An encyclopedia of Middle-earth and Numenor
of Creation: c. 1600 of the Second Age
Date of Destruction: March 25, 3019 of the Third Age
Place of Creation: Mount Doom in Mordor
Bearers: Sauron, Isildur, Deagol, Smeagol/Gollum, Bilbo Baggins, Frodo Baggins, Sam Gamgee
Appearance: Plain gold band with an inscription revealed by fire
The One Ring in the New Line film
The One Ring was the greatest of the Rings of Power. Sauron created it to rule the others, and in order to do so he invested the One Ring with much of his strength and will. Thus the One Ring was a source of great power for Sauron, but it was also his greatest weakness. For when the Ring was destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom, Sauron too was destroyed.
Description & Powers:
The One Ring was a gold band with
no jewels. The size of the Ring changed in order to fit its wearer. The
Ring appeared to be completely plain with no markings, but when it was
heated with fire an inscription was revealed on the outside and inside.
The script was Elvish because fine lettering was required, but the language
was the Black Speech. It read:
|Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash
Ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
With the One Ring, Sauron could know and command the thoughts of those who wore the other Rings of Power, in effect making himself the Lord of the Rings. The other Rings were subject to the One Ring because they had been made by the Elves using knowledge and skills taught by Sauron, who had deceived them about his true identity. This was true even of the Three Rings, which Sauron had not touched.
Through the Nine Rings, Sauron enslaved the wills of the Men who bore them and they became the Ringwraiths, or Nazgul. The Dwarves who bore the Seven Rings resisted enslavement, but they became greedy and valued gold above all else. The Three Rings were hidden by the Elves when the One Ring was made, and they did not use them while Sauron had the One.
The powers of the other Rings were dependent on the One Ring. The destruction of the One Ring meant that the other Rings would lose their powers, and everything that had been made or sustained by them would fade.
In order to make the One Ring powerful enough to rule the others, Sauron had to put much of his own strength and will into it. When he wielded the One Ring, Sauron's power was enhanced. Separated from the One Ring - as he was when Isildur took it from him - Sauron was initially dealt a severe blow. But while the Ring still existed, Sauron maintained a connection with its power from afar and he was able to recover much of his former strength.
If the One Ring were destroyed, Sauron would also be destroyed because he would no longer have sufficient power to maintain his existence and he would be reduced to nothing more than a shadow. But the chances of the Ring being destroyed were extremely remote.
The One Ring could not be destroyed by ordinary means. It could not be harmed even if struck by a sledge-hammer or cast into a furnace. Dragon fire could destroy the lesser Rings of Power, but not even Ancalagon the Black could have destroyed the One Ring. The only way the One Ring could be destroyed was to throw it into the fires of Mount Doom where it had been forged.
But no one - not even Sauron - had the strength of will to purposefully destroy the Ring. Sauron could not conceive that anyone would even try. The One Ring had a powerful influence over anyone who bore it. Both Isildur and Frodo Baggins had the opportunity to destroy it and failed to do so, although Frodo at least made a valiant effort.
The Ring appeared to have a will of its own. It could leave its bearer in order to return to Sauron, to whom it was linked. The Ring slipped off Isildur's finger in the Gladden Fields and exposed him to the Orcs hunting him. It left Gollum too when its master Sauron was stirring again in Middle-earth. Frodo was tempted to put the Ring on in the presence of the Nazgul, and thereby expose himself and the Ring to them.
The temptation exerted by the Ring was great. Smeagol murdered his friend Deagol the minute he laid eyes on the Ring in order to obtain it, and when he later lost the Ring, he was desperate to retrieve it at all costs. Boromir tried to take the Ring from Frodo by force. Bilbo Baggins was remarkable in that he was able to give up the Ring after bearing it for 60 years, yet when he saw the Ring again years afterwards, he was immediately tempted by it. Even Gandalf feared he would not be able to resist the Ring's lure.
The Ring was utterly evil. Anyone who used it would eventually turn to evil in the end, even if they started out with good intentions. A person of great power might be able to wield the Ring, and possibly even use it to overthrow Sauron, but they too would succumb to its evil and would simply replace Sauron as Dark Lord.
Gandalf was probably the only person in Middle-earth at the end of the Third Age capable of using the Ring to supplant Sauron. Gandalf and Sauron were both Maiar spirits who had taken physical form and therefore were of equivalent stature. If Gandalf had the Ring that would give him an advantage, but the Ring's allegiance was ultimately to Sauron. Which of them would have prevailed in such a contest of wills is debatable, but the end result would be the same: the Ring would be the master in the end.
Others like Galadriel, Elrond, or Aragorn would probably not be able to best Sauron in a face-to-face confrontation while wielding the Ring. Aragorn, at least, would be compelled to surrender the Ring to Sauron immediately, as would any mortal. Galadriel envisioned herself as being capable of supplanting Sauron as a Dark Queen, but this may have been a delusion caused by the Ring.
However, one of them might have been able to use the Ring to increase their own power and attempt to challenge Sauron with military force. This is what Boromir envisioned that he would be able to do with the Ring.
"What could not a warrior do in this hour, a great leader? What could not Aragorn do? Or if he refuses, why not Boromir? The Ring would give me power of Command. How I would drive the hosts of Mordor, and all men would flock to my banner!"Boromir was likely also deluded about his ability to wield the Ring. However, if anyone did manage to succeed in such a venture, he would not become a benevolent and wise king but a tyrant instead.
Boromir strode up and down, speaking ever more loudly: Almost he seemed to have forgotten Frodo, while his talk dwelt on walls and weapons, and the mustering of men; and he drew plans for great alliances and glorious victories to be; and he cast down Mordor, and became himself a mighty king, benevolent and wise.
The Fellowship of the Ring: "The Breaking of the Fellowship," p. 414
Lesser mortals could not control the Ring, but the Ring gave each bearer power according to his stature by enhancing his own natural abilities. Smeagol, for example, became a sneak and a thief, aided by sharpened senses and the Ring's power to turn its wearer invisible.
The Ring turned the person wearing it invisible by shifting him into the world of the Unseen. He could not be seen by ordinary eyes, except perhaps by a faint shadow in direct sunlight. But the Nazgul could see a person wearing the Ring, because they themselves walked in the Unseen world, and the wearer of the Ring could see the Nazgul in their true form, as Frodo did at Weathertop.
The Nazgul were drawn to the Ring, and Sauron was also able to sense it. Sauron became aware of Frodo when he wore the Ring first at Amon Hen and then at Mount Doom. Sam Gamgee felt Sauron seeking him when he used the Ring on the borders of Mordor.
The world changed, and a single moment of time was filled with an hour of thought. At once he was aware that hearing was sharpened while sight was dimmed... All things about him now were not dark but vague; while he himself was there in a grey hazy world, alone, like a small black solid rock and the Ring, weighing down his left hand, was like an orb of hot gold. He did not feel invisible at all, but horribly and uniquely visible; and he knew that somewhere an Eye was searching for him.Sam could also understand the Black Speech while wearing the Ring, which may have been an effect of being in the Wraith-world or a power conferred by the Ring.
The Two Towers: "The Choices of Master Samwise," p. 343
Not everyone was rendered invisible by the Ring. Sauron wore the Ring during the War of the Last Alliance, yet presumably he was visible when Elendil and Gil-galad fought with him and when Isildur cut the Ring from his finger. Whether this was because Sauron was the Ring's creator and master or because of his nature as a Maia is not known. Tom Bombadil - an immortal being of indeterminate nature - also remained visible when he put on the Ring. Tom was also able to see Frodo when Frodo put on the Ring.
The Ring unnaturally prolonged the lives of mortals, so that as the years wore on they began to feel stretched out and unbearably weary. Smeagol was of Hobbit-kind with a natural lifespan of about 100 years, but with the Ring he lived to be nearly 600. Bilbo too had his life prolonged, and he appeared the same at age 111 as he had at 50. When Bilbo gave up the Ring he began to age visibly.
The Ring would eventually consume the mind of its bearer. Hobbits proved peculiarly resistant to its power, but they too were affected. Smeagol had only a small corner of his own mind left in the end. Even a good-natured Hobbit like Bilbo was driven to uncharacteristic anger when Gandalf tried to persuade him to give up the Ring. Frodo was so tormented by the burden of the Ring on his journey into Mordor that he never recovered and eventually had to leave Middle-earth in order to find peace.
If a mortal wore the Ring often,
he would fade until he became permanently invisible. For eternity he would
be trapped in the Wraith-world under Sauron's command, and he would be
forced to surrender the Ring, which would break what remained of his mind.
As Sauron rose to power in the Second Age, he sought to control the races of Middle-earth. In 1200, he came to the Elves of Eregion in a fair disguise and claimed to be an emissary of the Valar. He taught Celebrimbor and the other Elven-smiths many skills, and it was under his instruction that the forging of the Rings of Power began around 1500. Many Rings were made at this time, including the Seven Rings and the Nine Rings. The Three Rings were made by the Elves without Sauron's help, but they used the knowledge and skills they had learned from him to make them.
Around 1600, Sauron forged the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom in Mordor. He put the Ring on and uttered the verse etched upon it: "One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them." The Elves heard him and realized they had been deceived. They immediately took off their Rings so that Sauron was unable to control them.
Sauron was enraged, and in 1693 he declared war on the Elves in order to retrieve the Rings of Power from them. The Elves could not bring themselves to destroy the other Rings of Power. The Three Rings were hidden: Galadriel took Nenya, and Gil-galad received Narya and Vilya. The Elves vowed never to use the Three Rings while Sauron had the One Ring.
Sauron's forces destroyed Eregion in 1697. He seized the Nine Rings. Sauron then tortured Celebrimbor and learned the location of the Seven Rings. One had apparently been given to Durin III, the Lord of Khazad-dum, but Sauron took those that remained. Celebrimbor refused to tell Sauron where the Three Rings were hidden, and Sauron had him killed.
Sauron's army was eventually defeated by the combined forces of the Elves of Lindon under Gil-galad and a fleet of Men from Numenor. He returned to Mordor in 1701.
Sauron gave the Nine Rings to Men who used them to become great Kings and sorcerers. But the Men who bore the Nine Rings were enslaved to Sauron through the power of the One Ring, and eventually they faded and became the Ringwraiths, or Nazgul.
Six leaders of the Dwarf-houses also received Rings from Sauron. The seventh Ring, already possessed by the King of the House of Durin, was also subject to the One Ring. The Seven Rings increased the Dwarves' lust for gold, which benefited Sauron to a certain extent. But the Seven Rings did not work on the Dwarves as the Nine Rings had on Men. The Dwarves proved resistant to enslavement and they did not fade and become Wraiths. Sauron hated the Dwarves for resisting his domination and eventually he retrieved three of the Seven Rings from them. The other four were consumed by Dragons.
Wielding the One Ring, Sauron's power increased. He proclaimed himself Lord of the Earth and he expanded his dominion, particularly over the Men in the East and South. This period in the late Second Age became known as the Black Years, and many of the peoples of Middle-earth lived in fear or slavery. The Elves of Lindon remained free in northwestern Middle-earth, but many other Elves fled to the Undying Lands.
In 3262, the Men of Numenor led by Ar-Pharazon came to Mordor to challenge Sauron. So great was the power of the Numenoreans at that time that Sauron's forces refused to fight them. Sauron allowed himself to be captured and taken to Numenor because he wanted to corrupt the Numenoreans and bring about their total ruin.
Sauron brought the One Ring with him to Numenor and with it he was able to dominate the minds and wills of many of the Numenoreans. He used their fear of death and their jealousy of the Elves' immortality to convince Ar-Pharazon to make an assault on the Undying Lands. Numenor was destroyed, submerged beneath the waves by Eru. Sauron's body was also destroyed, but his spirit escaped and returned to Mordor in 3320 bearing the One Ring.
Sauron used the Ring to create a new form for himself, which was terrible to behold. He recalled his servants to him and resumed his plans to dominate Middle-earth. Learning that some survivors of Numenor led by Elendil had escaped to Middle-earth, Sauron launched an attack on their new realm of Gondor in 3429.
Elendil and Gil-galad joined forces against Sauron in the War of the Last Alliance, which began in 3434. Sauron's army was defeated by the combined might of the Men and Elves. In 3441, Sauron himself came down to the battlefield and fought with Gil-galad and Elendil. Gil-galad and Elendil were killed, but together they managed to cast down Sauron's physical body.
Elendil's son Isildur cut the One Ring from Sauron's hand using the broken shard of his father's sword Narsil. The Ring burned Isildur's hand with its intense heat. Elrond and Cirdan counselled Isildur to destroy the Ring immediately in the fires of Mount Doom, but Isildur refused. Such was the power of the One Ring that no one could willingly destroy it.
Because the One Ring holding much of Sauron's power remained, Sauron's spirit survived even though his body had been slain. Sauron fled into the East and slowly began to rebuild his strength.
In the year 2 of the Third Age, Isildur was travelling north to Arnor when he and his men were attacked by Orcs near the Gladden Fields. The Orcs were drawn by the power of the One Ring, though they themselves did not know it. Nearly all of Isildur's men were killed, including his three eldest sons.
Isildur realized that he had been foolish to keep the Ring. He had been unable to bend it to his will, and he could not use it to make the Orcs submit to him. He was determined to keep the Orcs from capturing the Ring, which he now believed should be given to the Keepers of the Three Rings of the Elves.
In order to escape, Isildur put on the Ring. When he did so, he experienced great pain as he had ever since it had first burned him. Isildur tried to cross the Anduin, but the Ring betrayed him and slipped from his finger, exposing him to the Orcs pursuing him. Isildur was shot and killed, but in the brief moments before he died he felt relief from the pain and burden of the Ring.
The Ring fell to the riverbed and it was lost in the waters of the Gladden Fields for nearly 2,500 years. Sauron continued to regain his strength. He rebuilt a physical form and in 1050 he came to live in the stronghold of Dol Guldur in southern Mirkwood.
Sauron wanted to find the Ring so that he could command the full measure of his power. The Ring too wanted to return to its master. To that end, when a chance finally came in the year 2463, the Ring caught the eye of Deagol who had been pulled to the bottom of the river by a fish.
When Deagol's companion Smeagol saw the Ring, he was consumed with desire for it. He asked Deagol to give it to him as a birthday present, and when Deagol refused, Smeagol murdered him and took the Ring. He used the Ring to spy and steal. He began to deteriorate, avoiding the Sun and making strange noises that earned him the nickname Gollum. Soon he was shunned by his people and he left home.
Gollum took the Ring beneath the Misty Mountains in 2470. He spent nearly 500 years there, his life prolonged by the Ring. The Ring did not cause him to fade because he was of tough Hobbit-stock and because he did not need to use it often in the darkness. But his mind became consumed by the Ring. He kept it with him for as long as he could even though it pained him to do so. Then he tried hiding it but he felt a constant need to return to it. The Ring became a torment and a burden to him, and yet he could not let it go.
By 2939, Sauron had learned the circumstances of Isildur's demise. He sent his servants to search the Gladden Fields for the One Ring, not knowing that it was long gone.
Saruman also desired the One Ring. Saruman had lied to Gandalf and the other members of the White Council about the Ring's whereabouts, telling them it had washed down to the Sea. He had rejected Gandalf's recommendation to drive Sauron from Dol Guldur because he hoped the Ring would reveal itself in proximity to its master. But now he feared that Sauron would find it, and he agreed to attack Dol Guldur in 2941.
That same year, the Ring abandoned Gollum in response to its master's attempts to find it. It slipped from Gollum's finger while he was hunting Orcs. But it was not an Orc that found the Ring. A higher power intervened at that moment, and the Ring was found instead by a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins from the Shire.
Gollum soon realized that Bilbo had the Ring, and he pursued the Hobbit through the tunnels. The Ring slipped onto Bilbo's finger and turned him invisible, allowing him to escape. Bilbo had a chance to kill Gollum, but he spared him out of pity. The fact that Bilbo began his possession of the Ring with an act of kindness instead of murder helped spare him from the full force of the Ring's evil influence.
Nevertheless, Bilbo was not unaffected by the Ring. He kept the Ring secret from his companions at first, and later he lied about how he obtained it. He claimed that Gollum had intended to give him the Ring as a present for winning the Riddle Game anyway. Gandalf had to press him to learn the true story and he was troubled by the Hobbit's deceit.
Bilbo returned to the Shire and the Ring remained in his possession for 60 years. As Bilbo grew older, he did not appear to age at all. But Bilbo soon began to feel thin and stretched, "like butter that has been scraped over too much bread." (FotR, p. 41) He became preoccupied with the Ring and started carrying it in his pocket all the time. At times he felt like the Ring was an Eye staring at him.
In 3001, Bilbo decided to leave the Shire to find rest, and he intended to leave the Ring to his heir, Frodo Baggins. But when it came down to it, Bilbo found it difficult to part with the Ring. He became suspicious and angry when Gandalf tried to persuade him to leave it. Gandalf was greatly concerned when he saw how strongly the Ring had affected Bilbo, and he began to suspect it was no ordinary magic ring. Finally, with Gandalf's help, Bilbo was able to leave the Ring behind, and he immediately felt like his old self again.
Gandalf advised Frodo not to use the Ring and to keep it secret and safe. Gandalf feared that Bilbo's Ring might be one of the Rings of Power, or even the One Ring. He tried to track down Gollum with the help of Aragorn, a Ranger of the North.
Gollum had left the Misty Mountains in 2944 to try to find the Ring. He learned that Bilbo came from the Shire, but he never got there. Instead the lingering effects of the Ring drew him toward Mordor, where Sauron was gathering all evil to him. There in 3017 Gollum was captured and tortured until he revealed that the One Ring was in the possession of a Hobbit named Baggins from the Shire. But Gollum did manage to deceive Sauron about the location of the Shire.
Gollum was allowed to escape in the hopes that he would lead Sauron to the Ring. But on February 1, 3018, Gollum was captured by Aragorn who brought him to Mirkwood for questioning. Gandalf meanwhile had discovered a scroll written by Isildur in the archives of Minas Tirith that described the writing that appeared on the One Ring when it was heated. From Gollum he learned that the Ring had been found in the Gladden Fields where Isildur had fallen. Only one final test remained to determine whether Bilbo's Ring was in fact the One Ring.
In April of 3018, Gandalf returned to the Shire. Seventeen years had passed since Frodo received the Ring, and like Bilbo he appeared well preserved. He kept the Ring on a chain in his pocket.
Gandalf tested the Ring by heating it in the fireplace at Bag End. His fears were confirmed when the fiery letters appeared. Frodo offered Gandalf the Ring, but the Wizard refused, fearing that he would be tempted to use it and become a Dark Power like Sauron. Realizing the danger that the One Ring posed, Frodo volunteered to take it out of the Shire.
Frodo and his companions set out on September 23 and were immediately pursued by the Nazgul, who had been sent by Sauron to retrieve the Ring. While still in the Shire, Frodo was twice tempted to put on the Ring with the Nazgul nearby, which would have revealed the Ring to them. Both times he resisted.
On the journey, the Hobbits encountered Tom Bombadil, who proved to be immune to the power of the Ring. Tom put on the Ring and remained visible, and when Frodo put on the Ring Tom could see him.
In the Barrow-downs, Frodo was captured by a Barrow-wight that had been summoned by the Lord of the Nazgul. Frodo was again tempted to put on the Ring but did not. The Hobbits were rescued by Tom Bombadil.
At the Prancing Pony in Bree, the Ring slipped onto Frodo's finger, causing him to disappear in a crowded common room. The incident was witnessed by Bill Ferny and a squint-eyed Southerner who passed the information on to the Nazgul. Aragorn was also there, and he offered his protection to Frodo. That night the inn was attacked, but the Hobbits escaped and left Bree with Aragorn the next morning.
On October 6, the Nazgul caught up with them at Weathertop. Frodo succumbed to an overwhelming temptation to put on the Ring. When he did so he entered partway into the Wraith-world and he saw the Nazgul uncloaked, with white faces and piercing eyes. The Nazgul could see him as well. Frodo tried to resist by striking out with his sword and invoking the name of Elbereth, one of the Valar. The Lord of the Nazgul stabbed Frodo in the shoulder with a Morgul-blade, and the tip broke off and began working its way toward Frodo's heart. Then Aragorn came at them with flaming brands and the Nazgul retreated, expecting that the sliver of the Morgul-blade would soon turn Frodo into a Wraith under Sauron's domination.
The Nazgul pursued Frodo to the Fords of Bruinen. Frodo felt compelled by the Ring to stop and face the Nazgul, but they were swept away in a flood created by Elrond and Gandalf. Elrond removed the sliver from Frodo's shoulder. While Frodo was unconscious some unknown person put the Ring on a strong chain which was hung around Frodo's neck.
Bilbo was living at Rivendell. He had sometimes thought about returning home to retrieve the Ring, and he asked Frodo if he could see it again.
Slowly he drew it out. Bilbo put out his hand. But Frodo quickly drew back the Ring. To his distress and amazement he found that he was no longer looking at Bilbo; a shadow seemed to have fallen between them, and through it he found himself eyeing a little wrinkled creature with a hungry face and bony groping hands. He felt a desire to strike him.On October 25, Elrond summoned a Council to determine what should be done with the Ring. Among those in attendance was Boromir, the son of the Steward of Gondor. Boromir and his brother Faramir had both dreamed that Isildur's Bane would threaten to bring doom to Middle-earth. At the Council, Boromir learned that Isildur's Bane was the One Ring of Sauron. It was also reported at the Council that Gollum had escaped and that Saruman was a traitor with designs on seizing the One Ring for himself.
The music and singing round them seemed to falter and a silence fell. Bilbo looked quickly at Frodo's face and passed his hand across his eyes. "I understand now," he said. "Put it away! I am sorry: sorry you have come in for this burden: sorry about everything."
The Fellowship of the Ring: "Many Meetings," p. 244
Several suggestions to deal with the Ring were made and rejected. Erestor asked if Tom Bombadil could keep it safe, but Gandalf said that although the Ring had no power over Tom, Tom had no power over the Ring: he could not alter the Ring or break its power over others. Tom might take the Ring if asked, but he would not understand the need to guard it safely, nor would he be able to withstand an assault on his land by Sauron.
It was agreed that the Ring could not be kept safely anywhere in Middle-earth; even the Elves did not have the power to resist a full assault from Sauron. Nor could it be sent over the Sea to the Undying Lands because those who lived there would refuse to receive it; the Ring the responsibility of those who lived in Middle-earth. Glorfindel suggested throwing it to the bottom of the Sea, but Gandalf warned that someday it could resurface and that they could not leave it for future generations to deal with.
Boromir thought they could use the Ring against Sauron. But Elrond explained that no one could use it without turning to evil.
"We cannot use the Ruling Ring. That we now know too well. It belongs to Sauron and was made by him alone, and is altogether evil. Its strength, Boromir, is too great for anyone to wield at will, save only those who have already a great power of their own. But for them it holds an even deadlier peril. The very desire of it corrupts the heart. Consider Saruman. If any of the Wise should with this Ring overthrow the Lord of Mordor, using his own arts, he would then set himself on Sauron's throne, and yet another Dark Lord would appear."The only course of action was to destroy the Ring, and the only place it could be destroyed was in the fires of Mount Doom where it was made. Frodo Baggins volunteered to take the Ring to Mordor. Elrond remarked, "I think that this task is appointed for you, Frodo; and that if you do not find a way, no one will." (FotR, p. 284) In this he echoed Gandalf's earlier observation that a power greater than the Ring had been instrumental in causing Bilbo to find it, and that Frodo was meant to have it.
The Fellowship of the Ring: "The Council of Elrond," p. 281
The eight companions chosen to accompany Frodo were Sam Gamgee, Merry Brandybuck, Pippin Took, Aragorn, Boromir, Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf. The Fellowship of the Ring set out on December 25, 3018.
In January of 3019, the Fellowship entered Moria, where their trail was picked up by Gollum. Frodo as the Ring-bearer sensed evil behind them and evil ahead of them, and it seemed that evil creatures could also sense him. The Watcher in the Water at the gates of Moria targeted him specifically, and so did a great Orc-chieftain in the Chamber of Mazarbul. Gandalf was lost to the Fellowship when he fell into an abyss in combat with the Balrog.
The Fellowship continued to Lothlorien. There Frodo met Galadriel, the bearer of Nenya, one of the Three Rings of the Elves. Frodo was able to see Nenya on her finger, while Sam could not. In the Mirror of Galadriel, Frodo saw the Eye of Sauron, and the Ring responded by growing heavier on its chain, dragging Frodo down toward the vision in the water.
Frodo offered Galadriel the Ring, but she rejected it even though the destruction of the One Ring meant the Three Rings would lose their power and everything made with them would fade.
"I do not deny that my heart has greatly desired to ask what you offer. For many long years I had pondered what I might do, should the Great Ring come into my hands, and behold! it was brought within my grasp. The evil that was devised long ago works on in many ways, whether Sauron himself stands or falls. Would not that have been a noble deed to set to the credit of his Ring, if I had taken it by force or fear from my guest?The Fellowship then travelled south to Amon Hen, where they had to decide whether to proceed directly to Mordor or go first to Minas Tirith. Boromir wanted to take the Ring to Minas Tirith. He had been overcome by the temptation of the Ring, and he believed that he could use it to defeat Sauron. He first tried to persuade Frodo and then tried to take the Ring from him by force.
"And now at last it comes. You will give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!"
The Fellowship of the Ring: "The Mirror of Galadriel," p. 381
Frodo put on the Ring and escaped to the Seat of Seeing on Amon Hen. There he felt the Eye of Sauron seeking him. Frodo struggled with the influence of the Ring tempting him to reveal himself to Sauron. At last - aided by Gandalf who sensed his struggle from afar - Frodo managed to take off the Ring and Sauron was unable to find him. Frodo resolved to set out for Mordor alone, but Sam Gamgee came along with him.
At the same time, a band of Uruk-hai from Isengard attacked the Fellowship. Saruman had sent them to capture the Hobbits because he knew that one of them was carrying the Ring. The Uruk-hai seized Merry and Pippin, and Boromir died defending them. Pippin later managed to trick one of the Orcs who was looking for the Ring into thinking he had it, which helped the Hobbits escape.
On February 29, Frodo and Sam found Gollum following them. Like Bilbo, Frodo felt pity for Gollum and he spared his life. Gollum swore on the Ring that he would serve Frodo, the Ring-bearer.
For a moment it appeared to Sam that his master had grown and Gollum had shrunk: a tall stern shadow, a mighty lord who hid his brightness in grey cloud, and at his feet a little whining dog. Yet the two were in some way akin and not alien: they could reach one another's minds.As they drew nearer to Mordor, Frodo began to feel the weight of the Ring increase and the Eye of Sauron seeking him. Gollum meanwhile also felt the lure of the Ring and he debated with himself over whether to keep his promise. The small part of Smeagol that remained did not want to harm Frodo, but the part of Gollum that was consumed with desire for the Ring wanted to take it and become master himself. Gollum began to form a plan to lead the Hobbits into a trap.
The Two Towers: "The Taming of Smeagol," p. 225
At the Black Gate, the Hobbits realized they could not enter Mordor that way. Gollum offered to show them a secret way through the Pass of Cirith Ungol. Frodo agreed, but he warned Gollum that the Ring would try to twist his promise and could betray him in the end. Frodo said that if necessary he would put on the Ring and Gollum would be unable to resist any command he gave.
In Ithilien on March 7, the Hobbits encountered Boromir's brother Faramir. Faramir learned that Frodo was carrying the One Ring, but he had the wisdom to realize that such evil must be resisted.
"But fear no more! I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory. No, I do not wish for such triumphs, Frodo son of Drogo."After parting with Faramir, Gollum led the Hobbits to the Morgul Vale where they saw the Lord of the Nazgul leading a great army from Minas Morgul. Sauron was preparing a preemptive strike against Gondor. He had seen both Pippin Took and Aragorn in the palantir, and he feared that this meant that the One Ring was in the hands of his enemies. Sauron assumed that Aragorn would lead an army against him wielding the Ring. It did not occur to Sauron that anyone would approach Mordor with the intention of destroying the Ring.
The Two Towers: "The Window on the West," p. 280
Frodo felt a great temptation to put on the Ring in the presence of the Lord of the Nazgul but he resisted. Gollum led them up the Stairs of Cirith Ungol to the pass above the valley. The Smeagol part of Gollum reemerged for one last time when he saw the Hobbits sleeping, and he was on the verge of repentance, but then Sam awoke and accused him of sneaking. The moment passed, and Gollum led the Hobbits into Shelob's Lair.
Frodo was stung by Shelob and he was knocked unconscious by her poison. Sam believed Frodo to be dead, so he took the Ring intending to continue the quest as best he could. But then a company of Orcs approached, and Sam put on the Ring. He was able to understand the Orcs speaking in the Black Speech and he realized that Frodo was alive. The Orcs took Frodo to the Tower of Cirith Ungol and Sam followed.
Sam put on the Ring once more but took it off before he crossed the Pass of Cirith Ungol. When Sam entered Mordor, he felt the power of the Ring grow far greater as it neared the place of its creation. Even though he was not wearing the Ring, he felt an overpowering temptation to claim it and challenge Sauron. The Ring gave Sam, a simple gardener, visions of a garden realm that would be his to rule. But Sam's Hobbit-sense won out, and he realized the visions were a trick to get him to put the Ring on and reveal its location to Sauron.
Sam entered the Tower of Cirith Ungol and found Frodo. Frodo believed that Sauron's servants had taken the Ring and that all hope was lost. When he learned that Sam had the Ring, he accused his friend of being a thief and snatched it back from him. Frodo instantly regretted his actions, realizing that the Ring's power had a hold on him.
Frodo and Sam began their journey across Mordor on March 15. As Frodo approached Mount Doom, his mind became consumed with the Ring and he began to see it before him like a wheel of fire. The weight of the Ring became almost unbearable. When they started up the slopes of Mount Doom on March 25, Frodo was forced to crawl until Sam picked him up and carried him.
As they neared the Cracks of Doom, they were attacked by Gollum who realized that Frodo intended to destroy the Ring. Frodo fought back with renewed strength when Gollum tried to take the Ring from him. Through the power of the Ring, Frodo appeared to be a commanding figure and he ordered Gollum to leave him alone. But Gollum's own desire for the Ring was too great.
At the Cracks of Doom, the power of the Ring took hold of Frodo completely. He was unable to destroy the Ring and instead claimed it for himself. Until that moment Sauron's attention had been focused on the army led by Aragorn to the Black Gate. But when Frodo put on the Ring, Sauron immediately became aware of him and sent the Nazgul racing toward Mount Doom. Gollum attacked Frodo and they struggled at the edge of the abyss. Gollum bit the Ring from Frodo's hand, and in his joy at recovering his Precious he lost his balance and fell into the fiery chasm.
The Ring was destroyed, and Sauron was finally and utterly defeated. Without the power that the Ring contained, his physical form was destroyed and his spirit dissipated, houseless and powerless, never to arise again. Mount Doom erupted as the Ring melted in its core, the Nazgul were engulfed in flames, and Barad-dur fell into ruin. The Nine Rings and the remaining Seven Rings were lost in the destruction of Mordor. The Three Rings survived, but their powers were gone and all that had been made with them began to fade.
Although Frodo's burden had been lifted, he felt the loss of the One Ring deeply. Its hold on him had been strong and without it, he said, all was dark and empty. Because of the great torment of bearing the Ring, along with the wounds he received on the journey, he could not find peace. On September 21, 3021, Frodo left Middle-earth accompanied by Bilbo and sailed to the Undying Lands, where he was later joined by Sam, the last of the Ring-bearers.
"Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age" in The Silmarillion provides an overview of the history and powers of the Ring.
Several chapters in Unfinished Tales deal with the Ring. "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn" discusses the forging of the Rings of Power and the war waged by Sauron against the Elves. "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields" chronicles Isildur's death and the loss of the Ring. "The Hunt for the Ring" provides further details on how the Nazgul tracked Frodo.
Tolkien discusses the One Ring and its powers in several of his Letters. Letter #131 discusses the creation of the Ring and how Sauron transferred his own power to it at risk to himself. Letter #246 addresses the effect of the Ring on Frodo and also contains speculation on what might happen if Aragorn, Gandalf, or Galadriel were to obtain the One Ring. Letter #211 discusses Sauron's possession of the Ring while in Numenor and how he was able to bring it back to Middle-earth.
Stan Brown's comprehensive FAQ of the Rings addresses a number of questions about all of the Rings of Power.
Sauron comes to the Elven-smiths of Eregion disguised as an emissary of the Valar and offers to teach them many skills.
The Elven-smiths begin to forge the Rings of Power under Sauron's instruction.
The Three Rings of the Elves are made without Sauron's aid.
Sauron forges the One Ring in Mount Doom. Celebrimbor and the Elven-smiths become aware of him and realize they were deceived. Sauron uses the Ring to strengthen the foundations of Barad-dur.
The War of the Elves and Sauron begins. The Three Rings are hidden.
Sauron's forces destroy Eregion. Sauron seizes the Nine Rings and six of the Seven Rings.
Sauron's forces are defeated and he returns to Mordor.
Sauron begins to extend his power eastward.
The Nazgul first appear.
Ar-Pharazon comes to Mordor with a great force and demands Sauron's surrender. Sauron submits to being taken to Numenor in hopes of bringing about their defeat by other means. In time he becomes a trusted counsellor of Ar-Pharazon and begins to corrupt him with the aid of the One Ring.
Ar-Pharazon sets out to take the Undying Lands by force. Eru causes the fleet to sink and Numenor is destroyed under the waves. Sauron's body is destroyed but his spirit escapes and is able to bring the One Ring back to Middle-earth.
Sauron returns to Mordor. Elendil and his sons found the realms of Gondor and Arnor.
Sauron launches an attack on Gondor.
The War of the Last Alliance begins.
Sauron is defeated by Elendil and Gil-galad and the One Ring is cut from his finger by Isildur. Isildur refuses to destroy the Ring. Sauron's spirit flees his body and goes into hiding.
Isildur is slain by Orcs in the Gladden Fields. The One Ring is lost in the waters.
Sauron comes to Dol Guldur in Mirkwood.
Deagol finds the One Ring and is killed for it by Smeagol.
Smeagol takes the Ring deep under the Misty Mountains.
Sauron takes the Last of the Seven Rings from Thrain II.
Sauron's servants search the Gladden Fields for the One Ring. Saruman, who also wants to find the Ring, becomes alarmed.
Bilbo finds the One Ring in Gollum's cave. Saruman agrees to help the White Council drive Sauron from Dol Guldur.
Sauron returns in secret to Mordor.
Gollum leaves his cave in the Misty Mountains and begins searching for the Ring.
Sauron declares himself openly in Mordor.
Bilbo passes the One Ring on to his heir Frodo Baggins. Gandalf becomes suspicious about Bilbo's Ring and begins to hunt for Gollum with Aragorn's help.
Gandalf finds a scroll written by Isildur describing the One Ring in Minas Tirith. Gollum is captured by Sauron. He is tortured and questioned about the Ring and Sauron learns the names Shire and Baggins. Gollum is allowed to escape.
February 1: Gollum is captured by Aragorn.
Gollum is brought to Mirkwood.
March 23: Gandalf arrives and begins to question Gollum.
April 12: Gandalf arrives
at Bag End.
April 13: Gandalf determines that Bilbo's Ring is the One Ring from its inscription and tells Frodo its history. Frodo volunteers to leave the Shire with the Ring.
June 20: The Nazgul attack Osgiliath. Gollum escapes captivity.
July 1: The Witch-king leads the Nazgul of Minas Morgul across the Anduin in secret to hunt for the One Ring.
September 23: Frodo leaves
September 24: Frodo is twice nearly discovered by Nazgul but does not put on the Ring and escapes.
September 27: Tom Bombadil puts on the Ring but does not turn invisible.
September 28: The Hobbits are trapped by a Barrow-wight. Frodo resists putting on the Ring.
September 29: The Ring slips onto Frodo's finger at the Prancing Pony, witnessed by ruffians who inform the Nazgul. Aragorn offers his guidance to Frodo.
October 6: The Nazgul attack
Weathertop. Frodo puts on the Ring and is wounded by the Witch-king.
October 20: The Nazgul chase Frodo to the Ford of Bruinen.
October 24: Bilbo asks to see the Ring again.
October 25: The Council of Elrond meets to discuss what should be done with the Ring. Frodo volunteers to take the Ring to Mordor in order to destroy it.
December 25: Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring leave Rivendell.
January 13: The Fellowship enters Moria. Frodo is attacked by the Watcher in the Water. Gollum picks up their trail.
January 15: Frodo is attacked by an Orc-chieftain in the Chamber of Mazarbul. Gandalf falls into an abyss with the Balrog.
February 14: Frodo offers
Galadriel the Ring but she refuses it.
February 26: Boromir tries to take the Ring from Frodo. Frodo puts on the Ring and the Eye of Sauron nearly finds him. Frodo sets out for Mordor with Sam. Saruman's Uruk-hai attack the Fellowship to get the Ring. Boromir is killed and Merry and Pippin are captured.
February 29: Frodo finds Gollum following him and spares his life. Pippin tricks Grishnakh into thinking he has the Ring. Pippin and Merry escape.
March 4: Smeagol and Gollum
debate about what action to take. Gollum begins to form a plan to lead
the Hobbits to Shelob.
March 5: Frodo and Sam reach the Black Gate and see that it's impassable. Gollum proposes to lead them by a secret way. Pippin looks into the palantir and is confronted by Sauron, who mistakes him for the Ring-bearer.
March 6: Aragorn reveals himself to Sauron in the palantir. Sauron begins to doubt and prepares to strike Gondor.
March 7: Faramir resists the temptation to take the One Ring from Frodo.
March 10: Frodo and Sam see the Lord of the Nazgul leading an army from Minas Morgul. Frodo resists putting on the Ring.
March 11: Gollum visits Shelob. He returns to find Frodo sleeping and nearly repents but changes his mind when Sam accuses him of sneaking.
March 12: Gollum leads the Hobbits into Shelob's Lair.
March 13: Frodo is wounded by Shelob. Sam takes the Ring thinking he is dead. Frodo is taken to the Tower of Cirith Ungol.
March 14: Sam finds Frodo in the Tower of Cirith Ungol.
March 15: Frodo and Sam escape from the Tower.
March 24: The Hobbits reach the foot of Mount Doom.
March 25: Frodo reaches the Cracks of Doom and claims the Ring for himself. Gollum bites off Frodo's finger and falls into the fiery chasm. The Ring is destroyed and Sauron is utterly defeated.
September 29: Frodo and Bilbo leave Middle-earth along with the bearers of the Three Rings.
September 22: Sam follows Frodo over the Sea.
Ring, the Ring:
The One Ring created by Sauron was one of a kind. The Elves had Three Rings, the Dwarves had Seven, and Men had Nine.
the Ruling Ring:
Through the One Ring, Sauron could rule the other Rings of Power.
The One Ring was the greatest of the Rings of Power.
If Sauron had regained the One Ring in the Third Age, Middle-earth would have been doomed.
The Ring was called Precious most notably by Gollum, but the term was also used by other Ring-bearers:
Isildur: But for my part I will risk no hurt to this thing: of all the works of Sauron the only fair. It is precious to me, though I buy it with great pain. (FotR, p. 266)
Bilbo: "It is mine, I tell you. My own. My precious. Yes, my precious." (FotR, p. 42)
Frodo: The gold looked very fair and pure, and Frodo thought how rich and beautiful was its colour, how perfect was its roundness. It was an admirable thing and altogether precious. (FotR, p. 70)
The Ring was called Isildur's Bane because it was instrumental in Isildur's death when it slipped from his finger and exposed him to the Orcs. A bane is a cause of death, ruin, or harm.
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