In The Lord of the Rings, Merry was often considered, and was described by Tolkien as, the most perceptive and intelligent of the Hobbits: for example, even before Bilbo Baggins left The Shire, he knew of the One Ring and its power of invisibility. He guarded Bag End after Bilbo's party, protecting Frodo from the various and often unwanted guests. He had a knowing manner and an innocent, teasing sense of humour. In one incident, Lobelia Sackville-Baggins accused Frodo of being a Brandybuck and no true Baggins; Merry assured Frodo, "It was a compliment; and so, of course, not true".
Merry also was a force behind "the Conspiracy" of Sam, Pippin, Fredegar Bolger and himself to help Frodo. Thus, at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring, Merry was well prepared and organized — he assembled their packs and brought ponies. His shortcut through the Old Forest distanced them from the Nazgûl for a time, though they had to be rescued from Old Man Willow by the enigmatic Tom Bombadil. At the Barrow-downs, he acquired his sword, actually a dagger forged in the kingdom of Arnor.
At Bree, Merry was actually not present in the Prancing Pony when Frodo put on the Ring; instead, he was outside taking a walk, and was nearly overcome by a Nazgûl. At Rivendell, he was seen studying maps and plotting their path. He was admitted to the Fellowship only a little less reluctantly than Pippin; they were the two youngest members, and Elrond had planned sending them back to the Shire.
At the entrance to Moria, he asked Gandalf the meaning of the door inscription "Speak, friend, and enter". When Gandalf discovered the true interpretation, he said, "Merry, of all people, was on the right track".
At Amon Hen, he was captured, along with Pippin, by a band of Saruman's Uruk-hai, although he gave a good account of himself, and was valiantly defended by Boromir. Escaping with Pippin into Fangorn forest, Merry was rescued by Treebeard. Along with Pippin, he drank significant amounts of Ent-draught and grew taller, despite being a fully-grown adult Hobbit. Accompanying Treebeard to the Entmoot and later to Isengard, he and Pippin took up residence in an Isengard gate-house. It was here that he first encountered King Théoden of Rohan, and was reunited with four of the remaining members of the Fellowship.
He was separated from Pippin after his friend beheld Sauron in the palantír and was hastily ridden to Gondor, with Gandalf, on Shadowfax. Merry swore fealty to Théoden and became esquire to the king. Without permission from his liege, he rode to Gondor with Éowyn, who was disguised as a common soldier. In the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, while the Witch-king of Angmar was preoccupied with Éowyn, Merry stabbed the Nazgûl in the sinew behind his knee. His sword was made by the Dúnedain of Arnor for combat against the Nazgûl. The Black Captain stumbled from Merry's stroke, and Éowyn seized the moment to strike the Captain's head, whereupon he fell lifeless to the ground. This fulfilled the prophecy, as he was not killed "by the hand of man," but rather by a hobbit and a woman. Merry heard Théoden's last words, but went unnoticed by the honour escort of Riders; Pippin found him wandering in the city. Aragorn healed him and he recovered fully, more quickly than Éowyn.
For his bravery in battle, Merry was knighted by King Éomer as a Knight of the Mark. During the scouring of the Shire, he led the Hobbits in the Battle of Bywater, and personally killed the leader of the opposing forces.
Upon his return, he and Pippin were clearly seen to be the tallest of Hobbits, taller even than the legendary Bullroarer Took (as Sam said at the Field of Cormallen, Merry was three inches taller than he ought to have been). Merry went on to marry Estella Bolger sometime after the end of the Third Age. He inherited the title Master of Buckland in year 11 of the Fourth Age. He retained his links with Rohan and became expert in Rohan's language and traditions, which he discovered to his surprise to have close affinity to the early history of the Hobbits. Although he was not recorded as having any children within the family trees, he is noted as having at least one son. In F.A. 64, at the age of 102, he returned to Rohan and Gondor with Pippin; the two hobbits died in Gondor several years later. They were laid to rest among the Kings of Gondor in Rath Dínen, then moved to lie next to Aragorn after he died in F.A. 120.
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