The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien's three-volume epic, is set in the imaginary world of Middle-earth - home to many strange beings, and most notably hobbits, a peace-loving "little people," cheerful and shy. Since its original British publication in 1954-55, the saga has entranced readers of all ages. It is at once a classic myth and a modern fairy tale. Critic Michael Straight has hailed it as one of the "very few works of genius in recent literature." Middle-earth is a world receptive to poets, scholars, children, and all other people of good will. Donald Barr has described it as "a scrubbed morning world, and a ringing nightmare world...especially sunlit, and shadowed by perils very fundamental, of a peculiarly uncompounded darkness." The story of ths world is one of high and heroic adventure. Barr compared it to Beowulf, C.S. Lewis to Orlando Furioso, W.H. Auden to The Thirty-nine Steps. In fact the saga is sui generis - a triumph of imagination which springs to life within its own framework and on its own terms.
About the Author
J.R.R. TOLKIEN (1892–1973) is the creator of Middle-earth and author of such classic and extraordinary works of fiction as The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. His books have been translated into more than fifty languages and have sold many millions of copies worldwide.
Date of Birth:January 3, 1892
Date of Death:September 2, 1973
Place of Birth:Bloemfontein, Orange Free State (South Africa)
Place of Death:Oxford, England
Education:B.A., Exeter College, Oxford University, 1915; M.A., 1919
Read an Excerpt
A LONG-EXPECTED PARTY
When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.
Bilbo was very rich and very peculiar, and had been the wonder of the Shire for sixty years, ever since his remarkable disappearance and unexpected return. The riches he had brought back from his travels had now become a local legend, and it was popularly believed, whatever the old folk might say, that the Hill at Bag End was full of tunnels stuffed with treasure. And if that was not enough for fame, there was also his prolonged vigour to marvel at. Time wore on, but it seemed to have little effect on Mr. Baggins. At ninety he was much the same as at fifty. At ninety-nine they began to call him well-preserved; but unchanged would have been nearer the mark. There were some that shook their heads and thought this was too much of a good thing; it seemed unfair that anyone should possess (apparently) perpetual youth as well as (reputedly) inexhaustible wealth.
'It will have to be paid for,' they said. 'It isn't natural, and trouble will come of it!'
But so far trouble had not come; and as Mr. Baggins was generous with his money, most people were willing to forgive him his oddities and his good fortune. He remained on visiting terms with his relatives (except, of course, the Sackville-Bagginses), and he had many devoted admirers among the hobbits of poor andunimportant families. But he had no close friends, until some of his younger cousins began to grow up.
The eldest of these, and Bilbo's favourite, was young Frodo Baggins. When Bilbo was ninety-nine he adopted Frodo as his heir, and brought him to live at Bag End; and the hopes of the Sackville-Bagginses were finally dashed. Bilbo and Frodo happened to have the same birthday, September 22nd. 'You had better come and live here, Frodo my lad,' said Bilbo one day; 'and then we can celebrate our birthday-parties comfortably together.' At that time Frodo was still in his tweens, as the hobbits called the irresponsible twenties between childhood and coming of age at thirty-three.
Twelve more years passed. Each year the Bagginses had given very lively combined birthday-parties at Bag End; but now it was understood that something quite exceptional was being planned for that autumn. Bilbo was going to be eleventy-one, 111, a rather curious number, and a very respectable age for a hobbit (the Old Took himself had only reached 130); and Frodo was going to be thirty-three, 33, an important number: the date of his 'coming of age'.
Tongues began to wag in Hobbiton and Bywater; and rumour of the coming event travelled all over the Shire. The history and character of Mr. Bilbo Baggins became once again the chief topic of conversation; and the older folk suddenly found their reminiscences in welcome demand.
No one had a more attentive audience than old Ham Gamgee, commonly known as the Gaffer. He held forth at The Ivy Bush, a small inn on the Bywater road; and he spoke with some authority, for he had tended the garden at Bag End for forty years, and had helped old Holman in the same job before that. Now that he was himself growing old and stiff in the joints, the job was mainly carried on by his youngest son, Sam Gamgee. Both father and son were on very friendly terms with Bilbo and Frodo. They lived on the Hill itself, in Number 3 Bagshot Row just below Bag End.
'A very nice well-spoken gentlehobbit is Mr. Bilbo, as I've always said,' the Gaffer declared. With perfect truth: for Bilbo was very polite to him, calling him 'Master Hamfast', and consulting him constantly upon the growing of vegetables in the matter of 'roots', especially potatoes, the Gaffer was recognized as the leading authority by all in the neighbourhood (including himself).
'But what about this Frodo that lives with him?' asked Old Noakes of Bywater. 'Baggins is his name, but he's more than half a Brandybuck, they say. It beats me why any Baggins of Hobbiton should go looking for a wife away there in Buckland, where folks are so queer.'
'And no wonder they're queer,' put in Daddy Twofoot (the Gaffer's next-door neighbour), 'if they live on the wrong side of the Brandywine River, and right agin the Old Forest. That's a dark bad place, if half the tales be true.'
'You're right, Dad!' said the Gaffer. 'Not that the Brandybucks of Buckland live in the Old Forest; but they're a queer breed, seemingly. They fool about with boats on that big river and that isn't natural. Small wonder that trouble came of it, I say. But be that as it may, Mr. Frodo is as nice a young hobbit as you could wish to meet. Very much like Mr. Bilbo, and in more than looks. After all his father was a Baggins. A decent respectable hobbit was Mr. Drogo Baggins; there was never much to tell of him, till he was drownded.'
'Drownded?' said several voices. They had heard this and other darker rumours before, of course; but hobbits have a passion for family history, and they were ready to hear it again.
'Well, so they say,' said the Gaffer. 'You see: Mr. Drogo, he married poor Miss Primula Brandybuck. She was our Mr. Bilbo's first cousin on the mother's side (her mother being the youngest of the Old Took's daughters); and Mr. Drogo was his second cousin. So Mr. Frodo is his first and second cousin, once removed either way, as the saying is, if you follow me. And Mr. Drogo was staying at Brandy Hall with his father-in-law, old Master Gorbadoc, as he often did after his marriage (him being partial to his vittles, and old Gorbadoc keeping a mighty generous table); and he went out boating on the Brandywine River; and he and his wife were drownded, and poor Mr. Frodo only a child and all.'
'I've heard they went on the water after dinner in the moonlight,' said Old Noakes; 'and it was Drogo's weight as sunk the boat.'
'And I heard she pushed him in, and he pulled her in after him,' said Sandyman, the Hobbiton miller.
'You shouldn't listen to all you hear, Sandyman,' said the Gaffer, who did not much like the miller. 'There isn't no call to go talking of pushing and pulling. Boats are quite tricky enough for those that sit still without looking further for the cause of trouble. Anyway: there was this Mr. Frodo left an orphan and stranded, as you might say, among those queer Bucklanders, being brought up anyhow in Brandy Hall. A regular warren, by all accounts. Old Master Gorbadoc never had fewer than a couple of hundred relations in the place. Mr. Bilbo never did a kinder deed than when he brought the lad back to live among decent folk.
'But I reckon it was a nasty shock for those Sackville-Bagginses. They thought they were going to get Bag End, that time when he went off and was thought to be dead. And then he comes back and orders them off; and he goes on living and living, and never looking a day older, bless him! And suddenly he produces an heir, and has all the papers made out proper. The Sackville-Bagginses won't never see the inside of Bag End now, or it is to be hoped not.'
'There's a tidy bit of money tucked away up there, I hear tell,' said a stranger, a visitor on business from Michel Delving in the Westfarthing. 'All the top of your hill is full of tunnels packed with chests of gold and silver, and jools, by what I've heard.'
'Then you've heard more than I can speak to,' answered the Gaffer. I know nothing about jools. Mr. Bilbo is free with his money, and there seems no lack of it; but I know of no tunnel-making. I saw Mr. Bilbo when he came back, a matter of sixty years ago, when I was a lad. I'd not long come prentice to old Holman (him being my dad's cousin), but he had me up at Bag End helping him to keep folks from trampling and trapessing all over the garden while the sale was on. And in the middle of it all Mr. Bilbo comes up the Hill with a pony and some mighty big bags and a couple of chests. I don't doubt they were mostly full of treasure he had picked up in foreign parts, where there be mountains of gold, they say; but there wasn't enough to fill tunnels. But my lad Sam will know more about that. He's in and out of Bag End. Crazy about stories of the old days he is, and he listens to all Mr. Bilbo's tales. Mr. Bilbo has learned him his letters meaning no harm, mark you, and I hope no harm will come of it.
'Elves and Dragons! I says to him. 'Cabbages and potatoes are better for me and you. Don't go getting mixed up in the business of your betters, or you'll land in trouble too big for you,' I says to him. And I might say it to others,' he added with a look at the stranger and the miller.
But the Gaffer did not convince his audience. The legend of Bilbo's wealth was now too firmly fixed in the minds of the younger generation of hobbits.
'Ah, but he has likely enough been adding to what he brought at first,' argued the miller, voicing common opinion. 'He's often away from home. And look at the outlandish folk that visit him: dwarves coming at night, and that old wandering conjuror, Gandalf, and all. You can say what you like, Gaffer, but Bag End's a queer place, and its folk are queerer.'
'And you can say what you like, about what you know no more of than you do of boating, Mr. Sandyman,' retorted the Gaffer, disliking the miller even more than usual. 'If that's being queer, then we could do with a bit more queerness in these parts. There's some not far away that wouldn't offer a pint of beer to a friend, if they lived in a hole with golden walls. But they do things proper at Bag End. Our Sam says that everyone's going to be invited to the party, and there's going to be presents, mark you, presents for all this very month as is.'
That very month was September, and as fine as you could ask. A day or two later a rumour (probably started by the knowledgeable Sam) was spread about that there were going to be fireworks fireworks, what is more, such as had not been seen in the Shire for nigh on a century, not indeed since the Old Took died.
Days passed and The Day drew nearer. An odd-looking waggon laden with odd-looking packages rolled into Hobbiton one evening and toiled up the Hill to Bag End. The startled hobbits peered out of lamplit doors to gape at it. It was driven by outlandish folk, singing strange songs: dwarves with long beards and deep hoods. A few of them remained at Bag End. At the end of the second week in September a cart came in through Bywater from the direction of the Brandywine Bridge in broad daylight. An old man was driving it all alone. He wore a tall pointed blue hat, a long grey cloak, and a silver scarf. He had a long white beard and bushy eyebrows that stuck out beyond the brim of his hat. Small hobbit-children ran after the cart all through Hobbiton and right up the hill. It had a cargo of fireworks, as they rightly guessed. At Bilbo's front door the old man began to unload: there were great bundles of fireworks of all sorts and shapes, each labelled with a large red G and the elf-rune.
That was Gandalf's mark, of course, and the old man was Gandalf the Wizard, whose fame in the Shire was due mainly to his skill with fires, smokes, and lights. His real business was far more difficult and dangerous, but the Shire-folk knew nothing about it. To them he was just one of the 'attractions' at the Party. Hence the excitement of the hobbit-children. 'G for Grand!' they shouted, and the old man smiled. They knew him by sight, though he only appeared in Hobbiton occasionally and never stopped long; but neither they nor any but the oldest of their elders had seen one of his firework displays they now belonged to the legendary past.
When the old man, helped by Bilbo and some dwarves, had finished unloading. Bilbo gave a few pennies away; but not a single squib or cracker was forthcoming, to the disappointment of the onlookers.
'Run away now!' said Gandalf. 'You will get plenty when the time comes.' Then he disappeared inside with Bilbo, and the door was shut. The young hobbits stared at the door in vain for a while, and then made off, feeling that the day of the party would never come.
Inside Bag End, Bilbo and Gandalf were sitting at the open window of a small room looking out west on to the garden. The late afternoon was bright and peaceful. The flowers glowed red and golden: snap-dragons and sun-flowers, and nasturtiums trailing all over the turf walls and peeping in at the round windows.
'How bright your garden looks!' said Gandalf.
'Yes,' said Bilbo. 'I am very fond indeed of it, and of all the dear old Shire; but I think I need a holiday.'
'You mean to go on with your plan then?'
'I do. I made up my mind months ago, and I haven't changed it.'
'Very well. It is no good saying any more. Stick to your plan your whole plan, mind and I hope it will turn out for the best, for you, and for all of us.'
'I hope so. Anyway I mean to enjoy myself on Thursday, and have my little joke.'
'Who will laugh, I wonder?' said Gandalf, shaking his head.
'We shall see,' said Bilbo.
The next day more carts rolled up the Hill, and still more carts. There might have been some grumbling about 'dealing locally', but that very week orders began to pour out of Bag End for every kind of provision, commodity, or luxury that could be obtained in Hobbiton or Bywater or anywhere in the neighbourhood. People became enthusiastic; and they began to tick off the days on the calendar; and they watched eagerly for the postman, hoping for invitations.
Before long the invitations began pouring out, and the Hobbiton post-office was blocked, and the Bywater post-office was snowed under, and voluntary assistant postmen were called for. There was a constant stream of them going up the Hill, carrying hundreds of polite variations on Thank you, I shall certainly come.
A notice appeared on the gate at Bag End: NO ADMITTANCE EXCEPT ON PARTY BUSINESS. Even those who had, or pretended to have Party Business were seldom allowed inside. Bilbo was busy: writing invitations, ticking off answers, packing up presents, and making some private preparations of his own. From the time of Gandalf's arrival he remained hidden from view.
One morning the hobbits woke to find the large field, south of Bilbo's front door, covered with ropes and poles for tents and pavilions. A special entrance was cut into the bank leading to the road, and wide steps and a large white gate were built there. The three hobbit-families of Bagshot Row, adjoining the field, were intensely interested and generally envied. Old Gaffer Gamgee stopped even pretending to work in his garden.
The tents began to go up. There was a specially large pavilion, so big that the tree that grew in the field was right inside it, and stood proudly near one end, at the head of the chief table. Lanterns were hung on all its branches. More promising still (to the hobbits' mind): an enormous open-air kitchen was erected in the north corner of the field. A draught of cooks, from every inn and eating-house for miles around, arrived to supplement the dwarves and other odd folk that were quartered at Bag End. Excitement rose to its height.
Then the weather clouded over. That was on Wednesday the eve of the Party. Anxiety was intense. Then Thursday, September the 22nd, actually dawned. The sun got up, the clouds vanished, flags were unfurled and the fun began.
Bilbo Baggins called it a party, but it was really a variety of entertainments rolled into one. Practically everybody living near was invited. A very few were overlooked by accident, but as they turned up all the same, that did not matter. Many people from other parts of the Shire were also asked; and there were even a few from outside the borders. Bilbo met the guests (and additions) at the new white gate in person. He gave away presents to all and sundry the latter were those who went out again by a back way and came in again by the gate. Hobbits give presents to other people on their own birthdays. Not very expensive ones, as a rule, and not so lavishly as on this occasion; but it was not a bad system. Actually in Hobbiton and Bywater every day in the year it was somebody's birthday, so that every hobbit in those parts had a fair chance of at least one present at least once a week. But they never got tired of them.
On this occasion the presents were unusually good. The hobbit-children were so excited that for a while they almost forgot about eating. There were toys the like of which they had never seen before, all beautiful and some obviously magical. Many of them had indeed been ordered a year before, and had come all the way from the Mountain and from Dale, and were of real dwarf-make.
When every guest had been welcomed and was finally inside the gate, there were songs, dances, music, games, and, of course, food and drink. There were three official meals: lunch, tea, and dinner (or supper). But lunch and tea were marked chiefly by the fact that at those times all the guests were sitting down and eating together. At other times there were merely lots of people eating and drinking continuously from elevenses until six-thirty, when the fireworks started.
The fireworks were by Gandalf: they were not only brought by him, but designed and made by him; and the special effects, set pieces, and flights of rockets were let off by him. But there was also a generous distribution of squibs, crackers, backarappers, sparklers, torches, dwarf-candles, elf-fountains, goblin-barkers and thunder-claps. They were all superb. The art of Gandalf improved with age.
There were rockets like a flight of scintillating birds singing with sweet voices. There were green trees with trunks of dark smoke: their leaves opened like a whole spring unfolding in a moment, and their shining branches dropped glowing flowers down upon the astonished hobbits, disappearing with a sweet scent just before they touched their upturned faces. There were fountains of butterflies that flew glittering into the trees; there were pillars of coloured fires that rose and turned into eagles, or sailing ships, or a phalanx of flying swans; there was a red thunderstorm and a shower of yellow rain; there was a forest of silver spears that sprang suddenly into the air with a yell like an embattled army, and came down again into the Water with a hiss like a hundred hot snakes. And there was also one last surprise, in honour of Bilbo, and it startled the hobbits exceedingly, as Gandalf intended. The lights went out. A great smoke went up. It shaped itself like a mountain seen in the distance, and began to glow at the summit. It spouted green and scarlet flames. Out flew a red-golden dragon not life-size, but terribly life-like: fire came from his jaws, his eyes glared down; there was a roar, and he whizzed three times over the heads of the crowd. They all ducked, and many fell flat on their faces. The dragon passed like an express train, turned a somersault, and burst over Bywater with a deafening explosion.
'That is the signal for supper!' said Bilbo. The pain and alarm vanished at once, and the prostrate hobbits leaped to their feet. There was a splendid supper for everyone; for everyone, that is, except those invited to the special family dinner-party. This was held in the great pavilion with the tree. The invitations were limited to twelve dozen (a number also called by the hobbits one Gross, though the word was not considered proper to use of people); and the guests were selected from all the families to which Bilbo and Frodo were related, with the addition of a few special unrelated friends (such as Gandalf). Many young hobbits were included, and present by parental permission; for hobbits were easy-going with their children in the matter of sitting up late, especially when there was a chance of getting them a free meal. Bringing up young hobbits took a lot of provender.
There were many Bagginses and Boffins, and also many Tooks and Brandybucks; there were various Grubbs (relations of Bilbo Baggins' grandmother), and various Chubbs (connexions of his Took grandfather); and a selection of Burrowses, Bolgers, Bracegirdles, Brockhouses, Goodbodies, Hornblowers and Proudfoots. Some of these were only very distantly connected with Bilbo, and some of them had hardly ever been in Hobbiton before, as they lived in remote corners of the Shire. The Sackville-Bagginses were not forgotten. Otho and his wife Lobelia were present. They disliked Bilbo and detested Frodo, but so magnificent was the invitation card, written in golden ink, that they had felt it was impossible to refuse. Besides, their cousin, Bilbo, had been specializing in food for many years and his table had a high reputation.
All the one hundred and forty-four guests expected a pleasant feast; though they rather dreaded the after-dinner speech of their host (an inevitable item). He was liable to drag in bits of what he called poetry; and sometimes, after a glass or two, would allude to the absurd adventures of his mysterious journey. The guests were not disappointed: they had a very pleasant feast, in fact an engrossing entertainment: rich, abundant, varied, and prolonged. The purchase of provisions fell almost to nothing throughout the district in the ensuing weeks; but as Bilbo's catering had depleted the stocks of most stores, cellars and warehouses for miles around, that did not matter much.
After the feast (more or less) came the Speech. Most of the company were, however, now in a tolerant mood, at that delightful stage which they called 'filling up the corners'. They were sipping their favourite drinks, and nibbling at their favourite dainties, and their fears were forgotten. They were prepared to listen to anything, and to cheer at every full stop.
My dear People, began Bilbo, rising in his place. 'Hear! Hear! Hear!' they shouted, and kept on repeating it in chorus, seeming reluctant to follow their own advice. Bilbo left his place and went and stood on a chair under the illuminated tree. The light of the lanterns fell on his beaming face; the golden buttons shone on his embroidered silk waistcoat. They could all see him standing, waving one hand in the air, the other was in his trouser-pocket.
My dear Bagginses and Boffins, he began again; and my dear Tooks and Brandybucks, and Grubbs, and Chubbs, and Burrowses, and Hornblowers, and Bolgers, Bracegirdles, Goodbodies, Brockhouses and Proudfoots. 'ProudFEET!' shouted an elderly hobbit from the back of the pavilion. His name, of course, was Proudfoot, and well merited; his feet were large, exceptionally furry, and both were on the table.
Proudfoots, repeated Bilbo. Also my good Sackville-Bagginses that I welcome back at last to Bag End. Today is my one hundred and eleventh birthday: I am eleventy-one today! 'Hurray! Hurray! Many Happy Returns!' they shouted, and they hammered joyously on the tables. Bilbo was doing splendidly. This was the sort of stuff they liked: short and obvious.
I hope you are all enjoying yourselves as much as I am. Deafening cheers. Cries of Yes (and No). Noises of trumpets and horns, pipes and flutes, and other musical instruments. There were, as has been said, many young hobbits present. Hundreds of musical crackers had been pulled. Most of them bore the mark DALE on them; which did not convey much to most of the hobbits, but they all agreed they were marvellous crackers. They contained instruments, small, but of perfect make and enchanting tones. Indeed, in one corner some of the young Tooks and Brandybucks, supposing Uncle Bilbo to have finished (since he had plainly said all that was necessary), now got up an impromptu orchestra, and began a merry dance-tune. Master Everard Took and Miss Melilot Brandybuck got on a table and with bells in their hands began to dance the Springle-ring: a pretty dance, but rather vigorous.
But Bilbo had not finished. Seizing a horn from a youngster near by, he blew three loud hoots. The noise subsided. I shall not keep you long, he cried. Cheers from all the assembly. I have called you all together for a Purpose. Something in the way that he said this made an impression. There was almost silence, and one or two of the Tooks pricked up their ears.
Indeed, for Three Purposes! First of all, to tell you that I am immensely fond of you all, and that eleventy-one years is too short a time to live among such excellent and admirable hobbits. Tremendous outburst of approval.
I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. This was unexpected and rather difficult. There was some scattered clapping, but most of them were trying to work it out and see if it came to a compliment.
Secondly, to celebrate my birthday. Cheers again. I should say: OUR birthday. For it is, of course, also the birthday of my heir and nephew, Frodo. He comes of age and into his inheritance today. Some perfunctory clapping by the elders; and some loud shouts of 'Frodo! Frodo! Jolly old Frodo,' from the juniors. The Sackville-Bagginses scowled, and wondered what was meant by 'coming into his inheritance'.
Together we score one hundred and forty-four. Your numbers were chosen to fit this remarkable total: One Gross, if I may use the expression. No cheers. This was ridiculous. Many of his guests, and especially the Sackville-Bagginses, were insulted, feeling sure they had only been asked to fill up the required number, like goods in a package. 'One Gross, indeed! Vulgar expression.'
It is also, if I may be allowed to refer to ancient history, the anniversary of my arrival by barrel at Esgaroth on the Long Lake; though the fact that it was my birthday slipped my memory on that occasion. I was only fifty-one then, and birthdays did not seem so important. The banquet was very splendid, however, though I had a bad cold at the time, I remember, and could only say 'thag you very buch'. I now repeat it more correctly: Thank you very much for coming to my little party. Obstinate silence. They all feared that a song or some poetry was now imminent; and they were getting bored. Why couldn't he stop talking and let them drink his health? But Bilbo did not sing or recite. He paused for a moment.
Thirdly and finally, he said, I wish to make an ANNOUNCEMENT. He spoke this last word so loudly and suddenly that everyone sat up who still could. I regret to announce that though, as I said, eleventy-one years is far too short a time to spend among you this is the END. I am going. I am leaving NOW. GOOD-BYE!
He stepped down and vanished. There was a blinding flash of light, and the guests all blinked. When they opened their eyes Bilbo was nowhere to be seen. One hundred and forty-four flabbergasted hobbits sat back speechless. Old Odo Proudfoot removed his feet from the table and stamped. Then there was a dead silence, until suddenly, after several deep breaths, every Baggins, Boffin, Took, Brandybuck, Grubb, Chubb, Burrows, Bolger, Bracegirdle, Brockhouse, Goodbody, Hornblower, and Proudfoot began to talk at once.
It was generally agreed that the joke was in very bad taste, and more food and drink were needed to cure the guests of shock and annoyance. 'He's mad. I always said so,' was probably the most popular comment. Even the Tooks (with a few exceptions) thought Bilbo's behaviour was absurd. For the moment most of them took it for granted that his disappearance was nothing more than a ridiculous prank.
But old Rory Brandybuck was not so sure. Neither age nor an enormous dinner had clouded his wits, and he said to his daughter-in- law, Esmeralda: 'There's something fishy in this, my dear! I believe that mad Baggins is off again. Silly old fool. But why worry? He hasn't taken the vittles with him.' He called loudly to Frodo to send the wine round again.
Frodo was the only one present who had said nothing. For some time he had sat silent beside Bilbo's empty chair, and ignored all remarks and questions. He had enjoyed the joke, of course, even though he had been in the know. He had difficulty in keeping from laughter at the indignant surprise of the guests. But at the same time he felt deeply troubled: he realized suddenly that he loved the old hobbit dearly. Most of the guests went on eating and drinking and discussing Bilbo Baggins' oddities, past and present; but the Sackville-Bagginses had already departed in wrath. Frodo did not want to have any more to do with the party. He gave orders for more wine to be served; then he got up and drained his own glass silently to the health of Bilbo, and slipped out of the pavilion.
As for Bilbo Baggins, even while he was making his speech, he had been fingering the golden ring in his pocket: his magic ring that he had kept secret for so many years. As he stepped down he slipped it on his finger, and he was never seen by any hobbit in Hobbiton again.
He walked briskly back to his hole, and stood for a moment listening with a smile to the din in the pavilion and to the sounds of merrymaking in other parts of the field. Then he went in. He took off his party clothes, folded up and wrapped in tissue-paper his embroidered silk waistcoat, and put it away. Then he put on quickly some old untidy garments, and fastened round his waist a worn leather belt. On it he hung a short sword in a battered black-leather scabbard. From a locked drawer, smelling of moth-balls, he took out an old cloak and hood. They had been locked up as if they were very precious, but they were so patched and weatherstained that their original colour could hardly be guessed: it might have been dark green. They were rather too large for him. He then went into his study, and from a large strong-box took out a bundle wrapped in old cloths, and a leather-bound manuscript; and also a large bulky envelope. The book and bundle he stuffed into the top of a heavy bag that was standing there, already nearly full. Into the envelope he slipped his golden ring, and its fine chain, and then sealed it, and addressed it to Frodo. At first he put it on the mantelpiece, but suddenly he removed it and stuck it in his pocket. At that moment the door opened and Gandalf came quickly in.
'Hullo!' said Bilbo. 'I wondered if you would turn up.'
'I am glad to find you visible,' replied the wizard, sitting down in a chair. 'I wanted to catch you and have a few final words. I suppose you feel that everything has gone off splendidly and according to plan?'
'Yes, I do,' said Bilbo. 'Though that flash was surprising: it quite startled me, let alone the others. A little addition of your own, I suppose?'
'It was. You have wisely kept that ring secret all these years, and it seemed to me necessary to give your guests something else that would seem to explain your sudden vanishment.'
'And would spoil my joke. You are an interfering old busybody,' laughed Bilbo, 'but I expect you know best, as usual.'
'I do when I know anything. But I don't feel too sure about this whole affair. It has now come to the final point. You have had your joke, and alarmed or offended most of your relations, and given the whole Shire something to talk about for nine days, or ninety-nine more likely. Are you going any further?'
'Yes, I am. I feel I need a holiday, a very long holiday, as I have told you before. Probably a permanent holiday: I don't expect I shall return. In fact, I don't mean to, and I have made all arrangements.
'I am old, Gandalf. I don't look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed!' he snorted. 'Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can't be right. I need a change or something.
Excerpted from THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING by J.R.R. Tolkien. Copyright © 1994 by Christopher R. Tolkien, John F.R. Tolkien and Priscilla M.A.R. Tolkien. Excerpted by permission.
Table of Contents
What People are Saying About This
No imaginary world has been projected which is at once as multifarious and so true to its own inner laws.
"Here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron."C.S. Lewis
"Destined to outlast our time." The New York Herald-Tribune
"Exciting... Mr. Tolkien's invention is unflagging"W.H. Auden
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I first started reading The Lord of the Rings while in the military. I had a lot of time to pass and I'm so very glad I chose these books to pass it with. I absolutely loved the story and how J.R.R Tolkien constructs a world I could never have dreamed of on my own. His imagination and superb writing have gone on to inspire innumerable artists in today's culture. I must admit when the movies came out I was hesitant to watch them. I'm glad I did though because they did a very fine job of capturing the magic of the story. Of course there were things left out. The already long movies would have been epic tales that would last hours upon hours on film had everything been included. I highly recommend these books to anyone who wants to be taken away to another time and place where magic is alive and simpler things like home are treasured.
I thought that the book was great. You would be able to understand it if you are older than 6th grade. In the story Frodo, a hobbit, inherits a very powerful ring. Frodo and 3 other hobbits travel on a journey to Rivendell to find out what to do with the ring. There they decide that they have to destroy the ring once and for all. The fellowship must travel to the depths of Mount Doom and cast the ring into the fire. What I liked best about the book is that the hobbits aren't the fastest or the strongest of the fellowship, but they don't give up on each other. It is overall a great book that you should read.
The reason that I read this book is because I have always heard great things about this book and have seen all of its excellent movies and so far all of its reviews are well justified. In this book, the beginning of a great war in the land of Middle Earth is unfolding. I would not recommend reading this book until you have read the prelude to it called The Hobbit which describes the tale of Bilbo Baggins. Now in The Lord of the Rings the fellowship of the Ring. It shows the discovering of the ring of power which was forged in secret by the dark lord Sauron and his sending of the nine ring wraiths to the peaceful land of the shire and Frodo Baggins and his fear full escape to the elf city of Rivendell with the ring wraiths on there tails ready to kill any that stood in there way. The final part I can say without ruining the book is in Rivendell under the wise council of the elf lord Elrond a ground of nine ( a elf, dwarf, 4 hobbits, and 2 men)set out on a almost completely hopeless quest to destroy the ring of power forever. The reason I enjoyed that book and I think you will too. Is because this book is described in the most brilliant detail and you can see everything unfold in your head, and the everlasting fantasy that you won't forget anytime soon.
When they wrote "THE GREATEST FANTASY EPIC OF OUR TIME" They weren't lying. The Fellowship is an awesome exciting book that creates a solid foundation for the rest of the books. The Two Towers and Return of The King blew me away even more.
This book will suck you in in the first 20 pages, and will not let you go for another 479. This is truly a great book, For any who are going to start Lord Of The Rings I HIGHLY suggest the you read the hoobit also, It is also a wonderful book.
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien was fantastic. It stars the nephew of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit named Frodo Baggins. As the story goes, Frodo adventures into the darkness with his friends Merry, Pippin, and Sam. They dodge creatures left and right, including the fiendish ringwraiths. As they travel on they gain support from unlikely places and battle an evil so terrible that only the power of the heart can surpress it. This is a very magical story that puts a spell over you so that you cannot put it down.
My name is Will .I am 12, and YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK . The plot to it is : Bilbo Baggins (a Hobbit) finds a ring in a cave on an adventure with some dwarves (as told in The Hobbit) . Now his nephew Frodo must must take the ring to mount doom there to destroy it and foil the dark lord in his evil polt.
Some people have said to me that they just couldn't get into LotR and it was boring, and that's perfectly understandable when the people reading it can't just completely lose themselves to the book they're reading. When a person is reading a book and just go along with it, being interested, I'd recommend a book like Maximum Ride. But for people who just completely forget everything besides the book in their hands, completely lose themselves in the world of it--LotR is perfect for them.
Fabulous! It kept me going and going, I reccomend this expesially for avid readers. I'm ten and this book sucked me into this wonderful world of fantasy. This isn't one of those lies. I'm telling the truth, its fantastic. It will make a lot more sense if you have read THE HOBBIT. Also look out for THE TWO TOWERS nd THE RETURN OF THE KING. Of course they are the conclusion to this book. I'm reading THE TWO TOWERS and its also very good. I give this book 5 wopping stars!
My favorite series!!!
The Fellowship is one awesome book! Now I'm reading The Return of the King and it's awesome too (along with The Two Towers)! Though, if I had to name parts I & II, I would call part I, 'From The Shire to Rivendell,' and part II, 'From Rivendell to The Anduin.'
I really am not into fantasy but I enjoyed reading this first part of the Lord of the Rings triolgy. At first I just had to pick a book to read for a class and I thought why not this, I liked the movie. I was suprised when I realized that although arn't nessisarily human they have many human charactersitics and emotions. I would recomend this book to anyone over the age of ten. It's not a quick read but you keep wanting to read more so the length is not an issue. Everyone would find something they like in the Fellowship of The Rings
Sam Hawkins and Kolby Stinson AP Lit Fellowship of the Ring Evaluation J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Rings In his novel, The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien takes the most humble characters in all of Middle Earth, Hobbits, and shows that they are able to accomplish the most amazing feats and basically save the world as they knew it. Hobbits had become estranged to men. They were shorter than dwarves and had huge, hairy feet and were perfectly happy to stay in the Shire and eat, drink beer, party and relax; they were no heroes or warriors or anything glorious. This made them perfect for Tolkien to use to accomplish the most amazing journey and destroy the most powerful evil in Middle Earth. These ordinary hobbits begin their incredible journey with a fellowship of nine but are eventually separated and forced on their own fantastical voyages through Middle Earth and they each discover new sides of themselves they never known before. The hobbits are also used as a base by Tolkien that includes all the peoples of Middle Earth in the struggle between good and evil. This base goes back to how the hobbits are the most unlikely of people to be at the center of this epic tale in the journey to destroy the greatest threat to life of the free people of Middle Earth.
First of all,I am not doing a review but people have been wondering if this is TFOTR and The two towers in one book Answer: NO Somewhere in all of those notes and things at the beginning it says that TLOTR is a SIX book series divided into THREE parts Part one: The Fellowship of the Ring consisting of books one and two Part two:The Two Towers with books three and four And part three: The Return of the King with books five and six so there you go the answer to a question people have been wondering about. Also I have only read five chapters out of the twelve chapters of book one but so far l would give it a four star because of all of the notes and things for the first fifty pages of the book and for all of the details.But overall it is a good book.
I loved this book! I will have to admit that it is hard to jump right in and stay interested, however once you know the background of Tolkien’s writing I think it brings the story to life and makes you want to continue to read more. Since he had to take all of these fantasy creatures and bring them all into one book and make them work, the extravagant detail is 100% necessary. It still amazes me how he created his own language and an entire map for his writings. This book brings friendship, leadership and humbleness to a new level and definitely draws the reader in once you start to truly understand the characters and put yourself in their shoes and think about how hard this journey could be without all of the current technologies that we have in our time of technological growth. I have always been a fan of the Lord of the Rings movies, but thought that it was about time to read the books. There is no way that you can read the first book and not want to continue to read on to the second book. I would highly suggest this book to anyone who has seen or not seen the Lord of the Rings movies. The book goes into much more detail and you get to visualize the extra scenery the elves have to offer in their mystical lands.
It's the best book I ever read in my entier young life
I love the whole lord of the rings trilogy! Everyone should read it!
My family and i love the lord of the rings
Ah, The Fellowship of the Ring. The beginning of the serious take on Middle-Earth (after The Hobbit), and the first of the sextet of The Lord of the Rings. Each book has two books in it, so it is frequently mistakenly referred to as trilogy, which irritated Tolkien. Though some readers feel the book lags in regard to action, especially in the beginning, I think this serves a purpose. Tolkien does a great job making Middle-Earth seem real. The cultures and personalities come across as realistic as actual world cultures. He also has a lot of background material he needs to convey in order for the story to make sense. He typically does this via dialogue, but sometimes via description. Tolkien excels at description, and he almost always tells you what the areas look like, topographically, visually, and what sorts of plants and animals are present. You feel as if you're trudging along with the hobbits and Aragorn, experiencing the wonder of the journey. Much of it seems to be patterned after the British Isles, which is not surprising, so large portions are rather bleak, such as large areas of moors, etc. Tolkien lavishes time upon the characters, so you feel you know them, their habits and personalities, motivations, and relations to others. The only negative I have in regard to this is what I call the "double-character" of Merry/Pippin. They are so much alike that one of them is unnecessary. They talk and act alike, and serve similar plot devices and literary functions. This gets worse in the following books, but appears in this one, too. The powerful history of Middle-Earth is brought to the fore, notably in Gandalf's dealings with Frodo, the obssession of the Ringwraiths seeking Frodo, and the Council of Elrond. Some think these boring and/or crippling to the action, but I think these are wonderful ways to convey information, as I mentioned before--the Ringwraiths are not boring, in any event. I like these asides as they add depth to the story. I also don't mind thinking about what is going on, which makes me feel I am sharing in the history/story of Middle-Earth. Tolkien also achieves this realism with side-treks such as the encounter with Tom Bombadil, which adds a mysterious character referring to the primeval stirrings of the world, its history, its present, and, to a lesser degree, its future. The primary plot line, of course, is the identification of the One Ring that was discovered by Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. Its past impact and potential current and future ability to devastate the world is the impetus for the quest to destroy it. The adventuring group is arranged. They set out to accomplish this goal even though they are not entirely sure how to achieve their objective (meaning the procedure--the goal is clear). The journey itself is grueling, a factor intensified by opposition by other, vying forces independently seeking the Ring. One of these is Gollum, who once possessed/was possessed by the Ring. He is trailing the fellowship. The artifact's essentially irresistible allure begins to work on the group, resulting in mistrust and, in the end, the fall of Boromir to ring-lust, coinciding with an orc attack on the characters as they are physically separated. Frodo attempts to flee alone into the wilderness toward Mordor with the goal of destroying the Ring in the fires of Orodruin (a.k.a. and more commonly known as Mount Doom). The perennially-attentive Sam, however, follows him and convinces him to allow them to go together. The orc attack and flight of Frodo and Sam throw the remaining members into confusion. The fellowship is splintered, and Tolkien leaves us with this cliff-hanger. Will the members survive? Will Frodo and Sam be able to find Mordor? Will Gollum finally catch them? You'll have to read and find out.
When I first found out about The Fellowship of the Ring I was very intrigued. I thought the concept of the book and the way Tolkien wrote the tale was amazing. What really grabbed my attention, when I started reading the book, was the lore and the diverse languages shown throughout the series. The Fellowship of the Ring can appeal to anyone of any age, due to the interesting storyline and plot that can get any reader’s attention. In The Fellowship of the Ring you will go on an amazing journey throughout Middle-Earth with Frodo and his friends. You will explore the beauties of the shire and come across the wonders of Rivendell. You will go through many journeys to destroy the evil power of the one ring by casting it in the chasm of Mt. Doom. This is all necessary to defeat the Dark Lord, Sauron. Once you start reading this book you will not be able to put it down because of Tolkien’s precise attention to character traits and ability of good story telling. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a heartwarming journey, that consists of hardship and challenges that ultimately show the true heart of the hobbits of the shire. Once you start reading this book you will not be able to put it down because of Tolkien’s precise attention to character traits and ability of good story telling.
I tried to read this book but the writing was to slow, boring and difficult to follow. And it wasn't really necessary for the author to add the long and boring poems to this book. Which do nothing more but make the book more boring.
Legolas is my favorite, but this whole book is wonderful and is full of mystical people and creatures from all of J.R.R. Tolkein's world. It is full of page turning chapters of mystery and fantasy. I loved it.
I believe that the books are so much better than the movies! They leave so many awesome things that are in the books out of the movies
One of my favorite books in the world!!! Best in the trilogy. SC
Fellowship of the Ring is by far one of my favorite books ever. Its the story of Frodo a hobbit who by most accounts has lived a fairly normal and calm life and how he inherits a powerful ring that changes his life. This is the first book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In this instalment is the story of Frodo receiving the one ring from his uncle Bilbo. Then being forced to escape evil powers searching for it in his homeland. His quest to the elven city of Rivendell. And the decision of the council there to destroy the ring in the dark land of Mordor. Finally culminating in the adventures of the first leg of their journey. I recommend this book to anyone who is like a good fantasy adventure story with twist, turns, and excitement. Also for anyone who enjoys a tale with both happiness and sorrow, with a hint of witty humor throughout.