Book II, Chapter One: Many Meetings
Frodo wakes up in bed, not knowing where he is. Gandalf greets him and explains that he is in Elrond's house. Fortunately, everyone is safe and Frodo's memory is returning to him slowly. Frodo has been talking in his sleep, so Gandalf already knows most of his story; and what little Frodo did not reveal, Gandalf could easily figure out on his own. Gandalf explains his delay, recounting his own capture by the enemy. The Council is going to meet and establish an appropriate plan regarding the ring.
Frodo is lucky that he was brought to Elrond, a master of healing. Elrond is able to remove a splinter of the knife that the Pale King used to attack Frodo. The sliver was drifting inside Frodo's body, towards his heart, and it would have turned him into a wraith. Wearing the ring, put Frodo halfway inside of the wraith-world where he could see the Black Riders and they could see him. In these moments, Frodo was in the greatest danger. The Elves are mighty warriors against the wraiths and the assistance of Glorfindel was especially valuable. Rivendell is still safe and the Black Riders have been blocked. Later on, Frodo also meets Bilbo and they have a conversation, all in preparation for the Council that convenes the following day.
The activity of this chapter largely foreshadows the events of Chapter Two. Frodo is able to get some much-needed recuperation and once again, he is surrounded by powerful friends - Elrond, Gandalf, Strider - all of whom are immensely skilled. The chapter provides a good deal of history, regarding the elves, Strider and the Ring itself. Again, the theme of hospitality is introduced and the wisdom of the older protectors is also of importance.
Book II, Chapter Two: The Council of Elrond
The day begins early and Frodo and Bilbo accompany Gandalf to the Council meeting, which is full of representatives. One of the dwarves explains their concerns regarding a messenger sent from Mordor who wants to buy information about a hobbit. The head of the council is Elrond and he gives a very important history lesson to those gathered. In the Second Age, elven-smiths created the Rings of Power and then there was the one ring that rules all of the others. Sauron made this ring, but Isildur stole it and then it was lost in a river. The next speaker is Boromir, a traveler from Minas Tirith. He is a strong warrior with an inclination towards battle. He has had a dream that is a riddle to him. Basically, this dream was about the scene playing before his eyes. Strider reveals himself as Aragorn and he is a descendant of Isildur. After Bilbo's partial explanation of the ring, Frodo completes the story and presents the ring for everyone to see.
Gandalf answers more questions about the ring but he is interrupted by an elf that has an urgent message. The elves had been keeping Gollum imprisoned but he has escaped (yet again).This is a potentially dangerous situation if Gollum heads back to the enemy with information. Gandalf's story is another blow to the forces of good, for he reveals that his own mentor, Saruman, desires the ring and wants to use its power. When Gandalf did not agree with Saruman's aims, the wizard was imprisoned in a tower - but of course, Gandalf has escaped. Boromir wants to use the ring to defeat Sauron but in the end, the Council agrees that using the evil ring will contaminate any endeavor however well-intentioned. Gandalf also warns that they cannot simply throw the ring into the sea (it has already been lost in the sea before, and it was found). Gandalf says that deep in Mordor, there is the mountain, Orodruin, and inside of this mountain there are the Cracks of Doom. This is where the ring can be destroyed. In the end, Frodo volunteers himself for the challenge.
This chapter is a crucial part of the story, and it is one of the few times that we see such a grand host of characters assembled together. Frodo is guided by fate and this chapter foreshadows the maturity and growth of the hobbit. This chapter also delves deep into the politics of Middle Earth, digging up old alliances and forgotten secrets. Again, the theme of wisdom reminds us of how much history and knowledge can be hidden or used for evil. Saruman is a sad example of a good power that has become corrupted. Frodo will have to be careful that he does not yield to the temptations of the ring. Finally, Boromir is introduced in this chapter and his character does not change very much, in the following chapters. Most important, he is a natural contrast to the timid, humble and weak hobbit. But in the end, Frodo is the hero, not Boromir.
Book II, Chapter Three: The Ring Goes South
Elrond has sent scouts in various directions, to learn more about the perils ahead. Gandalf and Frodo are forced to wait until news returns, concerning the Black Riders. Gandalf explains that those nine Riders were not destroyed in the river. After two months of searching, eight of the Riders are accounted for but one other one remains. When Elrond speaks to Frodo, he warns that the road will be difficult and that he has little counsel to offer. He selects Nine Walkers to form the Company of the Ring, in opposition to the Nine Riders. Frodo, Sam and Gandalf are joined by Boromir, Strider (Aragorn), Legolas the elf, Gimli the dwarf, Merry and Pippin. Strider has his sword re-forged and he renames it as well.
The group is heading south and it is already December when they depart. The Nine Walkers pass through the Misty Mountains and all is fine until they realize that some birds that are flying overhead are following them. Besides the birds, the group has other problems that they have to deal with - chief among them, crossing the mountains. This is an exercise in futility, however. The group travels through a tall mountain, Caradhras, but their road quickly becomes dangerous. It leads them towards a cliff and a heavy snow begins to fall. The snow becomes overwhelming, so they turn back but they are trapped by the snow that has fallen behind them. Eventually, they dig their way out.
The mountainous perils of Caradhras are the major focus of this chapter. Here, again, we find that nature is not in its usual archetypal form; instead, these elements of nature have a personality and they are capable of malice. Caradhras remains standing as a symbol of defiance - the mountain is not necessarily allied with Sauron, the evil one. It is important to realize that the intentions of the mountain are not part of the larger political arena. In Chapter Three, we also see how the "fellowship of the Ring" begins to take form and the inevitable dissolution of the group is already foreshadowed. The chapters that follow will continue to develop this final aspect of the plot.