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‘The Lord of the Rings’: How old were the Fellowship members in the books?

How old were the heroes in the War of the Ring?

Image via New Line Cinema

The entire Lord of the Rings trilogy is told from the viewpoint of the Fellowship, a group of heroes in the Third Age that take the burden of an entire civilization on their shoulders and set out on a quest to oppose the evil of Sauron and his One Ring. But what do we know about each member’s backstory and their respective age when they set out from Rivendell?

The Fellowship comes together from an ensemble of unlikely characters, somehow symbolic in that it involves at least one character from each race: Gandalf is a Maia — an angel — sent to guide the Free Peoples in their struggle against the Enemy; Aragorn and Boromir represent Men; Legolas, the Elves; Gimli, the Dwarves. That only leaves the Hobbits to be accounted for, who, until then, didn’t want anything to do with the world of the Big Folk.

The nine who ride forth from Rivendell also draw an explicit contrast with the nine Ringwraiths, and in the year that follows, they become instrumental in the war against Sauron. Many fans have wondered from time to time how old each member of the Fellowship is, especially with Aragorn claiming to bear the gift of long life as a descendant of the Dunedain, and Gandalf boasting about having walked this earth for 300 lives of Men.

When were the members of the Fellowship born?

Lord of the Rings
Image via New Line Cinema

The history of Middle-earth spans more than 10,000 years, but for The Lord of the Rings and the events leading to it, we’re mostly dealing with the Third Age of Tolkien’s fictional universe. The quest of the One Ring starts in 3018 TA, so when talking about the age of the Fellowship, that’s the year we should mark down in Arda’s calendars.

Starting with Frodo Baggins, the main protagonist, the character’s physical appearance in Peter Jackson’s movies and the adaptation’s condensed timelines might end up confusing a lot of fans starting their first read-through of The Lord of the Rings. In the books, Frodo is born in 2968, which makes him 50 years old when the Fellowship is formed.

Samwise Gamgee is a bit younger than his master, but not by much. The gardener was born in 2980, and by the time the Hobbits set out from the Shire, he was 38 years old. Meriadoc Brandybuck was born two years after Samwise, and Peregrin Took two years after him, making them 36 and 34, respectively.

Gandalf the Wizard was one of the Istari, an order of sorcerers. Gandalf is essentially as old as time itself, making him more than 10,000 years old by the time the Fellowship begins its journey. For the sake of the argument, let’s assume that we count his years since he first stepped on Middle-earth in the Third Age as an emissary of the Valar. The Istari took the guise of old men and arrived at the continent on 1000 TA, which still makes Gandalf more than 2,000 years old.

As weird as it might sound, Boromir came to the House of the Steward in 2978 TA, making him 10 years Frodo’s junior. Many folks might not expect that of the story’s unsung hero, but it does seem to be what Tolkien intended.

At least Gimli son of Gloin wears his years with pride, having been born in 2879 TA, being some 139 years old in The Fellowship of the Ring.

As for Aragorn, the promised king is one of the Men, but since his lineage traces to the line of Numenor, he is blessed with long life. In the first book, Aragorn is already 87, though he might look like a man in his prime.

Legolas is immortal like Gandalf. Compared to the likes of Elrond or Galadriel, he is essentially a younster, but don’t let that energetic outward demeanor fool you. The books don’t reveal the woodland prince’s exact age, but it is believed that he was born to Thranduil sometime in the early Third Age. According to the movies, Legolas was born in the year 87, making him 2931 by the time The Fellowship of the Ring starts.

About the author

Jonathan Wright

Jonathan is a religious consumer of movies, TV shows, video games, and speculative fiction. And when he isn't doing that, he likes to write about them. He can get particularly worked up when talking about 'The Lord of the Rings' or 'A Song of Ice and Fire' or any work of high fantasy, come to think of it.