Where's Gandalf?

The thing about Lord of the Rings - you've heard of it, right? - is that everyone pretty much knows what's going on. They know what's at stake.

For example, the main reason Frodo knows all about the Ring and its power is because Gandalf is there to tell him. Bilbo's disappearing act makes Alf suspicious so off he goes to find out more then hotfoots it back to The Shire to clue in Frodo. Everyone knows the significance of the ring and acts accordingly, despite its many temptations.

But here's my question. What if Gandalf hadn't made it back to Bag End? What if all Frodo knew was that this ring was a bit special and nothing more? Well, the Black Riders would have rocked up at his door and tried to get it. And what would you do if some nasties tried to take the thing that your wizard pal had told you was so jolly important? First, you'd run for it. But second, you'd remember what Uncle Bilbo did back at his party. He disappeared.

'Splendid,' you say to yourself. 'I'll just pop the ring on and no one will be able to find me!' Next thing you know your kebabed by a Ringwraith.

There is a point to this. I like a mystery. I like the idea of having our main character hamstrung by not knowing. What if Frodo had the Ring but had no idea where it came from or what it was designed to do? And that's what happens in The Blade Bearer. Three companions, each with their equivalent of the One Ring, but with no idea what the things do. All they know is, how the thing makes them feel, and that it wants them to go North...