The Ring-bearer and main protagonist of The Lord of the Rings. Frodo, a lowly Hobbit, has accepted the tremendously dangerous task of returning the Ring to the fires of Mordor in which it was created—the only place where it can be destroyed. In the later stages of the novel, the Ring becomes a difficult burden for Frodo, who relies increasingly on his friend, Sam, for support.
The Hobbit who serves Frodo, traveling with his master on his quest to return the Ring to Mordor. Sam is more practical and sensible than Frodo, but is also more emotional and less able to control himself—as when he blurts out to Faramir that Faramir’s brother, Boromir, was a traitor.
A Wizard of supreme good and a staunch enemy of the corrupted Saruman and the evil Sauron. Gandalf the Grey, seemingly killed in The Fellowship of the Ring when he falls into a chasm, returns from beyond the grave as Gandalf the White, or the White Rider. The enormously powerful wizard aids the Hobbits in their quest to destroy the Ring.
The only Elf in the Fellowship, possessed of superhuman eyesight that serves him well in warning his traveling party of approaching Orcs.
A fierce Dwarf hero, expert in wielding his axe against Orcs, fond of caves and rocks, and unhappy in forests. Gimli follows Aragorn and Legolas in pursuit of the hobbits.
A human warrior, the heir of Isildur. Aragorn is in league with Gimli and Legolas to aid the Hobbits in their mission to destroy the Ring. Aragorn is the last to see Boromir alive.
The Lord of Gondor and the elder brother of Faramir. Boromir enters the Fellowship to help convey the Ring to Mordor, but he becomes corrupted by the Ring’s power and ultimately attempts to seize the Ring for himself. Boromir repents, however, just before his death in battle against the Orcs.
A Hobbit who, along with his friend Merry, is cut off from the rest of the Fellowship during a battle with Orcs. Pippin and Merry spend much of The Two Towers trying to rejoin Gandalf’s group.
Pippin’s companion, also separated from the Fellowship at the beginning of The Two Towers. Merry and Pippin make their way to join their companions, pursued by Orcs who mistakenly believe them to be in possession of the Ring.
The Dark Lord of Mordor, the primary antagonist in The Lord of the Rings. Sauron, who created the One Ring, is driven only by his desire to retrieve the Ring. He never appears during the novel; we see only his Great Eye and his Dark Tower in Mordor. Sauron’s rule has made the land of Mordor barren and inhospitable.
Nine messengers of Sauron who soar above Middle-earth on fearsome winged steeds, constantly searching for the Ring. The Nazgûl—also known as the Ringwraiths, the Black Riders, or the Nine—rely on intimidation and terror, striking fear into the hearts of those who see them flying above.
The most powerful Wizard in Gandalf’s order. Saruman, once a force of good and a cohort of Gandalf, becomes corrupted by power and takes over the realm of Isengard. There, Saruman plots to seize the Ring and breeds a new race of evil Orcs that do not fear sunlight.
The wicked and deceitful advisor of King Théoden. Wormtongue, who is secretly in the employ of Saruman, is exposed by Gandalf, and flees to Saruman’s headquarters.
A strange, froglike creature. Gollum once carried the Ring himself, but lost it, and now attempts to get it back. Though at times pathetic and even somewhat sympathetic, Gollum is deceitful and treacherous to the core, feigning humility to his masters Sam and Frodo after they tame him, only to then lead the hobbits to danger in Shelob’s lair.
An unimaginably ancient, enormous, and evil female spider that lives in the tunnels near Mordor, ever hungry for prey. Shelob, who is even older than Sauron, serves as a kind of guard for one of the entrances to Mordor. Gollum deceitfully leads Frodo and Sam into Shelob’s lair, where the spider paralyzes Frodo and nearly kills both hobbits before Sam drives her away.
Squat, swarthy, wretched creatures that serve the purposes of Sauron. Orcs, unable to withstand daylight, attack at night, by force of numbers.
A fearsome breed of Orcs specially created by Saruman to be able to withstand daylight.
An Orc warrior and captor of Merry and Pippin in the early chapters of The Two Towers. Uglúk is killed in battle at the hands of Éomer.
Two Orc warriors who carry Frodo’s paralyzed body away into Mordor.
One of the Riders of Rohan, the horsemen to whom the Lord of Gondor has given land in exchange for guarding his territories. Éomer encounters Aragorn’s traveling party early in The Two Towers, giving Aragorn information implying that Merry and Pippin are still alive.
The King of Rohan and keeper of the Golden Hall. Théoden is a good man, but his wily and two-faced counselor, Wormtongue, has misled him, urging him to support the evil Saruman. Gandalf reveals the truth of Wormtongue’s deception to Théoden, who then supports the members of the Fellowship.
The Lady of Rohan. Éowyn in Theoden’s niece and Éomer’s sister.
The Lord of Gondor after the demise of his elder brother, Boromir. Faramir initially distrusts Frodo, whom he suspects of having killed Boromir. When Faramir learns the truth, he aids the hobbits in their mission.
Two of Faramir’s warriors. Damrod threatens to kill Gollum upon finding the creature bathing in a pool in Gondor.
The doorman at the gates of the Golden Hall, who is initially very suspicious of Gandalf and company.
One of the Ents, a race of giant, mobile, treelike creatures. The fourteen-foot-tall Fangorn is one of the oldest creatures in Middle-earth. An authority figure to the other Ents, he shows great hospitality to Pippin and Merry, who are given food by him in his Ent-house.
A younger Ent who befriends Merry and Pippin during the Ent assembly.
The swiftest of all horses, whom Gandalf has borrowed from Théoden and who later becomes an outright gift from the king to the wizard.