🗡️ Aragorn Begins 👑
How Aragorn's life and journeys before The Lord of the Rings forged him into a Hero, Ranger, and King
Upon their arrival in Bree, Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin are disappointed to not find Gandalf waiting for them. Instead, they encounter a “strange-looking, weather-beaten man”1 sitting in the shadows in the common room of The Prancing Pony. Frodo’s inquiries to the innkeeper about this stranger reveal that this is Strider, a Ranger whose itinerant travels occasionally bring him through Bree.
The hobbits are not the only ones to be surprised by Strider. Tolkien himself did not know the rest of his story at first. Writing about the composition of The Lord of the Rings in a letter to W. H. Auden, Tolkien shared:
I met a lot of things on the way that astonished me. Tom Bombadil I knew already, but I had never been to Bree. Strider sitting in the corner at the inn was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than had Frodo. (Letter 163)
Those who know The Lord of the Rings know the story of Strider that follow this unexpected introduction: how Strider helps guide the hobbits to Rivendell, is revealed to be Aragorn son of Arathorn and heir to the throne of Gondor, joins the Fellowship that sets out to take the Ring to Mordor, and goes on to reclaim the throne of of Gondor.
But just how did Aragorn become the Ranger who we meet in The Prancing Pony who would become the eponymous King of The Return of the King?
While sitting in the inn in Bree was Strider’s introduction to the hobbits, the readers, and even Tolkien himself, it is hardly the beginning of his story.
In Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien sketches out how Aragorn’s early life in Rivendell, early adventures throughout Middle-earth, and love of Arwen all contributed to forge him into the Ranger who would stand before the hobbits in the inn in Bree with eyes shining, throw back his cloak, and—holding Narsil, the sword that was broken cutting the Ring from the Dark Lord Sauron’s finger—announce, ‘I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will.”2
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