The Lord of the Rings is a book written by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was first published in 1954. It is split in three parts (or volumes), which are named The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King.
The Lord of the Rings takes place in Tolkien's fictional world, called Middle-earth. Middle-earth has its own geography, several different races and peoples (elves, dwarves, humans, hobbits, ents), their languages, and a history that is thousands of years old.
The plot of The Lord of the Rings is about the war of the peoples of Middle-earth against a dark lord (who is the 'Lord of the Rings' of the title). At the same time they try to destroy a ring which would give the dark lord a lot of power if he got it, but the only place to destroy the ring is deep into the territory of the enemy.
The Lord of the Rings began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier fantasy book, The Hobbit, but quickly became a much larger story. He also moved its (and The Hobbit's) story into his fictional world Middle-earth, which he had already invented long before he wrote The Hobbit. Tolkien wrote the story between 1937 and 1949. It was originally published in three parts in the years 1954 and 1955. Since then, The Lord of the Rings has been translated into 38 languages. It is one of the most popular stories in 20th-century literature and has been an important book for the fantasy genre.
The Lord of the Rings is often wrongly called a trilogy, because the publisher split the book into three parts because of the book's size. Tolkien himself had sub-divided The Lord of the Rings into six parts, called Book I-VI, according to the plot. Tolkien never liked it being published in three parts or called a trilogy.
The backstory of The Lord of the Rings begins thousands of years before the action in the book.
In the Second Age, the Dark Lord Sauron wanted to rule Middle-earth. He disguised himself as Annatar, the "Lord of Gifts", and pretended to be good. As Annatar he told the elves how to make magical rings which give power to their wearers. Sauron and the elves together made sixteen rings. The Elves also made three rings by themselves, called Vilya, Nenya and Narya. These nineteen rings were the Rings of Power. But Sauron secretly forged a Great Ring of his own, the One Ring. In this Ring Sauron put half of his power. He planned to control the wearers of the other rings with this One Ring. But the Elves finally realized that Annatar really was the evil Sauron and hid the Rings of Power.
Sauron then started a war. During this war he took back the sixteen rings which he had made together with the Elves. Seven of these rings he gave to the kings of the dwarves, and nine rings he gave to human kings. These human kings became the Nazgûl, the Ringwraiths, ghostly servants of Sauron.
Led by Gil-galad and Elendil, the Elves and the Men of Gondor and Arnor formed the Last Alliance of Men and Elves to fight Sauron. There was a long war and siege of Sauron's fortress Barad-dûr. In the last battle, Gil-galad and Elendil were killed by Sauron. After his father's death, Elendil' son Isildur cut off the One Ring from Sauron's hand. Sauron was defeated and the war ended.
Because half of Sauron's power was in the One Ring, Sauron did not die fully. His spirit still existed as long as the Ring existed. The elves told Isildur to destroy the One Ring, but Isildur did not want to and kept it.
The One Ring was lost when Isildur was attacked by Orcs. Isildur tried to escape, but he was killed when he lost the Ring. In the Third Age, the Ring was found by the Stoor hobbit Déagol, who was killed by his friend Sméagol over the Ring. Sméagol went to live under the Misty Mountains, where he kept the Ring for five hundred years, and he became known by the name Gollum.
In The Hobbit the Ring is found by the hobbit Bilbo Baggins. He thinks it is an unimportant 'magic ring' that simply makes its wearer invisible. Bilbo keeps it, and brings it back with him to the Shire at the end of his journey. There the One Ring stayed until the beginning of the story of The Lord of the Rings.
The Fellowship of the Ring
The book begins in the Third Age of Middle-earth, in the Shire, the land of the hobbits. Sixty years after his adventures in the book The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins is living in the Shire with his adopted cousin Frodo Baggins. But Bilbo wants to make another long journey. After a birthday party for his 111th birthday, and Frodo's 33rd birthday, Bilbo leaves the Shire. His home, Bag End, and the One Ring now belong to Frodo. For another eighteen years nothing happens in Frodo's life.
In April of the year 3018, the wizard Gandalf the Grey, who is a friend of Bilbo and Frodo, comes to Bag End. He tells Frodo that his 'magic ring' is really the One Ring of Sauron, and tells him its backstory. Sauron is returning and getting more powerful, because he could not die while the Ring still existed. Sauron is now also searching for the Ring. Gandalf tells Frodo that he has to leave the Shire and take the One Ring to Rivendell, an Elven city. Samwise Gamgee, Frodo's gardener and servant, will go with Frodo. Gandalf promises to meet the two hobbits halfway in the town Bree. Then Gandalf leaves.
Frodo and Sam prepare to leave the Shire in September 3018. On their way to leave the Shire they are already followed by Sauron's Ringwraiths. Frodo's cousins, Meriadoc "Merry" Brandybuck and Peregrin "Pippin" Took also come with them. The four hobbits journey eastwards through the Old Forest, and over the Barrow-downs. They come to Bree, but Gandalf is not there. They meet a man named Strider, and they get a letter from Gandalf. In the letter they are told to go with Strider, who is really named Aragorn.
The hobbits continue their journey to Rivendell with Aragorn. On the mountain Weathertop they are attacked by the Ringwraiths, and Frodo is badly wounded by their leader, the Witch-king. Aragorn can defend them, and helps Frodo to stay alive. Along the way they meet the elf Glorfindel. Shortly before Rivendell they are attacked again. Frodo can flee on Glorfindel's horse, followed by the Ringwraiths. Frodo crosses the river Bruinen, beyond which is Rivendell, but the Ringwraiths still follow him. Suddenly the river floods, which carries the Ringwraiths away. Frodo falls unconscious because of the stab wound.
Frodo wakes up in Rivendell. He has been healed by the elven lord Elrond, and Frodo's friends are also well. Gandalf is in Rivendell, as are messengers from other peoples. Frodo also meets Bilbo again, who has lived in Rivendell for the past years.
The next day the Council of Elrond is held. The messengers of the different peoples all tell the stories why they have come, which are connected to Sauron's doings. Elrond tells them of Sauron and the One Ring. Many other things are told and revealed. Aragorn is the descendant of Isildur. The wizard Saruman has betrayed the free peoples and turned to evil. Also, the One Ring cannot be used by anyone except Sauron. The One Ring turns normal people invisible, but it also corrupts them, makes its wearer power-hungry, and the ring only does evil. The Council decides that the One Ring has to be destroyed, which will also truly kill Sauron forever. But the One Ring can only be destroyed if it is thrown into the volcano Mount Doom in Sauron's land Mordor, where the One Ring was made. The Council sends Frodo, the Ring-bearer, to destroy the Ring, and eight companions to help him. These nine people are the Fellowship of the Ring: the four hobbits Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin, the elf Legolas, the dwarf Gimli, the two men Aragorn and Boromir, and Gandalf the Grey.
At the beginning of the year 3019 the Fellowship begins their long journey. Before they go, Bilbo gives his sword Sting and his Mithril-armour to Frodo. With Gandalf as their leader, the Fellowship first goes southwards through the land Hollin. They try to go east over the Misty Mountains through the Redhorn Pass, but there is too much snow. The Fellowship decides to go under the mountains, through the old Dwarven mines, which are called Khazad-dûm or Moria. They almost manage to go through Moria without anything happening, but near the end they are attacked by Orcs. There is also a Balrog, a demonic evil creature from the First Age. Gandalf protects the Fellowship, but he and the Balrog fall into an abyss. Aragorn leads the rest of the Fellowship out of Moria.
Now east of the Misty Mountains, the remaining Fellowship comes to the forest Lothlórien, the land of the Galadhrim, a wood-elven people. The Fellowship is welcomed by Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn, the rulers of Lothlórien. The Fellowship stay for a while. When the Fellowship leaves Lóthlórien, the elves give them boats with which they can travel down the river Anduin. Each member of the Fellowship also gets a present from Lady Galadriel.
The Fellowship travel down the river Anduin until they reach the Emyn Muil and the waterfall Rauros. There they stop to decide where to go now: south to Boromir's home city Minas Tirith, or east to Mordor. Frodo goes for a walk to help him decide. He meets Boromir, who says that the Fellowship should go to Minas Tirith. Boromir also begins to talk about using the Ring against Sauron. Frodo realizes that Boromir is influenced by the One Ring. Boromir tries to take the Ring from Frodo, but Frodo puts the Ring on, becomes invisible and escapes. Boromir becomes himself again and is very sorry for what he tried to do. Frodo decides that he will go alone to Mordor, so that the Ring cannot influence or hurt anyone else. The rest of the Fellowship are worrying where Frodo is. When Boromir comes and tells them that Frodo has run away, all of the Fellowship go and search for him. Sam thinks about the situation, and realizes that Frodo wants to go to Mordor alone. Sam runs back to the boats, and catches Frodo leaving. In the end Frodo and Sam go east to Mordor together, to destroy the One Ring, and hoping that their friends in the Fellowship will be well.
The Two Towers
The book begins with Aragorn, who finds a dying Boromir. Boromir tells him that they were attacked by Orcs, who took Merry and Pippin with them. Boromir says he is sorry for everything and dies. Legolas and Gimli arrive. As a funeral, the three put Boromir's body in one of their boats, which they let fall down the waterfall Rauros. They find out that Frodo and Sam left them to go to Mordor, and that the Orcs that attacked them were Saruman's Orcs, who have taken Merry and Pippin. They decide to follow the Orcs westwards to save Merry and Pippin. West of the Emyn Muil they come into the land Rohan, home of the Rohirrim, the Horse-lords. They meet a group of Rohirrim led by Éomer, nephew of King Théoden of Rohan. Éomer and his men have killed the Orc group on the border of the forest Fangorn, but did not see Merry or Pippin. Éomer gives them two horses, and Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli ride to the Fangorn forest.
Merry and Pippin were caught and taken away by a group of Saruman's Orcs, the Uruk-hai. When the Orcs are surrounded and killed by the Rohirrim group, the two hobbits escape into the Fangorn Forest. There they meet Treebeard, an Ent. Ents are giant tree-like creatures. Treebeard takes the hobbits with him, and they tell him what happens in the world outside Fangorn. The Ents have a meeting called the Entmoot. During the Entmoot, the Ents decide to fight Saruman. Treebeard, the other Ents, and the two hobbits go to Isengard, Saruman's home.
In Fangorn, Aragon, Legolas and Gimli meet Gandalf. He had died, but was sent back to Middle-earth as Gandalf the White, to further help the fight against Sauron. Gandalf tells them that Merry and Pippin are well. They then go to Edoras, the capital of Rohan. Gandalf tells King Théoden that they have to go to war against Saruman. Gríma Wormtongue, a spy and servant of Saruman, is cast out. The people of Edoras, led by Éomer's sister Éowyn, flee to Dunharrow in the White Mountains, while the army of the Rohirrim goes to their fortress at Helm's Deep. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli go with the Rohirrim warriors, but Gandalf leaves once more without notice. Saruman sends his army of ten thousand Uruk-hai, Orcs, and Dunland men to Helm's Deep. The next morning Gandalf arrives with another Rohirrim army. They defeat Saruman's army, and win the Battle of the Hornburg.
Gandalf, his friends, and a small group of Rohirrim then go to Isengard, Saruman's home. But when they arrive it has already been destroyed by the Ents. They also meet Merry and Pippin there. They talk to Saruman, who still hides in his indestructible tower Orthanc. Gandalf cast him from the Order of Wizards. They find the palantír, which was thrown from the tower by Gríma. The Palantíri are magical black stones with which one can see far away things, and communicate with other palantíri. The group leaves Isengard and rests. Pippin steals the palantír and looks in, and because of this is discovered by Sauron. The group flees the place before the Nazgûl find them. Gandalf and Pippin go to Minas Tirith, while the Rohirrim and other members of the Fellowship go back to Helm's Deep.
Frodo and Sam are in the Emyn Muil mountains and journey eastwards to Mordor. While they are still in the Emyn Muil, they are attacked by Gollum. But the hobbits can defeat and catch him. Gollum has to promise to show them the way into Mordor. They go through the Dead Marshes and come to the Morannon, the Black Gate of Mordor. They cannot go in, but Gollum says he knows a secret way into Mordor. Frodo, Sam, and Gollum travel south through Ithilien. There they see a battle between a group of Southrons from Harad and a group of Rangers of Gondor. The hobbits are caught by the Gondorian group, which is led by Faramir, who is Boromir's brother. But the next day Faramir lets the hobbits leave, because he also believes that the One Ring has to be destroyed. Gollum leads the hobbits into Cirith Ungol in the Mountains of Shadow, but leaves the hobbits there alone. They are hunted by Shelob, a giant spider living in these tunnels. After almost escaping, Shelob stings Frodo, but is wounded and driven off by Sam. Sam believes Frodo is dead, and takes the Ring to continue the quest and destroy it. Frodo's body is found and taken away by a group of Orcs. Sam follows them. The leaders of the Orc group are talking, and Sam hears them say that Frodo is paralyzed, but still alive.
The Return of the King
Gandalf and Pippin arrive in Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor. There they meet Denethor II, Steward of Gondor, and father of Boromir and Faramir. Pippin becomes a member of the Guards of the Citadel. Minas Tirith prepares for war.
The Rohirrim and Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Merry are on their way to Helm's Deep. Along the way they meet the Grey Company coming from Rivendell. It is a group of thirty Dúnedain, which are Aragorn's people. With the group are also Elladan and Elrohir, the sons of Elrond. Aragorn uses the palantír. Aragorn decides to take to the Paths of the Dead. Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and the Grey Company go to Edoras, Dunharrow, and through the Paths of the Dead through the White Mountains. There Aragorn calls an army of dead spirits to help him. The Grey Company and the Dead Men of Dunharrow then go east.
The Rohirrim and Merry come to Dunharrow. King Théoden takes the Rohirrim armies and goes to help Gondor in the war. Merry is not allowed to go with them, but he secretly goes with a warrior named Dernhelm.
In Minas Tirith they meet Faramir, who tells them of his meeting with Frodo. The next day Faramir goes off to defend the old city Osgiliath, but the city falls, and so do the outer defenses of Minas Tirith. During the retreat Faramir is badly wounded. Minas Tirith is besieged by the armies of Mordor, led by the Witch-king, the leader of the Nazgûl who (it was said) could not be killed by any man. Denethor goes insane and burns himself, and almost also kills the injured Faramir, but this is prevented by Pippin and Gandalf.
The Rohirrim arrive. The armies of Gondor and Rohan fight the armies of Mordor in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. There, King Théoden is killed. Dernhelm, who was really Éowyn (a woman), kills the Witch-king with Merry's help. Aragorn comes with a fleet of black ships and another army of men from southern Gondor up the river Anduin. Together they win the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
Aragorn heals the wounded and sick Faramir, Éowyn, Merry, and many others, proving that he is the rightful King of Gondor. Legolas and Gimli go into Minas Tirith and meet Merry and Pippin again. There they also tell how they got the black ships with the help of the Army of the Dead. The leaders of the armies of Men decide to attack Mordor, as a distraction so that Frodo can destroy the One Ring. Aragorn and Gandalf lead an army of 7000 men to the Black Gate of Mordor. There they fight the Battle of the Morannon against the overwhelmingly large army of Sauron. During the battle Pippin falls unconscious, but he hears that the Great Eagles have come to help them.
Samwise comes to the Tower of Cirith Ungol, but the different Orc groups in it had a fight and almost all of them are now dead. Sam frees Frodo and gives him back the One Ring. The two hobbits disguise themselves as orcs, escape from the Tower and continue their journey through Mordor. It is a hard journey, and the Ring's influence on Frodo is very strong now. One time the hobbits are forced to walk with an army of orcs, but they can escape without being discovered. The hobbits come to Mount Doom, where they are attacked by Gollum, who still wants the One Ring. Frodo goes on alone into Mount Doom, but Sam has pity for Gollum and lets him live. Sam follows Frodo into Mount Doom. Frodo is finally overpowered by the One Ring, says it belongs to him and puts the Ring on, which makes Sauron know that he and the Ring are there. Gollum comes back once more and fights with Frodo. Gollum bites off Frodo's finger with the Ring. Gollum is happy to have his Ring back, but makes a mistake: Gollum and the One Ring fall into the volcano, and the Ring is destroyed. Sauron fully dies and his fortress Barad-dûr is destroyed.
At the Battle of the Morannon, the Orcs and other evil creatures no longer know what to do and are defeated easily, and the Battle is won. Gandalf calls three of the Eagles, who then rescue Frodo and Sam.
They all return to Minas Tirith. Aragorn becomes King of Gondor and Arnor. Elves from Rivendell and Lothlórien come to Minas Tirith. Aragon marries Arwen Undómiel, daughter of Elrond. The Fellowship, the elves, and the Rohirrim go back to Rohan. King Théoden is buried. Éomer officially becomes King of Rohan, and Éowyn and Faramir are married. They go on to Helm's Deep, were the fellowship finally splits. Aragorn goes back to Minas Tirith, and Legolas and Gimli also leave to travel to their homes in the northeast. The elves, hobbits and Gandalf go on. At Isedgard they are told that Saruman has left. Galadriel and the Lothlórien-elves leave the group to go back home east over the mountains. The others come to Rivendell, where the hobbits meet Bilbo again.
The four hobbits and Gandalf leave Rivendell, to travel back to the Shire. Gandalf leaves the hobbits after Bree. The four hobbits come to the Shire, but Saruman with his men has taken over the land. Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin lead the other hobbits in the fight against them, and they free themselves and the Shire. After a battle, the four hobbits find Saruman and Gríma at Bag End. Frodo wants to send them away unhurt, but Saruman is killed by Gríma. Gríma is shot by hobbit archers.
Some years later Frodo and Sam go to meet Bilbo, Elrond, and Galadriel, and some other elves. They all go to the Grey Havens, where they meet Gandalf, and also Merry and Pippin. The Ring-bearers Bilbo and Frodo, together with Gandalf and the elves, leave Middle-earth, and go west across the sea to Valinor. The Fourth Age of Middle-earth begins. The three remaining hobbits go back to the Shire, and Sam returns to his wife and child.
The Lord of the Rings has been adapted, or made into a movie, a musical, a radio play, and has been made into an animated and three live-action films. Most known is probably The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (2001-2003) directed by Peter Jackson.
- Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century
Images for kids
"Welcome to Hobbiton" sign in Matamata, New Zealand, where the film trilogy was shot.
The Lord of the Rings Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.