Middle-Earth is a vast and complex place, and there’s a lot you probably don’t know about it. J.R.R. Tolkien devoted his life to creating it, and his son, Christopher, devoted his life to compiling his father’s works. It features complex geography, extensive histories, and fully realized languages.
Whether in poems, short stories, or extensive histories J.R.R. Tolkien has explored every inch and time period of Middle-Earth. The 60 or so years between The Hobbit and Fellowship of the Ring is no exception. Though there isn’t a comprehensive account of this time period, we can piece a lot of it together from Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales, Poems and Stories, and The History of Middle-Earth among others.
Anyone who read The Lord of The Rings knows these stories are often very dense, and only get more difficult as you explore the history of Middle-Earth. For someone who likes to skip to the battle scenes in The Two Towers; digging through Tolkien manuscripts can seem like an impossible task. Fortunately we’ve done the digging for you. Here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know Happened Between The Hobbit and Fellowship Of The Rings.
15 Sauron returns to Mordor
When Peter Jackson made The Hobbit, he decided to help bridge the gap between movies by adding details from some of Tolkien’s other works. One of these details was the expulsion of Sauron from Dol Guldur by The White Council.
Sauron was driven off with relative ease, but he had over 500 years to prepare for this attack. He was able to flee to Mordor in the year 2942 of the Third Age. By 2951 T.A., he had openly declared himself, and was once again building an army of orcs to attack the free people of Middle Earth.
It was around this time that he first adopted a lidless eye as his symbol. He also gathered the Nazgûl and renewed his hunt for the ring of power. This hunt eventually led to the capture of Gollum who was tortured until revealing the words “Shire” and “Baggins.”
14 Mount Doom Reawakens
Mount Doom has a special connection to Sauron. It’s the place where he forged the ring of power, and had a special road, known as Sauron’s Road, connecting it to Sauron’s fortress of Barad-dûr. In 3429 of the second age Mount Doom erupted to signal Sauron’s attack on Gondor.
When Sauron disappeared at the end of the War of the Last Alliance, it appeared to go dormant.
It stayed dormant for over 3,000 years until the one ring resurfaced and Sauron returned to Mordor. It’s not clear if Sauron had direct control over the mountain or if he needed it to regain his power, but it’s fortunate for the good guys that the one place the ring could be destroyed awoke just in time to destroy it.
13 Bilbo Returns to the Shire
While Bilbo had returned to the Shire significantly richer than before, it wasn’t an easy transition. The Sackville-Bagginses had presumed him dead and were in the process of auctioning off his possessions when he returned. To avoid a conflict, he used some of his new found riches to buy back his possessions and his life returned to normal.
Seven years after returning to the Shire, Bilbo’s life had largely returned to normal. It was around this time that Gandalf and Balin came to visit him in the Shire. Balin had a better connection to Bilbo than most of the dwarves they travel with. He gained a respect for Bilbo’s abilities and was the only one who accompanied Bilbo to Smaug’s chamber. He’s also the only member of the company to ever visit Bilbo.
12 Umbar corsairs declare their loyalty to Sauron
Sauron’s army, as both the books and movies point out, was not only an army of orcs, but of men as well. In 2951 of the Third Age, the corsairs of Umbar, a notorious band of raiders from the land south of Gondor, declared their allegiance to Sauron.
Although they only appear briefly as a scruffy bunch of pirates in the movies, the Umbar corsairs have a history spanning thousands of years. They were once so powerful that when the Umbar king Ar-Pharazôn attacked Mordor in 3261 S.A. Sauron’s army fled without a fight. This turned out to be a win for Sauron who was captured, and eventually convinced the king it was a good idea to attack an island full of immortal demigods.
When the men of Umbar pledged their allegiance to Sauron, they destroyed the monument built to Ar-Pharazôn, the only man who was ever able to capture Sauron.
11 Estel (later known as Aragorn) comes of age and learn his heritage
Following the defeat of Sauron, the kingdoms of men were fractured into two main kingdoms, Arnor and Gondor. The once great kingdom of Arnor had been worn down to isolated pockets of men, while Gondor was slowly being chipped away by outside invaders and internal conflicts.
Aragorn’s father, Arathorn II, as Chieftain of the Dúnedain was a direct descendent of the once great kings of Arnor, and, because of his great-x16 grandfather’s marriage also had a claim to the throne of Gondor. That is, until he was killed by an orc in 2933 T.A. when Aragorn was just two years old.
Fearing that he would also be killed if his lineage was discovered, Aragorn’s mother, Gilraen, sent him to Rivendell and asked that his identity by hidden. Aragorn was given the unfortunate name of Estel and not told about his heritage until he was 18 years old in 2951.
10 Arwen and Aragorn are betrothed
Around the time that Aragorn discovered his heritage he met, and subsequently fell in love with, Elrond’s daughter, Arwen (who was already 2,778 years old). This romance was cut short, however, when Aragorn assumed his role as Chieftain of the Dúnedain and left Rivendell to be with his people in the wild.
Aragorn met Arwen again 29 years later in Lothlórien and their romance was rekindled. Aragorn gave her the Ring of Barahir, an heirloom of his house, and the two were engaged. Because Arwen was the daughter of Elrond, she was allowed to choose between an immortal and mortal life. To marry a mortal Arwen and Elrond knew should would have to give up her immortality, although her life would still be very long.
The marriage was halted by Elrond who would not give them permission to marry until Aragorn had become king of both Arnor and Gondor.
9 The fellowship members are born...at vastly different times
While several members of the Fellowship were alive before the events of The Hobbit, like Legolas (2,931 years old), Gandalf (>2,000 years on Middle-Earth), Gimli (139 years old), and Aragorn (70 years old), the majority of them were not. In fact, several of them were quite young at the beginning of the story.
Despite his young appearance in the movies, Frodo was born in 2968 T.A. and was about to turn 33 when Fellowship of the Ring begins. Boromir, Sam, and Merry were born a few years apart and were 23, 21, and 19 respectively at the beginning of Fellowship. Pippen was the youngest member of the party at only 11 years old.
Frodo and Aragorn aren’t the only characters who, in the movies, seem to be a different age than they actually are. Èowyn (King Theodon’s niece) was born in 2995 T.A. making her only 6 years old at the beginning of Fellowship.
8 Frodo’s parents are killed in a boating accident
Despite having the last name of his father, Frodo Baggins was mostly raised as a Brandybuck. He spent much of his early life in the Brandybuck ancestral home in Buckland where he befriended Merry and Pippin. Together, they were known as a group of rascals who went around causing trouble (including stealing Farmer Maggot’s crops).
Frodo’s life changed in 2980 when his parents, Drogo Baggins and Primula Brandybuck, drowned in the Brandywine River. While it appears that the boat they were using simply sank, rumors circulated that the deaths were not an accident. It was maintained by some that Primula tried to push her husband into the river after which he dragged her in with him.
After their death, Frodo was adopted by his father’s second cousin, Bilbo (a decision that enraged Bilbo’s relatives). Frodo and Bilbo grew close over the years and Frodo became the heir-apparent to Bag End.
7 Balin leads an expedition to retake Moria
The mines of Moria had been controlled by the dwarves for millennia and had very deep religious and cultural importance to them. Toward the end of the second age, when Sauron’s forces threatened to conquer Middle-Earth, the dwarves of Khazad-dum sealed the entrances to their fortress and effectively cut themselves off from the rest of the world. They expanded their treasures, despite dwindling numbers, until, in their greed, they accidentally awoke a sinister creature. The creature, later revealed as a Balrog of Morgoth, killed most of the dwarves in Moria and drove the rest out. It remained alone in the mine for almost 500 years before a group of orcs came across it and started to worship it as a god.
Forty years after visiting Bilbo in the Shire, Balin lead an expedition to retake Moria. He led a group of dwarves from the Lonely Mountain and was able to retake the easter halls of Moria and recovered several ancestral relics. This was the cousin Gimli was expecting to meeting in Fellowship of the Ring.
6 Balin is killed and the Dwarf colony in Moria is destroyed
Despite its initial success, Balin’s expedition was doomed to fail. Since its abandonment in the middle of the Third Age, Moria had been a breeding ground for evil. Orcs from the north had occupied the mine for almost 500 years and Mordor started to send troops of orcs and cave trolls to the mine to breed and populate the area.
As portrayed in The Hobbit, there was an attempt to reclaim Moria but it was unsuccessful and the cost to the dwarves was immense. After the Battle of Azanulbizar at the eastern gate of Moria the dwarves’ losses were so great that it was impossible to bury all of their dead.
While Balin was able to retake part of Moria and establish a settlement there, it wasn’t able to last long. Only five years after his expedition began, Balin’s group was overrun by orcs who were sheltered by the Balrog. It wasn’t until the Balrog was killed by Gandalf almost 20 years later that Moria could reclaimed by the dwarves.
5 Aragorn fights with both Rohan and Gondor under the name Thorongil
After Aragorn learned of his lineage when he was 18, he served in the armies of both King Thengel of Rohand and Steward Ecthelion II of Gondor. Because of his royal heritage, Aragorn chose to keep his true identity hidden and instead went by the name Thorongil, which means “Eagle of the Star.” He fought in several small wars and became very well known and respected in both kingdoms.
In 2980, he led a group of men in an assault on the southern city of Umbar (which had rebelled from Gondor and declared loyalty to Sauron). The assault was a success and many of the Umbar corsair’s ships were destroyed after Aragorn personally killed their lord.
After this battle, Thorongil left the Gondorian army, and returned to Lothlórien where he again met Arwen.
4 Bard the Bowman rebuilds and becomes King of Dale
After killing Smaug in The Hobbit, Bard the Bowman had a very successful and long life. He returned to his once destroyed home of Dale, and, with help from the dwarves, rebuilt the city in 2944 T.A.
He became King of Dale shortly thereafter and the area thrived. There were good relations between the dwarves and cities of men. Goods were traded freely up and down the River Running and people from all around to repopulated the area.
Dale died in 2977 T.A. and his son, Bain, succeeded him. The success of Dale didn’t last forever and the town was sacked by raiders from the east during the War of the Ring. It wasn’t rebuilt until after the war and Sauron was defeated.
3 Theoden becomes king of Rohan
The Kingdom of Rohan was a relatively young kingdom when the War of the Ring began. It was an offshoot of the Kingdom of Gondor as a reward for helping in their time of need. In the 500 years that followed Rohan fought multiple ongoing wars with the Dunlendings who they had forced out of the land (as Saruman later puts it, “to scratch a living upon rocks”).
With the help of Gondor, Rohan was largely able to keep the Dunlendings at bay, but they were a constant threat to the realm. They were able to establish control of the stronghold of Isengard, and continued to raid and attack Rohan for centuries.
By the time King Theoden’s father, Thengel, died, Saruman was openly interfering with the kingdom. Despite showing a great deal of promise Theoden’s mind was corrupted and Saruman effectively gained control of the region.
2 Aragorn captures Gollum at Gandalf’s request
It wasn’t until several years after Bilbo took the ring from Gollum that he finally left the mountains and started to look for the ring. He was drawn to Mordor where he was captured and tortured for information.
Strangely, after being tortured, Gollum wasn’t killed, but was instead let go. This gave Gandalf the opportunity to find Gollum and discover what he knew about the ring. Aragorn was recruited to help with this task, and, in 3009 T.A., succeeded in capturing Gollum.
Gandalf interrogated Gollum, which helped him piece together how the ring came to Frodo, and was put in the charge of the elves of Mirkwood. With the help of some orcs, Gollum managed to escape the elves and set off to find the ring for himself.
1 The White Council meets for the last time
The White Council was a group of powerful elves and wizards formed to combat the return of Sauron. The council was led by Saruman the White and included, Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond, and Radagast.
When Gandalf was able to confirm that the necromancer in Dol Duldur was in fact Sauron, he took this information to The White Council. At first Saruman determined that the council did not need to interfere because Sauron could not regain his power without the ring of power. It wasn’t until Saruman discovered Sauron’s servants were searching the area where Isildur had died that he decided to act. Members of the council, led by Saruman in the books and Galadriel in the movie, attacked Sauron and drove him from Dol Guldur.
After driving Sauron out, the council met for the last time in 2953 T.A. During this meeting, Saruman lied to the council and told them the One Ring had been washed out to the sea where it would never be found.
Which one of these events shocked you most? Let us know in the comments!!