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From the book: Elrond speaks at the start of the council:

That is the purpose for which you are called hither. Called, I say, though I have not called you to me, strangers from distant lands. You have come and are here met, in this very nick of time, by chance as it may seem. Yet it is not so. Believe rather that it is so ordered that we, who sit here, and none others, must now find counsel for the peril of the world.

LOTR The Fellowship of the Ring; The Council of Elrond

Who "Called" and "so ordered" that they meet?

  • Elrond - "Forn by the Dwarves, Orald by Northern Men, and other names beside. He is a strange creature, but maybe I should have summoned him to our Council.'" – Valorum Nov 28 '15 at 11:02
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    Ironically (but not unexpectedly), both Wikis (Wikia, and the usually less-inaccurate Tolkien Gateway) incorrectly say that the Council was called by Elrond :( – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 28 '15 at 16:56
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The same force that caused Bilbo to blindly pick up the Ring so that Frodo would inherit it, as Gandalf points out; the same one that caused all the differing streams of narrative to line up exactly. In other words, Providence.

In-story, this probably means Eru Ilúvatar. But externally, the Catholic inspiration of all Tolkien's work is clear here; God orders events in such a way that the outcome he desires is achieved.

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    Externally (out-of-universe), the answer is simply Tolkien :-P – Rand al'Thor Nov 28 '15 at 11:08
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    In Tolkien's mind out-of-universe is still in-universe, since he claims (in-universe out-of-universe), that he did not write the legendarium, he simply found it. – John Bell Nov 30 '15 at 10:38
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I would suggest that the godlike force that "called" the Council is not Iluvatar (Eru), but the Valar. The Eagles of are Manwe, and they rescue Bilbo, and therefore the Ring, that it might pass on to Frodo. The entire tale is an echo of the Music of the Ainur, which Eru conducted, and the entire story of The Lord of the Rings is a reprise of the action of the Silmarillion, which is the embodiment into Arda of the music as it was played, including Morgoth's rebellion.

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