Facts & FAQs
Rings of Power
What were the rings of power and where did they come from?
Before the time of Elendil, Sauron was trying to conquer Middle Earth in less direct ways. For a long time he pretended to be a friend to the elves and men and taught them, referring to himself as Annatar or Lord of Gifts. One elf that he tried especially hard to befriend was Celebrimbor, the greatest smith and craftsman of the time. With Sauron's help, he and other elves forged many rings. The greatest of all were the rings of power. Three of these were given to Elven lords. Seven were given to Dwarf kings. Nine were given to kings of men.
Sauron secretly made one ring to rule over all the others. He made it in Orodruin, the mountain of fire and much of his own power was put in to the ring. While he wore it he could see all that was done with the others and could exercise power over those who wore them.
The men who wore the nine rings were quickly enslaved by the will of Sauron and became the ring wraiths, or the Nazgûl. The dwarven rings corrupted those who wore them so that they became obsessed with gathering gold and treasure. Some of those rings were recovered by Sauron. Some were lost or consumed by dragon fire.
The wearers of the three elven rings were the only ones to escape Sauron's intentions, since Celebrimbor had made them alone and they were untouched by Sauron. Even though Sauron had no direct control over them their power was still closely connected with the one ring. The three elven rings were Narya, the ring of fire; Nenya, the ring of water; Vilya the ring of air.
Later in the Lord of the Rings books (and possibly in the later movies), it is revealed who had the elven rings. Cirdan the shipwright originally had Narya the red ring of fire but he later passed it on to Gandalf. Gil-Galad the elven king originally had the most powerful of the elven rings - Vilya the ring of air. A gold ring with a blue stone. Elrond later had Vilya. Galadriel had Nenya the mithril ring of water. A mithril ring with a white stone like a frosty star.
The writing in the elven script above is the writing that Gandalf found written on the inner part of the ring. It says:
One ring to rule them all, one Ring to find them
This was part of a longer rhyme which follows in full below:
Three rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
The Power of the One Ring
When Sauron made the one ring to rule the others, a lot of his own power passed in to it. This meant that he was a lot weaker when he didn't have it. It also conferred certain powers on others who wore it. When Bilbo first found it in The Hobbit, we learn that when the ring is worn in daylight, the shadow of the wearer can still be seen. This isn't apparent in The Lord Of The Rings where the ring is never worn by anyone in broad daylight.
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