Literature Study GuidesThe Lord Of The RingsPrologue Of The Finding Of The Ring Summary

The Lord of the Rings | Study Guide

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Lord of the Rings | Prologue (Of the Finding of the Ring) | Summary



In The Hobbit, Gandalf the wizard and 13 Dwarves visit the hobbit Bilbo, and Bilbo embarks on an adventure with the Dwarves. During this journey, the party is attacked by Orcs in the Misty Mountain, and Bilbo is lost for a time. It is during this period he encounters the One Ring and riddles with the creature Gollum who possesses it.


Bilbo's finding of the One Ring was something more than simple luck. Three times the section refers to how "lucky" it seemed Bilbo found it:

  • "[A]s he groped in vain in the dark, he put his hand on a ring, lying on the floor of a tunnel. He put it in his pocket. It seemed then like mere luck."
  • "In the end Bilbo won the game, more by luck (as it seemed) than by wits; for he was stumped at last for a riddle to ask, and cried out, as his hand came upon the ring he had picked up and forgotten: What have I got in my pocket?"
  • "Just in time Bilbo saw his peril, and he fled blindly up the passage away from the water; and once more he was saved by his luck. For as he ran he put his hand in his pocket, and the ring slipped quietly on to his finger."

Of course, by pointing out luck, Tolkien casts doubt on it, implying it was something more like fate or providence.

Tolkien also references his first version of The Hobbit in which Bilbo receives the Ring as a present: "This account Bilbo set down in his memoirs, and he seems never to have altered it himself, not even after the Council of Elrond. Evidently it still appeared in the original Red Book, as it did in several of the copies." Tolkien wasn't content to just admit he revised The Hobbit to fit better with The Lord of the Rings. He invented a reasonable explanation for why there are copies with multiple versions.

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