Friday, February 11, 2011

K.I.B.A. Honorary Member, October 2010 - Frodo Baggins

*info for this profile is gathered from both the books and the films, but where there is conflict the books are considered canon

Frodo Baggins, a hobbit of great reputation in his native land as well as ours, had humble beginnings in the colony of Buckland. He was raised there by his parents until they both drowned in an unfortunate boating accident on the nearby Brandywine River. Frodo, only twelve at the time, was adopted by his uncle Bilbo Baggins and brought to his residence at Bag End in Hobbiton. There Frodo and his uncle became very close and Frodo recovered from his tragic loss.

The following years were very peaceful for Frodo as he and his fellow hobbits lived in a world sheltered from the growing evils of the outside. Life was good in the Shire, and the merry old town of Hobbiton was at its heart. Frodo’s good fortune grew when he become the inheritor of Bag End and all the ostensible treasure within its vast tunnels. Bilbo bestowed this magnanimous gift on his nephew on the day of their shared birthday, September 22nd. Bilbo was now one hundred and eleven and Frodo was thirty three. After a grand celebration of the event, Bilbo departed for the Elven town of Rivendell to live in serene retirement. But before he left he also gave Frodo a small trinket; a peculiar ring picked up on faraway travels. Bilbo was originally hesitant about giving Frodo the ring and at one point aggressively declared he would keep it. His wizard friend Gandalf the Grey became worried about Bilbo’s possessiveness and suspected the ring had magical powers which were seducing him. Finally, after a long talk, Gandalf convinced Bilbo to give up the ring. Frodo graciously accepted both gifts of real estate and jewelry, but little did he know how the former would change his life.

Frodo continued to live in Bag End for seventeen years after he inherited the grand hobbit-hole, keeping the ring safely stowed away inside its vast tunnels. This was done upon the advice of Gandalf, who for some time had been suspicious about the insidious ring. Gandalf’s convictions led him to search out the libraries at Minas Tirth to learn more about this mysterious ring. It was there that made a terrifying discovery; Frodo’s ring might be the One Ring forged by the evil lord Sauron years ago. If so, the ring and Frodo himself were no longer safe. Agents of the dark lord would be seeking him. Gandalf rode back in haste to the Shire and was relieved to find that Frodo was well and unharmed. It was then that the wizard and the hobbit had a long talk over tea concerning the history of Middle Earth.

Gandalf told of how the evil lord Sauron had once forged a powerful ring that gave him dominion over all life. With this terrible weapon, Sauraon had mustered an army in the land of Mordor and waged war against the free kingdoms of elves and men. Many fell before his wrath, but they would not surrender. They forged an alliance to counter the might of the dark lord and marched upon the very gates of Mordor. In the bitter fighting, Sauron himself joined the battle. As long as he wore his ring, he prevailed. Then, Prince Isildur cut the ring off Sauron’s finger, vanquishing his body and banishing his evil spirit. Thus ended the reign of Sauron, though his spirit lived on in exile. Soon Isildur lost the ring and it passed out of memory for ages. It was eventually found by a hobbit named Deagol, who was murdered by his friend Smeagol over its ownership. Smeagol was slowly driven to insanity by the dark powers of the evil ring, and he fled to under the mountains where he lived in slime and darkness for hundreds of years. The ring had given him unusually long life. But he would not possess it forever. He too finally lost the ring, which passed to Bilbo and then to Frodo. The ring had now had six owners, but the original one wanted it back. Sauron’s spirit had taken form in the fiery shape of an eye, raised an army of foul Orcs, and was now bent on taking back his ring to complete his dominance over Middle Earth. He knew of the ring’s location after his minions captured Smeagol and forced him to reveal it. Already his chief servants, the Nazgul, were on the hunt.

Frodo fled Hobbiton and embarked on a journey to reach the town of Bree. There he would wait for Gandalf who in the mean time would go to the wise wizard Saruman for counsel. Sam Gamgee accompanied Frodo on this journey. Sam was the chief gardener at Bag End and good friends with Frodo. The duo soon discovered that they were being trailed by black horsemen. These were actually the Nazgul, servants of Mordor. Frodo was able to glean some information about them from the local Farmer Maggot, but he didn’t find out their true identity until much later.

When Frodo and Sam arrived at Buckland, two fellow hobbits entered their companionship. Pippin Took and Merridoc Brandybuck, close friends to Frodo, had discovered the purpose of his quest and were determined to join him. Frodo agreed and the foursome set out through the bordering Old Forest. Here they were attacked by a malevolent willow whose animosity stemmed from a rotten heart. A magical inhabitant of the forest, an old man named Tom Bombadil, saved them from the animated tree and housed them for the night. The next morning the hobbits ran into more trouble at the Barrow-downs when ancient spirits emerged from the barrows and took them captive. Again, Bombadil’s timely appearance saved them from certain death.

Frodo and his companions were relieved to finally escape from the eerie forest and haunted barrows, but when they arrived at Bree they found more trouble. Gandalf was not there as he promised and they knew the riders were still on the hunt. The band of hobbits decided to lodge at the Inn of the Prancing Pony for the night and wait until morning before making their next move. However, this sage plan ran amiss when Pippin began talking loudly about the Baggins family and their strange tendencies, which would be easily recognizable to Sauron’s agents as being caused by the ring. Alarmed, Frodo began dancing on a table to divert attention away from Pippin’s imprudent babbling. This made things worse when Frodo tripped and jammed his finger into the ring, tapping into its magical power and turning him invisible. This of course caused quite a stir and destroyed the hobbit’s hope of secrecy on their quest.

Frodo’s stupid stunt was witnessed by an undercover friend of Gandalf, a Dunedain Ranger called Strider. After the hobbits retired to their room he introduced himself and convinced them of his good intentions. He furthermore offered to guide the hobbits to Rivendell, and also advised them to be a little more inconspicuous. That night the Nazgul attacked the inn, but Strider was able to hide the hobbits until the intruders left.

The next morning, Strider led the group into the wild, hoping to shake the Nazgul off their trail. The band made for the ancient watchtower of Weathertop in hopes of spotting Gandalf. They found the fresh runes “G III” carved into an ancient rock, but other than that they could find no trace of the wizard. Instead, they were attacked by the Nazgul at night and Frodo was wounded in the shoulder. The situation had now grown desperate, as Frodo’s wound would kill him unless he could be brought to Rivendell for healing. The elven city was still six days away. They headed towards the city as quickly as they could, with the Nazgul in close pursuit. They were aided by the elf lord Glorfindel who was sent by Lord Elrond of Rivendell to find them. In a race against time as Frodo continued to fade, the elf, man and hobbits made it to the border river Asfaloth. There the pursuing Nazgul were destroyed by a surging flood conjured by Elrond. Frodo then fainted from his wound but was promptly brought to Elrond for healing.

After Frodo recovered, he was surprised and overjoyed to find Gandalf at Rivendell. The wizard had been betrayed by the head of his order, Saruman, and held prisoner at the citadel of Orthanc. Thus he was unable to meet Frodo at Bree. The wise and cunning Gandalf was not a prisoner for long though, and escaped the clutches of Saruman after some time. He then made his way to Rivendell where he was reunited with his friend Strider, whose real name was Aragorn, and Frodo the ring-bearer.

Elrond soon called a Council to decide the fate of the ring, and Frodo was invited to attend. After much debate, it was decided that the ring should be taken to the Cracks of Doom deep in the heart of Mordor. This was the only place in Middle Earth where the ring could be destroyed. Elrond raised a call for a volunteer to accomplish the task, and Frodo bravely committed himself to the quest. Gandalf the Grey, Aragorn the Ranger, Boromir of Gondor, Legolas Greenleaf, Gimli son of Gloin, Samwise Gamgee, Pippin Took, and Merridoc Brandybuck all vowed to aid Frodo in this noble quest. Thus was forged the Fellowship of the Ring.

The nine companions set out from Rivendell in the winter of that year. Their destination was Mordor, the land of the enemy himself. The first obstacle on their road was the formidable chain of the Misty Mountains. The Fellowship first attempted to go over the mountains through the Pass of Caradhras, but their efforts were repulsed by the fierce winter storms.

Retreating back down the mountains, they decided to instead travel beneath them through the Mines of Moria. They fended off a vicious attack of Wargs en route to Moria’s gate, and eventually arrived under the cover of nightfall. Entering Moria they saw no signs of the Dwarven inhabitants and assumed the worst; goblins were said to wander the ancient mineshafts. Their fears were soon realized when they discovered the tomb of Balin. The legendary dwarf had been head of the Moria colony and a good friend of both Bilbo and Gimli. By his tomb Gandalf found a manuscript documenting the colony’s progress and recounting its ultimate demise at the hands of goblin hordes. The last passages proved prophetic as the fellowship itself was quickly attacked by a small army of goblins. The assailants were slaughtered, but Frodo took another wound in his side at the hands of a huge orc chieftain. Only a coat of mithril mail saved his life.

The Fellowship fled the orc-infested mines to the Bridge of Khazad-dum, where Gandalf faced off against a Balrog. He held back the ancient demon of the underworld while his companions fled across the bridge and out of the mines. Gandalf gave his life fighting the monster, as the hulking beast pulled Gandalf down into the abyss of Khazad-dum with his blazing whip. Both the ancient warriors tumbled out of sight down into the void.

Grieving the loss of their leader, Frodo and the Fellowship continued on to the forests of Lothlorien where they took shelter with the Elves. The Lady Galadriel showed them great hospitality during their stay while they prepared for the next stage of their journey. While he was there, Frodo was invited by Lady Galadriel to look into her magical mirror of water, where he saw what would come to pass if he failed in his quest. Frodo then almost despaired and in a moment of weakness offered to surrender the ring to Lady Galadriel. The Elven queen was tempted and almost seized the ring for her own, but the goodness in her prevailed and she refused. Frodo too acknowledged that the ring must be taken to Mordor, and soon he embarked with his companions on the next part of his journey.

They left Lothlorien by boat and drifted down the river Anduin southwards to Amon Hen. It was there that Boromir, a member of the fellowship (and KIBA too), attempted to seize the ring from Frodo by force. Boromir was seduced by the treacherous ring and believed he could wield its dark energy against the enemy. The ring was corrupting him. Frodo realized this and fled. He also realized that the ring would continue to corrupt everyone in the fellowship, slowly destroying the good in them and devouring their minds. In a moment of heroic courage, Frodo decided to continue on his journey alone. He would not let his friends be destroyed by the evil power of the ring.

While all this was going through Frodo’s mind, the Fellowship was attacked by an army of Uruk-Hai orcs from Saruman’s lair in Isengard. Saruman had allied himself with Sauron and joined in the hunt for the ring. Frodo fled in the chaos while the other members of the Fellowship battled off the orcs. Boromir repented of his crime and gave his life defending Merry and Pippin. Once he was slain by three arrows, the orcs seized the two hobbits and carried them off as prisoners. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli drove off the remainder of the attackers and then came upon Boromir’s body. They gave it the proper honors and sent it in a boat down the river Anduin. Aragorn realized why Frodo had left, and agreed with his companions that it was best for him to continue on alone.

But Frodo soon found that he was not alone; when he rowed across the Anduin in one of the boats, Sam jumped into the river after him. Sam couldn’t swim, but Frodo rowed over and rescued him before the young hobbit drowned. Frodo then joyfully agreed to let Sam accompany him, and the two set off for Mordor. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli tracked the orcs that had taken Merry and Pippin. Thus, the Fellowship was divided.

Neither Frodo nor Sam were experienced travelers, and they soon found many hardships that awaited them. Their first challenge was navigating the rocky hills of the Emyn Muil beyond the Anduin River. They lost themselves in the maze of jagged rocks and cliffs, until they found the most unlikely of guides. Smeagol himself, having escaped the dungeons of Mordor, had had been tracking Frodo out of his lust for the ring. He finally found Frodo trapped in the Emyn Muil, and attempted to attack the hobbit at night. However, this plan backfired when Frodo and Sam overpowered the gangly creature and held him at sword point. When Frodo saw the miserable creature the ring had turned Smeagol into, he took pity and decided not to slay him. Instead, he forced Smeagol to swear an oath of servitude to the master of the ring, or “precious” as Smeagol called it. Having sworn on the precious itself, the cunning Smeagol led Frodo and Sam out of the Emyn Muil.

Smeagol proved to be an invaluable guide and led the two hobbits through a maze of marshes and on to the black gate of Mordor itself. But when Frodo saw the gate, he realized that it was impenetrable and far too heavily guarded to infiltrate. Smeagol then suggested an alternate route through a secret pass which he had discovered during his time in Mordor. Having no other option, Frodo reluctantly agreed to try this passageway.

The trio was intercepted en route to the pass of Minas Morgul by a guerrilla force of Southern Rangers led by Faramir. Frodo and Sam were taken captive by these men who initially took them for enemy spies, though Smeagol was able to escape. Faramir questioned Frodo extensively concerning his business and subsequently decided that the hobbits were of no immediate threat. However, they were still held at the Ranger’s central base as a precaution until Faramir decided exactly what to do with them. It was here that Faramir revealed he was Boromir’s brother. This caused some sense of mistrust in Frodo, who still remembered Boromir’s lust for the ring and feared that his brother may be of the same mind. His fears became reality when Sam foolishly misspoke and revealed that Frodo was bearing the ring to Mordor. Faramir faced the overwhelming temptation to seize the ring for himself, but unlike his brother he passed the test and guaranteed Frodo his safety.

New complications arose for Frodo when Smeagol entered the Forbidden Pool adjacent to the Ranger hideout of Henneth Annun. The penalty for entering this hidden entrance to Henneth Annun was death. Frodo pleaded for Smeagol’s life, and Faramir agreed to spare the creature. However, Smeagol was still taken prisoner and thoroughly interrogated before his release. The pitiful creature viewed this as an act of betrayal, and began harboring resentment against the Master of the Precious. His capture at the hands of the frightening Rangers undid most of the trust the two had developed in each other, even after Smeagol had saved Frodo from drowning in the Dead Marshes. This rift would continue to grow and ultimately lead to Smeagol’s treachery.

After leaving Henneth Annun with food and provisions, Frodo and his companions continued on their way to the pass of Minas Morgul. Their journey lead them over the mountains of Mordor by way of a mountainside staircase, and then through a dark tunnel at the top. Here Smeagol deserted Frodo and Sam. His bitterness over the Henneth Annun incident had reached its climax, and he sought revenge by alerting the guardian of Minas Morgul to the presence of the hobbit intruders. This lurker of the tunnel was a giant spider called Shelob. She was accustomed to a diet of foul orcs and very eager for some variety in her prey.

Being abandoned by their guide and wholly unfamiliar with the terrain, Frodo and Sam walked cautiously through the tunnel. They found that the exit was barred by thick entanglements of webs, but Frodo cut through them all with his powerful elven sword. They were almost free of the ghastly corridor when Shelob attacked. Frodo was able to repulse the hideous arachnid before retreating from the tunnel. Thinking they were free, the duo of hobbits let down their guard and ran. But the cunning Shelob outmaneuvered them by coming out of a side-tunnel and attacking from above. Frodo was paralyzed by the spider’s sting and fell to the ground. Sam refused to yield the body of his master and engaged Shelob in single combat. Using swordsmanship and the Phial of Galadriel which Frodo had been given at Lothlorien, Sam wounded Shelob and drove her back into the mountain.

Sam grieved the apparent death of his friend but was unable to stay for long. He heard orc voices nearby and, taking the ring itself, fled to a nearby spot to hide. Soon afterwards the orc patrol came across Frodo’s paralyzed body. Sam overheard the orcs saying that Frodo was not actually dead, but only paralyzed by the spider’s toxic sting. Curious as to the presence of a hobbit in Mordor, the orcs bore him away to Cirith Ungol for interrogation. Sam followed at a distance.

The orcs brought their prisoner to the top of the citadel of Cirith Ungol. There he was searched, and his valuable mithril mail shirt was discovered. The orcs fought over the priceless armor and succeeded in killing themselves off until only a few remained. Sam then made his move and stormed the citadel itself. He slew the handful of orcs who remained and freed Frodo. The duo then escaped the dark tower and made their way to Mount Doom, to throw the ring back into the fiery chasm where it was forged.

Incredible hardships faced the two companions on the last part of their journey. Food and water were scarce, though thankfully most of the orcs were on the other side of Mordor to counter a mustering of Gondor and Rohan. This allowed the two hobbits to move through the open plains nearly undetected. Once they were mistaken for orcs by a company on the march and pressed into service, but they were soon able to escape and continue on their way. Frodo was now growing weak both from fatigue and the power of the ring battering his very mind. On the last stage of the journey up the very slopes of Mount Doom, Sam had to carry the ring-bearer on his back. Here Smeagol reappeared and attacked the two, but Sam delivered a slash to the creature’s stomach and temporarily refuted the assault.

Frodo and Sam then came to the Cracks of Doom, overlooking the blazing volcanic chasm where the ring was forged centuries ago. Frodo now had the chance to fulfill his quest and destroy the ring. But here, where the power of the ring was strongest, it drove Frodo to madness. He succumbed to the constant battering of his will. Abandoning his quest, he proclaimed the rings to be his own and slipped it on his finger. He immediately turned invisible, much to the bewilderment and distress of Sam. But before he could intervene Sam was rendered unconscious by another attack from Smeagol. The creature then attacked Frodo and bit off his ring finger. Frodo screamed in pain and dropped to the ground. Smeagol, now in possession of the ring for the first time in years, danced for joy. But that was his undoing. Taking one wrong step, he tripped and fell into the volcano below. He and the ring together were instantly incinerated. Thus the ring was destroyed, Sauron’s spirit was finally killed, and the orc armies were thrown into terror and confusion. Frodo and Sam staggered down the volcano and were there rescued by a resurrected Gandalf, who bore them away on a great eagle he rode. Thus ended the reign of Sauron in Middle Earth.

Frodo and Sam were brought to the city of Minas Tirth where they were both given a hero’s welcome. The Fellowship was again reunited, and Aragorn was crowned King of Gondor. The four hobbits who had first set out on the quest, Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry, now recovered from their many adventures in the great city.

Now it was time for Frodo to return to his native land. He departed from Minas Tirth with Gandalf and his three friends from the Shire. They travelled across Middle Earth and had several other wonderful adventures, but eventually arrived on the borders of the Shire. Here Gandalf went his separate way to visit his old friend Tom Bombadil, while the hobbits continued onward to their home. They found the place overrun by tyrannical men who had enslaved the defenseless inhabitants. The hardened hobbits incited a revolt among their kinsmen and led an army to defeat the overlords and their minions. The hobbits emerged victorious in the Battle of Bywater, thus freeing their homeland and restoring peace to the Shire. Hobbiton and its colonies were rebuilt to their former splendor.

As much as he loved the Shire, Frodo found he could not stay there. The wounds from his quest were still deep and unhealed. He could not find peace even in the green valleys of the Shire. Thus, on his 52nd birthday, he joined a voyage to the Undying Lands in the Grey Havens across the majestic sea. He fondly said good bye to his friends, especially to Sam who had always been there for him. Sam would later voyage to the Undying Lands himself. And so Frodo departed from Middle Earth.

Frodo is an exemplary of the Knight in Battered Armor. He took many wounds with bravery and courage upon a quest that in itself would be a challenge to even the greatest of warriors. And Frodo was far from great or perfect. He blundered at Bree with his foolish display of the ring, was willing to surrender the ring to Galadriel at Lothlorien, nearly killed himself by stupidly attempting to enter Mordor’s black gate, and even claimed the ring for himself on the slopes of Mount Doom. And yet, despite his many failings, Frodo never gave up. He admitted to his faults, accepted help from his friends, and ever strove on towards the end of his quest. No one can ask more than that. Frodo Baggins, welcome to KIBA.

**this profile was written by my co-writer Andrew Lamansky...

No comments:

Post a Comment