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Timeline Event

Ambush at the Ford of Bruinen: Overview

Event Type: Military/Strategic

Age: 3rd Age - Ring War

Date: October 20, 3018


An event in Frodo's Departure from the Shire; see that entry for an overview:
The Nazgûl ambush the seriously wounded Frodo and his companions at the Ford of Rivendell on the Bruinen; Glorfindel, Strider, the other Hobbits, and the River itself fend off their onslaught.

Table of Contents:
The Combatants
— Attacking Forces
— Defensive Forces
The Timeline
The Prelude
The Attack
The Aftermath

The Combatants

The Combatants: Attacking Forces
The nine Black Riders, including the Witch-king, pursue the travelling party in hopes of seizing the One Ring. Their chief weapon is terror.

The Combatants: Defensive Forces
Aragorn (whom the hobbits call Strider) leads the travelling party; he is captain of the Rangers and therefore an experienced wilderness traveller. He is armed with the shards of Narsil.

The rest of the travelling party consists of the four hobbits of the Fellowship, who have never before left the Shire. They are armed with short swords that they recently acquired but have no experience using.
The Elf-lord Glorfindel, who was sent by Elrond to find and aid them, and his swift horse, Asfaloth, meet and join forces with the Travellers on the Road:

'[In] Rivendell there live still some of [the Dark Lord's] chief foes: ... lords of the Eldar from beyond the furthest seas. They do not fear the Ringwraiths, for those who have dwelt in the Blessed Realm live at once in both worlds, and against both the Seen and the Unseen they have great power.' ...

'[You] saw [Glorfindel] for a moment as he is upon the other side: one of the mighty of the Firstborn.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 1, Many Meetings

The Timeline
October [3018]
[See: Travellers journey towards the Last Bridge]

Glorfindel leaves Rivendell.

[See: Glorfindel leaves Rivendell]

He drives the Riders off the Bridge of Mitheithel.

[See: Glorfindel drives the Nazgûl from the Last Bridge]

Frodo crosses the Bridge.

[See: Travellers cross the Last Bridge]

[See: Travellers pass through the Trollshaws]

[See: Glorfindel picks up the trail of the Travellers]

Glorfindel finds Frodo at dusk. Gandalf reaches Rivendell.

[See: Travellers see Bilbo's stone trolls in the Trollshaws]
[See: Travellers return to the Road]

[See: Glorfindel finds the Travellers on the Road]
[See: Glorfindel attempts to heal Frodo]

[See: Glorfindel and the Travellers approach the Ford of Bruinen]

Escape across the Ford of Bruinen.

[See: Nazgûl ambush Frodo at the Ford of Bruinen]
[See: Frodo escapes across the Ford of Bruinen]
[See: Frodo defies the Nazgûl at the Ford of Bruinen]

[See: Elrond raises a flood at the Ford of Bruinen]
[See: Glorfindel drives the Nazgûl into the Ford of Bruinen]
[See: Nazgûl swept away at the Ford of Bruinen]

[See: Frodo falls at the Ford of Bruinen]

[See: Elrond heals Frodo in Rivendell]

Frodo recovers and wakes. Boromir arrives in Rivendell at night.

[See: Frodo awakens in Rivendell]

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age

The Prelude
[Said] Gildor[,] 'Be of good hope!... In the morning we shall have gone; but we will send our messages through the lands. The Wandering Companies shall know of your journey, and those that have power for good shall be on the watch.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 3, Three Is Company

'Elrond received news that troubled him. Some of my kindred, journeying in your land beyond the Baranduin, learned that things were amiss, and sent messages as swiftly as they could. They said that the Nine were abroad, and that you were astray bearing a great burden without guidance, for Gandalf had not returned. There are few even in Rivendell that can ride openly against the Nine; but such as there were, Elrond sent out...

'It was my lot to take the Road....'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 12, Flight to the Ford

'At sunrise I [Gandalf] escaped [Weathertop] and fled towards the north. ... I hoped to draw some of [the Nine] off, and yet reach Rivendell ahead of you and send out help. Four Riders did indeed follow me, but they turned back after a while and made for the Ford, it seems.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

Not once did [the Travellers] feel the sense of present evil that had assailed them before the attack in the dell. It seemed too much to hope that the Riders had already lost their trail again. Perhaps they were waiting to make some ambush in a narrow place?

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 12, Flight to the Ford

'You [Frodo] were beginning to fade,' [said] Gandalf. 'The wound was overcoming you at last. A few more hours and you would have been beyond our aid.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 1, Many Meetings

The Attack
[The] Road ... plunged into a deep cutting ... All at once..., the Road ran out ... into the open. There at the bottom of a sharp incline they saw before them a long flat mile, and beyond that the Ford of Rivendell. ...

Out of the ... trees that they had just left rode a Black Rider. ... Another followed him, and then another; then again two more.

'Ride forward! Ride!' cried Glorfindel to Frodo.

He did not obey at once, for a strange reluctance seized him. ... Suddenly he knew ... that they were silently commanding him to wait. ...

[Loud] and clear [Glorfindel] called to the horse in the elf-tongue: noro lim, noro lim, Asfaloth!

At once the white horse sprang away and sped like the wind along the last lap of the Road. At the same moment the black horses leaped down the hill in pursuit, and from the Riders came a terrible cry.... It was answered; and ... out from the trees and rocks away on the left four other Riders came flying. Two rode towards Frodo: two galloped madly towards the Ford to cut off his escape. ...

[Frodo] shut his eyes and clung to the horse's mane. The wind whistled in his ears.... A breath of deadly cold pierced him like a spear, as with a last spurt, like a flash of white fire, the elf-horse speeding as if on wings, passed right before the face of the foremost Rider.

Frodo heard the splash of water. ... He felt the quick heave and surge as the horse left the river and struggled up the stony path. ... He was across the Ford.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 12, Flight to the Ford

'The Riders made straight for you, as soon as you fled. ... [You] had become visible to them, being already on the threshold of their world. And also the Ring drew them. Your friends sprang aside..., or they would have been ridden down. They knew that nothing could save you, if the white horse could not. The Riders were too swift to overtake, and too many to oppose.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 1, Many Meetings

At the Ford of Bruinen only the Witch-king and two others, with the lure of the Ring straight before them, had dared to enter the river; the others were driven into it by Glorfindel and Aragorn. [Author's note.]

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Notes, Note 3

The Aftermath
'Your friends ... found you [Frodo] lying on your face at the top of the bank, with a broken sword under you. The horse was standing guard beside you. You were pale and cold, and they feared that you were dead, or worse. Elrond's folk met them, carrying you slowly towards Rivendell.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 1, Many Meetings

'You will soon be sound again. Elrond has cured you: he has tended you for days, ever since you were brought in.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 1, Many Meetings

'Eight out of the Nine are accounted for at least,' said Gandalf. ... 'I think that we may hope now that the Ringwraiths were scattered, and have been obliged to return as best they could to their Master in Mordor, empty and shapeless.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 3, The Ring Goes South

'Thus the Enemy knows now that the One is found, that it was long in the Shire; and since his servants have pursued it almost to our door, he soon will know..., that we have it here [in Rivendell].'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

Lyllyn 7Jun03
Elena Tiriel 20Jul06, 22Oct11

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