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The Rings of Power


POLL RESULTS
'Which effect of the One Ring was the most dangerous?
Its evil influence on others (i.e. Boromir) 2395 
  25%
The physical toll it put on its bearer
335 
  3%
The mental burden its bearer suffered.
1504 
  15%
The call it gave to the Nazgűl
712 
  7%
Its eternal call to past bearers (i.e. Gollum)
354 
  3%
Its 'will' to seek its master
4102 
  43%
TOTAL VOTES: 9402
This Poll Is Closed
Rings of Power

The collective term for the 20 Rings mentioned in the famous poem: Three rings for the Elves, seven for the Dwarves, nine for the mortals, and the One for the Dark Lord.

In the early Second Age, {352}Sauron^ walked around Middle-Earth masked in a fair hue and with noble manners, and he only named himself Annatar, Lord of the Gifts. He tried to persuade the free people to join his side, and he was especially eager to win the trust of the Noldor in Eregion, the Gwaith-i-Mírdain, whom he hated and feared most. Annatar was able to catch the interest of these, and especially Celebrimbor, grandson of Fëanor, with his speeches of change and advance for Middle-Earth, which he claimed to love and to be willing to make it as fair as it deserved to be. To Lindon, the region of the wary Elrond and Gil-Galad, he did not go, and called them envious of the rest of Middle-Earth.

With Annatar's guidance, the Elves under Celebrimbor forged many rings with various powers, among them 16 great rings of power, and three rings independent from Sauron's influence. He, in turn, had only a plan to enslave the Elves to his power, for in secret he had forged the {344}One Ring^ to rule all other Rings of Power in {528}Mount Doom^ in his land of shadow; and Sauron put much of his own power into it. However, as he put it on, the Elves became aware of it, and were not fooled: they took off their rings, and Celebrimbor hid the three rings later known as the Elven Rings.

Sauron then demanded all rings for himself, as he claimed they could not have been forged without him. Although he was given none by the Elves, he regained them after he had waged war on Eregion in 1697. The Elven Rings he did not find, but seven of the rings he gained he gave to the Dwarves, trying to ensnare them. To the Dwarves the Rings brought great wealth, but great greed also, although in the end they never fully succumbed to the influence of the Rings and their master. It is said that the foundation of each of the great seven dwarven hoards was the power of a Ring.

Men, on the other hand, had always proven the readiest to heed Sauron and give in to his will. Sauron gave them nine rings, and these made their bearers the greatest lords of their time among the mortals. But, as they used the power of the rings to enter the shadows, to see what others could not perceive and not to be seen themselves, they got drawn ever more under the control of Sauron himself, and they became less and less human, until they were only dreadful phantoms of shadow, known as the nine Ringwraiths, or Nazgűl in the tongue of the Enemy, fully under the sway and will of their Dark Lord.

Still, Sauron was defeated in the war of the Last Alliance, and lost his Ruling Ring to Isildur of Gondor, who in turn was betrayed by the Ring as it slipped off his finger, and into the Anduin, where it lay until recovered by the hobbit later known as Gollum. From there, the One Ring made its way via Bilbo Baggins to the Shire, and into the hands of Frodo.
When Sauron rose again in the Third Age, he tried to recover all of the Rings of Power. Of the seven, he regained those which had not been lost or comsumed by the fire of dragons plundering the dwarven hoards, and the nine he probably held himself, as the Ringwraiths no longer had them by the time of the War. The three Elven Rings were still in safe hands, though: Vilya in Rivendell, Elrond's house; Nenya in Lóthlorien the golden wood of Lady Galadriel, and Narya in the hands of the wizard Gandalf, who had received it from Círdan upon his landing in Middle-Earth. There the rings were used with their abilities of preserving and warding of the changes of the world; time in Rivendell and Lórien only had a relative effect and meaning.
The One Ring which Sauron made in order to enslave the people of Middle-Earth proved his own bane as well. When he knew it had fallen to his enemies, he still was not able to perceive their plans; and so, the impossible task of Frodo Baggins, to destroy the One where it was forged, in the fire of Mount Doom, was a success that brought an end to the power of the other rings as well, and to that age of the world.

(See also: Celebrimbor, Elven Rings, Mount Doom, Nine Rings, One Ring, Sauron, Seven Rings)

(References: Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power; LOTR, I, 2 ; II, 2;)
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