The Fellowship of the Ring: Novel Summary: Book II Chapter 3

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Book II, Chapter 3: "The Ring Goes South"
Two months pass. Scouts sent from Rivendell return, reporting no new news and no sign of Sauron's activity or servants. Elrond commissions the "Company of the Ring," "Nine Walkers . . . set against the Nine Riders that are evil." The Fellowship consists of: Frodo, the Ring-bearer; Sam, Merry, and Pippin; Gandalf; Aragorn and Boromir; Legolas the Elf; and Gimli the Dwarf, Glóin's son. The Elves of Rivendell reforge Aragorn's broken sword, while Bilbo gives to Frodo a blade called Sting, which he, Bilbo, received on his quest with the Dwarves so long before. He also gives Frodo a coat of Dwarf chain-mail: "close-woven of many rings, as supple almost as linen, cold as ice, and harder than steel," and weighing very little. Frodo wears the chain-mail beneath his clothes as a secret, at Bilbo's request. Thus equipped, the Fellowship sets forth for Mordor, accompanied by none other than Bill, the pony purchased in Bree, who has been magically rejuvenated during his stay in Rivendell.

As the Fellowship travels south, following the line of the Misty Mountains, they realize they are being spied upon by black crows not native to the region. Gandalf and Aragorn debate which route the company should take: whether over the imposing mountain Caradhras (which Dwarves call "the Cruel"), or under the mountains altogether, through the Dwarf mines of Moria. They first attempt Caradhras, but are impeded by deep snowstorms, which Boromir suspects may be the work of Sauron himself. Aragorn does not attribute the storms to Sauron, but does not doubt that the storms and the rocks falling along the Fellowship's path are due to the "many evil and unfriendly things in the world that have little love for those that go on two legs, and yet are not in league with Sauron, but have purposes of their own." Despite Aragorn and Boromir's attempts to forge a clear path, Caradhras ultimately proves impassable.

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