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Every Ring of Power in the New ‘Lord of the Rings’ Series Explained

Because Sauron took Beyoncé's command to "put a ring on it" super seriously.

Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins reaches for the One Ring in Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings

Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power—the latest TV adaption of J. R. R. 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 Rings, and will cover the Second Age of Middle-earth history, particularly Sauron’s rise to power and Númenor’s fall.

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

But the true purpose of Sauron’s The One Ring was to control all of the Rings of Power. Before Sauron ever created The One Ring, he disguised himself as the entity Annatar and convinced the Elven-smiths of Eregion to create 19 Rings of Power in total. These magical artifacts were supposed to preserve Middle-earth and invoke it with the light of Valinor. However, Sauron’s true intention was to create a 20th, all-powerful ring, to control the 19 Rings of Power and corrupt the Middle-earth leaders.

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

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls 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 lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
The Lord of the Rings

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

The One Ring

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

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 in the Mount of Doom in the Second Age of Middle-earth, after tricking the Elven-smiths to create the 19 Rings of Power. Since The One Ring had to be powerful enough to control the other Rings of Power, Sauron had to concentrate the ring with a large portion of his own power. Hence, he bound his fate with The One Ring. In addition to control of the Rings of Power, the ring also grants its wearer invisibility.

Using the power of the One Ring and military might, Sauron gained control over 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 killed and the ring was lost for centuries—until it was discovered by Gollum. The ring corrupted Gollum, leading him to kill his relative to obtain it and to become obsessed with the ring’s power.

However, the Ring abandoned Gollum, too, and was lost once more until it was discovered by Bilbo and eventually passed down to Frodo. The One Ring’s history ends with Frodo, after he destroys it in Mount Doom. Its destruction means that Sauron will never be able to reclaim it and regain his Dark lordship of the Middle-earth. It destroys Sauron’s power, as well as that of all the Rings of Power. But as the new series is a prequel, we can expect this ring will be around. And wield a great amount of power.

The Three Rings of the Elves

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

Among the nineteen Rings of Power, was a trio of powerful rings designated for the Elves. While Sauron aided the Elven-smiths in the creation of 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 of fire, water, and air.

Narya is adorned with a ruby and gives its wearer fire manipulation abilities and resistance to weariness. Nenya boasts a white stone and preserves/protects its wearer from evil. Vilya is a gold band adorned with a blue sapphire and the strongest of the three rings. Its power has never been explicitly revealed, but it was implied that the Vilya ring can preserve and heal.

In Lord of the Rings lore, 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 were given Vilya and Narya, respectively. The three managed to keep the three rings out of Sauron’s grasp 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

Dwarves as 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 leaders of the Seven Houses of the Dwarves. However, these rings weren’t specifically fashioned for Dwarves. Sauron had originally intended all of the Rings of Power to be given to the Elves, to corrupt them with the One Ring. It was the elves’ resistance to his corruption, that resulted in seven of the rings being distributed to the dwarves.

Unfortunately, Tolkien wrote the least about the seven Dwarf rings. It is unknown who the seven Dwarf-lords are, and of the seven rings, only one was named—the Ring of Thrór. This ring was gifted to Durin III by Celebrimbor and remained in the House of Durin for years, before being inherited by Thrór and passed down to his son Thráin. However, Thráin was captured by Sauron who was able to recover the ring from him.

While Sauron attempted to corrupt the Dwarves through the rings, the Dwarves proved resistant to the magic due to being hearty and untamed. Hence, the Dwarves largely used the seven rings to attain 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 go deeper into these rings, and we’ll learn more about them.

The Nine Rings of Mortal Men

The Nine Mortal Men given Rings and doomed to die in Lord of the Rings
(New Line Cinema)

Nine of the Rings of the 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 heartiness of the Dwarves. They eagerly accepted Sauron’s gifts and used the rings’ magical abilities to gain great power, prestige, and wealth. However, the power came at a price as these men were doomed to die. The rings prolonged their lives to the point that their physical bodies eventually faded and they transformed into undead beings—wraiths.

The nine mortal men became known as Ringwraiths, or the Nazgûl. Once they transformed into the Nazgûl, they became Sauron’s slaves. The identities of these nine mortals is unknown. It is only known that three were Númenóreans and one was an Easterling. The only Ringwraiths given names 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 leader of the Ringwraiths. It will be interesting to know more about the Ringwraiths when they were living (if the show delves into them).

Ultimately, what happened to the nine rings of mortal men is a mystery. It is unclear if Sauron repossessed the rings, if the rings remained with the Ringwraiths, or if the rings remained with the physical remains of the mortal men. All that is really known is that these rings were never found, kept, or recovered by anyone else.

So, while we know quite a bit about the history of these rings, there is so much more story 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 expansion to Tolkien’s (already magnificent) world.

(featured image: New Line Cinema)

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Rachel Ulatowski is a Freelance Writer, blogger, and aspiring author. As a Freelancer Writer she hopes to give readers the same comfort and enjoyment that she finds in all things nerdy and noteworthy, as a blogger she enjoys snarking on YouTubers and reality stars, and as a future novelist she hopes to raise awareness for child abuse through literature.