This essay shouldn’t be necessary. These are two greatly misunderstood events in The Fellowship of the Ring, sadly enough. So, if you’re too lazy to read the books (Go read them now! They’re really good books; I promise!) or need your memory refreshed, here’s a quick summary of each.
The Council of Elrond
October the 24th was an important date in Rivendell because two things happened. An important man, named Boromir, appeared on the doorstep of the Last Homely House in the middle of the night, and Frodo Baggins, who had been carrying the One Ring, woke up. Looking at the collection of important guests that had happened to arrive at the same time, Elrond decided that they should discuss their problems together in a council the next morning.
Bilbo Baggins: He had borne the One Ring; he was well known and respected among the elves in the area; and he represented Hobbits of Hobbiton.
Frodo Baggins: He was the most recent bearer of the One Ring.
Samwise Gamgee: He was hiding in the corner; he wasn’t supposed to be there.
Minor Gods (Maiar)
Gandalf: He had to alert everyone of the betrayal of Saruman.
Aragorn: He happened to be the person who was supposed to take the thrones of Gondor and Arnor.
Boromir: He and his brother had been having a strange dream that seemed to be a prophecy of some sort, so he came to Rivendell to find out what it meant.
Glóin: He was worried about Balin, who hadn’t contacted him in about 50 years. It was known that Balin might have accidentally awoken something scary while mining in Moria.
Gimli: He was the young warrior son of Glóin.
Elrond: He organized the council.
Erestor: He was a wise Elf of the staff of Elrond’s house.
Glorfindel: He was a great warrior who was also staff of Elrond’s house.
Legolas: He was the messenger and son of King Thranduil. Apparently, they treat their prisoners far too nicely, giving Gollum the opportunity to escape them.
Galdor: He was the messenger of Círdan, but Tolkien never told us what his message was. Apparently it was too boring. We can guess that it had something to do with traveling to Valinor.
- The council meets bright and early in the morning by the sound of a bell.
- Most of the council was skipped because it was too boring for Tolkien to write about.
- Glóin tells the council his worries about Moria and Balin.
- Elrond explains the history behind the Rings of Power.
- Boromir tells the council about the dream, and the Sword that was Broken is shown by Aragorn and the Ring is shown by Frodo.
- Aragorn’s lineage is revealed. (Bilbo recites a poem he composed about it as well)
- Bilbo tells how he found the One Ring.
- Galdor asks a few very good questions about Saruman.
- Gandalf tells the council of the capture of Gollum.
- Legolas explains how Gollum escaped his father’s custody.
- Glóin forgives Legolas for the ill treatment he received in Thranduil’s dungeons.
- Gandalf tells the council about Saruman’s betrayal, his own escape from Saruman, and his fight with the Nine Nazgul.
- The council concludes that the Ring shouldn’t be used as a weapon against Sauron, thrown into the sea, or given to Iarwain (Tom Bombadil).
- They decide to throw it into Mount Doom, where it would melt. But what messengers would volunteer for such a deadly task? Mighty Elven lords? No! They would be too easily tempted by its power.
- The council ends just after the lunch bell had been rung (and the possibility of missing lunch probably urged Frodo on in his decision) and Frodo and Sam volunteer to destroy the One Ring by tossing it in Mount Doom.
The rest of the Fellowship of the Ring isn’t chosen until the scouts return, almost two months later.
The Fellowship of the Ring
Before you add anyone to the Company of the One Ring, consider these three things.
‘It’s most unfair,’ said Pippin. ‘Instead of throwing him [Sam] out, and clapping him in chains, Elrond goes and rewards him for his cheek!’
‘Rewards!’ said Frodo. ‘I can’t imagine a more severe punishment. You are not thinking what you are saying: condemned to go on this hopeless journey, a reward?”
- That quote is just a friendly reminder that the fellowship wasn’t a jolly little club, and it wasn’t meant to be from the beginning. Think of it as signing up for a battalion that you know will fight an impossible battle against terrible odds, and more likely than not, you’ll end up walking to your death.
- Elrond had them walk to Mordor. Think about it for a second. WALK. Walk hundreds and hundreds of miles, crossing dangerous mountains and trying to be as stealthy as possible. Most people don’t walk that much in years. It took Boromir about four months to go from Minas Tirith to Rivendell on horseback. Oh yeah, and they have to fight off these things that want to kill them.
The Company of the Ring shall be Nine; and the Nine Walkers shall be set against the Nine Riders that are evil.Thank you, Lord Elrond, I couldn’t say it any clearer than that. No more than nine characters in the Fellowship means that if you want to add a character, someone is going to be left behind. Who will it be?
Here is a list in order of most important to least important to the Fellowship in Lord Elrond’s eyes. Remember that Lord Elrond is the person who decides who stays and who goes.
- Frodo Baggins: He has volunteered to destroy the One Ring. He has no world conquering ambitions that he’d want the Ring for. He’s also a hobbit, and hobbits are a hardy, surprisingly strong race of people that have a Wizard campaigning for them.
- Samwise Gamgee: He volunteered to go. He is also an incredibly hardy little hobbit that shows amazing loyalty. Loyalty to Frodo that is strong enough to overrule the One Ring’s allure.
- Gandalf: Let’s face it. Who would want to go on mission impossible without a Minor God to help?
- Aragorn: Besides being a great warrior and woodsman, Aragorn has to travel with Boromir to Minas Tirith to claim the throne. It just happens to be a road that coincides with Frodo’s journey almost to its end.
- Boromir: He must to be made of strong stuff if he managed that journey to Rivendell alone. He also has to travel back home, so Aragorn’s going with him.
- Gimli: He must find out what happened to Balin in the Mines of Moria. Gimli is also a great warrior.
- Legolas: This Elf managed a dangerous journey alone to Rivendell; there must be someone to represent Elves on the Fellowship; and he also has to go home. Another useful thing is that Legolas is a stereotypical Elf of Telerin decent. He doesn’t have any great desire for power, like a Noldorin Elf or a Vanyarin Elf might have, so he’s pretty safe near the One Ring. Telerin Elves are also well known for their singing, and if you have an Elf like Legolas along on a long trip, you will have a constant stream of recited poetry and epic ballads to keep you from getting bored (and an outlet for Tolkien to show off his poetry).
- Meriadoc Brandybuck: Elrond was set against his going. To Elrond, Merry is a child. Elves value children highly, so it is a crime to send a child to its death. But, Gandalf convinced Lord Elrond to let Merry go. Gandalf believed that Merry’s loyalty to Frodo would outmatch any desire for the One Ring, his close relationship with Frodo would give Frodo emotional support, and Merry had already proven that he was willing to stick with Frodo through thin and thinner. Another key factor was that Merry volunteered to go, and Gandalf had a bit of foresight into his future role in the coming events.
- Peregrin Took: His situation is the same as Merry’s except that he is even younger than Merry. Elrond wanted to send Merry and Pippin back to the Shire to warn the peoples of the coming danger: it was very likely that the war would spill into the Shire; in fact, it did. He was planning on sending two of the staff members of his house or his sons instead of Merry and Pippin.
No one was forced to go any further on the perilous journey than they wanted to. Legolas and Gimli weren’t expected to go farther than the Misty Mountains, and Aragorn and Boromir were only expected to go to Minas Tirith.
So, let’s say that you have sent Merry and Pippin back to the Shire; and now Elrond’s grim sons* are in the Fellowship. Realize that because you’ve changed two of the key characters, the plot of the rest of the story has to change with them. For example: with these two powerful Elves, they might have made it over Caradhras and not gone through the mines. Gandalf doesn’t become Gandalf the White. The Balrog goes un-slain, and the dwarves will never be able to mine there. Saruman’s forces might kidnap Frodo and Sam without Merry and Pippin to act as decoys. Boromir won’t die, and he will join the rest of the Fellowship in the mission to rescue Frodo, Sam, and the One Ring from the hands of the enemy. I’m sure you get the idea now. Make your own story!
If you ever write a ’10 (or more) walkers vs. 9 riders’ story after reading this essay, I will beat you with my three-in-one copy of The Lord of the Rings until it starts to sink in.
*That is not a joke; Tolkien describes Elladan and Elrohir as being grim and serious because Celebrían, their mother, was tortured by Orcs, and they found her. The torture scarred her so deeply that she had to go to Valinor to heal, leaving her young daughter behind. Where does everyone get those stupid pranksters from? Elrond’s sons are NOT the Weasley twins!