This Alternate Fellowship was created by Phobos of the PPC Board. Further discussion ensued, which will be marked as such.
1) Frodo - He will do it. He will take the Ring to Mordor.
2) Sam - You need someone to do the cooking, and just try getting rid of him.
3) Aragorn - Extremely useful to have on a long journey through the wilderness. Also good in a fight. I'm sure the whole "King-in-exile" thing helps, too.
4) Gandalf the Grey - Walking into Mordor? Better bring the big guns.
5) Gimli - Useful in a fight. Also, one never knows when one might need a Dwarf to toss.
6) Faramir - Leave Boromir, doing what he does best, in Gondor. Faramir is the better choice for this job.
7) Elrond - I did say to bring the big guns, right? Lore-master, healer, and badass; not to mention his personal investment in seeing the quest completed. He can leave his house in the care of his children and Erestor.
8) Glorfindel - For those complaining about a lack of blond elves, I have a much better option than Legolas. Glorfindel has already saved Frodo once by that point, after all. He is a consummate badass
9) Radagast the Brown - One word: Reconnaissance. Need to know where the Orcs are? Send a bird to check. Talk to a local burrowing creature to find out what's going on in Moria. This guy might be reclusive, but he would be amazingly useful.
So there you go. Two hobbits, two men, two wizards, two elves, and a dwarf. Find me another able-bodied dwarf and you've got a perfectly balanced party of ten walkers.
Phobos, explaining the story his Fellowship would create.
Book 1: Fellowship of the Ring
So, the purpose of the Fellowship setting out in the first place is not just about taking the Ring to Mordor. It is also about holding Saruman responsible for his actions, which is why Radagast is involved at all.
So, the Fellowship goes straight for the Gap of Rohan and Radagast sends messages to Lórien to secure Galadriel's aid. The battle for Isengard begins.
Book 2: Tower of the White Hand
The battle for Isengard would be fought by Elves from the Golden Wood and Men of Rohan (Wormtongue would need to be dealt with at some point during the siege). Gandalf and Radagast would need to get the Ents and Huorns to come to their aid, as well.
Neshomeh made the point that the power of the One Ring might well make people more susceptible to the voice of Saruman, which makes him even more dangerous than he already is. Adding to that, with at least three rings of power arrayed against him, Sauron is likely to send the Nazgűl on their fell beasts. As an answer to the Nazgűl, Radagast secures the help of Gwaihir the Windlord, who sends some Eagles to fight them in the air. Glorfindel, Gimli, and Aragorn lead the armies of Elves and Men against the Uruk-hai and Dunlendings.
The siege might end with the release of the river, but I think that it would likely require Gandalf and Radagast to confront Saruman directly. In the end, he would be removed to Lothlórien and kept under guard. One of the interesting results of this, in my mind, would be Gandalf the Grey becoming Gandalf the White as he steps into the leadership role of the Wizards. And more interesting than that is the ascension of Radagast the Brown to Radagast the Blue (Possibly. I'm not sure about the color hierarchy). Radagast's journey and growth in this first part of the story is very interesting to me, and his change of color is a result of his getting back on the path that he was supposed to be on.
After the fall of Isengard, the Fellowship will split. Radagast the Blue would go to Lothlórien as an escort for Saruman and then on to Mirkwood to fight the forces out of Dol Guldur (maybe not headed by Khaműl, the Shadow of the East, due to the Battle of Isengard) and protect his home, alongside Thranduil and his Elves.
Gandalf, Elrond, Faramir, Aragorn and Galadriel head to Gondor at the head of the army of the New Alliance of Elves and Men. This is to draw Sauron's eye toward Gondor. The hope is that Sauron, who is aware of the One Ring's proximity to the palantir of Orthanc, will see all the force marching and assume that they are massing around the might of four rings of power in order to push into Mordor through the Black Gate. This will be his fear because of the defeat that the Nazgűl suffer at Isengard and because Gondor has been putting up a very good fight behind Boromir, Captain of the White Tower, and are not in such dire straits as we saw in the books.
The rest of the Fellowship, consisting of Frodo, Sam, Gimli, and Glorfindel, head northeast across Rohan, through the Wold (where they find Gollum coming south from Moria), and passing to the north of Emyn Muil and the Dead Marshes and coming at the mountains from the North. They will need to find a way through the mountains, but with Gimli and Glorfindel they stand a chance of making it into Mordor.
Book 3: The Mountain and the Field
Seeing the might of the Alliance coming to Gondor, Sauron launches his offensive. Because Aragorn doesn't go through the Paths of the Dead, the ships from the south are still full of Coursairs of Umbar who will fight for Sauron. Faramir and Boromir come together to turn their father from his despair, and the Steward of Gondor leads his army into battle.
I don't know if the quest is successful or how the Battle of Pelennor Fields ends, but I feel like we stand a good chance of losing some main characters. I think this is an interesting potential AU, and I wish that I had the time, knowledge, and skill to give it the treatment it deserves. Clearly it would need a lot of work even in the concept stage.
Huinesoron, expanding on aspects of the story.
I think you're right: this would need heaps of background work before you ever set key to doc.
The first point, actually, is your whole premise: why are they taking the One Ring into range of Saruman, when Saruman is known to be searching for it? That needs explaining, and to make a good AU, it should be tied into your previous changes - in this case, why Faramir instead of Boromir came to Imladris.
And I think that's the answer. Saruman, in your scenario, is taking far more of his own actions, rather than waiting for Sauron's command. He has his army - initially Dunlendings, later supplemented by orcs and half-orcs (footnote: in the Bookverse, 'Uruk-Hai' just means 'Orc-folk'; it's a term for big orcs. The crossbreeds Saruman created are technically half-orcs. This doesn't apply in the Movieverse, of course) - out patrolling the west bank of Anduin, as far up and down as he can reach (which, in practice, means midway up Mirkwood, all the way down to Cair Andros). That means Denethor is unwilling to send his Captain off on some mad quest - and that there's no longer any safe route for the Fellowship past Caradhras.
So, the council decides, if stealth alone won't work, stealth and one MASSIVE misdirection ploy might (and Legolas suggests it - 'A diversion!' ;)). Get the biggest guns you can find, and throw them all at Saruman. And, since we're going all-out here: reveal the identity of the Elven Ringbearers. Sauron doesn't know, you see: he suspects Galadriel has one, but he isn't sure. But after this? He will be.
A Palantir would be immensely useful here, if we can get it - since Gandalf knows about Saruman's, we may need an infiltration mission into Orthanc before the main assault. And - the keystone of the plan - at the height of the battle, when defended by the Three and under assault by Nazgul, Frodo has to put on the Ring. Sauron needs to know it's there - otherwise the rest of the plan won't work.
And the rest of the plan is: throw Minas Tirith to the wolves. Aragorn and Faramir, between them, have just enough right to do this. The plan is to keep the Three very much out in the open, so Sauron is sure the One is with them. Then, as you say, sneak the One in round the back while Sauron pours everything out.
A few miscellaneous points:
-There is no 'colour hierarchy' as such. The White Wizard is head of the Order, but that's as far as it goes. I agree about a colour change for Radagast; Blue or Grey would work, or any other colour that scans (it needs to be a monosyllable - Red, Pink(!), even Black would work if you aimed at 'hidden in the shadows' rather than 'eeeeeevil'; remember that Melkor's greatest crime was to turn the darkness the Elves awoke to, into something to be feared). And I think the growth of his character would be fascinating. And then he dies and comes back as Paul McGann...
-What would Sauron have up his sleeve? We know he has three of the Seven Rings, and has held two of them for a significant period. Does he have Bearers for them? The Mouth of Sauron is certainly a candidate. And Sauron holds onto the Nine - would the Nazgul be more powerful if they actually held their rings, despite the risk of them rebelling?
There's also a Balrog still hidden in Moria, which no-one knows about. Could Sauron awaken it? He couldn't order it around, it's his equal, a lieutenant of Melkor - but he could make an alliance with it. And Lorien is right in its path - with no Galadriel or Nenya to hold it back...
-Gollum. In the book and movies, Gollum found Frodo and Sam because he followed them since Moria. Assuming the Balrog awoke, he could well have left Moria (running in fear), but I think it's unlikely the Fellowship would just happen to run into him. I'm also not sure he'd be all that useful - they're not using his knowledge of Cirith Ungol, so you'd literally be bringing him along on a whim.
-Glorfindel and Gimli are great choices for guides. Gimli, of course, is a dwarf, and so will do well in the mountains. Glorfindel? He was there when the Last Alliance took Mordor. He knows his way around.
-And the final outcome... it really depends. Does Gondor have time to call for aid from the southern provinces? The timeline is changes, so the Corsairs may not yet have arrived - meaning more soldiers at Minas Tirith, but also far greater damage in the south. And who else is coming? Are the Ents marching to Gondor?
The problem is, while the New Alliance is certainly larger than the equivalent in the books, they're going to be coming in piecemeal. The Rohirrim will move faster than the elves, who will probably outpace the Ents. You could slow them all down - but then, as Merry said, they might just arrive in time to disrupt the orcs' celebration feast.
But then there's Sauron's problems. He hasn't had the same amount of time to muster the Haradrim and the Easterlings. The army of Morgul can certainly attack - but Mordor itself, in the book, was kept in reserve and only used at the Morannon. Would he send out everything, and risk losing it all? Would he use only part of his strength, hoping they might be able to hold? Or would he try and cheat - offer up, maybe, his own surrender in the face of so mighty an army? It worked last time, after all...
-The northern battle will be critical - if nothing else, Sauron will definitely want the Dol Guldur forces to move on Gondor. Radagast needs to fly north as fast as he can, to get everyone moving: Thranduil, Ergaroth, Dale, Erebor, even the Beornings and any dwarves left in the Iron Hills. No time to plan in advance - he'll have to act as messenger while they're already on the move.
-I think you should rename the first book 'The Company of the Ring'. That way you have new titles throughout. ;)
Phobos, responding to the above.
The bit about Saruman changing the game by taking more of his own action makes a lot of sense. This is the sort of information that I am not knowledgeable enough to come up with.
As I understand it, one of the major reasons that the Elven Rings were hidden was because, while Sauron had the One, they could fall under his control. It would not have been so easy a task as taking control of the others, because he had no part in their making, but it could still have been done. If that holds, they are hiding the rings now because there was always a chance that the One would find its way back to him, and they were guarding against that chance. Now that they know where the One is, and this is an all-or-nothing fight, there is no reason to remain hidden.
Frodo is going to be in massive amounts of danger in this version of the story. It is going to be very risky, putting the Ring on while standing on Saruman's front lawn and with Nazgul overhead. Very risky, but potentially lots of reward.
Radagast the Green, perhaps?
In the videogame "Lord of the Rings: War in the North" (which is great, if anyone ever wants to give it a try) the characters battle a Black Numenorean who was taught sorcery by Sauron. He is gathering an army of Gundabad Orcs and Olog-hai in Carn Dum for an assault on the peaceful lands of the North. If he were canon in the books or movies, he might be a candidate to be a Ringbearer for one of the Dwarf Rings.
The Balrog of Moria is an interesting case. I don't know that anyone really knows that it is down there, except maybe the Goblins. I think the only reason it was a problem for the Fellowship was because another Maia came barging through its home. I don't know that it was really active before that, or if Sauron would even know to send a summons. If he does bring it into the fight...the Golden Wood might well burn.
Gollum would probably not be useful. I don't know how they would deal with him, but he is still being drawn to the Ring, and he hasn't really been in any of the other discussions in this thread, so I thought him worth mentioning here. All he can really do is cause Frodo trouble, I guess.
I thought those two would be useful companions on this quest. Glad you agree.
All of those are good questions...and I really only have an answer to one of them. I don't think the Ents could be convinced to march to Gondor. They might be better sent to Lothlorien. Especially if word gets out about a Balrog coming down from Moria.
As for the northern battle, you have to remember that Legolas and Gloin were in Rivendell and didn't travel with the Company of the Ring (because that is a good name for it). So what are they doing? Traveling back to their homelands and bringing word of the war to their people. It will be up to them to get Mirkwood, Erebor, Dale, and whoever else they can muster, ready for battle. They could, depending on how the timelines work out, end up fighting the combined might of Dol Guldur and Moria somewhere near Lothlorien.
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