The Fellowship of the Ring

From Tolkien Gateway
The name Fellowship of the Ring refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see The Fellowship of the Ring (disambiguation).
The Fellowship of the Ring
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
PublisherGeorge Allen and Unwin (UK)
Houghton Mifflin (US)
Released29 July 1954 (UK)
21 October 1954 (US)
FormatHardcover; paperback; deluxe-edition; audio-book
Followed byThe Two Towers (1954)

The Fellowship of the Ring is the first of three volumes in The Lord of the Rings. It is followed by The Two Towers and The Return of the King.

The Fellowship of the Ring was originally released on 29 July 1954 in the United Kingdom (3000 copies; plus 1500 for the American edition).[1]

While Tolkien intended the work to be published in one volume, and believing that it was naturally divided into six "books", Allen and Unwin announced it would be more practical to be released in three volumes. Initially Tolkien proposed the title The Shadow Grows[2] and then The Return of the Shadow[3]

The volume begins with Foreword and Prologue. The narrative is divided into two books, Book I and II, tentatively titled by Tolkien as The Ring Sets out and The Ring Goes South[2] which have not been used in the publication; other abandoned titles were The First Journey and The Journey of the Nine Companions.[4]

Publication history

Quickly after publication, because of the success of the book, new printings were ordered to satisfy the demand. While the printer kept the metal type standing for more impressions, he failed to do so for the Fellowship; when more copies were needed, the volume was quickly reset to appear identical to the original condition, but without notifying anyone, and no new proofreading was done; as such previously corrected typographic errors were reverted and new ones introduced.[5] Around 60 of them have passed through unnoticed even up to the 2002 editions.[6]

Synopsis — Book I

Tolkien's preliminary design for the dust-jacket of The Fellowship of the Ring.

The first book 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 children's story than Lord of the Rings. It begins with Bilbo Baggins 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 surprise 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, as is told in The Hobbit. Eventually, they find Glorfindel in the wastes, who directs them to Rivendell. Yet before they can reach there, they are found again by the Ringwraiths, who pursue Frodo to the Ford of Bruinen. Frodo defies them, but the Ringwraiths begin to advance. Yet before they can reach Frodo, a great flood comes and washes them away. Frodo then finally loses consciousness...

Book I chapters

  • I · A Long-expected Party — details Bilbo and Frodo's birthday party, the 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. 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, whom 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 in a barrow, from which they are rescued again by Tom Bombadil. The hobbits are given daggers from the treasure in the barrow.
  • 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, Barliman Butterbur, gives Frodo a letter from Gandalf, which tells him that Strider is a friend of Gandalf's and that his real name is Aragorn.
  • XI · A Knife in the Dark — The hobbits set out with Strider from Bree on foot after their ponies 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 to carry their luggage from Bill Ferny. They pass through the Midgewater Marshes, and reach Weathertop, just off the Road. There they are attacked at night by five Black Riders, Frodo puts on the Ring to escape them, and is stabbed in the left shoulder by the Witch-King, the captain of the Black Riders.
  • XII · Flight to the Ford — Aragorn takes the hobbits off the Road and into the Wild to avoid pursuit by the Black Riders. They return to the Road to cross the Last Bridge over the Hoarwelll and Aragorn finds a beryl in the middle of the bridge. They go back into the Wild. They come across the three trolls turned into stone in The Hobbit. Eventually, they return to the Road in order to reach the Ford of Bruinen. They meet the Elf Glorfindel from Rivendell, who has been searching for them. He places Frodo on his white horse Asfaloth and hurries them towards Rivendell. When they are almost to the Ford of Bruinen, they are ambushed by the Black Riders. Asfaloth carries Frodo across the Ford. The Black Riders are washed away in a flood over the Ford.

Synopsis — Book II

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 Baggins whom 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.

Page I of the Book of Mazarbul read by Gandalf, drawn by J.R.R. Tolkien

Book II chapters

  • I · Many Meetings — After awakening from a sleep for four days, Frodo meets Gandalf and Bilbo again, as well as Glóin 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-dûm — Attacked by orcs and trolls, the Fellowship tries to make their way to the bridge of Khazad-dum, but Gandalf falls during a confrontation with a Balrog on the bridge.
  • VI · Lothlórien — The company meets the elves of Lothlórien. The elves reluctantly agree to let Gimli the dwarf pass. Haldir 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 Lórien — The elves give them cloaks, elf bread and other gifts; they leave Lothlórien 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.

Characters appeared

  1. Bilbo Baggins
  2. Frodo Baggins
  3. The Old Took (mentioned only)
  4. Hamfast "Gaffer" Gamgee
  5. Old Noakes of Bywater
  6. Daddy Twofoot
  7. Sandyman
  8. Drogo Baggins (mentioned only)
  9. Primula Brandybuck (mentioned only)
  10. Samwise Gamgee
  11. Gandalf the Grey
  12. Three unnamed Dwarves (see: Nar, Anar, Hannar)
  13. Otho Sackville-Baggins
  14. Lobelia Sackville-Baggins
  15. Odo Proudfoot
  16. Rorimac Brandybuck
  17. Esmeralda Took
  18. Meriadoc Brandybuck
  19. Dora Baggins
  20. Adelard Took
  21. Hugo Bracegirdle
  22. Angelica Baggins
  23. Milo Burrows
  24. Ted Sandyman
  25. Sauron (mentioned only)
  26. Elendil (mentioned only)
  27. Gil-Galad (mentioned only)
  28. Isildur (mentioned only)
  29. Khamul (mentioned only, unnamed)
  30. Nazgûl
  31. Déagol (mentioned only)
  32. Gollum
  33. Folco Boffin
  34. Fredegar Bolger
  35. Peregrin Took
  36. Lotho Sackville-Baggins
  37. Gildor Inglorion
  38. Farmer Maggot
  39. Mrs. Maggot
  40. Farmer Maggot's Children
  41. Gorhendad Oldbuck (mentioned only)
  42. Old Man Willow
  43. Tom Bombadil
  44. Goldberry
  45. Barrow-wights
  46. Barliman Butterbur
  47. Nob
  48. Bob
  49. Aragorn
  50. Luthien (mentioned only)
  51. Beren (mentioned only)
  52. William, Bert and Tom (statues only)
  53. Glorfindel
  54. Elrond
  55. Arwen
  56. Radagast the Brown
  57. Saruman
  58. Boromir
  59. Legolas
  60. Glóin
  61. Gimli
  62. Dwalin (mentioned only)
  63. Dori (mentioned only)
  64. Nori (mentioned only)
  65. Bifur (mentioned only)
  66. Bofur (mentioned only)
  67. Bombur (mentioned only)
  68. Dáin Ironfoot (mentioned only)
  69. Óin (mentioned only)
  70. Galdor
  71. Círdan (mentioned only)
  72. Erestor
  73. Arathorn (mentioned only)
  74. Gwaihir (mentioned only)
  75. Thranduil (mentioned only)
  76. Durin (mentioned only)
  77. Balin (tomb and mentioned only)
  78. Ori (mentioned only)
  79. Haldir
  80. Rúmil
  81. Orophin
  82. Celeborn
  83. Galadriel
  84. Uglúk

External links


The Lord of the Rings
Foreword · Prologue · The Fellowship of the Ring · The Two Towers · The Return of the King · Appendices · Index
A J.R.R. Tolkien book guide
Books by or mainly by Tolkien
On Arda Authored by
J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
(i.The Fellowship of the Ring · ii.The Two Towers · iii.The Return of the King) ·
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil · The Road Goes Ever On · Bilbo's Last Song
Edited by Christopher Tolkien The Silmarillion · Unfinished Tales · The History of Middle-earth series
(i.The Book of Lost Tales: Part One · ii.The Book of Lost Tales: Part Two · iii.The Lays of Beleriand · iv.The Shaping of Middle-earth · v.The Lost Road and Other Writings · vi.The Return of the Shadow · vii.The Treason of Isengard · viii.The War of the Ring · ix.Sauron Defeated · x.Morgoth's Ring · xi.The War of the Jewels · xii.The Peoples of Middle-earth · Index) ·
The Children of Húrin · Beren and Lúthien · The Fall of Gondolin
Edited by others The Annotated Hobbit · The History of The Hobbit · The Nature of Middle-earth · The Fall of Númenor
Not on Arda Short stories
and others
Leaf by Niggle · Farmer Giles of Ham · Smith of Wootton Major · Letters from Father Christmas ·
Mr. Bliss · Roverandom · Tree and Leaf (compilation) · Tales from the Perilous Realm (compilation)
Fictional works The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún · The Fall of Arthur · The Story of Kullervo · The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
Translations and academic works Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo · The Old English Exodus · Finn and Hengest ·
The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays · Beowulf and the Critics · Tolkien On Fairy-stories ·
Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary · A Secret Vice · The Battle of Maldon
Letters & poems The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien · The Collected Poems of J.R.R. Tolkien
academic works
A Middle English Vocabulary · Sir Gawain and the Green Knight · Ancrene Wisse
Books by other authors
Books on Arda The Complete Guide to Middle-earth · The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion ·
The Maps of Middle-earth
Tolkien biographies J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography · The Inklings · Tolkien and the Great War
Scholarly books The Road to Middle-earth · The Keys of Middle-earth · The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide ·
The Ring of Words · A Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien · Tolkien's Lost Chaucer · Tolkien's Library · Tolkien on Chaucer, 1913-1959
Scholarly journals Tolkien Studies · (The Chronology)
Other works by Tolkien
Linguistic journals Vinyar Tengwar various issues · Parma Eldalamberon issue 11-22
Collections of artwork
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Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien · J.R.R. Tolkien: Life and Legend · J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator ·
The Art of The Hobbit · The Art of The Lord of the Rings · Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth ·
Tolkien: Treasures · J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript
This list is only a selection, for a fuller bibliography of Tolkien see here or here. See also a timeline and an index.