In the mythical world of Middle-Earth, many thousands of years ago, several powerful rings were made and given to the heads of each state: three rings for the Elven-kings, seven for the Dwarf-lords and nine for Mortal Men. Unknown to them, however, the Dark Lord Sauron had secretly forged an additional ring, a master containing the power to rule the others, and for many years, enslaved the inhabitants of Middle-Earth, using armies of disfigured creatures called Orcs to carry out his aggressive campaigns. Eventually, an alliance of Elves and Men drove the Orcs back into Sauron’s territory, called Mordor. At the base of Mount Doom, where the master ring was forged, Sauron joined the battle and slayed the Human king Elendil, but was then attacked by Elendil’s son, Isildur, who cut the ring from Sauron’s hand. Without it, Sauron’s physical body crumbled and his power scattered. The Elf lord Elrond begged Isildur to destroy the ring by casting it into the fires of Mount Doom, but the ring, having a life of its own, enticed Isildur to keep it for himself. Later, Isildur was killed by Orcs when the ring, which grants invisibility to the wearer, slipped from his finger. The ring rested at the bottom of a river until found by the Hobbit-like creature Gollum, and over many years, the corruption in the ring disfigured Gollum’s mind and body. Then Bilbo Baggins, from a race of three-and-a-half-foot tall creatures called Hobbits, encountered Gollum, gained possession of the ring and returned with it to his home in the Shire. Since that time, because of the ring’s power, Bilbo has not appeared to age, although he is now celebrating his 111th birthday. During a celebration held in his honor by neighbors, Bilbo confesses to his old friend, the wizard Gandalf, that he is weary and plans to leave the Shire, never to return. Although he is bequeathing his house and belongings to his heir, Frodo Baggins, Bilbo struggles within himself over leaving the ring. Reluctantly, Bilbo departs without it, but Gandalf is disturbed by the power the ring seems to have. Later, after studying old manuscripts, Gandalf shows Frodo markings on the ring identifying it as Sauron’s and warns him that Sauron's life-force is rebuilding a new army to conquer Middle-Earth. After convincing Frodo of the danger of keeping the ring, which will lure Sauron to the Shire, he enlists Frodo’s eavesdropping fellow Hobbit, Samwise “Sam” Gamgee, to help Frodo take the ring to the House of Elrond, in the Elf city of Rivendell. After giving instructions to meet him at an inn in a neighboring village, and warning Frodo to change his name and not wear the ring, Gandalf sends the Hobbits off. He then seeks counsel with the head of his order, the wizard Saruman, who resides in the tower of Isengard, but finds that the old wizard has been corrupted. Saruman asks Gandalf to join him on the dark side with Sauron, but when Gandalf refuses, Saruman tortures and imprisons him on top of the tower. At Sauron's command, Saruman has his enslaved Orcs cut down all the old trees in the forest to stoke a forge to build an army of Urak-Hais, a stronger race of creatures bred by crossing Orcs with Goblins. Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam, joined by two Hobbit friends, Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck and Peregrin “Pippin” Took, escape black riders called Ringwraiths, Sauron’s enslaved half-living beings who are drawn toward the ring. At the inn, while awaiting Gandalf, Frodo draws attention to himself by putting on the ring and disappearing, thus betraying his location to Sauron. A mysterious Human, Strider, then warns them that they are in danger and cannot wait for Gandalf. He leads them toward Rivendell, but en route, Frodo is injured in an attack by the Ringwraiths. With the help of Elrond’s daughter Arwen, who loves Strider enough to give up her Elven immortality, Frodo is rushed to Rivendell and healed by Elven medicine. When Frodo recuperates, he is reunited with both Gandalf, who escaped Saruman’s imprisonment, and Bilbo, whose body has aged without the ring's magic. Frodo also learns that Strider is really Aragorn, a descendant of Isildur who was reared by Elves and has abdicated his throne for fear of failing his race, as Isildur did when he became entranced by the ring. Elrond calls a meeting of Elves, Humans, Hobbits and Dwarves to decide the fate of the ring. Although the council agrees that it must be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom, individuals, enchanted by the evil in the ring, quarrel over how to accomplish the deed. Frodo, although he does not know the way to Mordor, volunteers to be the ringbearer and take the ring to Mount Doom. Moved by Frodo’s courage, Aragorn and Boromir, a Human warrior whose father is steward of the city of Aragorn's ancestors, offer to guard him on his journey. Gandalf, the Elf Legolas, the Dwarf Gimli and Sam, Merry and Pippin also give their services to Frodo. The nine companions, whom Elrond dubs the Fellowship of the Ring, set off on their mission. Although a mountain pass seems the safest route to Mordor, blizzard, avalanches and other hardships, all caused by the magic of Saruman, who watches their journey through his Seeing Stone, impede their progress. They enter the Dwarf Mines of Moria and discover that the civilization there has been destroyed. Trapped inside the mine by a water creature known as “The Watcher,” the group passes through the labyrinths of the mines, pursued by Gollum, Goblins and a Cave Troll. In one of the battles, Frodo narrowly escapes death, but is saved by a magic vest he is wearing, a gift from Bilbo. Across a collapsing stone stairway built over a bottomless chasm, a huge fiery creature called a Balrog pursues the group. While giving his companions time to escape, Gandalf tries to stand down the demon, but as it falls into the chasm, it snares Gandalf with its tentacles and pulls him in. Exhausted and grieving for Gandalf, the Fellowship continues, out of the mines and into a forestland, Lothlorien, which is occupied by the powerful Elf queen Galadriel and her court. While the group rests, Galadriel shows Frodo, who is fearing the futility of his quest, the consequences of his failure and encourages him to believe that even the smallest person can change the course of the future. After continuing on their mission by boat, the Fellowship pauses across the river from Mordor, planning to enter it at night. As the others make camp, Boromir accosts Frodo in the woods. By putting on the ring and becoming invisible, Frodo escapes Boromir, whom he knows is enchanted by the ring, and while in that state, sees the eye of Sauron looking for the ring and Sauron’s armies preparing for war. After removing the ring, Frodo convinces Aragorn that it corrupts those who are near it, even his trusted companions, and that he must continue the journey alone. At Isengard, after completing the creation of the Urak-Hai army, Saruman demands their loyalty to him, rather than Sauron, and sends them out in search of Frodo and the ring, so that he can become Lord of the Rings and conquer Middle-Earth. The Uraks catch up with the Fellowship as Frodo is leaving and attack the group. Pippin and Merry, whom the Uraks mistake for the ringbearer, are abducted while luring the creatures away from Frodo, and Boromir, who has recovered from the ring’s enchantment, tries to stop them, but is fatally wounded. The remainder of the Fellowship fights valiantly, until the Uraks leave. The dying Boromir then grieves that he has failed the Humans, and when Aragorn, inspired by Boromir, swears to him that he will protect their people, Boromir calls him "king" with his last breath. Gimli laments that all was in vain and that their Fellowship has failed, but Aragorn says, “not if we hold true to each other,” and leads his companions in pursuit of the captors of Merry and Pippin. Meanwhile, Sam sees his friend rowing alone toward Mordor. Remembering his promise to Gandalf to stay with Frodo, Sam, who cannot swim, follows him into the river, forcing Frodo to rescue him. Later, in Mordor, Frodo admits that he is glad of Sam’s company, but hopes that his other companions have a safer journey.