The Fellowship of the Ring

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The Fellowship of the Ring is the first of three volumes of the epic novel The Lord of the Rings by the English author J. R. R. Tolkien. It takes place in the fictional universe Middle-earth. It was originally published on July 29, 1954 in the United Kingdom. The volume consists of a Prologue titled "Concerning Hobbits, and other matters" followed by Book I and Book II.


Title and publication

Tolkien conceived of The Lord of the Rings as a multiple volume with six sections he called "books" along with extensive appendices. The original publisher made the decision to split the work into three parts. It was also the publisher's decision to place the fifth and sixth books and the appendices into one volume under the title The Return of the King, in reference to Aragorn's assumption of the throne of Gondor. Tolkien indicated he would have preferred The War of the Ring as a title, as it gave away less of the story.

Before the decision to publish The Lord of the Rings in three volumes was made, Tolkien had hoped to publish the novel in one volume, or combined with The Silmarillion. At this stage he planned to title the individual books. The proposed title for Book I was The First Journey or The Ring Sets Out. Book II was titled The Journey of the Nine Companions or The Ring Goes South. The titles The Ring Sets Out and The Ring Goes South were used in the Millennium edition.

Plot summary

The Prologue is meant primarily to help people who have not read The Hobbit understand the events of that book, along with some other information that the author felt is relevant to set the stage for the novel.

Book I: The Return of the Shadow

The first chapter in the book begins in a light vein, following the tone of The Hobbit. Bilbo Baggins is celebrating his 111th (or eleventy-first, as it is called in Hobbiton) birthday on the same day, September 22, that Frodo Baggins, his heir, is celebrating his 33rd birthday (his 'coming of age'). At the birthday party, Bilbo departs from the Shire, the land of the Hobbits, for what he calls a permanent holiday. He leaves his remaining belongings including his home, Bag End and, after some persuasion by the wizard Gandalf, the Ring he had found on his adventures (with which he used to make himself invisible), to Frodo. Gandalf warns Frodo to keep the Ring secret and safe from others, and leaves on his own business.

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