Fellowship of the Ring starts out with an introduction to Bilbo Baggins, a rather wealthy hobbit. Bilbo, after the events of The Hobbit,
is in possession of a magical ring, which, after his hundred and
eleventh birthday party, he uses to render himself invisible to get
away from the prying of his neighbours. His old friend, the wizard
Gandalf the Grey, shows up after the festivities and rebukes Bilbo for
using the ring so lightly, then gets an uneasy feeling and rides to
Minas Tirith, capital of Gondor, to do research.
Said research reveals, seventeen years later, that Bilbo's ring is
actually an evil artifact called the One Ring of Power that belonged to
the Dark Lord Sauron. Sauron had been destroyed some 3,000 years ago,
having poured all his power and malice into the Ring and thereafter
lost it in a battle against the Last Alliance of Elves and Men;
However, Sauron's spirit still exists, albeit as a nigh-shapeless form.
If he gets the Ring back, he receives with it all his former strength
in addition to control over the three lesser Rings gifted to the Elves.
Dwarves and Men had received Rings of Power as well, but the Dwarves'
were destroyed by dragons or lost, whereas the Men's Rings enslaved
them to Sauron, transforming them into Nazgul, or Ringwraiths. The Ring
was forged in the volcano Orodruin, or Mount Doom, and it cannot be
destroyed by normal flames; it can only be destroyed by casting it into
the fires from whence it came.
This proves to pose a problem, as the Ring also has the property of
taking over the bearer's mind to the point of losing all desire save
possessing the Ring and keeping it safe.Gollum, the Ring's owner before
Bilbo found it, is searching for it as well, and has tipped the Nazgul
off as to the location of Bilbo, thus sending the Nazgul after Frodo to
retrieve the Ring at all costs.
Frodo's gardener, Samwise Gamgee, is caught eavesdropping and is made
to make the journey with Frodo as punishment; shortly after two more
Hobbits, Meriadoc and Peregrin, join them. They are to meet Gandalf at
the nearby town of Bree, so they set out through the Old Forest, where
they get Barrow-blades.
Gandalf is not at Bree when the hobbits arrive, and through an
accident, Frodo reveals his possession of the Ring to a Ranger named
Strider, also one of Gandalf's friends. After keeping them hidden from
the Nazgul, Strider, whose true name is Aragorn, takes the Hobbits into
the wilds toward Rivendell, the house of Elrond the Halfelven. Their
first night, they stay at an abandoned tower at the hill on Weathertop,
and encounter the Nazgul. Frodo is stabbed with a Morgul-blade; which
will, if not treated, turn the victim into a wraith, neither living nor
Glorfindel, an Elven warrior from Rivendell, had been sent out to fetch the party, and heads off the Nazgul whilst getting Frodo to Rivendell safely.
At Rivendell, they are reunited with Gandalf. Gandalf and Frodo are summoned to a council to decide what course of action to take. A company is formed: Aragorn, Gandalf, Frodo, Boromir, a prince from Gondor who seeks the Ring to please his father, the Steward of Gondor; Legolas, an Elven-prince; Gimli the Dwarf, Sam, Merry and Pippin.They leave, and after a failed attempt to cross over the Misty Mountains to the south, Frodo makes the decision that the Fellowship should traverse the Mnes of Moria, Gimli's home. Unfortunately, all the Dwarves are long-since dead due to an Orc attack. In the tomb of the ruler Balin, Gandalf finds a diary that details the events of the raid. Pippin drops a stone down the well, alerting resident Orcs to their presence.Naturally, an attack follows, after which the Fellowship escapes to the Bridge of Khazad-dum. More danger awaits; a Balrog, an ancient demon of shadow and flame, attacks. Gandalf stays behind, directing the party to continue whilst he faces the Balrog. He breaks the briege, sending the Balrog into the depths, but is drahimself.The survivors quickly recover from grief and continue to Lothlorien, the Elven-forest, where they meet the queen Galadriel, who re-emphasises the urgency of the quest by testing her own strength against that of the Ring and nearly failing. She also confirms the suspicion that Boromir will try to steal the Ring from Frodo.Sure enough, several days after sailing down-river, Frodo wanders off by himself, still in grief over Gandalf's death and concerned about his responsibility. Boromir comes to him and sks him to lend the Ring, but Frodo refuses after remembering Galadriel's warning. boromir tries to take the Ring by force, but Frodo escapes him and flees, encountering Aragor and telling him of his plan to depart alone.Unbeknownst to the Fellowship, an army of Orcs has been pursuing them, and they at last catch up. During the fighting, Boromir is shott with many arrows whilst attempting to protect Merry and Pippin from capture, but fails.Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli resolve to pursue the Orcs and rescue Merry and Pippin, while Frodo and Sam make the journey to Mount Doom alone, leading directly into The Two Towers.