All were destroyed except for two who rode into the wild. Bingo asks if Elrond made the flood but Gandalf says he did (a reverse of the situation in the finished story). Gandalf, who in the manuscript was not delayed and came to Rivendell first, had asked Elrond to send Glorfindel to hunt for the hobbits. Bingo says he was suspicious of Trotter at first but has grown fond of him and has a feeling that he has seen him somewhere before. Bingo asks what the Riders did to him on Weathertop; Gandalf says they were trying to pierce him with the sword of the Necromancer. Soon after Bingo drops off to sleep.

When Bingo awakes he is hungry and goes to search for his friends. Merry greets him as the Lord of the Ring. Gandalf hushes him and Odo[note 3] says it seems impossible to feel gloomy in Elrond's house. Soon they are summoned to the evening meal. Elrond sits with Gandalf, Trotter and Glorfindel are not seen (in the finished story Elrond sits with Gandalf, Glorfindel, and Arwen) and Bingo finds himself seated next to Glóin. They agree not to discuss why Bingo has come. When Bingo asks why Glóin is present the dwarf laughs and winks at him, saying he is no spoil-sport and will not tell yet. Instead they discuss the fortunes of Dáin, the town of Dale, and the seven dwarves from Bilbo's adventure who are still at Erebor.

At this point J.R.R. Tolkien stopped to record a few notes before continuing. What about Balin and the other dwarf companions of Bilbo? Bilbo needs to be seen. Who is Trotter? Tolkien then began the chapter anew, but when he reached Gandalf's account of the flood he stopped and started over a third time. This third manuscript gets very close to the published chapter "Many Meetings", apart from the future change of Trotter into Aragorn and the introduction of Samwise Gamgee. The date of Bingo's arrival in Rivendell is altered to 26 October and he has been unconscious for days. Had the Necromancer's knife-wound not been stopped Bingo would have become a hobbit Ring-wraith and used to strike at Bingo's friends and kin. Gandalf says that the Gnomes, the wisest of the Elves, are the Necromancer's chief foes. They do not fear the Ring-wraiths because they live half in both worlds but with double power over both. In the end though, the Wise say that the Necromancer is doomed.

In this draft when Bingo arises the part about him looking in the mirror and seeing a thinner reflection has been added. The part about Sam entering the room is not present. At the feast the final descriptions of Elrond, Gandalf, and Glorfindel are now added (still no mention of Arwen). In this third draft Tolkien only added a few lines beyond the end of the first draft, with Glóin discussing Bard the Bowman and his descendants.

A detached sheet has Gandalf telling Bingo that their 'short cut' through the Old Forest worked out oddly, allowing them to meet Tom Bombadil and to obtain the one kind of sword the Riders fear. Gandalf wishes he could consult with Bombadil although he thinks he does not approve of the wizard somehow, being of a much older generation.

Tolkien recorded a few last notes at this point: Consultation, over the Misty Mountains, down the Great River (the first mention of the Anduin) to Mordor, Dark Tower, beyond to Fiery Hill. Story of Gil-galad told by Elrond? Again he asks himself the question: Who is Trotter?

As for the story of Gil-galad, Christopher reports that a single loose page tells this story but there is nothing to connect it to any other writing. The story is an abbreviated telling of the Dark Years, the end of Beleriand, the downfall of Númenor, the exiles allying with Gil-galad, and the attack upon Mordor which is part of Mirkwood. Sauron (the name appears here) kills Elendil and Gil-galad but is himself thrown down and his bodily shape destroyed. There is no mention of Isildur or the Ring.[1]

A note on the chronology[edit | edit source]

In the first draft Gandalf tells Bingo that it is 24 October when he awakes. Christopher notes that this is discrepant with the chronology so far (later this date would be used in the published version, but only after the chronology had been rearranged). In the manuscript so far the party reached Weathertop on 5 October, crossed the road on 11 October, met Glorfindel on 17 October, and got to the Ford on 19 October. How then can Bingo awake on 24 October if he had been brought in the night before?

The second and third drafts place the wake-up date on 26 October, Bingo was brought to Rivendell on 23 October, and lost count for a few days. Other puzzles remain that were not cleaned up at this point.[2]


  1. Bingo would later become Frodo Baggins.
  2. The hobbit Trotter would eventually become Aragorn.
  3. Odo Took later becomes Peregrin Took.