At the start of The Fellowship of the Ring he seems to go from Shire to Minas Tirith to Saruman while the rest haven't traversed that much. How is this possible?

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    Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. That includes asking awkward questions :-)
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 0:13
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    Is this about the movies? In the book there was a seventeen year gap between the Party and when Frodo leaves the shire.
    – ibid
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 0:13
  • Well, that should answer it. Yes it is about the movies.
    – Spennet
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 0:15
  • The gap is there, but just not obvious (I think)
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 0:33
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    In addition to the 17 years it should be noted that Minas Tirith is very far from the Shire (and I don't think it correct to say the gap is there in the film and just not obvious; but it's fair enough because it is after all 17 years and it's a film not a book; and even in the book other things are described instead). The distance is somewhere around 1100 miles away and this isn't the only time they shorten the trips in the films. The War of the Last Alliance is shortened and simplified quite a bit too. It's only possible in the films, in other words.
    – Pryftan
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 0:57

1 Answer 1


He doesn't. It's a movie inconsistency. It would have been very confusing for an audience who had never read the books to see a "17 years later" subtitle after that scene, with Frodo still the same age as before.

In the books

Gandalf doesn't directly travel to Minas Tirith after visiting Frodo. He only does so 17 years later after Bilbo's farewell feast. Gandalf only travels to Minas Tirith after he forsakes his chase for Gollum.

'With that thought, I forsook the chase, and passed swiftly to Gondor. In former days the members of my order had been well received there, but Saruman most of all. Often he had been for long the guest of the Lords of the City. Less welcome did the Lord Denethor show me then than of old, and grudgingly he permitted me to search among his hoarded scrolls and books.'

From the Timeline of Arda:

3001 Bilbo's farewell feast. Gandalf suspects his ring to be the One Ring. The guard on the Shire is doubled. Gandalf seeks for news of Gollum and calls on the help of Aragorn.

3002 Bilbo becomes a guest of Elrond, and settles in Rivendell.

3004 Gandalf visits Frodo in the Shire, and does so at intervals during the next four years.

3008 In the autumn Gandalf pays his last visit to Frodo.

3009 Gandalf and Aragorn renew their hunt for Gollum at intervals during the next eight years, searching in the vales of Anduin, Mirkwood, and Rhovanion to the confines of Mordor. At some time during these years Gollum himself ventured into Mordor, and was captured by Sauron. Elrond sends for Arwen, and she returns to Imladris; the Mountains and all lands eastward are becoming dangerous.

3017 Gollum is released from Mordor. He is taken by Aragorn in the Dead Marshes, and brought to Thranduil in Mirkwood. Gandalf visits Minas Tirith and reads the scroll of Isildur.

  • I never realised gollum was held for so long
    – Doctor Two
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 10:35
  • that would be 19 years, no? From 3008 to 3017? Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 15:02
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    @Gallifreyan That would be 9, not 19 years. However, the 17 years is a different period than the time between Gandalf's visits to the Shire. Bilbo's party is in 3001. The Tale of Years in Appendix A mentions that Gandalf visits Frodo in 3004, and does so at intervals for the next 4 years. 3008 is just the last time he visits the Shire before the story proper gets going.
    – chepner
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 17:39
  • @chepner Sure, I always meant 9... scratches head Thanks for the details, I think they could be added to the answer to make it clearer. Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 17:41
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    If ever there was a use for a :) in a comment, it was in mine. Sorry about that :)
    – chepner
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 17:42

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