Every Ring of Power in “The Lord of the Rings”

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from Amazon The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power—the latest television adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s popular fantasy trilogy The Lord of the Rings— recently announced a release date of September 2, 2022! The series will take place thousands of years before the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Ringsand will cover the Second Age of Middle-earth history, specifically the rise to power of Sauron and the fall of Númenor.

However, why did Amazon choose power rings for its title? In The Lord of the Rings, we really only see one ring. This ring was created by the Dark Lord Sauron to rule Middle-earth. And in the original trilogy, he was lost for centuries, until he was found by Bilbo Baggins. The Lord of the Rings then follows the development of a community to destroy the mighty ring once and for all.

But the real purpose of Sauron’s One Ring was to control all rings of power. Before Sauron created the One Ring, he disguised himself as an entity Annatar and convinced the Elvish smiths of Eregion to create 19 rings of power in total. These magical artifacts were meant to preserve Middle-earth and summon it with the light of Valinor. However, Sauron’s true intention was to create an all-powerful 20th Ring, control the 19 Rings of Power, and corrupt the rulers of Middle-earth.

The Rings of Power are summarized in this poem, written by Tolkien:

Three rings for the elven kings under the sky,
Seven for the dwarven lords in their palaces of stone,
Nine for mortal men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows are.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all and in the dark bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows are.
The Lord of the Rings

So what are all these rings doing? Let’s dive into everything we know from the books and movies.

The one ring

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King, Elijah Wood as Frodo
(Cinema New Line)

The One Ring is the ring at the center of the plot of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is also known by other names such as Ruling Ring and Isildur’s Bane. Sauron created this ring on Mount Doom in the Second Age of Middle-earth, after tricking the elven smiths into creating the 19 rings of power. Since the One Ring had to be powerful enough to control the other Power Rings, Sauron had to focus the Ring with much of his own power. Therefore, he linked his fate with The One Ring. In addition to controlling power rings, the ring also grants its wearer invisibility.

Using the power of the One Ring and military might, Sauron took control of much of Middle-earth. However, his terrifying reign came to an end during the War of the Last Alliance, when Isildur of Gondor cut the One Ring from Sauron’s hand. However, the Ring sought to return to its master and betrayed Isildur, exposing him to a band of Orcs. Isildur was slain and the ring was lost for centuries, until it was discovered by Gollum. The ring corrupted Gollum, leading him to kill his kinsman to obtain it and to become obsessed with the ring’s power.

However, the Ring also abandoned Gollum and was once again lost until it was discovered by Bilbo and eventually passed on to Frodo. The story of the One Ring ends with Frodo, after he destroys it at Mount Doom. Its destruction means that Sauron will never be able to recover it and regain his dark lordship of Middle-earth. It destroys the power of Sauron, as well as that of all the rings of power. But since the new series is a prequel, we can expect that ring to be there. And hold great power.

The three rings of the elves

Benjamin Walker as Gil-galad in LOTR: The Rings of Power
(Amazon)

Among the nineteen Rings of Power was a trio of powerful rings designated for the Elves. While Sauron helped the Elven smiths create the other sixteen Rings of Power, the three Elven Rings were created solely by Celebrimbor. This separation from the other rings of power made the three elven rings slightly more resistant to the corruption of the one ring. These three rings were named Narya, Nenya and Vilya, after the elements fire, water and air.

Narya is adorned with a ruby ​​and grants its wearer fire manipulation and fatigue resistance abilities. Nenya has a white stone and preserves/protects its wearer from harm. Vilya is a gold ring adorned with a blue sapphire and the strongest of the three rings. Its power has never been explicitly revealed, but it has been implied that the Vilya Ring can preserve and heal.

In The Lord of the Rings tradition, once the Elves recognized Sauron’s intentions, they hid the three rings. Nenya was given to Galadriel in Lothlórien, while High King Gil-galad and Círdan received Vilya and Narya, respectively. The three managed to keep the Three Rings out of Sauron’s reach until his defeat in the War of the Last Alliance. Galadriel kept Nenya, while Círdan gave Narya to Gandalf and Gil-galad gave Vilya to Elrond. Galadriel, Gandalf and Elrond became the Keepers of the Three Rings, keeping them safe until they lost their power with the destruction of the One Ring.

The Seven Rings of the Dwarves

Dwarfs seen in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit
(Warner Bros.)

Seven of the rings of power that Sauron directly helped the elven smiths create were given to the rulers of the seven houses of the dwarves. However, these rings were not specifically designed for dwarves. Sauron originally intended that all the Rings of Power be given to the Elves, to bribe them with the One Ring. It was the resistance of the elves to his corruption, which resulted in the distribution of seven of the rings to the dwarves.

Unfortunately, Tolkien wrote the least about the Seven Dwarf Rings. It is unknown who the Seven Dwarven Lords are, and of the Seven Rings, only one has been named – the Ring of Thrór. This ring was given to Durin III by Celebrimbor and remained in Durin’s household for years, before being inherited by Thrór and passed on to his son Thráin. However, Thráin was captured by Sauron who was able to retrieve the ring from him.

As Sauron attempted to corrupt the Dwarves through the rings, the Dwarves proved resistant to magic due to their warm and untamed nature. Therefore, the Dwarves used the Seven Rings extensively to achieve wealth and foster greed. Of the seven rings, four were destroyed by dragons, while the other three were recovered by Sauron. Hopefully the new series will delve deeper into these rings and we’ll learn more about them.

The Nine Rings of Mortal Men

The nine mortal men have been given rings and are doomed to die in The Lord of the Rings
(Cinema New Line)

Nine of the Rings of Power were distributed to nine mortal men. It was in this group that Sauron found solid success with his corruption. The men lacked the wisdom of the Elves or the friendliness of the Dwarves. They eagerly accepted Sauron’s gifts and used the magical abilities of the rings to gain great power, prestige, and wealth. However, the power had a price because these men were doomed to die. The rings extended their lives to the point that their physical bodies eventually faded and they turned into undead beings – wraiths.

The nine mortal men became known as the Ringwraiths, or the Nazgûl. Once transformed into Nazgûl, they became Sauron’s slaves. The identity of these nine mortals is unknown. It is only known that three were Númenóreans and one was an Easterling. The only names given to the Ringwraiths were Khamûl and Witch-king of Angmar. The Witch-king of Angmar was the leader of the Nazgûl and Sauron’s second-in-command. When the Witch-king of Angmar was slain, Khamûl briefly became the leader of the Ringwraiths. It will be interesting to learn more about the Ringwraiths when they lived (if the show delves into them).

Ultimately, what happened to the Nine Rings of Mortal Men is a mystery. It is unknown if Sauron regained possession of the rings, if the rings remained with the Ringwraiths, or if the rings remained with the physical remains of mortal men. All that is really known is that these rings have never been found, kept or recovered by anyone else.

So while we know a little more about the history of these rings, there are so many more stories to tell and many directions. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power can go. One thing is for sure though, learning the properties and powers of these rings will be a fascinating extension of Tolkien’s (already beautiful) world.

(featured image: New Line Cinema)

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