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In Canon Edit
The Making of the Fellowship Edit
In the books, the Fellowship is formed after the Council of Elrond determines that the only acceptable course of action for the forces of good is to take Sauron's Ring to Mordor and destroy it by tossing it into the volcano where it was made. Frodo Baggins volunteers himself as Ringbearer. Elrond sets the total number of the Fellowship at nine, symbolically matching the Nine Riders sent to seek the Ring for Sauron. Because the Fellowship travel on foot, they are also referred to as the Nine Walkers. In the the movies, the significance of nine is never mentioned, and all of Frodo's companions simply volunteer themselves; but in the books, though some volunteer, all are ultimately vetted by Elrond (with a little persuasion from Gandalf).
The Nine Walkers, chosen to represent all the Free Peoples of Middle-earth and because of either their skills or their loyalty to Frodo, are as follows:
- Frodo Baggins, Hobbit of the Shire and Ringbearer
- Samwise Gamgee, Hobbit of the Shire, Frodo's gardener and steadfast friend
- Gandalf the Grey, an Istar
- Aragorn son of Arathorn, Ranger of the North
- Boromir son of Denethor, Man of Gondor
- Gimli son of Glóin, Dwarf of Erebor
- Legolas son of Thranduil, Elf of Mirkwood
- Meriadoc Brandybuck, Hobbit of the Shire, Frodo's friend and cousin
- Peregrin Took, Hobbit of the Shire, Frodo's friend and cousin
The Journey of the Fellowship Edit
The Fellowship, with Bill the Pony as pack animal, set out from Rivendell at dusk on 25 December, T.A. 3018, and head for the Pass of Caradhras in the Misty Mountains. They reach the Pass by 11 January, T.A. 3019, but are unable to go that way because of a fierce and deadly snowstorm. In the books, this is due to the evil will of the mountain; in the movies, Saruman calls the storm down on them.
Instead, they turn for the Mines of Moria, where they hope to find friendly Dwarves of Gimli's kin. They find the doors shut and lose time while Gandalf puzzles over the password to open them. In the book, it is a comment from Merry that gives Gandalf the clue he needs; in the movies, Frodo realizes what the answer must be and Gandalf speaks it. Bill, not expected to brave the treacherous mines, is set free to return to Rivendell. Just as the Fellowship are about to enter, they are attacked by the Watcher in the Water. They narrowly escape into Moria, but find themselves shut in, unable to turn back even if they wanted to.
The Fellowship journey through Moria for two days, from the night of 13 January through the night of 15 January. On the second day, they are attacked by orcs as they rest in the Chamber of Mazarbul and flee to the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, where a Balrog appears. Gandalf sends the rest of the company ahead and makes a stand on the Bridge. He breaks the Bridge and casts the Balrog down into the abyss below, but tragically, the Balrog catches his legs with its fiery whip at the last second, and they fall together.
Distraught at the loss of Gandalf, the Fellowship, now led by Aragorn, continue to Lothlórien. They stay there as the guests of the Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn from 17 January to 16 February while they recover and plan their next move. While there, Frodo and Sam are given a look into the Mirror of Galadriel and see glimpses of the past, present, and possible future. Frodo offers to give the wise and fair Elven-lady the Ring for safekeeping, but she overcomes the temptation and refuses.
Aragorn decides to delay the decision of which way to travel, west to Minas Tirith or east to Mordor, and opts instead to take the company down the Great River Anduin as far as boats will go. When the Fellowship depart from Lothlórien, they are each given special gifts from the Lady Galadriel, and they all receive packets of lembas, Elven-cloaks to help keep them from being seen, and three boats by which to travel the river. They pass the Argonath and camp at Parth Galen, where they must finally make a choice, on 25 February.
The Breaking of the Fellowship Edit
On 26 February, Boromir is finally overpowered by his need to protect his people and tries to take the Ring from Frodo, meaning to deliver it to his father, the Steward of Gondor. Frodo puts on the Ring and flees, making up his mind to take a boat and continue to Mordor alone so as not to put anyone else in danger. However, he is caught by Sam, and the two of them slip away together.
Meanwhile, a band of orcs from Isengard fall upon the rest of the company. Boromir, realizing his folly, returns in time to defend Merry and Pippin, but in the end he is killed with Orc-arrows, and the two young hobbits are carried off. At the end, he admits his ill deed to Aragorn and begs him to save the people of Gondor.
With Boromir slain, Merry and Pippin captured, and Frodo and Sam missing, Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas are faced with a choice: go after Frodo and Sam, or try to rescue Merry and Pippin? Aragorn chooses not to abandon the captives, and so the Three Hunters set off into Rohan after the orcs. The Fellowship of the Ring is no more.
In Fanfiction Edit
It is extremely common for original characters to join the Fellowship as Tenth Walkers, which almost always turn out to be Mary Sues. The OC often interferes with key plot points such as solving the Doors of Moria, Gandalf's fall, and Boromir's death. However, they rarely alter the overall course of the story, making for a read that is equal parts annoying and uninteresting.
A great many fanfics featuring the Fellowship have them depart Rivendell at dawn instead of dusk. Also, they often severely compress the travel-time between locations, either through ignorance of the actual distances involved or by abrupt or carelessly worded scene transitions.