Who's Who in the Lord of the Rings
From Aragorn to Ring Wraiths
The Lord of the Rings is epic in scope and features a host of characters. Here are the most important characters you'll meet.
The Fellowship of the Ring / The Nine Walkers
The members of the Fellowship of the Ring are selected by the Council of Elrond, in year 3018 of the Third Age. Its members are charged with taking the One Ring to Mount Doom, deep in Mordor.
Frodo is a young hobbit and Bilbo Baggins's cousin. He shares Bilbo's interest in the world beyond the Shire and is more introspective than other hobbits. The two hobbits also share the same birthday, September 22. On Frodo's 33rd and Bilbo's 111th, they throw a huge birthday party. Bilbo announces that he intends to leave the Shire and gives his greatest treasure, a golden ring, to Frodo. When Gandalf convinces Frodo that it is no ordinary ring, but the One Ring of Sauron, Dark Lord of Mordor, the courageous hobbit sets out on a perilous quest to destroy it.
Samwise is Frodo's gardener and closest friend. Gandalf orders Sam to accompany Frodo on his quest after catching him eavesdropping on their discussions of the Ring. Although Sam is not nearly as eager to travel as Frodo, he is compelled by his loyalty to follow Frodo on his quest. Sam will prove to be the most steadfast of friends.
Another of Frodo's friends from the Shire, Merry "the Magnificent," demonstrates great valor in the Quest of Mount Doom and plays a significant part in a great battle.
Pippin is another friend of Frodo's. At 28 he is the youngest member of the Fellowship of the Ring and, some would say, the most foolish.
Hobbits, or halflings, are very similar to humans, except that they are very short (averaging 3 1/2 ft tall) and have large, hairy feet. They are a pastoral people who enjoy good food (11 meals a day preferably) and parties. They rarely leave their homeland and are wary of outsiders.
Aragorn (aka Strider, Estel)
Aragorn is the rightful heir to the kingdom of Gondor. He was raised by Elrond in Rivendell, where he learned the ways of both elves and men, and fell in love with Elrond's daughter Arwen. Elrond forbade his daughter to marry him—for she is an immortal elf, and he a mortal man—until he can regain the lost Crown of Gondor. Aragorn leaves Rivendell to become known as Strider, the mysterious ranger who roams the wilderness of Eriador and protects the land of hobbits. Aragorn is a close friend of Gandalf's, and an invaluable member of the Fellowship.
The eldest son of Denethor II, Steward of Gondor and Minas Tirith, Boromir is a formidable warrior. When Minas Tirith is assailed by the forces of Mordor he sets out to find aid. At the urging of dreams he makes his way to Rivendell and joins the Fellowship of the Ring. Unlike the others, Boromir is not sure that the One Ring should be destroyed, but believes it could be wielded against Sauron.
Gimli's father made the journey to Erebor with Bilbo Baggins (as told in The Hobbit). He is chosen to represent the dwarves in the Fellowship of the Ring and becomes the first of his people to enter Lórien and Khazad-dûm in more than a thousand years. He distrusts elves, but falls in love with the beauty of Galadriel and becomes close friends with Legolas.
Legolas is a valiant elf chosen to represent his people in the Fellowship. He hails from Mirkwood and is a great archer. Legolas's father, King Thranduil, played a role in the The Hobbit—he was the elven king that took Bilbo and his companions prisoner.
Gandalf (aka Mithrandir, "the Grey Pilgrim")
Gandalf the Grey is one of the five chief Istari, or wizards, sent to combat Sauron in Middle-earth some 2,000 years before the War of the Ring. Gandalf, more than the other Istari, cares for the creatures of Middle-earth. He mentors Aragorn, advises kings, helps the dwarves regain their kingdom at Erebor, and draws out the courage of the hobbits. Gandalf possesses one of the Rings of Power—Narya, the Ring of Fire—which helps him lend strength to the hearts of his companions.
Bilbo Baggins is the reluctant hero of the The Hobbit. Years before the events chronicled in The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf convinced Bilbo to accompany Thorin Oakenshield on a quest to regain the dwarves' stolen treasure at Erebor, the Lonely Mountain. Although he nearly died at the claws of goblins, giant spiders, and other creatures, Bilbo discovered that he possessed unexpected courage and resourcefulness. He returned home wealthy, and with a magic golden ring . . .
Galadriel was born in the early years of the world, a princess of the high elves. She travelled to Middle-earth at the beginning of the First Age with her brothers and cousins in pursuit of the stolen Silmaril gems. In Beleriand, at the court of King Thingol, she met Celeborn, whom she married. After the destruction of Beleriand she chose to remain in Middle-earth. Galadriel and Celeborn moved to the wood-elf realm of Lothlórien. Their only child, Celebrian, wedded Elrond.
Even though destroying the One Ring will diminish her power in Middle-earth, Galadriel is a great friend to the Fellowship and gives them items, including magic cloaks and a lock of her hair, to aid them in their quest.
Théoden is King of Rohan. He was bespelled by Saruman and misled by Grima Wormtongue until Gandalf freed him. He defended his people at Helm's Deep, then led them to the defense of Minas Tirith at the Battle of the Pelennor.
Éomer's sister Éowyn fell in love with Aragorn but despaired when she realized that he would never return her affection. Seeking valiant deeds and a noble death she traveled disguised as a man to the Battle of the Pelennor. She later married Faramir of Gondor.
Denethor II ruled Gondor as Steward. He was a wise and formidable man, but his use of an ancient artifact exposed him to the corrupting influence of Sauron. He doted on his elder son Boromir and only realized that he loved his younger son Faramir too late. The perceived loss of both his sons drove him mad.
Faramir is the son of Denethor, Steward of Gondor, and Boromir's younger brother. He worked ceaselessly to defend Gondor from the forces of Morder, and to earn his father's respect. After the war he wedded Éowyn, who he met in Minas Tirith's "Houses of Healing."
Elrond was born at the Havens of Sirion late in the First Age of Middle-earth. Both of Elrond's parents were half-elven, and after the War of Wrath he was given a choice: whether to be counted amongst immortal elves or mortal men. He chose immortality.
After the invasion of Eriador by Sauron in the Second Age, Elrond founded a refuge in a deep hidden valley—Imladris, or Rivendell, which prospered with the aid of the Great Ring, Vilya, one of the Rings of Power.
Elrond plays a great part in the history of Middle-earth; he fought alongside the greatest heroes of the Second Age in the Last Alliance and is a leading member of the White Council.
In the history of Middle-earth there have been only two marriages between high elves and humans: Beren and Lúthien and Tuor and Idril. Arwen, daughter of Elrond and Celebrian (Galadriel's daughter), falls in love with Aragorn. If they are to wed, she will have to choose between him and her the immortality of her people.
Treebeard is one of the last Ents, a race of giant, tree-like people whose purpose was to protect the forests of Middle-earth. By the end of the Third Age, the great forests had dwindled, and so had the number of Ents. Few though they are, the Ents of Fangorn aid Rohan during the War of the Ring and destroyed Saruman's base at Isengard.
The White Council
The White Council, or Council of the Wise, was convened by Galadriel to combat Sauron. Saruman was appointed its leader against her wishes. Other members include Elrond, Gandalf, and the elven shipwright Círdan. Saruman misled the Council to search for the One Ring himself.
Saruman (aka Curunir)
Saruman the White was the chief of the Order of the Istari and head of the White Council. He arrived in Middle-earth with Gandalf and traveled far and wide, even to the mysterious South and East, to seek knowledge. Saruman possesses an incredible intellect and is especially well versed in the works of Sauron and the Rings of Power. At some point he began to desire the One Ring for himself. He settled at Isengard, in the high tower of Orthanc, and began to use a palantir, or scrying orb, to seek the Ring. While using the palantir he was trapped by the will of Sauron. Although he believes himself to be free, Saruman is under the domination of the Dark Lord of Mordor.
Saruman's human servant, Grima Wormtongue, acts as an advisor to King Théoden of Rohan and has worked to weaken him and his kingdom.
Shelob is an ancient and foul creature in spider form. She haunts a network of tunnels at the pass of Cirith Ungol and preys upon orcs. In The Two Towers Gollum leads Frodo and Sam to "Her Ladyship" in a ploy to take back the ring. Bilbo Baggins encountered her offspring in the forest of Mirkwood. Bilbo's sword Sting, which he gave Frodo, earned its name when Bilbo fought the spiders of Mirkwood.
Gollum was born the hobbit Sméagol in a small community near the Gladden Fields in year 2430 of the Third Age. Around 2463, he and his cousin Déagol found (or were found by) the One Ring, which Isildur had lost there two and a half millennia before. Overcome by the power of the Ring, Sméagol murdered Déagol. His evil ways soon caused the hobbits to drive him away. He eventually settled in the Misty Mountains.
There he lived alone, living off fish and goblins for 500 years. The Ring "stretched out" his life, breaking his mind and turning him into the debased creature Bilbo encountered in his travels. Despite his fear of the Sun and the Moon, Gollum emerged from under the mountains to seek the hobbit whom he suspected had his "Precious," the One Ring.
Nazgûl / Ring Wraiths / Black Riders
The Nazgûl are the holders of the nine Rings of Power Sauron forged for men. The Rings have long since destroyed their wearers' humanity, leaving them with no will of their own. Neither dead nor living, they are Sauron's main servants and hunt the One Ring tirelessly. Only Saruman, Gandalf, and some of the Elves, such as Glorfindel, can withstand them. Their leader is the Lord of the Nazgûl, the Witch King of Angmar who plagued the northern kingdom of Arnor. The Witch King is prophesied to never die at the hands of man.
Balrogs were fire spirits corrupted in the First Age of Middle-earth. They were the most feared of the forces of evil after the dragons, but most were destroyed during the War of Wrath. Unfortunately some escaped and hid. The dwarves of Khazad-dûm had the misfortune of discovering one while mining mithril—it was thereafter called "Durin's Bane."
Orcs are the foot soldiers of the Dark Lord. It is said that they were bred from elves captured before the First Age. Orcs, or goblins as they are called in The Hobbit, fare poorly in the sunlight. In the Third Age, Saruman bred a stronger race of orcs, the uruk-hai, who could endure the sun.
Sauron and the One Ring
Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor, was a powerful spirit seduced by Morgoth, the first manifestation of evil. After Morgoth was defeated in the War of Wrath, Sauron hid for many centuries. He reappeared in the Second Age when, wearing a fair guise and uttering crafty words, he seduced the Elves of Eregion and convinced them to help him create the Rings of Power. Three were made for elves, seven for dwarves, and nine for human kings. To control the Rings and their users, Sauron then forged the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom and infused it with much of his power.
Sauron was defeated by the Last Alliance of men and elves at the end of the Second Age. Isildur of Gondor cut the One Ring from Sauron's finger, and destroyed his physical being. Instead of destroying it he claimed it for his own. Two years later Isildur was ambushed and killed by orcs. The Ring slipped from his finger into the River Anduin and was believed lost. Ever since, Sauron has been rebuilding his strength and seeking the One Ring.
The One Ring, which can only be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom, has a will of its own. It falls out of pockets, slips onto fingers, and seductively pulls its bearer to wield its power.