The main protagonist of The Lord of the Rings, a Hobbit of exceptional character. Frodo is also a friend of the Elves, knowledgeable in their language and a lover of their songs. Like Bilbo—or any other good Hobbit—Frodo loves good food and simple comforts, but he is also thoughtful and curious and has a wisdom and strength of character that set him apart.
The former gardener at Bag End and Frodo’s indomitable servant throughout his quest. Although Sam is not extraordinarily wise or intelligent, his common sense and powers of observation serve him well. Perhaps most important, he is stubborn, brave, and deeply loyal to Frodo.
One of the five great Wizards in Middle-earth, second in his order only to Saruman. Known to most Hobbits only as a creator of fine fireworks, Gandalf is actually powerful beyond their imagination. He is also wise, humorous, kind, and generous, though sometimes short-tempered.
An Elf from Mirkwood. Legolas is light on his feet and masterful with a bow. After overcoming initial differences that stem from the historical antipathy between their races, he and the Dwarf Gimli become fast friends.
A Dwarf, the son of Glóin (one of Bilbo’s company in The Hobbit). Gimli bristles when he feels insulted, but he is noble, stalwart, and brave.
The heir of Isildur, one of the few Men from the great race of Númenor left in Middle-earth. Aragorn is also known as Strider. Before the coming of the Ring, he lived as a Ranger in the North, protecting the Shire and other lands from servants of the Enemy. Aragorn is a formidable warrior and tracker.
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One of the Men of Gondor, from the city of Minas Tirith in the south. Boromir is a valiant fighter and is always trustworthy in battle, but his pride and recklessness make him vulnerable to the Ring’s power.
A young and somewhat rash Hobbit. Pippin is good-natured and a bit of a smart aleck.
A young Hobbit from Buckland. Merry has a temperament similar to Pippin’s, though he is more mature and, unlike most Hobbits, not afraid of boats and water.
The antagonist and title character of The Lord of the Rings. The Dark Lord Sauron, a servant of Morgoth, the Great Enemy, took his master’s place after the First Age. The enormously powerful Sauron is never seen at any point in the novel; he is represented only by images of his Great Eye or the Dark Tower where he resides. He fervently desires the One Ring, which he created long ago and which holds a great part of his power. Sauron is wise, but he only thinks in terms of desire—especially desire for power. He therefore does not understand those who would want to destroy the Ring rather than use it—which is perhaps his only weakness.
Nine minions of Sauron who ceaselessly search for the One Ring. The Ringwraiths—also known as the Black Riders, the Nine, or the Nazgûl (the Elvish term)—take the form of cloaked riders on terrifying black horses. They pursue Frodo incessantly, and are especially drawn to him at any moments when he puts the Ring on his finger.
The head of Gandalf’s order of Wizards. Saruman advises the other Wizards not to challenge the growing power of Sauron. Gandalf, who suspects that Saruman intends to join Sauron’s forces outright, confirms his suspicions when he travels to Saruman’s tower, Orthanc. Saruman does not himself appear as a character until The Two Towers, but his presence and influence are clearly felt in The Fellowship of the Ring.
A hunched, miserable creature who was once Sméagol, a young boy of a Hobbit-like race. Sméagol killed his friend Déagol after Déagol found the One Ring on the bottom of the Anduin River. The Ring corrupted Sméagol and changed him into his current form, the creature called Gollum. Gollum maintained possession of the Ring until he lost in it in his caves in the Misty Mountains, where Bilbo recovered it.
A mysterious, gigantic, terrifying elemental demon from deep inside the earth. The Balrog, the “nameless fear” awakened by the Dwarves in the Mines of Moria, emerges from the depths when the Fellowship passes through the Mines, and it ultimately confronts Gandalf in an epic battle. The Balrog, which brandishes an enormous flaming sword and whip, is wreathed in flame and yet exudes shadow and darkness.
Squat, swarthy, wretched creatures that are seemingly limitless in number and that serve the purposes of Sauron. Hordes of Orcs, which are unable to withstand daylight and therefore emerge almost exclusively at night, pursue the Fellowship through the Mines of Moria and beyond; it is presumed that the Orcs are also responsible for the death of Balin and the other Dwarves who returned to Moria in an attempt to reclaim the ancient Dwarf realm there.
A swarthy, suspicious fellow in Bree who appears to have been paid off by the Black Riders to watch Frodo’s movements. Bill Ferny sells the hobbits a half-starved pony at a high price to replace the ponies the Black Riders set loose the night before.
The Master of Rivendell. Elrond is descended from a Man and an Elf—thus, “Halfelven.” He had the choice to be mortal or immortal and chose the latter. As a consequence, Elrond must leave Middle-earth when the time comes, most likely at the end of the War of the Ring. He is renowned for his wisdom and learning.
The Lady of Lothlórien and perhaps the wisest of the Elves. Galadriel bears one of the Elven Rings of Power and uses it to read Sauron’s mind. Like Elrond, she sometimes appears as less a character than an embodiment of physical, mental, and spiritual perfection.
The husband of Galadriel. Celeborn and Galadriel, who both appear to be timeless, ageless beings, rule as Lord and Lady of Lórien, the Elvish forest.
Elrond’s beautiful daughter, who plays only a minor role in The Fellowship of the Ring, but becomes more prominent later in The Lord of the Rings.
An Elf whose approach saves the hobbits from an encounter with one of the Black Riders. Gildor tells Frodo that the mysterious Black Riders are servants of the Enemy and must be avoided at all costs.
An Elf-lord and friend of Aragorn. Glorfindel, who lives in Rivendell, attends the Council of Elrond, which is called to determine what should be done with the Ring.
Another Elf-lord who attends the Council of Elrond. Erestor suggests that the Ring be given to Tom Bombadil, over whom it has no power; the others at the Council, however, worry that even Bombadil could not single-handedly defeat Sauron.
The leader of the group of Elves who halt the Fellowship’s entry into the forest of Lothlórien. Haldir then leads the Fellowship into the heart of the forest to meet Galadriel.
The hero of The Hobbit and Frodo’s cousin and mentor. Bilbo is clever and loves a good joke or song. The effects of having kept the Ring for so long only occasionally mar his thoughtfulness. Bilbo is an object of curiosity in the Shire for his learning and his wandering ways, and he is trying to write a book detailing his many adventures.
A relative of Bilbo who buys Bag End from Frodo when he leaves the Shire to go on his quest. The disagreeable Lobelia has been trying to get her hands on the house at Bag End for some time.
A friend of Merry who helps the hobbits move Frodo’s things to his new house across the Brandywine River. Fatty stays behind at the house to keep up the pretense that Frodo still lives in the Shire.
Sam’s father, who lives next door to Bag End. Just before Frodo leaves the Shire, the Gaffer is visited by one of the Ringwraiths, which asks him about the whereabouts of a Mr. Baggins.
A farmer who drives Frodo and company to the Brandywine River ferry in his wagon. Farmer Maggot once caught Frodo stealing his mushrooms, so Frodo is afraid of him.
The innkeeper at the Prancing Pony in Bree. Though a forgetful fellow, Butterbur does finally remember to deliver Gandalf’s letter to Frodo when the hobbit passes through Bree.
A jovial, mysterious, and powerful being who dances around his small realm, singing songs in doggerel. Tom is extremely old, perhaps immortal, and his origins are unknown. He has great power and is deeply connected to the earth, but he is unconcerned with the world outside his realm.
Tom Bombadil’s wife. Goldberry has a presence that moves Frodo in a way similar to that of the Elves.
Gimli’s father. Glóin, one of the Dwarves who traveled with Bilbo on the adventures that take place in The Hobbit, is present at the Council of Elrond where the Fellowship is established.
The swiftest of the Great Eagles, who rescues Gandalf from the top of Orthanc and takes the wizard to Rohan.
The swiftest of all horses, whom Gandalf tames for his own use.
An ancient Elven-king who fought in a climactic battle against Sauron ages ago. Gil-galad was killed in the battle, in which Sauron lost the One Ring at Isildur’s hand.
An ancient king of Westernesse who allied his armies with Gil-galad’s to take on Sauron. Elendil, an ancestor of Aragorn’s line, was killed along with Gil-galad in the battle.
The eldest son and heir of Elendil. In the great battle against Sauron in ancient times, Isildur cut the One Ring from Sauron’s hand, but then lost the Ring in the Great River, Anduin.