The Fellowship of the Ring

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We cannot use the Ruling Ring. That we now know too well. It belongs to Sauron and was made by him alone, and is altogether evil.

The Fellowship of the Ring (1954) is the first of three books in The Lord of the Rings stories by J. R. R. Tolkien. It has two parts Part I: The Ring Sets Out and Part II: The Ring Goes South.[1]

Book I

A Long-expected Party

  • I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
Simple: I don't know half as well as much as I wish I did; and I like half of you less than you deserve
  • The Road goes ever on and on
    Down from the door where it began,
    Now far ahead the Road has gone,
    And I must follow if I can,
    Pursuing it with eager feet,
    Until it joins some larger way
    Where many path and errands meet.
    And whither then? I cannot say

The Shadow of the Past

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
  • Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
    Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
    Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
    One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
    In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
    One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
    One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

    In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
    • In the story this is a translation of a verse in the Black Speech.
  • 'I wish it need not have happened in my time,' said Frodo.
    'So do I,' said Gandalf, 'and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'
Simple: 'I wish it would not happen when I was alive' said Frodo. 'So do I' Said Gandalf, 'and so do all those who live in hard times. But they can't choose what time they are born in. All we can choose is what to do with that time.
  • What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!'
    'Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.'
Simple: 'Too bad that Bilbo did not stab him (Golum) when he had the chance!' said Frodo 'It was pity and mercy that made him not kill him. And he has been rewarded well for it. Bilbo has suffered so little from the evil of the ring, and escaped from it at the end, because he started his ownership with pity, not greed.
  • Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.
Simple: Many that are alive should be dead. And some that are dead should be alive. Can you give them life? Then do not be so eager to give them death. Even the wise cannot see how all things will end.

Three is Company

  • He often used to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep and every path was its tributary. "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door," he used to say. "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to."
Simple: He used to say there was only one Road; that it was like a huge river; and all the little paths were like small rivers leading into it. 'It's dangerous to enter the world' he used to say. 'You step into the road, and if you're not careful, there is no way to know where you might end up.
  • Still round the corner there may wait
    A new road or a secret gate,
    And though we pass them by today,
    Tomorrow we may come this way
    And take the hidden paths that run
    Towards the Moon or to the Sun.
  • The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.
  • Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.

In the House of Tom Bombadil

  • 'Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and nameless?'
  • 'Eldest, that's what I am. Mark my words, my friends: Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn. He made paths before the Big People, and saw the Little People arriving. He was here before the Kings and the graves and the Barrow-wights. When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent. He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless—before the Dark Lord came from Outside.'
Simple: The oldest, that's what I am. Listen to me my firneds: I was here before the land was; I remember the first time it rained, and the first acorn. I made the first paths, and saw the first people arriving. I was here before the Kings and the tombs. When the elves went into the west, Tom was already here, before the seas were shaped. I knew the darkness of night when it held no fear-before the Dark Lord (Morgoth) came.

Fog on the Barrow-Downs

  • There is a seed of courage hidden (often deeply, it is true) in the heart of the fattest and most timid hobbit, waiting for some final and desperate danger to make it grow.
Simple: There is the possibility of courage hidden within the fattest and weakest hobbit, waiting for some big danger to make it come out.
  • Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow,
    Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow.
    None has ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the master:
    His songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster.


  • All that is gold does not glitter,
    Not all those who wander are lost
    The old that is strong does not wither,
    Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
    From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
    A light from the shadows shall spring;
    Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
    The crownless again shall be king.
Simple: Not all that is great looks great. Not all who seem confused are. Being old doesn't mean you are weak. Life can come from what seems dead.

A Knife in the Dark

  • Gil-galad was an Elven-king.
    Of him the harpers sadly sing:
    the last whose realm was fair and free
    between the Mountains and the Sea.

    His sword was long, his lance was keen,
    his shining helm afar was seen;
    the countless stars of heaven's field
    were mirrored on his silver shield.

    But long ago he passed away,
    and where he dwelleth none can say;
    for into darkness fell his star
    in Mordor where the shadows are.

Book II

Many Meetings

  • He is not half through yet, and to what he will come in the end not even Elrond can foretell. Not to evil, I think. He may become like a glass filled with a clear light for eyes to see that can.
  • I am sorry: sorry you have come in for this burden: sorry about everything. Don't adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story.
Simple: I'm sorry about everything. Don't adventures have to have an end? I guess not, someone else always has to continue the story of the world.

The Council of Elrond

  • Seek for the Sword that was broken:
    In Imladris it dwells;
    There shall be counsels taken
    Stronger than Morgul-spells.
    There shall be shown a token
    That Doom is near at hand,
    For Isildur's Bane shall waken,
    And the Halfling forth shall stand.
  • Many evil things there are that your strong walls and bright swords do not stay. You know little of the lands beyond your bounds. Peace and freedom, do you say? The North would have known them little but for us.
Simple: There is much more evil that you do not know about, that you're walls and swords do not stop. You know little of the lands outside yours. Peace and freedom you say? The North would not have much if not for us.
  • And yet less thanks have we than you. Travellers scowl at us, and countrymen give us scornful names. 'Strider' I am to one fat man who lives within a day's march of foes that would freeze his heart or lay his little town in ruin, if he were not guarded ceaselessly. Yet we would not have it otherwise. If simple folk are free from care and fear, simple they will be, and we must be kept secret to keep them so.
Simple: Yet for the work we do, we have less thanks than you do. Travellers and countrymen look down on us, and call us names. 'Strider' I am called by one fat man who lives a day away from evil that would kill him and his village if he were not always gaurded. Yet we do not want it any otherway. If simple folk are free, and do not worry, simple they will be, and we must be kept secret for them to remain free.
  • He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.
Simple: It is not wise to break something to find out what it is. For then you do not have it.
  • I think that in the end, if all else is conquered, Bombadil will fall, Last as he was First; and then Night will come.
Simple: If everything else dies, then I think that Tom Bombadil will fall. Last to fall as he was the first to live; and then Evil will win.
  • It is not our part here to take thought only for a season, or for a few lives of Men, or for a passing age of the world. We should seek a final end of this menace, even if we do not hope to make one.
Simple: We should not just think about our lives or the near future. We should find away to remove this evil from the world.
  • We must take a hard road, a road unforeseen. There lies our hope, if hope it be. To walk into peril — to Mordor. We must send the Ring to the Fire.
  • Despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.
Simple: Only those who see no hope despair. We do not.
  • Let folly be our cloak, a veil before the eyes of the Enemy! For he is very wise, and weighs all things to a nicety in the scales of his malice. But the only measure that he knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it, that having the Ring we may seek to destroy it. If we seek this, we shall put him out of reckoning.
Simple: Let stupidity hide us from the enemy! He is very wise, and weighs all the things in the world on his scales of malice. But he only measures with desire, nothing else. He will never think that anyone, having possesion of it, would refuse it, that we may try and destroy it. If we do this, it will confuse him.
  • Such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.
Simple: It is often this way in the world: unimportant people do things because they must, while the great men in the world are looking elsewhere.
  • I had thought of putting: and he lived happily ever afterwards to the end of his days. It is a good ending, and none the worse for having been used before. Now I shall have to alter that: it does not look like coming true.
Simple: I thought of putting: 'and he lived happily ever afterwards to the end of his days.' It is a good ending, and not any worse for being used before. Now I will have to change that: it does not look like it will come true.
  • 'I will take the Ring,' he [Frodo] said, 'though I do not know the way.'
Simple: I will do it, but I do not know how


  • In nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him.
Simple: In no other way is the power of the Dark Lord more clear than in the hatred between those who still oppose him.

The Mirror of Galadriel

  • 'Speak no evil of the Lady Galadriel! ' said Aragorn sternly. 'You know not what you say. There is in her and in this land no evil, unless a man bring it hither himself.'
Simple: Speak nothing bad of the Lady Galadriel! You do not understand what you are saying. There is no evil in her or this land, unless a man brings it in himself.
  • It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish.
Simple: If you never start you will never finish

Farewell to Lórien

  • I do not foretell, for all foretelling is now vain: on the one hand lies darkness, and on the other only hope. But if hope should not fail, then I say to you, Gimli son of Glóin, that your hands shall flow with gold, and yet over you gold shall have no dominion.
Simple: I do not predict the future, for that is now pointless: on one side lies darkness, and on the other hope. But if hope does not fail, then I am telling you Gimli, you will be rich, but you will not be greedy.
  • 'Tell me, Legolas, why did I come on this Quest? Little did I know where the chief peril lay! Truly Elrond spoke, saying that we could not foresee what we might meet upon our road. Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back. But I would have never come, had I known the danger of light and joy.'
Simple: Elrond was right when he said we could not predict what we will see on our road. I feared pain in the dark, and it did not hold me back. But I would not have come, had I known the danger of beuty.
  • 'Memory is not what the heart desires. That is only a mirror, be it clear as Kheled-zâram. Or so says the heart of Gimli the Dwarf. Elves may see things otherwise. Indeed I have heard that for them memory is more like to the waking world than to a dream. Not so for Dwarves.'

The Breaking of the Fellowship

  • It is no good trying to escape you. But I'm glad, Sam. I cannot tell you how glad. Come along! It is plain that we were meant to go together. We will go, and may the others find a safe road!
Simple: There is no point trying to run away from you, but I am happy, Sam. Come along! It is plain that we were meant to travel together. We will go, and I hope the others live well.


  1. Drout, Michael D. C.. J.R.R. Tolkien encyclopedia: scholarship and critical assessment. CRC Press, 774. ISBN 9780415969420. 

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The first volume of Tolkien's greatly acclaimed epic was first published July 29, 1954, the second on November 11 of the same year, and the final volume on October 20, 1955. They have inspired generations of readers ever since, and millions of new admirers are growing acquainted with the story because of the very popular motion picture adaptations directed by Peter Jackson.
These selections of quotations are designed to give but a taste of the what many hail as the magnificence of the tale, and some of the striking language employed within it.
Like many great books it is a work that many read many times for the beauty of its language and its themes, and these quotations are intended to provide a rich sampling as to why, without providing too extensive an indication of the plot of the story itself — and also to provide those who have read it with a collection of small reminders of what makes it so memorable. Like all the greatest literature it is full of both triumphs and tragedies, with complex connections and associations that do not always become apparent on the first reading, nor even with many readings thereafter. To emphasize the fair use nature of these quotations this footnote and links to the official publishers of the books occur on all the pages for quotations from The Lord of the Rings.