Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
The Lord of the Rings is made up of three parts: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King.
PART I: "The Fellowship of the Ring"
The Prologue refers to the book, The Hobbit, and also gives detailed information about the lives of the people known as Hobbits. They are described in detail, as are their living habits and their various sub-groups. The prologue lays the groundwork for the rest of the book, giving a brief history of Middle-earth and the origins of the Shire records.
A Long Expected Party
As the title suggests, the book begins with a party that has been planned for quite some time. Bilbo, the hero of Tolkienís earlier book The Hobbit, is celebrating a significant milestone in his life, his 111 th birthday. His cousin Frodo, whom he adopted twelve years ago, shares his birthday, which is September 22. Frodo is turning 33 (his coming of age). It seems that Bilbo adopted Frodo in order to make the younger Hobbit his heir, disappointing the Sackville Bagginses, who had always wanted to live in Bilboís home at Bagís End. Frodoís parents had died in a boating accident when he was small and he had lived with Bilbo from then on.
This year the party promises to be even grander than ever before, becoming the talk of Hobbiton. Most people admire Bilbo, but some think that it is unnatural for a person to have inexhaustible wealth as well as a prolonged life. Still, Bilboís parties are legendary and everyone has been invited.
Though it is called a party, Bilbo considers it to be a variety of entertainment rolled into one. There are presents for everyone; the fireworks have been specially designed for Bilbo by Gandalf the wizard. There is a splendid supper for everyone, and a special dinner for a small group of special friends and relatives.
After the dinner Bilbo announces that he has three reasons for the grand party. First he cares for everyone present. Second, he wants to celebrate the birthdays of himself and his heir. Third, he wants to bid the people of his town farewell. He steps down, puts on his ring of invisibility, and disappears from the crowd.
Back at his home, Bilbo talks to Gandalf, the wizard. After much discussion, Gandalf persuades Bilbo to leave the magic ring for his protégé, Frodo. Bilbo had promised to do this, but when the time comes he is reluctant. Bilbo then leaves. The next day Frodo announces that Bilbo has gone and that he will not be back. He distributes packages that Bilbo had specially made for his friends and relatives before leaving.
Tolkienís world is a magical one populated by elves, goblins, trolls and other mystical beasts. The heroes, Bilbo and Frodo, are Hobbits. Bilbo has already had many adventures chronicled in a previous book, The Hobbit. The author, depending on the readerís familiarity with the Middle-earth chronicle that came before, treats Bilbo as a recognizable and likeable character with an established fan base.
This chapter serves mostly to introduce the second generation of adventures, led by Bilboís protégé Frodo. With this chapter presenting a kind of "changing-of-the-guard" scene between the two Hobbits, Frodo earns some respect and admiration simply by his association with a past successful hero.