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I have stumbled on this quote in Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship of the Ring. Here is the scene. It's around 1 minute and 44 seconds.

Boromir: What chance do you think you have? They will find you. They will take the Ring. And you will beg for death before the end! [Frodo tries to walk away] You fool! It is not yours, save by unhappy chance! It could have been mine! It should be mine! [pins Frodo to the ground] Give it to me! GIVE IT TO ME!

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    "Save by," or "save for".
    – Wehage
    Jun 24 '20 at 16:13
  • except by (an unfortunate?) accident......................he came into possession of the ring by chance Jun 24 '20 at 16:14
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It is "unhappy" because Boromir finds the situation not to his liking. It represents Boromir's opinion. So the meaning is

except by an accident that was unfortunate [in my opinion]

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