Book II, Chapter 2: "The Council of Elrond"
In this lengthy chapter, Tolkien presents readers with much intricate exposition. Very little action as such occurs in the chapter; it is mostly a record of conversations. Elrond convenes a Council to discuss what must be done with the Ring.
Glóin tells the Council that, thirty years previously, Balin resolved to return to the ancient, underground halls of Moria, the Dwarf kingdom. No word has been received from Moria for some time. Glóin also reveals that a Ringwraith has approached the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain twice, offering rings of power in return for information about Hobbits.
Elrond rehearses the history of the Ring-"a long tale, full of deeds great and terrible."
Boromir, a Man from the great city of Minas Tirith in the kingdom of Gondor, tells the Council that his land is besieged by the power of Mordor, and is in need of help to continue defending Middle-earth against Sauron. He also reveals a dream he needs interpreted: a voice from the West telling him, "Seek for the Sword that was broken," and "Isildur's Bane shall waken,/And the Halfling forth shall stand." Aragorn shows his broken sword to Boromir, and declares he will go to Minas Tirith to aid Gondor-an offer of assistance that Boromir does not welcome with wholehearted enthusiasm, for he, like his people, is a proud man. Bilbo-a Hobbit or "Halfling"-tells the Council the tale of how he came to possess the Ring-"Isildur's Bane"-thus giving meaning to the rest of Boromir's dream.
Gandalf tells the Council that Saruman the White-a wise wizard, respected by the Council for his knowledge of Ring-lore-has proved a traitor. He gave Gandalf assurances that the Ring had been lost forever; when Gandalf gave Saruman proof that it had not, Saruman asked Gandalf to join him in a plot, using the Ring, to join with Sauron and dominate Middle-earth. Saruman is actually plotting to become Sauron's rival. When Gandalf refused, warning Saruman that Sauron would never share power, Saruman imprisoned him on the pinnacle of Orthanc, Saruman's tower in Isengard. His imprisonment accounts for his delay in meeting the Hobbits. (Frodo realizes that he saw the imprisoned Gandalf in his dreams, described in Book I). From atop Orthanc, Gandalf could observe the army Saruman was raising to compete with Sauron. Gandalf was rescued from the tower by Gwaihir, "swiftest of the Great Eagles," who carried him away to the land of Rohan. In Rohan, Gandalf found evidence of Saruman's evil influence over the king of the realm. Gandalf's journey to Rivendell took him through Bree-too late to catch up to Frodo-and to Weathertop, where he fought the Ringwraiths.
Aragorn tells the Council that Gollum-whom he and Gandalf interrogated for information about the Ring-has escaped from the Elves of Mirkwood, who were guarding him. While the Council meets this news with despondency, Gandalf hints that the creature "may play a part yet that neither he nor Sauron have foreseen."
After deliberation, the Council decides the Ring must be taken to Mordor to be destroyed, although Boromir wishes to use the Ring's power to defend Gondor. Initially, Bilbo volunteers to take the Ring to Mordor, but Frodo decides-somewhat to his own surprise-that he must undertake this quest.