This installment of Re-telling Tales of Middle-Earth summarizes the story of Book Two of The Lord of The Rings, which is the second half of The Fellowship of the Ring, in which the Fellowship is formed, and later Broken. In this summary, I endeavor to put as many of the cards from Magic: the Gathering’s Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth in narrative order as possible, incorporating both the main and commander sets, so that the enjoyment of both the cards and the story may be as full as possible for everyone. As with any summary, I’ve made certain omissions – much from the story and many cards – for the sake of length.

Check out Book One, Book Three, Book Four, Book Five, and Book Six!

Chapter One: Many Meetings

Elrond, Master of Healing by Wangjie Li

Frodo awakes in Rivendell and is greeted by Gandalf, who has met them there. Gandalf reveals that it is Elrond, Master of Healing, who has tended Frodo’s wound over the past four nights. He also tells Frodo of the Ringwraiths – another name for the Black Riders. After more rest, Frodo reunited with his friends, and became acquainted with the many folks gathered at the House of Elrond: Arwen Undómiel, Gloin who was companion to Bilbo… and much to Frodo’s delight, Bilbo himself was there as well! As the two spoke, Bilbo inquired of the Ring, and a shadow seemed to fall between them as the Ring’s influence came over the old hobbit. Seeing Frodo draw back, Bilbo came to his senses, and the two moved onto lighter conversation and songs of old legends.

Chapter Two: The Council of Elrond

Council’s Deliberation by Viko Menezes

The next day, the great council was to meet to decide the fate of the Ring. At the council were Gloin and his son Gimli, Legolas Greenleaf of Mirkwood, Boromir, Warden of the Tower of Gondor, as well as Elrond, Lord of Rivendell, Glorfindel, Gandalf, Bilbo, and emissaries from Círdan the Shipwright, and other members of Elrond’s house. There Gloin told the tale of Mines of Moria, “Wonder of the Northern world!” in which the nameless fear was awakened when the dwarves dared dig too deep! And of Balin, who led an excursion to reclaim the ancient city some thirty years prior but without a word since…  and a messenger to Dain in the Lonely Mountain, not from Moria, seeking news of hobbits.

After Gloin’s report, Elrond tells the council how in days of legend, he and Círdan were there when Isildur took the Ring, and remember Isildur losing it, and the Ring passing out of the knowledge of mortals.

Boromir then recalls a dream in which a clear voice tells him to “Seek for the Sword that was broken” and that “Isildur’s Bane shall waken / And the Halfing forth shall stand.” At these words, Aragorn reveals that he carries Shards of Narsil, the Sword that was Broken, and Frodo reveals that he bears the Ring – Isildur’s Bane. Aragorn further reveals that he is the heir of Isildur, kept hidden among the Dúnedain Rangers for years until the time was right.

Bilbo then tells the story of how he came to have the Ring, and how it passed to Frodo, and Frodo recounts his journey to Rivendell.

Then Gandalf told of his own search for Gollum, who had been captured and tortured by Mordor, and through the scrolls and books of Gondor, news from Radagast the Brown of the Nine Ringwraiths (the Nazgûl), on the move, the betrayal of Saruman the White – now styling himself Saruman of Many Colors – who hoped to seize the Ring for himself to make the world a utopia of Knowledge and Order – how Gandalf was finally escaped from Isolation at Orthanc by Gwaihir the Windlord, and how Gandalf had ridden on Shadowfax, Lord of Horses, with all swiftness to Bree, where he found out he had only missed the company by a day. Because of Shadowfax’s speed, he nevertheless arrived at Weathertop before them, and did battle with the Nine before escaping north to Rivendell.

Having told the story of the Ring, the question remained: what must be done? Boromir wonders why they cannot use the Ring to set the world aright, but Gandalf and Eldrond know that such a plan would end in evil in tyranny. At last, Elrond can see only one solution – it must be cast into Mount Doom and destroyed. Now, who will undertake this perilous quest?

“No one answered… Frodo glanced at all the faces, but they were not turned to him… At last, with an effort he spoke, and wondered to hear his own words, as if some other will was using his small voice.”

“’I will take the Ring,’ he said, ‘though I do not know the way.’”

Chapter Three: The Ring Goes South

The Ring Goes South by Wangjie Li

In advance of Frodo’s journey, Rivendell sends out scouts, and a Fellowship of Nine is chosen: Frodo, Sam, Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli, Aragorn, Boromir, Merry, and Pippin are named to bear the ring to Mordor.

Narsil, the Sword of Elendil, was reforged, “and Aragorn gave it a new name and called it Anduril, Flame of the West.” Bilbo bequeathed his own sword, Sting, the Glinting Dagger unto Frodo, along with his Mithril Coat. Gandalf still bore Glamdring, which he had claimed all those years ago from the Troll Warrens looted on Bilbo’s quest. With their arms, armor, and provisions, the Fellowship set out with Bill the Pony toward the Misty Mountains.

As they set out, they found themselves spied upon by black crows, Dunland Crebain, servants of Mordor. Being watched, they had to abandon using campfires, and turn away from easy crossings. They intend to Travel Through Caradhras and the Redhorn Pass, hoping to avoid a secret, darker way.

It was not to be. A blizzard made Caradhras unpassable. Defeated by the mountain, they descended to ponder the option that remained.

Chapter Four: A Journey in the Dark

“Mines of Moria” by Lucas Terryn

The secret, darker way was through the Mines of Moria, a place that inspired fear for its evil reputation. There was no time to deliberate, however. Chased by wargs, they at last found themselves at the walls of Moria and the Doors of Durin. The inscription on the door was written in ancient script, but translated, in part, to “speak, friend, and enter.” A password? None could guess. In frustration, Boromir threw a stone into a dark pool behind them. Something in the water seemed to move toward them.

Just then, the word dawned on Gandalf. “Mellon!” he exclaimed, and as the syllables of the elvish word for friend were uttered, the doors began to open – almost too late, for out from the water a long tentacle lashed, grabbing hold of Frodo! Sam quickly freed him, and they hurried into the dark halls of the lost dwarven mining city.

As the party journeyed through the darkened halls of the ancient city of Khazad-dum, Gandalf and Gimli told them the tale of the city’s former glory, and the shadow of fear, Durin’s Bane, that they disturbed in their zealous delving. Shortly thereafter, the Fellowship stumbled upon a chamber lit by a shaft of light from the surface – Balin’s Tomb.

Chapter Five: The Bridge of Khazad-dûm

The Bridge of Khazad-dûm panorama by Colin Boyer

Finding the Book of Mazarbul recording the fall of Balin’s expedition, Gandalf discerns a way through the city to the surface. Just then, however, a great many orcs and at least a couple of cave-trolls began to pound upward through the ancient corridors, banging war drums – Doom, doom, doom!

[scryimg]Moria Marauder[/scryimg]

As the orcs began to break through the barred door, the Fellowship fought them back until they were forced to make their escape. After some time, the orcs faltered in their pursuit, but kept  coming. Ahead, Gandalf spies the narrow Bridge of Khazad-dûm over the great chasm, but behind, hundreds of orcs. Suddenly, the ranks fo orcs broke, and from behind them marched The Balrog, Durin’s Bane.

Commanding the Fellowship to flee, Gandalf stood in the Balrog’s path at the middle of the Bridge.

“You cannot pass,” he said. “I am the servant of the Sacred Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, Flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.”

Gandalf the Grey and the Balrog did battle, Gandalf’s magic sundering the bridge. As the Balrog fell, it swung its whip, lashing around the wizard, and dragging him down with him into the abyss. Gandalf had purchased their escape. The remaining members of the fellowship spilled out of the evil city and into the light of day, where grief overwhelmed them.

Chapter Six: Lothlórien

Lothlórien as depicted on Vineglimmer Snarl by Tomáš Honz

Rallying the Fellowship, Aragorn leads them across the stream called Nimrodel, into the Golden Wood, Lothlórien. As they walk among the trees, the voices of elves suddenly surround them, and they are met by Haldir, Lórien Lieutenant. Having received word from Elrond, he welcomes the Fellowship as friends, and promises them that none of the orcs that have pursued them will ever leave the wood. Haldir insists that he be their guide through the Golden Wood, and leads them to the hill of Cerin Amroth, whence they survey the lands around for miles and miles beyond the borders of Lothlórien.

Chapter Seven: The Mirror of Galadriel

Samwise Gamgee by Marko Manev

The Fellowship descends the hill of Cerin Amroth, and are led to the city of Ceras Galadhon, where Celeborn the Wise and Galadriel of Lothlórien have requested their presence. The stern nobility of Celeborn is evident to all, and the awesome beauty of Galadriel is such that only Legolas and Aragorn can endure her glance for long.

Days pass, and Sam and Frodo are brought to the Mirror of Galadriel. Sam sees a vision of trees felled and brick buildings going up in the Shire. Frodo sees a wide ranging vision that gives way to the Eye of Sauron. Frodo offers the Ring to Galadriel, whom he believes could exert her power to set the world aright. The Ring tempts her, but she resists, knowing that she, too, would eventually be corrupted. She resolves that Frodo’s quest to destroy the Ring is the right one, even if it means that the elves must diminish and fade in its aftermath.

Chapter Eight: Farewell to Lorien

Gift of Strands by Ignis Bruno

The Fellowship resolves, with Celeborn’s counsel and a gift of boats, to continue on their journey down the The Great River Anduin. The Galadhrim outfit them with cloaks fastened with pristine brooches, and Lembas bread for the journey. The Fellowship are further gifted with Hithlain Rope, and as they move down the river, are seen off by Celeborn and Galadriel in their great swan-shaped boat.

The Lord and Lady offered counsel for their journey, and gifts: a fine magical sheath for Anduril, as well as a silver brooch which had belonged to Galadriel, and then her daughter Celebrían who was wife of Elrond, and then to Arwen Evenstar, whom Aragorn loves. Aragorn receives it, accepting also the foretold name Elessar, the Elfstone of the House of Elendil. Boromir receives a belt of gold, Merry and Pippin receive belts of silver. Legolas is given a Galadhrim Bow. Sam receives a box of blessed earth from Galadriel’s orchard, for his future garden. Gimli asks for nothing, but pressed, admits his desire for but a single strand of Galadriel’s beautiful hair. Moved by his earnestness, Galadriel gives him three strands and her blessing. To Frodo she gives a crystal phial containing the light of Eärendil’s star set in the waters of Galadriel’s fountain, to be a light in dark times. Refreshed and reprovisioned, the Fellowship went on their way, southward with the Great River.

Chapter Nine: The Great River

Aragorn, Company Leader by Anna Steinbauer

As the Fellowship traverse the River South, Sam and Frodo suspect that the creature Gollum may be following them, and had been since Moria. That evening, Aragorn confirms that he’s seen him as well. Tension grows.

On their 10th day on the River, the Fellowship comes to the Great Gates of Argonath, Pillars of the Kings, and passing it, nears the Falls of Rauros. The Wilderland behind them, a choice lay before them: would they venture east, directly toward Mordor, and Mount Doom? Or take the western shore, on to Minas Tirith in Gondor?

Chapter 10: The Breaking of the Fellowship

Boromir, Warden of the Tower by Anato Finnstark

The choice falls to Frodo, who goes into the woods alone to deliberate. As he walks, he realizes he is being followed, and turns to find Boromir, who has come, by his own words, to protect Frodo from the orcs known to be lurking not far off. As they converse, the ring tempts Boromir. Boromir again returns to the idea that they – or rather, he – use the Ring to best Sauron, but this makes it all the clearer to Frodo what must be done. Boromir, maddened by the Ring, attempts to seize it, but Frodo slips it on and escapes. Boromir, suddenly aware of what he has said and done, begins to weep.

Now alone, Frodo resolves to go alone with the Ring to Mordor. He dares not endanger those dearest to him – Sam, Merry, and Pippin – and he daren’t trust the others to resist the evil of the Ring. Donning the Ring again, Frodo departs into the woods.

Back at the Shore, Boromir emerges and tells the Fellowship only that he met Frodo, but grew angry and frightened him, and Frodo donned the Ring and fled. The Fellowship splits up to look for Frodo. As they sprint through the woods, Sam realizes what Frodo means to do, and runs back to the boats just in time to see one of them sliding toward the river as if by itself. Sam throws himself into the water, compelling the invisible Frodo to pull him aboard and bring the boat ashore, if temporarily. Sam tells Frodo that he couldn’t bear the thought of his friend being alone and without his help.

“But I am going to Mordor.” Frodo says.

“Of course you are. And I’m coming with you.”

So Frodo and Sam set off on the last stage of the Quest together.

Into the Land of Shadow

So concludes Book Two of The Lord of the Rings. In this book, we saw Tolkien developing the themes of the temptation to power (even for those with initially noble intent), Sam’s devotion to Frodo, and Frodo’s sense of his own responsibility as Ring-bearer. In my next article, I’ll summarize Book Three, which is the first part of The Two Towers. Until next time, “the road goes ever, ever on…”

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